In the United States, only a few thousand individuals in power make decisions that shape the lives of 300 million people. Elites in government, business, the arts, and mass media direct policy and set the terms of national debates. Yet what do we really know about these individuals and the social worlds they inhabit? This book reports the results of a seven-year research project focused on interviewing 550 senior American leaders for the Platinum Study, the largest of its kind. The book explores dozens of unexpected results about the domains of the powerful, The path into this elite ecosystem is not the same for everyone, but the men and women in this book are exemplars of the use--and the misuse--of power. Learning from their stories not only teaches readers about influence at the top, but also how we can access and apply power in our own lives, day in and day out. Some of the lessons include: Being born into wealth is a poor predictor of leadership success. There is no dream team of one. Almost every book about power focuses on the traits of individual leaders, but it is the institutions they lead that change human history. The most important trait of a leader is her ability to think institutionally. You dont have to be an S.O.B. to be the CEO. Leading others is significantly easier when followers enjoy being around the leader, and interpersonally gifted people are at a significant advantage in power. A leaders best work never sees the light of day. Great leaders spend a significant amount of time keeping bad things from becoming public or working on opportunities that never materialize. As a result, most of their work takes place behind closed doors, and because outsiders dont know the full story, those in power get most of the blame and, often, little of the credit.