Friday, December 11, 2009

Charisma & Obama's Peace Rhetoric

The awarding of President Barack Obama of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is an excellent example of a national phenomenon having international implications. The Nobel committee cited "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"(Gibbs 2009 para 4). Charismatic politicians are masters at crafting messages and changing the mood and optimism of an environment. But, they don't have the ability to create facts from compelling rhetoric. To say that President Obama has transformed international diplomacy is a stretch at minimum and mythological at worst. "His (Obama) critics fault some of those efforts: those who favor a missile shield for Poland or a troop surge in Afghanistan or a harder line on Iran. But even his fans know that none of the dreams have yet come true, and a prize for even dreaming them can feed the illusion that they have" (Gibbs 2009, para 4). The impact of irrational exultation of charismatic politicians can be treasonous to the national interest of a country.

In a Machiavellian sense, it is ineffective to apply solutions inappropriately to a problem that affect the long term domestic and foreign policy of a sovereign nation. Given the contemporary challenges of geopolitics, the Latin dictum is most apt, " Si vis pacem, para bellum" (If you wish peace, prepare for war). In all fairness to President Obama, the media categorized him under the Charismatic leadership Model, although his overall attributes do not warrant inclusion. While President Obama fits Conger's (Bodow, 2002) notion that a charismatic personality has the ability to communicate a compelling vision for the future, that's where the buck stops for him. Charismatic communication is merely a manifestation of the missionary zeal characterized by charismatic personalities. To hone one's communication skills while lacking a deep philosophical infrastructure does not a charismatic personality make.

The upside to President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize is that it sets a global political agenda for pro-Western allies. By labeling President Obama, "The Peaceful President," it’s difficult for rogue states like Iran and North Korea to have strong political standing on the world stage. When the U.S. has to take preemptive measures in the name of peace, it's an easier sell with a "redeemer" as president. When politics, media and constituencies intersect, ancillary institutions enter the fray to be on the "right side of history." Without creating another "Conspiracy Theory," geopolitics is always in play and charismatic politicians serve as instruments for strategic maneuvering. In President Obama's case, the Nobel Peace Prize is an additional act in the perpetual marketing production that has characterized the Obama Administration. It turns preparing for war, if you wish for peace on its head. Now the mantra is, "If you must war, appear peaceful."


Bodow, S. (2002 December 12). Charmed I'm sure. USA Today. para 6. Retrieved on September 19, 2009:

Gibbs, N. (2009 October 9). Obama's Nobel, the last thing he needs. Time magazine online. Retrieved from:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Is the Media Biased Against Un-Charismatic Politicians?

When a candidate complains that his charismatic opponent is receiving far more favorable coverage than himself, the media becomes more circumspect. Almost self-conscious. But, there is very little bias if the public is responding to a candidate with great enthusiasm. Professor Drew Westen, psychologist and neuroscientist at Emory University says,"The charge of bias against a charismatic contender can have a chilling effect on coverage, leading to an embargo on visual images that depict the reality of public response or an obligatory snarky comment or caveat following every story that describes something the candidate has done well. I saw the process in action during the primaries when Hillary's charge led to media concerns about airing footage that would seem too positive for Obama. On more than one occasion, a television producer would ask me for suggestions about film clips to illustrate the point I would be making on air a few hours later or a point they wanted to make, and would reject an appropriate clips because it was ‘too positive’ or because it was from a victory speech. But a victory speech is hardly unfair to show simply because it shows the candidate victorious. That's what victory is"(2008 para 3).


Westen, D. (2008 July 27). How should journalists cover a charismatic candidate? When the subjective is objective. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from:

Related: Charisma

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Changing Winds of Charisma

History is replete with the vagaries of politicians who are feted and lambasted with the winds of change. "…The British public did not see Winston Churchill as a charismatic leader in 1939, but a year later, his vision, confidence and communications skills made him charismatic in the eyes of the British people, given the anxieties they felt after the fall of France to the Nazis and the Dunkirk evacuation. Yet by 1945, when the public turned from winning the war to building the welfare state, Churchill was voted out of office. His charisma did not predict his defeat. The change in voters' needs was a better predictor (Nye 2008, para 6)." These sentiments are echoed within James Madison's Federalists Papers, # 57. Under this guise, human nature cut both ways. On one hand the people would elect representatives to be stewards for their interests. On the other hand, the ego and self-interest of the politician would keep him aligned with his constituency to gain re-election.

Charisma is effective in connecting a politician to the emotional security of voters, but ultimately, politicians must effectively meet the needs of constituents. This back and forth does make logical sense for public policy in conjunction with the nuance of human nature. It is the astute politician who uses charisma to skew favor to his side. Understandably, there will be times when a principled politician won't be able to satisfy the needs of his collective constituency. Being adroit and adept at saying "no," but allowing it to go down easily is the hallmark of effective politicking. This is the advantage charismatic politicians have over adversaries. The ability to use charisma as a tool to strategically ensconce difficult policies within the soft belly of visceral and practical realities. If played well within the media, such maneuvers suggest that the politician is "getting things done." Even when policies act unfavorably to some constituents, this won't necessarily be a deal- breaker, because constituents know when a line has been drawn between their individual greed and the overarching interests of a collective agenda.


Nye, J. (2008 May 6). The mystery of political charisma. Wall Street Journal.

Related: Charisma

Friday, November 6, 2009

Charisma: Its Effect on Politics & Media

The 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Debates ushered in an era of politics that has transformed how politics plays in the media as well as how public policy is formulated. The emergence of candidate-centered politics made individual personalities as important, if not more, than policy platforms. Eminent sociologist Max Weber transformed the concept of charisma from its religious origins to its secular manifestations. Weber asserted that charismatic personalities gained power and significance through sheer will, determination and ambition contrary to inheriting or climbing the corporate hierarchy (Weber 1978). His notion of Charismatic Authority was prescient in that this leadership model would find a place within modern politics. The Celebrity Industrial Complex (Orth 2004)turned celebrities into politicians and politicians into celebrities, which allowed California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to go from film star to governor without any political experience or political platform. The objectivity of the media became skewed, because journalists either fawned over charismatic politicians or were self-conscious about seeming overly positive when a charismatic politician connected with the public viscerally. The effectiveness of proposed public policy considerations were no longer vetted or mulled over, but presented to the public as "focus group" to determine its acceptance. How the proposed initiative resonated in the media would determine how hard politicians fought for legislative passage. Media objectivity has also been called into question when it has to juggle its role as public "truth provider" versus for-profit corporation. Arguably, the media has often opted for the latter with the notion, "If it bleeds, it leads." The bloodletting could be literal or metaphorical.


Orth, M. (2004). The importance of being Famous: Behind the scenes of the celebrity-industrial complex. New York. Henry Holt & Co., LLC.

Weber, M. (1978). Weber: Selections in translations. Runciman, W. (Ed.). United Kingdom. Cambridge. Press.

Related: Charisma

Friday, October 30, 2009

Deciphering the Messages of Charismatic People

A common sense approach to dissecting charismatic rhetoric from rationality might be:

1. Using deductive and inductive reasoning to pierce the veil of rhetoric. Deductive reasoning arrives at a specific conclusion based on generalizations. While, Inductive reasoning takes events and makes generalizations (Trochim 2006). Whether the generalizations come at the end of a case (Inductive) or in the beginning (Deductive), it is important to follow the logical connection between the generalizations as well as the factuality of the generalizations.

