on 30 May 2015
I had mixed feelings about this. Sure, there were a few interesting ideas and useful tips in it but for the most part it was quite predictable and rather slanted towards an American readership. Perhaps it's a British thing, but I did find myself cringing in places feeling that some of the techniques could make you come across as really rather insincere and rehearsed.
Perhaps an interesting read for an aspiring motivational speaker or executive, but other than that it felt like a bullet-point list of public-speaking tips stretched out to fill a book.
on 12 November 2012
This book offers practical advice on ways in which to improve one's charisma. The author starts off by introducing the three 'elements' of charisma, and dissects each of these. She focuses on ways of improving one's inner mental state as a way to improve charisma. The end point is to improve one's ability to cultivate a positive mental state, and suppress negative ones. I personally find the visualisation techniques to be very effective, but they do require a lot of attention and concentration. A lot of the exercises are writing exercises, so in order to get the most out of it don't expect to be reading this book as a way of relaxing before going to bed.
I want to stress that I find this book extremely good. It's packed full of exercises. My only criticism is that it may be a bit too packed - I quite like a bit of filler between exercises, perhaps to illustrate the exercises a bit more. However, this is a personal preference - some people may well prefer her straight-to-the-point style.
on 3 November 2013
So many self help books are "all gong and no dinner" but I found this book to be a refreshing exception. The basic premise of the book is that charisma is very often a learned skill rather than an inherent personality trait. But.... and here is where the real nitty-gritty of the book lies.... it is very difficult to have charisma if you are not comfortable within yourself. The author does a very competent job of explaining how the many causes of low self esteem and lack of self control in difficult circumstances can be overcome as well as going on to explain the essential skills needed to connect with other people in a deep, warm and meaningful way. To sum up, I have learned that if a book contains just one good idea that you can realistically use in your day to day life , it is a good buy and this book contains many.
on 10 February 2013
This book seems to fit a new slant - how charisma isn't so much an innate ability but one that can be turned on almost at will with 'internal skill'; it is a distillation of the author's many years of practical business advice to high-ranking CEOs and leadership teams in Fortune 500 companies demystifying behaviours that project presence, power and warmth. However the science behind the science of charisma is surprisingly like you might have come across before.
As with most self-help books it doesn't seem to matter what aspects of human behaviour you invariably want to change, eventually you arrive at the tendency towards a negativity bias (inaccurate and unhelpful thoughts) and raising awareness of the traps the mind falls into. Conversely the key to such positive fulfilment is the distortion of reality through the power of the imagination when applied with affirmative action.
"The Charisma Myth" at its core then is another book with an NLP type behavioural psychology twist of breaking down a talent into its constituent parts many avid readers of Self improvement might find slightly short changed by. I did find myself absorbing the same rudimentary literature relating to body language and presentational skills that had been doing the rounds ever since psychological explanations were applied to sales. In fact, the four types of charisma style that form the crux of de-constructing charisma in this book can be seen as the four Jungian archetypes, which may or may not have have crossed the author's mind: the warrior = focus charisma, the lover = kindness charisma, the king = authority charisma, and the magician = visionary charisma.
However, not withstanding the over exposing of myth of charisma's nuts and bolts it does not go unnoticed that the author is a very highly skilled and effective communicator as evidenced in her writing style which lifts effortlessly off the page. There are countless insights, personal experiences and tons of practical exercises to fine tune charisma forming habits and lots of anecdotal and academic research to back this up.
I especially found the chapter on being comfortable in handling discomfort a really important tool. This is done in a sequential order by firstly de-dramatising the discomfort, then normalising the experience (destygmatising) detaching from the basis of its validity (neutralising the thought), rewriting our own version of its reality (more poignant if written down) and finally transferring its responsibility to a greater power.. God anyone? This last point, again reminded me how such Ninja moves of the internal variety have always been "out there" - possibly for those lucky enough to be coached by supportive mentor/peer groups with or without formal belief systems.
Further chapters on establishing warmth and rapport are also particularly good, especially in understanding the natural escalation from gratitude and good will, through to empathy and compassion (I had thought empathy and compassion were the same, but apparently not). Another very well explained technique for giving people a sense of ownership for their success and therefore warding off envy and resentment (a negative side effect of those exhibiting charisma) is explained called the JALIR sequence: 'J'ustify your reason to contact someone first, 'A'ppreciate them by 'L'aying it all out and tell them the 'I'mpact they have on you by crediting them with 'R'esponsibility.
In rapidly summing up this book it brings to mind that many successful people have a resource of creative visualisation in their tool-kit as well as a seeming natural presence - two incredibly important sustainers and nourishers of personal success. But very much in the same vein as Napoleon Hill and Andrew Carnegie, Olivia Fox Cabane has discovered the same precious secrets of charisma and converted them into the style of a training manual so that maybe others can learn to mirror the key components of influence too.
