Charisma, Part 3 – Confidence

Another vital element of charisma is confidence. Charismatic people tend to be highly confident. After all, if you don’t seem sure of yourself, it’s pretty hard for anyone else to be sure of. Especially when you’re initiating contact or trying to sell anything directly as a person, how comfortable your prospects are with you

Darkfell.com - My Art and Fiction Blog

Passion drives competence

is usually more important even than price. For many companies and individuals price is usually about #6 on the list of priorities. Elite clients in particular don’t trust cheap. They also don’t trust insecure.

When you’re confident in what you have to say and what you have to offer, it’s easier to inspire others to be confident in it, too. Some questions that may help you clarify where you might be lacking confidence in communicating with others include:

  • How confident am I about what I’m trying to communicate?
  • Why does what I’m communicating matter to me?
  • Why should it matter to anyone else?
  • If I were 100% confident about this, how would I act?

One of the key factors in being confident is competence. If someone were to ask me to give a speech on composing Latin jazz for large orchestras, I’d be totally lost. On the other hand, if I’m asked to speak on comic art, sales, or leadership, I’d be as comfortable as a pig in mud.

Another factor is passion. Even some of the most bashful, nervous types come to life when they start talking about their passion. Is there such a thing as over-enthusiasm? Sure, but my personal philosophy with regard to most things is that I’d rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission, and when it comes to enthusiasm, it’s safer to go a little overboard than it is to show up with the personality of a handle. Now, I’m not saying to fake it, but rather to let your passion for what you’re doing come out.

Indeed, passion often drives competence. When I sustained a bad frostbite of my drawing hand and couldn’t even write my name, much less draw, my passion for my art led me to practice with thicker markers and crayons, then a thickly padded ball point pen for weeks. In the end, the art at Darkfell.com improved by leaps and bounds.

I won’t ask how bad do you want it, but rather, ‘How much do you love it?’

-Sam

P.S. Here are some of my other articles on boosting your confidence:

Quick Tips to Boost Your Confidence

The James Bond Walk

The Power of a Good Handshake

The Power of a Genuine Smile

The ABCs of Charisma

James BondNearly all of us want to have at least some charisma. Especially for those of us who are public speakers, who work in sales, strong charisma helps us to engage audiences, build rapport with prospective clients, and create opportunities for personal branding that can greatly enhance our revenue capture. In a word, people with strong charisma tend to have an easier time making money, establishing relationships, and getting what they want out of life in general. On the other hand, almost no one wants to be the guy nobody likes. Most people I run into think I’m very charismatic, yet I was the ‘nice guy’ everybody hated in school. So you won’t be surprised to know I believe charisma can be developed.

What is charisma, then? It comes from an ancient Greek word that meant ‘gift.’ In sacre writings of the Christian faith, it was used to describe spiritual gifts given by God. Today, it’s defined as:

cha·ris·ma
kəˈrizmə/
noun
  1. 1.
    compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
    “she enchanted guests with her charisma”
    synonyms: charmpresencepersonality, force of personality, strength of character;More

  2. 2.
    a divinely conferred power or talent.

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of a divinely given gift, that’s okay. Think of it then as personal impact. The truth is that to a great degree everyone has at least some charisma, and we can work to improve on our own particular type of charisma.

Now, most of us tend to think that charisma is an inherent trait, and popular culture tends to reinforce this belief with such expressions as ‘you either have it or you don’t,’ and the extreme charisma of celebrities and historical figures seems to enforce this as a fact. I beg to differ. however, and I’ll tell you why.

To some extent, some people are naturally more charismatic than others, yet charisma itself appears to involve conscious effort. There’s a story about Marilyn Monroe going shopping with a friend of hers, and not being recognized by anyone. Her friend was was puzzled by this, and Marilyn, it’s said, told her, “I’m not on stage.” Marilyn then ‘turned on’ her charisma, and before long, she was being mobbed by fans.

In my own small way, I’ve noticed a difference between how people react to me when I’m on stage, and when I’m just trying to leave the venue. When I spoke at an event at The Hard Rock Cafe here in Toronto recently, some people even noted that I was ‘different’ on stage. Indeed, my public speaking tends to attract far more business than all my other channels for attracting clients. To some extent this is because of the content of my speeches, but a good deal of it is because I’ve learned to ‘turn it on’ when I’m on stage.