2. Thinking within a principle-centric reality. Philosopher Ayn Rand (Peikoff 1982) encouraged critical thinking through principles or overarching ideas of an argument. For example, if a person believes humans are created in the image of God, the person is operating from a principle that he believes a higher power created individuals and would necessarily reject the idea of Darwin's "Evolution." Principles often reflect paradigms. If one can understand someone's mode of thinking, he may see reality through another's lenses, but still maintain his own reasoning.

3. Separating emotions from reasoning. Former President Bill Clinton was known for his ability to compartmentalize his emotions. He could be embroiled in a personal scandal on one hand and focused on foreign policy on another. To him, one thing had nothing to do with the other. Being inspired about the message and metaphors of a political message may garner hope, but emotionally driven hope should never become a substitute for rational public policy.


Peikoff, L. (1982). The Ominous Parallels. New York. Penguin Group.

Trochim, W. (2006). Deductive and Inductive Reasoning. Research Methods Knowledge base. Retrieved from:

Related: Charisma

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Charisma & The Real Power of Women

The proverbial "Battle of the Sexes" was really never a battle. From a physical standpoint men may leverage power over women; but from the standpoint of real power of influence, women have always had more power than they might have imagined. In a Biblical sense, it was man's love of a woman that lead to his making choices adverse to his own existence. Women have influenced men in ways that either contributed to his greatness or downfall. The power lies in the occupancy of the heart. She who controls the heart of a man influences his actions. Generally, people often make decisions on emotions and then justify their actions through reason. Even the most powerful man in the world answers to his spouse. It is a shared relationship that involves mutual love, but if the woman is evolved, she has a great deal of influence over her man. Whether it is through platonic or romantic love, women have power to control every aspect of society.

The disparity comes when a woman does not know her individual and collective power. In relationships, the way to a man's heart is to gain his respect. A woman gains a man's respect by being a "friend to his mind." The cerebral nature of man is such that everything has to make sense before opening himself up to vulnerability. When a woman begins to cater to the man's wants and desires embracing his aspirations, he inevitably allows her into his inner sanctum. The inner sanctum is where the heart lies. When a woman gains a man's respect, he will give her the key to his inner sanctum. Once this inner sanctum has been entered, if she leaves, a piece of him goes with her. Respect brings about honor and if he dishonors her, he shatters his vision of his ideal, which causes him great pain and loss.

Many women do not exhort this type of power because they do not gain the man's respect. To gain this type of respect, a woman must be the paragon of a man's ideal of her. Her true power is finding her higher self, so that she can decipher misguided men who wish to prey on her versus the man whose inner sanctum she wishes to indulge. The work for the woman begins far in advance of her meeting her ideal man. When she has completed her self-analysis and reformation, she can attract her ideal man. It is her illusions that keep her from realizing her ideal self. The illusion that her beauty defines her value hinders her from fully developing. As a result, she grows old, disillusioned, and jaded without the privilege of re-gaining her years nor appreciating the lessons to be learned.

Man's love for women is a woman's greatest tool. If the world has not given women their just due, it is because women have not wielded their power effectively. The fact that women earn seventy cents to a man's dollar demonstrates the fact that women who are married to policy makers are not demanding parity from their spouse. The power that women command could influence public policy based on what transpires at the personal level. It is no mistake that prior to hiring executives, billionaire Ross Perot often visited the prospective employee's wife at their home to gauge whether she supported the rigors that came along with the job. He believed that the relationship the man had with his wife from 9:00PM to 6:00AM determined his effectiveness on the job from 9:00AM to 6:00PM. Perot felt that if the spouse was not supportive of the man's position, he would be an ineffective employee. That's the power of women! Sometimes women, who do not have to work based on their husband's position, are less altruistic to the needs of women who are not as privileged. In seeking selfish security, these housewives are not concerned with the disparity that exists among working women. Thus, a few women rest on their laurels and the rest are relegated to second class citizenry. Women let their illusions get in the way of their power.

Women can never be better than the idea they have of themselves and the world around them. The perception that this is a "man's world" is because women have not seized the power that is rightfully theirs. If the first recorded woman in history could influence her man to disregard the edicts of Divinity by eating an apple, what could a contemporary woman influence her man to do? There are a few ways women can manifest the real power they have if they are willing to shirk their illusions which is two-fold:

1. Women should commit to an idea of Self Mastery where they assume total responsibility and commitment to personal growth in all aspects of their life. This should be done through the idea of life-long learning, deeper insights into a spiritual connection with a higher power, and a sensible diet with a physical fitness regimen. Through Self Mastery, women may overcome self-hatred, violence, and non-productivity. These intangibles supersede the need for artificial stimulants, materialism, or codependency. Women who judge themselves to be successful feel empowered, value their existence, and are dedicated to preserving it. This can never be the responsibility of the people outside of her.

2. Women should commit to the idea of holding people responsible for thir actions. People Management is the idea that we monitor the people in our lives and determine if they meet the standards of treating us and others with proper dignity and respect. Part of the problem has been allowing loved ones to take advantage of us as well as others. We cannot dictate the behavior of others, but we can surely isolate them to the point where reform is better than exile. Women have to be brutally honest about what they want. Women are and will always be the greatest catalyst for influencing men and the direction of the world.

The power a woman manifests is correlative to the level of her development. She will forever rein as a dominant force on the stage of life whether she exercises her power or merely allows it to remain dormant. In this century, the women who utilize their power to the fullest extent will see the world better reflect the vision of their aspirations. The mirror of life is a reflection of our higher self in harmony with our greatest actions. As Magaret Thatcher once said,"In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want things done, ask a woman."

For more information, visit: Charisma

Friday, September 18, 2009

Charisma & The Illusion of Power

Power, as an illusion, represents the idea that power is not created or conjured up, but transformed from one reality to the next. Reality is represented by one's mindset. Internally, nothing has changed, but externally, all has changed. Take for instance the idea of a rare and precious painting selling for millions of dollars years after the death of the painter. In life, the painter was a struggling artist who had rejected materialism and worldly possessions. The most he ever sold in his entire life was one painting for very little compensation. Over one hundred years after his death, on May 15, 1990, Vincent Van Gogh's (1853-1890) "The Portrait of Doctor Gachet" sold for an astounding $82.5 million! What changed from his last brush strokes over a hundred years? The answer is nothing! The painting is the same, but our reality of its worth has been transformed. The power behind the painting lies in the illusion that we ascribe to it. The painting did not change merely the power that we gave it.

