image   CONTENTS


About the Book

Title Page

Introduction: Personality with a Tan

Chapter 1: How to Achieve a Good Work–Life Balance

Chapter 2: How to Work Smarter vs Harder

Chapter 3: How to Be More Socially Intelligent



About the Authors



Dr Kevin Dutton is a research psychologist at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford. He is an affiliated member of the Royal Society of Medicine and of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy. He is the author of the acclaimed Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion and The Wisdom of Psychopaths: Lessons in Life from Saints, Spies and Serial Killers as well as The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success. He lives in the Cotswolds.

From the day he was found in a carrier bag on the steps of Guy’s Hospital in London, Andy McNab has led an extraordinary life.

As a teenage delinquent, Andy McNab kicked against society. As a young soldier he waged war against the IRA in the streets and fields of South Armagh. As a member of 22 SAS he was at the centre of covert operations for nine years – on five continents. During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, ‘will remain in regimental history for ever’. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS.

Since then Andy McNab has become one of the world’s bestselling writers, drawing on his insider knowledge and experience. As well as three nonfiction bestsellers including Bravo Two Zero, the bestselling British work of military history, and The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success, his first collaboration with Kevin Dutton, he is the author of the bestselling Nick Stone series and the Tom Buckingham thrillers. He has also written a number of books for children.

Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK, works in the film industry advising Hollywood on everything from covert procedure to training civilian actors to act like soldiers, and he continues to be a spokesperson and fundraiser for both military and literacy charities.


Hello, folks!

We’re Kevin Dutton and Andy McNab – the unlikeliest creative partnership since Eminem and Elton John cavorted onstage together at the Grammys that time.

If this is the first time we’ve met, we’d better start by introducing ourselves. One of us is a psychologist at Oxford University. The other did nine years in the SAS and is now one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs. If you don’t already know which of us is which then we’ll leave it up to you to figure it out. But suffice it to say that you wouldn’t want to be standing behind McNab in the queue at Costa Coffee if they’ve run out of his favourite chocolate gold coins, and the last time Dutton changed a magazine was when he cancelled his subscription to History Today and went for Architectural Digest.

Oh, and McNab is also a psychopath.

Of course, if you have heard of us, there’s a fair chance it may have something to do with a book we brought out last year called The Good Psychopath’s Guide To Success. If books on personal development may be fancifully construed as deft keys of transcendental truth gently turning in antiquated, psychological locks, then The Good Psychopath was the mental health equivalent of a nail bomb.

In true Special Forces fashion, it blew in the windows of the self-help market and, amidst the burning rubble of popular acclaim, abseiled on to the roof of the UK bestsellers chart in a fireproof suit and a respirator.

Needless to say, when we say ‘popular’ we interpret that word strictly within the traditions of the postmodernist, neo-structuralist, symbolic interactionist school of semiotic analysis … the nearest approximation, in common, everyday parlance, arguably being ‘un-popular’.

At one point our Twitter account boasted more trolls than a Dungeons & Dragons convention in Tromsø and we had so many fruitcakes clowning around on our website that some bloke from Mr Kipling got on the blower asking if we had any spare.

‘Talk about five a day,’ Andy quipped at the time. ‘We’re on five hundred a day!’

Of course, we jest. The small fact that Companies House tried to ban The Good Psychopath Ltd when we first registered the name on the grounds of it being offensive, and that one senior clergyman took the liberty of informing us that we had about as much taste as one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s TV dinners, were but mere trifles in the grand scheme of things. By return of email we respectfully pointed out to the eminent ecclesiastic that, actually, Jesus himself didn’t fare too badly in the psychopath stakes – and as for his sawn-off sidekick Saint Paul … well, he made Ronnie Kray look like Peppa Pig.

Oddly enough, that seemed to do the trick. We never heard back from the maledictory monsignor.

Following its High Street smash-and-grab raid on the nation’s assiduously assembled Popular Science window display, The Good Psychopath’s Guide To Success continued to cuss and spit on the Kindle-lit street corners of erudite good taste and ended 2014 astride the Sunday Times ‘Thinking Books’ bestseller list. That this was due in no small measure to its being stocked by three of the UK’s leading supermarkets – Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s – and becoming, we like to think, part of many people’s weekly shop is in little doubt.

Waitrose, it emerged, were also in the shake-up but it didn’t work out. We pulled the plug when they refused to entertain the idea of a three-for-two offer alongside fifty litres of helicopter fuel and a case of Château Margaux 1966. (Note to the nine-year-old lad in the drinks aisle: No, son, ‘lego’ doesn’t have a silent ‘t’ like ‘merlot’.)