All charismatic people, when using their charisma, apply what Andrew Leigh, author of Charisma: The Secrets of Making a Lasting Impression, refers to as the ABCs of charisma:

  • Aim. What you want to achieve. This should be specific. When I’m on stage, my aim is to inspire the audience to believe that they can achieve far more. In personal interactions, I’m usually just aiming to make other people feel free to be themselves, because that helps me to see how I can help them.
  • Behavior. Some will say ‘just be yourself.’ I’d say there are specific behavior traits which can be used to reveal your best, most authentic self.
  • Chemistry. The interactions and relationships which occur with others. Think of this as a continuous feedback loop. If you’re not aware of the personal chemistry between you and others, your charisma will suffer setbacks.

We’re going to examine charisma-enhancing behavior in the next post, but for now I’d like you to begin observing your aim  or objective when you’re interacting with others, as well as your own behavior and the resulting personal chemistry. Don’t be in a hurry. Improving your charisma takes time. Once you’ve made some definite observations of your present use of charisma, you can do the following for an immediate shift in its impact:

Smile. A genuine smile conveys warmth and friendly intent.

Make eye contact. Lack of eye contact will make people think you have something to hide, or that you’re not confident.

Use open body language. To put it simply, this is when no part of the body covers the midway point of the bisected body. Crossed arms, for example, usually indicate resistance, hostility, or skepticism.

Relax. Most people don’t bite. Really.

Speak up. Charismatic people tend to speak clearly and calmly.

If you’re really struggling with your charisma, I’d recommend  Andrew Leigh’s book for an in-depth approach. In my next post, I’ll go into detail on how to improve your use of charisma to hep unleash your vision on the world.

Keep the faith!

-Sam

Some thoughts on attitude…

Attitudes, particularly the unproductive sort, can easily become excuses. Once we start to use an attitude as an excuse, it can easily become a firmly held belief, which for most of us is a pretty good substitute for truth. In fact, for many of us, it’s such a good substitute that we may very well persuade ourselves that our various attitudes and the perceptions that they create are in fact absolute, immutable truths. Such attitudes become mindsets, and dangerous ones at that, because they can direct us to make unproductive or even destructive decisions. The results of those decisions will then have a tendency to persuade us even further of the ‘truth’ which was, in fact, only a bad attitude in disguise.
Now, while most of us are familiar with the idea of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ attitude, what we usually don’t realize is that positive or negative is really only relevant when a goal is affected. The fact that I hate McDonald’s coffee doesn’t mean a thing when I’m cooking paella. It has no bearing on how I’ll brown the chicken, or when I’ll sauté the garlic and onions, or any other part of the process. Thus, at least in regard to my paella recipe, my attitude concerning McDonald’s horrible-tasting coffee is neither good nor bad.
On the other hand, if take on the attitude that none of my current prospects wants to talk to me, then there’s a good chance that I won’t put in a 100% effort when I pick up the phone, or that I may even avoid contacting them altogether. In my first ‘Wall Street’ job, the managers would fire someone for displaying a bad attitude, and even if someone did manage to not get fired, there were other consequences. For example, sometimes a broker would get discouraged or frustrated and would say something to the effect of ‘they’re just not buying,’ and then leave the room for a while. In other cases, they’d avoid saying anything like that, but their ‘breaks’ would become more and more frequent, and soon enough, when they returned to their desk, they’d find a sign taped to the back of their chair. The sign displayed three letters: CPA. being new to the game, my curiosity overtook me, and I asked what this meant.
‘CPA’ stood for ‘Certified Phone Avoider,’ and while some might find what we did silly, no one wanted to be that guy with the sign on his chair. More to the point, the brokers who kept avoiding the phone didn’t open new accounts. Thus their frustrated attitude had a clear effect on whether they achieved their sales goals. This wasn’t because they lacked skill. They just weren’t getting on the phone. Quite a a few of them were, in my opinion, far better salesmen than I was at the time. However, I opened more accounts and did more business than they did, because I had an attitude that was the opposite of theirs. I convinced myself that if I had to come in earlier and stay later, or make twice the phone calls that others were making, I was going to do it. I would repeatedly say to myself throughout the day, “Somebody’s got to say ‘yes.’” Some days I worked from just past 6 AM to 10 PM, and sometimes made as many as 800 phone calls a day, or more.
However, while so many people in sales will say that it’s a ‘numbers game,’ that’s only partly true. I soon found out that there was much more to it than simply ‘pounding the phone.’ Good effort had to be put into each call, since we never knew if that next call was going to be that life-changing whale of a client, and at this particular firm, the senior brokers had some creative methods for attitude adjustment.
One of these would come into play when a new broker would start to get discouraged and their voice would drop in volume and their posture would slump a bit as the weight or rejection began to bear down on them. At this point a senior broker would take their chair away, usually saying something like, “You’re not getting your chair back until I can hear you on the phone,” along with a number of choice expletives. While this may seem a bit extreme, I decided to experiment with this myself and pushed my own chair away. How did this affect the outcome of my efforts? My lead generation skyrocketed, and I started opening more accounts. However, this wasn’t my turning point, and before I share that turning point, I should make a bit of a confession in my next post.