Power is often the creation and maintenance of illusions. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) once said that he did not create new words, he merely took old words and made them new. His power and words have lived for nearly four hundred years. Power is a sought after force that is often misunderstood. More often than not, individuals treat the concept of power separate from themselves. They look to gain power by external means such as the accumulation of money, fawning over people believed to be powerful, or pretending to be something they’re not. Actually, the last perspective is the closest to gaining power, because it does begin with the individual perceiving himself as powerful, but in a more visceral sense. Power is not some obscure entity that must be wrestled from its captor so that the individual might enjoy its rewards. On the contrary, power is always present and seeks to accompany all that will have it. It often acts like the prudish schoolgirl who wishes to be romanced before she gives into her suitor. Often times, the best way to get her is to act disinterested and she will cater to your deepest desires. Power wants to be possessed, because it has no utilitarian value by itself. It is pure energy existing without any purpose other than the one we give it. Power in its purest form is the amalgamation of the intellect, creative expression, and physical action. Thus the essence of human kind is to usurp power for its own good. The birthright of humankind is to exercise power to dominate the earth for its betterment. All this rests with the individual realizing that power devoid of expression is an illusion.

The attainment of power begins by acknowledging that the expressions can be manipulated to bring forth power. It is safe to say that one must be the symbol of power before he can reap the benefits that power brings. The three ways that the individual may manifest power are:

· Think in terms of power
· Become the embodiment of power
· Talk directly to people who represent power

Related: Charisma

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Charisma: Reflecting Our Role Models

Regardless of who we are, we want role models who not only represent who we may become, but who look like we do. It is often not enough to have role models who merely share the same ethnicity, but who remind us of ourselves. Role models must come in every form to reflect the cosmetic look of all of society. Recently, the modeling world has come under fire for relentlessly pushing models whose physical appearances do not accurately reflect the general population. The general population is not extremely thin, blond haired with perfect teeth. We have flaws that do not come close to the images identified as the ideal. As a matter of fact, recent reports suggest that the flawless features exhibited by the models on magazine covers are not real. These "flawed" models have been air brushed or "digitally" manipulated to remove the bags under their eyes or the freckles on their face.

Images that help the self-esteem of individuals are the ones that society cries out for. Recently, a friend who has been in the woman's retail industry for numerous years revealed that the fashion industry popularizes and makes specific sizes for women in keeping the myths going. Consequently, if you are sizes 12-14 the industry popularizes sizes 6-8. This is tantamount to the "guess your weight game" at amusement parks. No matter what you do, the correct weight is illusive, because it is the ideal that is being sold, not the style!

It is natural for our ideals to be reflected in others. As social beings, we gather much of our motivation from the examples of others. One day we may believe something is impossible to accomplish, the next day someone has done the impossible. It gives us more hope when that person looks like us. This ideal crosses ethnicity. Brunettes want to marvel at the feats of other brunettes. Blonds want the same for other blonds. Dark skinned Blacks want to see other dark skinned Blacks accomplishing great things. We are specific in our affinities. The days of generalities are gone. Society has grown to the point where our desires are detailed. However, it is not necessary that we follow the same people we admire. There is no need to become a model because people say you look like a supermodel. If you are 6'6" and resemble Michael Jordan that doesn’t mean your aspirations should be to play basketball. Role models inspire us to strive for more, but we need not aspire for the exact same things they do.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Charisma & What I Learned In Elementary School That Changed My Life About Looks and Confidence!

Many of the challenges our youth face today are no different than the ones I faced growing up. The idea of peer pressure and fitting in is not a new phenomenon, although perhaps heightened by the omnipresence of the media. At the personal level, the same games played on the playground in elementary school are played in all stages of life. Being shy and introverted, I witnessed the social dynamics that go on with those deemed desirable versus those defined as "not happening." I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, which would be described as the "hood" or a community predominated by Blacks. The power plays that go on in such a community are phenomenal. The family that had the most members wielded more power and control over families with lesser numbers. There were only two of us, which put me at the bottom of the totem pole. Consequently, the youngest in another family could bully me, because they had brothers who were older and bigger than I. If I were to fight the bully and win, I would be running from one of the older brothers until revenge was exacted. Coupled with the fact that I was not "cool" made for a frightful time.

My brother and I were reared by my mother and grandmother who were strict disciplinarians. We had to be in the bed every night at 8:30PM on school nights. While we were in bed, we could hear the kids we played with outside. They had to get up the next day for school also! The seemingly "cool" behavior of doing your own thing without discipline became valued in the community and trickled over to what the neighborhood saw as desirable. There was a tough demeanor that went along with this behavior, because it took on seemingly adult behavior that made them grow up faster than they should have. Many were getting high from marijuana and having sex. We were still in elementary school. I felt like a kitten in a jungle of lions and tigers. I was doing regular childhood things like playing football, baseball, and basketball. I had a paper route, got good grades, and won awards for "Perfect Attendance". I did everything right according to the rules. However, these are not the values of the "hood". Girls liked the rough and unruly types (the guys who defied any semblance of authority). The only girls who liked me were the ones who the cool guys did not want. If the girls had their choice, they would have had the cool guys. The girls would play a game that I hated called "who's the cutest boy in the class?" They would name all of the hunks and agree that each person they named qualified. They would say, "What about Eddie?" then emphatically say "naaaah". I was crushed! This scenario played out through high school. I went to high school with drug dealers and gangsters before the standard became "keeping it real."

By this time, I was respected among the honor students, but was still afraid of the gangsters (unruly students). Imagine being cool around the "bookworms" and a "nerd" among the cool guys. Surprisingly, I thought I was attractive. The girls apparently did not! I was still being picked by the girls who liked me rather than the ones I wanted. I decided around my senior year of high school that I would reinvent myself!

I committed myself to becoming the ultimate male. As a shy person, you observe a lot in your environment. I noticed what girls found attractive and went on a relentless course to become those things, which trickled into adulthood. The criteria changed as I got older, but many stayed the same. I determined that girls and women wanted:

· Good looks
· Big muscles
· Confidence
· The ability to protect them
· Street smarts
· Quick wit and the “gift of gab”
· Charm
· A degree of roughness mixed with sensitivity
· The ability to take care of oneself
· Inner strength
· Job stability
· Take charge person

I decided I would be all of these things so I could create and regulate my agenda. You are either working your master plan or someone else's. I’ve worked out (physically) since I was twelve years old. My mother bought me my first barbell weight set. I did mostly arm curls and that's what developed first. I maintained that regimen throughout my teenage years and continued with a more advanced program later. I liked school and books so I read more to be able to engage women in stimulating conversation. Women are seduced first through the mind and everything follows from there. Many men believe the reverse is true -- that if you solely satisfy a woman sexually that will keep her interested. With a library card, any man can become well read and intellectually stimulating. I find that reading philosophy, history, and sociology equips me to deal with the psyche of individuals. As humans, we are not as complex if we know how to read the background of individuals. For example, if we listened to people describe their childhood experiences, we could gauge why that person feels and acts as he does as an adult. Read the script that a person has read since childhood and you will know where his story leads. The more you read, the more you are able to follow the modes of thinking within individuals.

I developed my own style of dressing. It followed what was trendy at the time, but always with a twist. I remember in high school wearing a black shiny windbreaker reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" jacket. I would wear a turtleneck shirt under my windbreaker and roll the jacket sleeves up so the shirt would show. I also wore a fake gold necklace, cuff pants, and suede Pro Keds sneakers. (Michael Jackson had not come out with the "Beat It" jacket yet or rolled up sleeves…he was still with the Jackson Five at the time.) I developed my own style of dressing that was uniquely mine, but not outlandish.

