The ABCs of Charisma, Part 2

Charisma isn’t everything, but most of us want it, or wish we had more. In last week’s post, we discussed how improving your charisma can be seen as ABC – a relationship between your Aim, Behavior and the Chemistry between you and others. Today we’re going to deal with one aspect of the behavioral side of charisma.

Yes, there are changes you can make to your behavior which can greatly increase how charismatic you seem, but first I’d like to address the one thing you can do that will make every other strategy far more powerful, and incredibly easier to implement.

AUTHENTICITY.

How do you feel about someone when you think they’re being fake?

Do you find it easy to like them?

 

How likely are you likely to trust them?

Now, I know it may seem corny to just say ‘be yourself,’ but let’s face it, the easiest way to be charismatic is to be real. Nobody likes a phony. Actor George Burns once said about honesty that ‘If you can fake it, you’ve got it made.’ The same holds true for authenticity. very few of us can be fake and pull it off consistently. The vast majority of us are nowhere near as mysterious as we think we are. If you were slick and smooth as a bag of greasy marbles, you wouldn’t be rearing this.

So, your first step in your journey to great charisma is to examine your character and personality. Who are you, really? Drop the socially convenient masks for a little while, and practice really  being yourself.

I’m not saying you should lose all decorum and share your inner demons with the world, but rather that you give yourself permission to be you. It’s a lot easier than creating a facade. Try these simple questions to help define your most authentic self.

What did you LOVE doing as a child? Dig up old photos, videos, diaries, and other things which connect to that past before you learned to conform.

What are your values  What matters most to you? Ask yourself where these values came from. Write them down and re-state them in a way that makes it really yours.

What’s fun for you now? What do you like to do but avoid doing because you think you can’t be good at it?

What are you drawn to? if you were going to have to spend the rest of your life on an island alone but could bring 10 books, what would they be?

What do you do because other people respond well? Would this change if you only ever had to please yourself?

What is your body telling you? What are the things which cause you stress, anxiety, fear? Why?

What are the ways that you function well, and not so well? For example, I do my best writing at around 4AM, regardless of what time I’ve gone to bed, so I try to get up then whenever possible.

What dreams did you have earlier in life? Not all dreams are necessarily destiny, but they can reveal patterns that will help you identify who you really are.

What is the underlying WHY In the things you do when you’re not acting out of obligation, necessity, social expectations, etc.?

When you start answering some of the questions, you’re going to find it easier to be yourself, and when people sense that you’re for real, they will tend to be more receptive to you and what you have to offer, and this receptiveness is what then will enable conscious charismatic behavior to work its apparent magic. We’ll talk about that next week.

Meanwhile, remember. An intention without a decision is just a wish, so decide today to unleash your most authentic self so that you can tap into the amazing power of your charisma.

-S

 

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.