For those of you who haven’t read it – and you really should – The Good Psychopath outlines seven attributes of the psychopathic personality that:

… can make you more SUCCESSFUL.

We call these attributes the SEVEN DEADLY WINS.

With good reason:






1. Lead
2. Follow
3. Get out of the way

Don’t waste time over-thinking. Get it done and deliver with minimal fuss.


Research shows that procrastination uses up valuable mental resources, and, a bit like leaving the lights on in the car, constitutes a subtle drain on battery power. So next time you find yourself putting off filing that report:

… and ask yourself this: since when did I need to feel like doing something in order to do it?

‘I can honestly say,’ comments Andy, ‘that the only time I ever feel like doing something is when I’m actually doing it. The decision to do it is always cold and clinical.’





1. Do
2. Die
3. Don’t even try

Commit 100 per cent. Switch on when it counts and play to win.


In one famous experiment, scientists comparing the performance of psychopaths and non-psychopaths in a simple rule-learning game found that when mistakes were punished by painful electric shocks, the psychopaths were slower on the uptake. But when success was rewarded by the prospect of financial gain, the roles reversed. This time around the psychopaths cleaned up.

This ability to switch on when it matters is a trait common to psychopaths, top surgeons, leading CEOs and elite sportspeople (to name but a few professions).

Want to know the difference between the good and the great in sport? It’s simple. The good get 85 per cent out of themselves while the great get 100 per cent. Count psychopaths in to that ‘great’ group, too.





1. Stand up
2. Head down
3. Crack on

Believe in yourself and have the courage of your convictions.


If you were to put most of the decisions you make in life to a jury, 50 per cent of people would agree with your course of action and 50 per cent would disagree.

‘Remember, you have the casting vote,’ says Andy. ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time. So why vote against yourself? I don’t give a toss about what other people think about the decisions I make. I mean, why would I? There are people out there who think even Malala Yousafzai’s an arsehole!’





1. Make it easy
2. Make it appealing
3. Make it personal

Study people, find out what makes them tick, and become a master in the art of social influence.


‘I can read your brain like a subway map,’ one of the world’s top conmen once told me. ‘And shuffle it like a deck of cards.’

Psychopaths are genius-level psychological code-breakers because, like any predator, getting inside the mind of their prey gives them a distinct advantage.

As my old man used to say: ‘Persuasion ain’t about getting people to do what they don’t want to do. It’s about giving people a reason to do what they do want to do.’





1. Get up
2. Get going
3. Get better

Don’t take rejection or setbacks personally.


Focus on what you’re good at – and do it. Avoid emotional hangovers. As Andy points out: ‘Nothing is personal – even when it’s personal! All it is … is life.’

Spot on.

In mock business scenarios, research shows that psychopathic negotiators make more money than other negotiators because they’re way less bothered about being screwed by unfair deals … while in real life business scenarios, one of the defining traits of top hedge-fund managers is that once they’ve executed a trade, they concentrate exclusively on the next one, irrespective of whether they’re up or down a billion.

I once asked Andy whether any of the things he’d done in the SAS – or subsequently, in the business world – ever kept him awake at night. He laughed. ‘If you’re the kind of person who lies in bed worrying all night,’ he said, ‘you wouldn’t get anywhere near some of the boardrooms I’ve been in – let alone the SAS.’

As the Zen proverb goes: ‘Let go – or be dragged.’





1. Regret nothing
2. Fear nothing
3. Embrace everything

Learn to stay focused in the here and now.


Here’s where it’s at and now’s when it’s happening,’ says Andy. ‘I mean, why the fuck would you want to be anywhere else?’

Bang on … though, believe it or not, the ability to ‘live in the moment’ is something that psychopaths and elite Buddhist monks have in common. But whereas the ‘saints’ savour it … the ‘sinners’ devour it. It’s also another trait shared by top sportspeople.

Next time you’re on your way to that crucial interview, remember this quote from the athlete Michael Johnson: ‘Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity.’





1. HOT tap
2. COLD tap
3. DOUBLE tap

When it comes to solving problems, feelings are passengers. They deserve a trolley service every now and again but have no place in the cockpit.


Guess what? Studies show that imagining making a difficult phone call is way more nerve-racking than actually picking up the phone and making it. So, whenever you’re stressing over a difficult task, ask yourself this:

Or try this: ‘Next time you’ve got a problem,’ counsels Andy, ‘imagine you’re advising a friend on how to deal with it … then follow that advice yourself. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and … take the plunge!’ Yes, on the one hand these credentials are the same as those possessed by your serial killers and corporate raiders like Hannibal Lecter and Jordan Belfort.