Whether this book will have the same impact as the aforementioned classics remains to be seen though one suspects that the true craft is as always in the application and no amount of reading will replace constant practice and coaching. More importantly we are told a lack of imagination and personal projection can be overcome.
on 20 June 2014
Olivia Fox Cabane is an expert in leadership and charisma. In this book she gives an explanation of what charisma is, and also tools for improving it. The title refers to the mistaken assumption held by some that charisma is innate. The author rejects this early on the book, stating that charisma is instead learned behaviours, or habits. The book also discusses different styles of charisma: visionary, kindness, authority and focus.
But where the book really excels is in its offering of many powerful tools to improve your mental state and conversational skills, among other things. Tools for dealing with negative mental states are provided since body language is the most important component of charisma and there is a direct causal relationship between mental state and body language. These exercises are superb and their applications go far beyond just being more charismatic. I bought this book just to understand charisma and to polish my social skills a bit more. This book offered a lot more. The writing style was lucid and concise, and the ideas well explained and researched.
on 27 January 2013
Charisma as a topic can give birth to all kinds of philosophical texts. This is a practical, well written, well researched book that cuts through the confusion and delivers on what charisma is and how to get it. It feels throughout the book like Olivia is right there talking to you and just watching some of her videos on YouTube you can see for yourself that she practices what she preaches to remarkable success! Buy one for yourself and two more for your best friends - its worth it.
Whatever you call it (some call it a "sixth sense"), most of us realize when we are in the presence of people who are "special." They attract us and we feel comforted rather than threatened by them. It's as if we had entered a gravitation field and there is this almost electrical interaction. (Some call it "chemistry" or "instant rapport.") The best word I can think of to describe it is "magnetic." However, I cannot explain how and why it happens...but Olivia Fox Cabane can, and indeed has explained it in this book.
At the outset, I think it necessary to make a distinction between authentic and inauthentic charisma while conceding that both can be magnetic. Those who possess authentic charisma cherish mutual respect and trust. They possess emotional intelligence (e.g. empathy) as well as decency and kindness that almost glow. They radiate integrity. That is the effect that Mohandas Gandhi had on people when in his presence.
Those who exemplify what I characterize as inauthentic charisma are by nature or intent manipulative, predatory, self-serving, devious, and hypocritical. They will say or do whatever serves their purposes. They earn trust only to create opportunities. They almost sparkle when ingratiating themselves. At least early in Adolph Hitler's political career, people whose support he attempted to recruit found him "charming." Later when he began to deliver speeches to vast audiences, he was widely described as "inspiring," even "messianic."
As Olivia Fox Cabane explains, people are not born charismatic, "innately magnetic from birth." Rather, "charisma is the result of specific nonverbal behaviors, not an inherent or magical personal quality." In fact, almost anyone can master "practical, immediately applicable tools...in a methodical, systematic way, with practical exercises immediately useful in the real world." More specifically, she explains
o How to develop and enhance one's charisma with three behaviors: presence, power, and warmth
o How and why "charisma begins in the mind"
o How to counteract charisma-impairing physical discomfort
o How to handle skillfully almost any difficult situation
o How to create charismatic mental states
o How to determine which charisma style (i.e. focus, visionary, kindness, or authority) is most appropriate to one's character, the given goals to achieve, and one's current and imminent situations)
o How to make a great first impression
o How to listen with charisma
o What "emotional contagion" is and how to manage it effectively
o How to deal effectively with difficult people
o How to deliver constructive criticism
o How to make a public presentation of almost anything with charisma
o How to respond effectively to a crisis
o The defining characteristics of "the charismatic life"
Cabane assumes that the information, insights, and advice that she provides in this book - the behaviors that project presence, power, and warmth as well as an entire toolkit to master those behaviors -- will be used to serve purposes and achieve objectives that are not only legal but ethical and moral, that are life-affirming, that will help to make a positive difference in a world that so often seems hostage to negativity. This book will help authentic people to be significantly more effective in all areas of their life. Yes, the book will also help at least some inauthentic people to become more effective - at least for a while -- and perhaps one day Olivia Fox Cabane will write a book in which she explains how to recognize them, avoid them, and protect ourselves and others from them.
For now, let's all be grateful for what she shares in this book. Those who read it will increase their understanding of the art and a science of enriching our relationships with others. That is indeed an admirable goal. Helping her readers to achieve it is a precious gift.
on 9 January 2014
I'm 'over 21' and feel I have earned the T shirt over the years regarding exec development courses/books, but this is simply one of the very best business books I have ever read. From start to finish it is full of fascinating insights, interspersed with great tips and pointers; it delivers both immediate and long-term benefits, which is quite some accomplishment !
on 23 July 2013
The book treats the subject of charisma in an easy, sometimes funny way. Still the autor manages to keep it relevant and concise. Some of the tips provided in the book are really useful and applicable to real life situations. However, it states sometimes the obvious and lacks the depth I was expecting. All in all it is an interesting book that I would reccomend to anyone interested in the subject.