The difference between what I see in our youth today and my generation is that we developed our own sense of style around what was happening at the time. We did not follow a "cookie cutter" approach of everyone being and looking the same. The older you get, the more you should develop an air of distinction in your clothing taste. I do not condone individuals being stuck in a time zone. Our style should reflect our individual evolution as well as what is current or classic. As an independent individual, you have the right to wear what you like, but your nonverbal communication is saying something to the world about who and where you are and people will respond in kind. I read a book on classic clothing for men where I learned the optimum fabrics for suits. The bottom button on a vest and suit jacket should remain unbuttoned. I watch what the popular news anchormen wear to gauge what colors are popular and how to accessorize an outfit. Sometimes, I buy exactly what they are wearing if I think it would look good on me or copy the style and make it my own. As social beings, we are supposed to learn from each other. If everything stems from culture, none of this is etched in stone anyway and serves as a means of communication. If you want to convey a certain style, learn to communicate what you desire through the language of clothing.

I believe many of my friends are attractive is because I am defined as attractive. We gravitate towards people who reflect who we are. Consequently, individuals who have been labeled attractive move towards others deemed attractive. The exception is when an attractive person has low self- esteem and consciously seeks out people deemed less attractive only to make themselves feel good by comparison. Attractive people gravitating towards other attractive people may be conscious or subconscious. It is like being in an unspoken club where there is an unwritten understanding that we all fit what is desirable in society. Do not expect anyone to admit it. Is this superficial? Maybe! This is part of the process some people go through before they can evolve to their higher self. This mindless maze can go on well into adulthood and is heightened by a society that exalts beauty. It is a shallow cultural concept that influences everything from the clothes we wear to the car we drive. Everything is marketing…and the better it is done, the more desirable it is.

Part of being attractive is commensurate with how much confidence you have developed. It is essential that you believe that you are "hot." One of my mistakes as a child is that I suffered from low self- esteem. I did not know it then, because I felt like my preoccupation with my looks was healthy. In retrospect, the girls did not merely choose the boys who were attractive solely because of looks, but also because they were confident. The cool guys had confidence. Whether their discipline or lack there of was effective, they believed in what they were portraying. Many of them went down the wrong road of drugs and alcohol, but at the time, you could not tell that they were not desirable. I felt that I did not have enough going for me based on what the community valued to reinforce being confident. Remember, books and listening to your parents weren't cool. I never drank alcohol nor took drugs, what did I have to brag about? This was another addition to my reinvention, because I knew enough about human nature that my lifestyle would at some point be revered. Do not get me wrong, I felt like an outcast when I was growing up around this behavior and seemingly the only one not doing it. As I became focused on having life on my terms, I determined that those vices would hurt them and redeem me as the tables turned.

Sure enough, after I graduated from college, the status quo changed. The pretty girls in high school were having babies out of wedlock by several different men. They no longer had their "hour glass" figures. The cool guys were burned out by life and were heading nowhere. The change was drastic and in a short period of time. Soon the girls who had rejected me were seeing me in a different light. It was like I had come of age and suddenly they were interested in me. By then, I really did not like them nor see them as desirable, but the pain I had received from them caused me to have my way with them out of spite. I did not know that I was acting out of pain. I was merely paying them back for the way I was treated for trying to live my life uprightly. After all, why should they be pitied? Were they not the ones who chose the destructive path? That is how I felt at the subconscious level, but I really wasn't that cruel. My pain wanted to be vindicated, but I did not wish nor want to harm anyone. I was always connected-spiritually.

As I grew older, my transformation took shape. I never had much materially, but I made the best of what was available to me. As long as you are ambitious, possess some attractiveness, and are articulate, you can fit in almost anywhere you desire. I was driven to be the best and was considered an "overachiever" by society. My relationships with women suffered, because I did not trust their motives. Women seemed not to possess loyalty opting to go with the first pretty face they saw. In fact, I seemed to always find a flaw in them that turned me off. They were slightly overweight, had skinny legs, did not have an education, hung out too much, cried too much, etc… Subconsciously, I was looking for the perfect woman or the one I thought was perfect for me. I had reinvented myself to be the perfect man, so the flaws I saw had to be hers, not mine. It is true that what you fear the most persists in your life. Almost without exception, my belief in the disloyalty of women led me to find them in compromising positions. I could always say, "I knew they could not be trusted." There are no voices of reason with irrational values. Everyone is reading from the same cosmetic script. The attractive individuals who utter what is politically correct are not convincing, because they don't really believe it themselves. Who in their right mind would say, "I am attractive and I believe the world revolves around me?" That's a whole new level of charisma and confidence.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Science of Charisma

Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law Of Motion says for every action there is an equal and opposite re-action. Energy is neither lost nor destroyed, merely transferred from one state to the next. This notion correlates with the energy/passion of charismatic leaders. Through the passionate energy of charismatic communicators, one is moved to heights of exhilaration and action or repelled by the seemingly idiocy of the emotionally expressed message. Nevertheless, an emotion is being elicited by the charismatic. Eminent communication expert, Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA stated:

-7% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.

-38% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).

-55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression.

The emotional momentum created by charismatic communications mixed with the non-verbal affects of effective communication is a recipe for why charismatics are able to persuade and influence so effectively. If this is part of human "hard wiring," it behooves aspiring charismatics to use the science of energy and effective communication to bend the world to her will.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Indispensability of Charisma

On August 12, 2000, my father died. But before he passed, he revealed some hard-won secrets to how, through his charisma, he was able to live life on his terms. When I say that my father had enormous charisma, it doesn't come from a doting, overly idealistic son. No, he consistently had scores of men and women around him feeding on his every word. The singers of the R& B group, Temptations, were regular guests at his home. And he had a bit part in the 1972 Blockbuster film, Superfly. It would not have been unusual for him to hold court with the likes of Adam Clayton Powell in New York City nor Shirley Chisholm as she ran for the presidency of the United States. When I speak of his charisma, I would say it was UNREAL, if I hadn't witnessed it for myself.

In retrospect, it was the result of a carefully cultivated personality, but moreover, it was a result of earlier experiences fraught with pain. Whether you are a child trying to fit in with peers or an adult trying to overcome the consequences of ill-fated choices, we all are attempting to overcome some deep-seated insecurity. To be a human being is to be insecure! My father was no different. He came from a world where men had to exemplify great physical and mental strength to gain the respect of not only other men, but women also. He became a master at understanding human nature by consistently studying the true motivation of human beings. He got so good at it that he had to be careful about the words he chose. One false move could crush a person's entire belief system. It would be easy to relegate these followers to mindless simpletons, but that would be a huge mistake. They were the same kind of people you meet every day. No one is immune from the influences of certain personalities. In fact, suffice to say that something or someone influences us all. If you think any differently, you are deluding yourself. The model car you drive, the house and location you live, the people you engage with and the church you attend, all stem from the ideals you've embraced based on some form of persuasion.