But on the other hand you’re just as likely to find them in the steely, surgical stillness of a front-line operating theatre as in the mile-high boardroom of a ruthless, cigar-chomping asset stripper. The key to the conundrum is to think of the Seven Deadly Wins as being the dials on a psychological mixing desk which may be twiddled up and down depending on the circumstances.

Shunt them all on max, jack up the volume and guess what? You’ll be playing back the soundtrack in a maximum security unit.

You’ll be what we call a bad psychopath.

Someone who:

Someone, in other words, for whom psychopathy is a curse.

But turn some up high and some down low when particular situations demand it and you’ll be ripping it up in a different way to the Dahmers and Sutcliffes and Bundys.

You’ll be, as we put it, a good psychopath.

Someone who:

Someone, you might say, for whom psychopathy is a talent.

Here’s another take on it from Good Psychopath I. A couple of years ago I visited Andy in Miami. He was there on a film shoot and one day we hit the beach. As we stood among the loungers sorting out our shit, some huge big fat fella yells at us from behind.

‘Hey,’ he drawls. ‘Do you guys mind? I’m trying to get an all-over tan here!’

Andy turns to him and shrugs. ‘Fuck me,’ he says. ‘That’s asking an awful lot of the sun, mate,’ and rolls out his towel on the sand.

You had to laugh!

But later it got us thinking … about the double-edged-sword nature of psychopathy. Sure, if you lie out in it from dawn to dusk it will burn you to a crisp. You’ll have what amounts to personality cancer. But at low levels it’s a different story. Take it a bit easier and psychopathy can do you good. It’s personality with a tan.

And that’s not all. Without it, just like the sun, we wouldn’t be here in the first place. If our prehistoric ancestors some two hundred thousand years ago hadn’t included among their number the ruthless, the resilient and the risk-takers, we would’ve perished, in an evolutionary eye-blink, on the Palaeolithic killing fields of deepest, darkest Africa.



Now as we said, The Good Psychopath’s Guide To Success did all right for itself. Its no-nonsense bass riff got a lot of people’s brains tapping. But when quite a number of readers began emailing in to tell us that, actually, although they got the general idea of the book, although they bought the underlying argument, they wanted just that little bit more, we sat up and started listening.

There were two main quibbles:

One was the level of detail. The other was focus.

For example, a lot of people pointed out that although the Seven Deadly Wins set out the general principles of the Good Psychopath philosophy, what was really needed now, alongside those principles, was a more practical user’s guide as to precisely how they could be applied in everyday life … to achieve the kinds of concrete, common goals that all of us face either at home or at work, with friends or with family or with colleagues.

One reader pretty much summed it up for everyone, capturing the general tone of the feedback with a golfing analogy. You’ve introduced us to the clubs, she said. What we’ve got in the bag. You’ve explained the difference between a nine iron, a wedge and a putter.

But what you haven’t explained is how, exactly, we use these clubs to navigate our way around the course … around the fairways and rough, the greens and the bunkers of life’s tortuous 18-holes.

When we began getting more and more messages like this, we decided to take up the challenge head on. To that end, we placed a link on our website inviting readers to tell us exactly what it was they most wanted help with. Not general help as in the ‘How can I be more assertive?’ or ‘How can I stop putting things off until the last minute?’ kind of advice. We’d covered that already. But a more specific kind of help for the specific kinds of goals such as those just mentioned. The instructions, to return to our golfing analogy, for playing particular types of shot in particular situations; for when to select one type of club over another – and how to use it – as opposed to broader, more wide-ranging guidance relating to the mojo, rules and object of the game.

The response was overwhelming and took us completely by surprise. Hundreds of people got in touch with plans, problems, challenges and conundrums they required assistance with. But one thing in particular caught our eye – something rather interesting that neither of us expected. Many of the dilemmas that readers sent in related not to success, as such, but to quality of life. Some were idiosyncratic, to say the least.

We wish the best of luck to the 19-year-old student who wrote in to ask us how she could break the news to her parents – both of whom were Jehovah’s Witnesses – that she’d quit her diploma in Counselling and Pastoral Ministry and become a stripper in a Manchester titty bar. What could possibly go wrong …?

And we give special mention to the Community Support Nurse from Guisborough who contributed the following screamer to the website:

Dear Good Psychopaths

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for two and a half years now. He’s a real charmer and turns heads whenever we go out but I just can’t trust him. In fact, he’s so untrustworthy I’m not even sure the baby I’m expecting is his!

(As Andy commented before passing it on to me: ‘Note to Redcar and Cleveland NHS Services: keep her away from the family planning clinic.’)

On the other hand, however, many of the messages we received tapped into similar themes …

… themes which converged around three common objectives:

So that was that.