Have an awesome week!

-Sam

RIP Robin Williams

Wow. Just wow.

When I got the news yesterday morning, I thought it was a prank. I soon found out that it wasn’t. Robin Williams, who’s made me laugh since I was about 5, is gone. We’re told he took his own life. I still can’t believe it.

A friend of mine likes to say that anyone who says money can’t buy happiness just doesn’t have any. I think Robin William’sGone too soon. tragic end underscores that my witty friend is wrong. He had it all: fame, fortune, and family. His humor had made the world his oyster, and yet he was still so depressed that he chose to end his life. I can only imagine what his family must be going through.

Having been through some depression myself, particularly when I ended up homeless after Princeton, I know how quickly sorrow can turn to despair. Like Rocky said, nothing is going to hit you harder than life, and sometimes we struggle for years or even decades with wounds in our soul that just don’t seem to heal.

If you’re struggling with depression, don’t go it alone. It may feel like no one understands, but the truth is someone somewhere does, and someone somewhere would be happy as a clam in your shoes.

I won’t pretend to have any answers here, but I will say there’s no emotional wound worth your life.

Be grateful, love others, even when they don’t deserve it, and keep the faith.

Robin, you’re so greatly missed already.

Questions to determine an uncommon client focus

Who is being under-served in your market? In every market, there’s always what I like to refer to as the wall-flower client. They’ve come to the big dance, they’re all dolled up, but for some reason they go unnoticed, or just don’t think their prospects are that good, so they keep to themselves. There is an abundance of people and organizations living with problems that they aren’t even aware can be solved, or working with vendors and solutions providers who are marginal or “good enough for now.” A while back, I met a very determined but frustrated young woman. She was getting started as an energy market, but was unsure of who to pursue as clients, because she had a lot of competition at the usual industrial targets like warehouses and factories. I told her to go after large auto dealerships, private schools, local arenas, community theaters, and a few other kinds of organizations that aren’t normally thought of as ‘industrial,’ but which have very high energy usage. She’s doing quite well now.

Do what others can’t or won’t do (or do well). In the beauty industry, the vast majority of customers just accept that a moderately priced blow-dryer is going to last maybe a year before it stops working. In most grocery stores, line-ups are usually a nightmare. Yes, people often accept some things as ‘the nature of the beast,’ but an incredible opportunity is in store for the person who realizes that doing one of these things even a little better can create a customer service ‘wow’ factor.

What are the shortcomings of your industry? Every industry has faults, flaws, and downright ugly nasty bits. Understanding the problems of your industry is the first step toward becoming the solution – and profiting handsomely for doing so.

What upsets your ideal clients about your industry? Now, there are some that just get clients mad as hornets. Think of events, products, services, and individuals who caused a controversy because the customer experience was so bad. These are usually indicators of any number of underlying problems waiting to be solved – sometimes for a lot of money.

The more precisely you can answer these questions, the more precise you can be in your marketing. This also means you can be more specific in your branding, as well.