As I travel around the country and throughout the world spreading the gospel of charisma, largely from the lessons taught by my father, audiences consistently agree that style in many arenas has come to overtake substance. Maureen Orth in her book, The Importance of Becoming Famous…speaks about the Celebrity Industrial Complex. In her analysis, society has become enamored with the spectacle of celebrity and personality. It comes in two parts: the celebrity as the spectacle and the audience as hungry onlookers yearning for more. As the world continues to expand through the Internet and multi-media, the individual is becoming smaller and smaller. In fact, he is feeling smaller and smaller. Contrast this diminutive feeling with the human need for recognition and you see the emerging emotional gap. What will you do? How will you create the illusion of indispensability within your company? Are you considered the "go to" person?

You need charisma now more than ever to maintain your self-esteem as well as your livelihood. Unfortunately, saving yourself only becomes important when your back is against the wall. Guess what? Not only is your back against the wall, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. To survive, you must become famous, indispensable and a master at maneuvering on the stage of life. Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage and we're mere players." What part are you playing? And are you playing it well?

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Building Charisma Through Confidence

It is safe to say that individuals who convey great charisma are extremely confident. They exude a self- assurance that transcends the challenges that ordinary people face. We all have track records where incidents occurred where we were uncertain about the outcome, which caused anxiety. The fact that we persevered, never giving into the fear of the unknown, created a pattern of confidence. This pattern of successes paved the way for greater confidence and eventually greater charisma. Catching the winning touchdown in football, scoring higher than anticipated on a standardized test and asking that extremely desirable person out on a date are all part of your track record for building confidence.

To be more confident and thus increase your charisma, it is imperative that you begin listing the major successes in your life. This is not an exercise merely to engage you in activity, but a reminder of what is necessary in gaining the charisma that you seek. One of the biggest maladies that individuals suffer from is amnesia. We often forget our successes opting to focus on the times when we experienced fear and setbacks. We can easily remember the times when things did not go our way, the times when we were disappointed for not performing at our peak level. Amazingly, our mind has a vivid memory of these shortcomings, but experience ambiguity when remembering our successes. The mind as a life preserver seeks to protect us from impending danger. Quite often, those closest to us, in their attempts to protect us, also influence us to be fearful. These messages do not come infrequently, but constantly. The difference between those who feel the fear and are debilitated by it and those who overcome it lie in their ability to act courageously. Thus feeling the fear and persisting in spite of it.

In mathematics, we learned that one plus one equals two. In the concepts that lead to great charisma, the equation is experience plus courage equals confidence. It takes courage to step away from mediocre thinking in creating the person you want to become. We are often plagued by childhood fears, which play out in our adulthood. Most often, we can trace any insecurity, inadequacy or fear to an experience that left an indelible mark in our minds. In coping with traumatic experiences, we push the negative experience deep into our psyche, which comes out in some form of behavior. Courage allows us to face our personal challenges and override the messages we have internalized as well as put situations that were out of our control into proper perspective. The charismatic person is not devoid of these experiences or more than human, but he or she has become proficient in dealing with internal and external challenges deliberately. It is this ability to be bold and courageous that increases their charisma. How many times have you heard a speaker, businessperson or facilitator reveal a personal experience that you felt you could not reveal to a room full of strangers? How did you feel about her candor? Under most situations, it drew you closer to her because she was allowing herself to become vulnerable. Western culture has a scattered viewpoint about sensitivity and vulnerability, because we mistrust the next person to act according to their higher selves and our best interest. Couple this with our unwillingness to take risks and remember past successes and we have the making of an individual who has handicapped herself from becoming charismatic.

The predominate reason you need confidence to become more charismatic is because you have to embrace vulnerability in order to connect with others to inspire them to act. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is popular and is characterized as charismatic because she takes her audience through a range of emotions when sharing her vulnerabilities. Your inner strength increases by directly facing potentially embarrassing experiences without expending unnecessary energy on who might find out. Vulnerability allows you to take control from others and maintain it for yourself.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Charisma - do you have it?

Charisma comes from the Greek root word, 'Charis', which means 'grace or gift'. The belief is that the gods breathe into you, a special spirit. Charisma is an energy that can have a positive effect, or a highly disruptive negative impact. It attracts jealousy, and in extreme cases even loathing, from those who don't have it. If it's resident as a spark, it can be fanned into a flame. If it's not there ' well, it isn't ever going to be!

I was talking about charisma on radio one night. Saying pretty much what I've said here. Someone called me on my mobile phone literally the minute I left the studio, to ask, 'Do you think I have charisma?' I obeyed the Eastern dictum of 'tell the truth in the way that commits least injury', and replied with a non-answer, along the lines of, 'Your patients love you ' you must have some charisma.' What went through my mind though, was that if as an adult, you have to phone someone to ask if you have charisma, the answer is pretty self-evident.

You may however, like my young goddaughter, be unaware that you have charisma. And like her, be sincerely amazed at the degree of competitiveness, antagonism or hostility your energy-shifting presence causes in some circles. When people are deeply conservative, intellectually or emotionally constrained and restrained, they will frequently, if not always, interpret the impact of your charisma as a negative, threatening, dislocating force.

Good leaders all have charisma. It's what attracts people to them. 'Spellbinding, enthralling, captivating, riveting', are words that are often used to describe a charismatic person. Repelling people is the occasional opposite and negative effect of charisma.

Charisma isn't necessarily explicit, loud, vibrant or visible. It may be a quiet, compelling force emanating from someone with unobtrusive behaviour, speech or mannerisms. I'm reminded of a worldwide ad agency group CEO, speaking to us years ago on a training program. His was such a quiet but compelling, presence. He spoke softly - sometimes so softly you almost had to strain to hear him. But you absolutely couldn't ' and didn't ' want to ignore him. Not because of his position, or power, but because of his presence.

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has it. Nelson Mandela's birth name reflected in advance that he would have it ' Rolihlala in isiXhosa, means 'he who stirs up trouble.' In this case of an extremely positive kind! 'Brother Leader', the quixotic and seriously daft Muammar Gaddafi, has it. Adolph Hitler had it in evil bucket loads. Clinton has it, Tony Blair hasn't. Maggie Thatcher has it, John Major doesn't. Golda Meir had it, Ariel Sharon doesn't. It's something that leaps out of your television set. Love 'em or hate 'em, you'll notice when they have it.

Tim Sikyea, a native Canadian medicine man, described the gift of healing being given to someone, like this: 'When you are given the gift of healing, the Wise Ones put a beetle in your stomach. The beetle feeds on the pain and suffering of other people. The day you stop feeding the beetle with the suffering of others, it starts to consume you.'

What we often see in charismatic individuals is that they forget the gift is in trust and for the benefit of others. Accompanying personal magnetism, comes great responsibility. When people use the force for self-adulation, the beetle starts its slow work. The gift will drive them mad, or it will become a force for evil. You will remember the medium, and miss the message.

If you're aware that you have charisma, treat it like a radioactive isotope that has been put in your trust - with respect and awareness of its power to heal or harm ' depending on how it is applied.

Charisma doesn't require good looks, height, a great voice or some other distinctive feature. It is its own driving force ' independent of other attributes, which often have to function in concert, to have an impact.