‘Why,’ Andy asked, ‘don’t we write a book about:

So we did!

In Sorted! – The Good Psychopath’s Guide To Bossing Your Life we present the ultimate compendium to disarming life and getting it to do your dirty work rather than the other way around. Taking in all aspects of life – work, recreation, health, relationships, time management, those niggling little challenges of day-to-day living that each of us faces way more often than we’d like: how do we keep our inboxes at zero? – we offer you:

checklists to help you get more out of life than it gets out of you.

‘People put up with so much bullshit,’ says Andy. ‘It’s madness. Time to grab that bullshit by the horns!’

fn1 A ‘double tap’ is a cool, calm and controlled shooting technique where two shots are fired in rapid succession at the same target with the same sight picture. It is used by the SAS in hostage rescue situations. Sorry, folks, but machine-gun fire bouncing off the walls and ceilings only happens when Sly Stallone and Bruce Willis are in the building.


For many, a good work–life balance is as hard to find as Russell Brand in a biblically sized throng of Jesus-looking hipsters. But it was the Ancient Greeks who first put their marbled fingers on the problem over two millennia ago.

‘Happiness does not exist in pastimes and amusements but in virtuous activities,’ intoned Aristotle. ‘It is a life which involves effort and is not spent in amusement.’

That said, however – and we doff our caps to the father of Western thought in all other respects – integrating your professional and personal lives in a way that allows you not only to succeed at both but enjoy both is not easy. Especially if you’ve maxed out the Barclaycard, run out of road with the overdraft, and pickpockets are slipping notes of complaint inside your Hollisters.

The figures on work-related stress are so depressing we pulled a sickie ourselves when we saw them. (‘Who’s we?’ asks Andy.)

So if for even one of those days your desk was vacant, then this is for you … simple tips for getting some life back into your life!



In April 2014 a spoof headline started doing the rounds that a law had been passed in France prohibiting all checking of email before the hours of 9 a.m. and after the hours of 6 p.m. It wasn’t true, of course. It just tapped into our stereotype of the French being wine-quaffing, Brie-guzzling lazy bastards. But imagine if it was! Would we be any better off? There’s evidence to suggest that we might.

Studies reveal that email is a significant provider of stress in the twenty-first century. It is the modern-day equivalent of the prehistoric beast that, in the days of our evolutionary forebears, constantly skulked around the mouth of the cave causing anxiety and uncertainty within.


Email, among other things:

And that’s before we factor in the emotional impact of some of the messages.

The penultimate item on the above list is perhaps the most damaging of all. Ever wondered why gambling is so addictive? It’s because you never quite know when you’re going to win. Such variable interval reinforcement, as it’s known, exerts a powerful influence over our behaviour.

Anticipation is a bigger draw than certainty. We never know when the good – or the bad – stuff’s going to come our way so we have to keep checking … and it’s that occasional electronic pat on the back from the boss or, in contrast, that nagging feeling that the P45 might be on its way from somewhere that keeps us logging on for our regular online fix.



Get a Grip on Your Email

‘Remember that twenty years ago email didn’t exist,’ says Andy. ‘So cutting down isn’t going to kill you. Here are a few simple rules that will help you strike a balance.’


Allocate set, predetermined periods of the day to go online


‘Puts you in control of your inbox rather than the other way around,’ explains Andy.

Which, judging by the figures, ushers in a much needed shift in power.

According to a survey conducted by AOL:

And these figures may well be conservative estimates. Another survey found that we consistently miscalculate the frequency with which we delve into our inboxes. On average, those who took part claimed it was once an hour. But when the researchers spied on them, guess what? It was once every five minutes.

Add to that the fact that it takes us an average of 64 seconds to recover our train of thought after responding to an email and that we generally allocate only 3 minutes to any given task before switching our focus to another, and it’s easy to see how the most disruptive sound in the universe is ‘PING!’


Impose a five-sentence cap on your emails.


Banishes the spectre of perfectionism.

‘You don’t have to write an essay every time you sit down at the keyboard,’ says Andy. ‘Plus, it frees up time to do other, more important things. You’ll be surprised at how quickly people get used to it.’

He’s right.

If it’s any consolation, we consistently overestimate our ability to communicate effectively with email anyway. Especially when it comes to sarcasm. In one study, for example, volunteers thought they could reliably communicate sarcasm 80 per cent of the time. Face-to-face they were right. But over email they were way off the mark – the actual figure was 56 per cent.

Similar results have also been obtained with other emotions: anger, sadness, seriousness and humour.

Why else do you think we have emoticons? image


If something needs a long explanation, pick up the telephone


Saves time but also allows you to personally connect with the person on the other end – an essential aid to rapport-building.