Many organizations and corporates pay lip service to respect for diversity. But it's almost a given, that the day someone with charisma walks through the door, the organization will mount an 'immune system response'. It sets out to crush or kill the 'invading' foreign organism or bacterium, overwhelm it, and pull it into line with 'normal' cellular function. It takes deeply insightful leaders to accept and nurture charismatic employees. Most commonly the charismatic ones give up the fight against mediocrity, and go off and do their own thing.

About the author: Clive is a marketing and communications strategist. He helps people and organizations make sustainable change.

Author: Clive Simpkins

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Is the Price Right?

I want to put to rest the mistaken virtues of a balanced life. The illusory life of everything completed, everyone is happy and you make the most of multi-tasking with countless "balls in the air". Every self-help book, consultant and yoga guru speaks about the means of de-stressing and finding a balanced life. Faced with the many challenges life throws our way, we are on a relentless quest to have it both ways. We want material success and security and yet put our focus and energy in places farthest from our goals. Proponents of the "you can have it all" school of thought rarely stop to count the cost for the desirable things in life. Every endeavor comes with a price on the front end and has a downside. The professional skills that necessitate climbing corporate ladders and founding great institutions, do not lend themselves to warm, caring, loving parenting skills. James Allen said, "A man is what he thinks about all day." Loosely translated, you get out of life what you focus on most intensely. How can you be great at a thing with unfocused attention? Multi-taskers boast about being able to juggle several projects at once claiming victory for its success. However, where is the success? Can you claim that you have achieved a level of excellence? Of course, you can't!

Since the dawn of humanity, every accomplishment, contribution or great feat occurred through a heavy price and great sacrifice. There is no balance associated with focused attention. By its very nature, it is slanted towards the object of its affection. The price for a focused endeavor requires time, resources and at time-friendships, whether it is building empires or being a supportive parent. Decide what you want and stick to the plan. In addition, most of all pay the whole price without complaint.

Ultimately, focus on the things you want and pay minimal attention at attempting to be all things to everybody. The selfishness of individuals is endless and you invariably lose yourself in the process. Even if you could have it all, you can't have it at the same time. Every choice comes with a price.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Obama's Charisma: Loved or Feared?

Niccolo Machiavelli believed it was better to be feared than to be loved. It takes a combination of fear and love to ultimately gain respect. President Obama's quest to be loved has bumped up against the realpolitik of the world. While he's enjoyed a "Rock Star" reception in the US and abroad, at the end of the day, American citizens specifically and the world generally look for concrete results based on the current challenges across a wide swath of issues ranging from the US economy to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The need to be loved will eventually falter Obama's efforts to be effective. It has been argued that President Obama's leadership style falls under the Charismatic Leadership Model. Charismatic leaders have been divisive by their mere nature due to their "single-mindedness" of purpose. To date, President Obama really hasn't stood for much outside of bromides and platitudes. As such, he has yet to create the enemies typical of charismatic leaders who operate through sheer force of focus and personality. This doesn't suggest that his political instincts aren't keen. Some would say that he's doing exactly what Machiavelli advised, respond to each challenge according to one's best interest. For all the disparaging comments made against President George W. Bush, one always knew where he stood on an issue. Time will tell whether the Bush Administration will be vindicated based on the decisions of the past.

As Senator Obama, President Obama had the luxury of throwing stones from the sidelines as a mere spectator on national issues. At this point, his politics hasn't been that different from President Bush's. He's merely re-branded the packaging to make it go down easier for the palates of the world. Invariably, effectiveness lies in staking out the lay of the land, making an assessment and moving forward based on the interests of a country. The old saying in politics, "There are no permanent friends nor enemies, only permanent interests" is prescient to the core of human nature. By trying to be all things to everyone, you work against yourself and eventually lose the respect of initial supporters based on the choice to be popular over being effective. People often don't care where the line is as long as you draw one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Charisma & The Importance of Fame

One of the core needs of human beings is to be recognized and seen as significant. No one really wants to live in obscurity feeling that she has not contributed to society in some way. It would be a misnomer to say that the need for recognition is new, but the level and scope is a recent phenomenon. The social dynamics in a rapidly changing world made it acceptable for individuals to become self-promoters, although in some sense the stigma still remains. In the past, society frowned on the person who talked insatiably about himself and what he could do. However, the person who commands the spotlight and captures the imagination of people usually finds a place in their hearts. One person in recent history is given credit for spawning the likes of the many figures we adore today. The professional wrestler, Gorgeous George, who flourished from the late 1940's to the early 1960s, was the original sports figure who is credited for the likes of Muhammad Ali, Little Richard, Liberace and the popularity of today's wrestling. Gorgeous George competed for years as George Wagner with very little success. He was seen as plain and a less than average wrestler. George almost gave up wrestling until he came up with a marketing plan that would change his career and the face of sports forever. George grew his hair long, dying it blond and wearing gold-plated bobby pins with elaborate robes. He entered the ring escorted by a valet who sprayed his corner and his opponent's with disinfectant and perfume. He is given credit as the originator of using entrance music preferring "Pomp and Circumstance," which has become popular in many arenas including public speaking and professional wrestling . Through Gorgeous George's antics, he created a frenzy that brought people out in droves to witness his theatrics. What made him successful? He was a self-created character in the "theater of the absurd," which struck a chord with people because it captured their imagination through shear audacity. The world has rewritten the parable, "the meek shall inherit the earth" to "the bold and courageous shall inherit the earth."

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Charisma & The Fight Over Leadership

The interplay between charismatic leadership, transformational leadership, transactional leadership as well as other traditional leadership models is always fascinating. Are pundits trying to determine the ideal leadership model or merely playing each model off each other as a form of brinkmanship? Once more, is a person's personality geared towards one leadership model over another? Certainly, a life-long introvert wouldn't necessarily adopt the Charismatic Leadership Model to follow. While the Charismatic Leadership Model may have ideal traits the introvert may emulate, invariably, the core genotype for charisma may not be present. Consequently, hybrid approaches in leadership development may be necessary based on current social conditions. There has been an ongoing "Intellectual Donnybrook" where pundits square off one leadership style versus another. In the end, the winner is the style most favored personally by the pundit (based on his own temperament).

At the core, each leadership model is attempting to persuade or assuage the natural narcissism within each individual for the greater good of the organization. At the macro level, charismatic leadership may resonate with one group of individuals more viscerally than a traditional form of leadership. At the micro level, a leader may have to use various leadership styles for individuals in a smaller group as a means of group cohesion. It's the leader who is malleable and mutable to the context of the situation as well as the personalities involved who will triumph. While there may be core traits within each leadership model, the would-be leader could and should use leadership models as mere tools for achieving an objective. To suggest a leadership model exists that is purely altruistic is naïve. Whether it's a mission, crusade or profitability, leadership is created to feed the hungry need of the overarching objective.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

FAQs on Charisma

1. Can charisma be learned or are you born with it?
Based on our extensive research, we have determined that developing charisma is a skill just like typing, communicating or driving. Contrary to some schools of thought that assert that charisma can be learned through a 1-2-3 step process, we believe that it is a philosophy that increases as the skill is embraced. But, there are certain personalities that have a greater proclivity for charisma than others.

2. How is charisma defined?
We define charisma as the creating of perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through through flair, finesse and glib language.

3. In what context do you use charisma??
It is subjective and based on perceptions. Charisma has merit solely in a social context and if humans were not social animals the need for charisma would be irrelevant. Surveys consistently show that charismatic people make more money and generally are more successful than their counterparts. Invariably charismatic people have an edge even when they are not as technically proficient as their counterparts. Because we focus on charisma and its interplay within the professional arena, we are most interested in its leadership and business development abilities.

4. What factor does charisma play in business success?
Unquestionably, our research and observation suggest that people who are deemed charismatic are more fun to be around, connect with more people and develop relationships that lead to greater income potential in addition to invitations to forums where opportunities present themselves.

5. Must you have charisma to be successful?

No, you don't need charisma to be successful. We position charisma under the umbrella of business development and self-branding. In the Information Age where many people are vying to be heard and recognized, those who possess charisma will have an edge. Today, merit alone is not the sole criterion for success. With the expansion of the Internet and media, the individual has gotten smaller. Consequently, skills like charisma help the individual enlarge herself.

6. How can charisma improve client relations, close more deals and win more contracts?
The success of a company, venture or enterprise begins at the individual level. In contemporary society, people are buying customer service and personalities. The days of big companies making large profits solely through name recognition have passed. Consumers and clients are buying experiences. When you possess charisma, you are creating an experience with people. Your ability to connect with engaging stories and anecdotes that help clarify a problem as well as produce solutions resonate into buying and selling power. Human nature is such that people like doing business with people who make them feel good and demonstrate a level of competency. Charisma propels you into positions of leadership, which demonstrate your abilities as a "go to" person. Winning contracts, proposals and closing deals increase when a person has great charisma coupled with competency. Particularly in the field of law, when people call on an attorney, they are emotionally buying security and peace of mind in addition to legal expertise.

7. How does charisma help with office politics?
One of the downsides of being in situations where divisions and "throat cutting" exist is that all sides want to recruit the charismatic individual to gain control. The charismatic person has good rapport with most everyone including upper management, which all sides want to gain favor. Used effectively, charisma can be used to bridge the gap by appealing to their sense of reason in a non-threatening manner. Remember, the charismatic person has the illusion of having more power than she actually has. Consequently, although these individuals may be her peers, they treat her like a supervisor. She realizes the potency of her personal power and thus remains above the fray and commits to no one in such a scenario.

8. Do you need charisma to be an effective leader?
Studies suggest that you don't need charisma to be an effective leader, but leaders who possess charisma easily influence and lead people and thus are remembered past their tenure. There are endless schools of thought on effective leadership, but very little on developing charismatic leadership. Yet, many of our most loved leaders were highly charismatic. Charismatic leaders not only get into the minds of people, they get into their hearts. Significant change usually occurs when people are motivated at both levels.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Perspectives & Lessons Learned From Charismatic Leadership

Perspectives and lessons learned from charismatic leadership are:

· Realizing the "Built in" power and weakness---While we live in a "winner take all" society, every business, or management model has its down side. The idea is to measure the strengths versus the inefficiencies and make the necessary corrections as part of the process. The upside of charismatic leadership is the inspiration, innovation and creativity it promotes in others. The downside is often the lack of scrutiny placed on the leader. Emotions should never overtake logic when dealing with charismatic leaders.

· Checking and balancing the factors that spark charisma---Egotism, self-glorification and a need for high achievement are factors in a charismatic personality. In a celebrity-industrial complex, these are not necessarily negative traits, but one should apply modifications through pragmatic conservatism when deemed necessary.

· "Don't become overwhelmed"--Charismatic leadership sweeps in like a Tsunami and mesmerizes everyone in its path through shared passion and energy. Emotions often override logic and all that is left are the shouting and finger pointing. Managers should modulate charismatic employees by creating boundaries without stifling ingenuity.

· Asking more questions---Big picture thinkers see the world from a different perspective. Charismatic leaders may be big on plans, but short on details. By analyzing every aspect of the "Big Plan”, executives can help the charismatic leader view the challenges that such actions may create.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Will Michael Jackson's Charisma Equal Elvis' in Death?

I recently watched some interviews on "You Tube" of Elvis Presley's last inner circle of friends to decipher the difference between his charisma and that of Michael Jackson's. I determined that Elvis had more personal charisma. That "inner" or natural form, which is raw. Whereas, Michael had stage or "performance" charisma. These two types of charisma are as representative of the times they lived as much as their personalities. Surprisingly, the comments made by Elvis' inner circle were almost verbatim to the comments made about Michael within his inner circle (Generous, funny, kind, caring, loyal, etc…) Time will tell whether Michael's death will take on a similar dimension as Elvis'. I suspect that there will be a difference in the two legacies. Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic that 30 years from now, there will be a ritual of visiting a place like "Never Land" commemorating Michael's birth and death, like the pilgrimage to "Graceland." The changing of the contemporary landscape has not only changed people, it has changed the way people honor or remember icons.

A glimpse into the future might be the difference between Marilyn Monroe's legacy versus Anna Nicole Smith's. A representation of how Anna Nicole has been honored compared to Marilyn Monroe is some evidence of how Michael Jackson will be honored compared to Elvis Presley.

For more information, visit:  Charisma

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Charisma of Michael Jackson

In the coming years, music historians, psychologists and pundits will dissect the Michael Jackson phenomenon. Arguably, Michael Jackson was the greatest entertainment civilization has ever known. To break down the making of Michael Jackson, many of the fabled stories of the Jackson Family will be rehashed, torn apart, analyzed and finally synthesized into a theory. In the end, a part from his body of work spanning 40 years, his physical transformation over the years and his impact on the music industry, a comprehensive and concise understanding of the factors that created Michael Jackson will emerge. Was he a product of some miraculous alchemy? Was there a metamorphosis from childhood prodigy to adult Superstar? How did he evolve into a musical genius where others either devolved or never quite made the cut?

During the rise of the legendary group, The Jackson Five, two other groups emerged around the same time—The Sylvers and The Osmonds. The Sylvers were lead by Edmund Sylvers, but their youngest brother, Foster Sylvers, was their answer to Michael Jackson with Foster's hit song "Misdemeanor." Before the Sylvers, The Osmonds answer to Michael was little Donny Osmond who exploded on the scene with the song "One Bad Apple." In terms of commercial potential, it seemed that Donny and Foster might be able to give Michael a run for his money. Remember, this was nearly 40 years ago and The Jacksons had created an appetite for the cute, young, precocious child singing songs about experiences he hadn’t had yet. As time would reveal, the only one left standing among the three prodigies was Michael Jackson. Why?

Many commentators would suggest that Michael Jackson was far more talented than Foster Sylvers and Donny Osmond relegating his later success as proof positive of this claim. However, if the three started out having comparable talents, what made the difference between them? They all were cute, could sing and had stage presence. But, there was a mark difference between Michael Jackson and the rest.

One common denominator that permeates many charismatic personalities is some level of depravation early on in childhood development. The fabled stories of the Jackson patriarch, Joe Jackson, ruling the family with an iron fist creating insecurities and self-esteem issues within the family, in some cases creates extreme greatness or severe depravation--or one in the same. With limited information on the family backgrounds of the Sylvers and the Osmonds, a mental leap suggests that these families had pretty normal upbringings without any external compulsion to further their talents once experiencing initial success. Outside of Donny Osmond, a good trivia question would be “Where are they now?” Not the case with Michael Jackson and the Jackson brothers. Joe Jackson reportedly pushed them into greatness using draconian means. A once aspiring musician himself, Joe Jackson, introduced his progeny to music at an early age similar to Earl Woods putting a golf club in the hands of golf great Tiger Woods almost before he could walk. The same is the case with Leopold Mozart instructing a young Wolfgang Mozart. These beginnings instilled within Michael Jackson a certain level of discipline coupled with his interest in this art form would lead him to greatness. This is a great departure from time-honored child showing promise in local talent shows and “growing out” of music, as he gets older. Michael’s early introduction and socialization put him on the path to musical greatness.

To be sure, Michael Jackson was a compilation of passion for music, relentless ambition and deliberate practice. The steps to Michael's rise that lead to his awesome stage charisma were:

---Extreme curiosity for any information geared to professional excellence. Michael Jackson was consumed with being the very best entertainer and reportedly studied other legends to determine how they remained relevant and gained longevity. Motown Records Founder, Berry Gordy, remarked that Michael would ask at great length questions about the music industry and what went on behind the scenes. While his brothers were off doing things leisurely, Michael was querying the executives around him.

---Deliberate practice and an insatiable desire to "one up" himself. Geoff Colvin, in his book, "Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else," notes that deliberate practice has essentially 3 components: 1. An enthusiastic coach (someone with passion for the craft who cultivates and nurtures it) who mentors the phenom , 2. Minimum 10,000 hours or ten years of deliberate practice for the would-be phenom, and 3. The phenom would have started at a very early age. Michael was encouraged by his father, a guitarist, practiced hours a day and began singing at 5 years old and persisted for 40 years.

---Isolation and solitude to perfect his craft Michael Jackson spent a great deal of his time rehearsing and contemplating the music and moves he perfected. In fact, he had actual legal patents for some of his dance moves. The thought of Michael Jackson sharing his behind-the-scenes creativity would be naïve. He allowed the public to relish the manifestation of the process, but did not allow many into his creative inner sanctum nor expose his innovations to the world before they were complete. As an artist, Michael's creativity soared in the darkness of solitude.

There have been many entertainers before, during and since Michael Jackson who wanted to astound the world with their talents. Michael showed and proved that superstardom is much more than talent…it's much more, hard work.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Charisma Case Study: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina

The firing of Hewlett-Packard (HP) CEO Carly Fiorina shows that when it comes to charisma, women are just as affected by it as men. Fiorina's ousting suggests that the playing field has not leveled equally for men and women, but charisma is an equal opportunity provider between the sexes. The February 10, 2005 Wall Street Journal article, "How Traits That Helped Executive Climb Ladder Came to Be Fatal Flaws" described Fiorina as "unshakable, self-reliant, comfortable with the spotlight, fond of dramatic gesture, impervious to criticism…passionate about the big picture…embracing change as a way of life." Intuitively, these traits should have been the means for rocketing HP's stock into orbit after its $19 billion merger with Compaq Computer Corp. However, before Fiorina's ouster, HP's stock reportedly was down 50%.

A 2004 University of Florida study showed that Chief Executive Officers who exude intelligence, optimism, and leadership do not necessarily help their companies perform better than less charismatic counterparts do. However, the more charismatic CEO’s tend to draw higher salaries and better benefits. The study surveyed vice president-level managers of 59 Fortune 500 companies about their perceptions of the company CEO's charisma. Indicators included confidence in the CEO's management abilities and whether the CEO’s made the survey respondents feel optimistic about the company's future. The study compared the resulting "charisma" score to indicators of corporate performance and crosschecked the results against the CEOs' salaries. The conclusion... better firm performance is unrelated to the CEO’s charisma, but rather to higher salaries for the CEO5…except when the market volatility proved a benefit to the company.

Taking the necessary cues from the University of Florida's study shows that charismatic leaders are great for getting the ball rolling and creating optimism, but they need a more stabilizing style of management while enthusiasm remains high. In the current global economy, the "all or nothing" approach to leadership is not sufficient. Dissenters of the charismatic leadership model cannot rest on Fiorina's demise by saying "I told you so”, nor can the charismatic leadership model suggest that a conservative, risk- adverse approach is impractical during volatile economic times. Fiorina's ousting illuminates the need for hybrid approaches to business management that are streamlined enough to turn on a moment’s notice based on the needs of the immediate situation. A world of differences has finally come to mean all the difference in the world.

The celebrity-industrial complex has insured that business, politics, and entertainment require inanimate entities to have personalities. For Hewlett-Packard to shun any nuance of the value that charismatic leadership brings would act contrary to its best interest. There is a reason England still maintains a monarchy, while the Prime Minister and Parliament operate the government. The individual pragmatically seeks a stable government to insure ones perpetuity, and the need to maintain traditional emotions acts as a stimulus.

The lessons learned from charismatic leadership are:

· Realizing the "Built in" power and weakness---While we live in a "winner take all" society, every business, or management model has its down side. The idea is to measure the strengths versus the inefficiencies and make the necessary corrections as part of the process.
· Checking and balancing the factors that spark charisma---Egotism, self-glorification and a need for high achievement are factors in a charismatic personality. In the celebrity-industrial complex, these are not necessarily negative traits, but one should apply modifications through pragmatic conservatism when deemed necessary.
· "Don't become overwhelmed"--Charismatic leadership sweeps in like a Tsunami and mesmerizes everyone in its path through shared passion and energy. Emotions often override logic and all that is left are the shouting and finger pointing. Managers have to be on guard for the intoxicating nuances that such leadership brings.
· Asking more questions---Big picture thinkers see the world from a different perspective. Charismatic leaders may be big on plans, but short on details. By analyzing every aspect of the "Big Plan”, executives can help the charismatic leader view the challenges that such actions may create.

For more information, visit:  Charisma

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are Men & Women Equally Charismatic?

The Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute defines "charisma" as the creating of illusions to impact the emotions and psyche of others through the use of flair, finesse and glib language. The idea of the charming and engaging individual takes on different dimensions when applied to males and females. The difference is analogous to a fragrance smelling different on a man than on a woman. Such contrasts beg the question as to whether men and women can be equally charismatic. A man characterized as suave and debonair may be seen as charismatic. Where similar traits characterized by a woman might be deemed sexy, sultry or scintillating. But is this charisma? If not, charisma is either a term reserved strictly for men or the definition has to be expanded to encompass the differences in expression of both genders. In many instances, a key point to note is that a person may not be generally accepted as charismatic when he or she crosses the gender line for expression. For example, charisma is often viewed as imparting the gender traits within its definition and does not necessarily allow for men to take on traits deemed feminine and vice versa. Terms such as flamboyant, outlandish or ostentatious might apply, but charisma is arguable.

In viewing this hypothesis of charisma being gender specific, under the terms of Core Edge's definition, women can be charismatic, but it manifests itself differently than that that of men. In a patriarchal society, the traits deemed charismatic are often attributed to men, but the idea that women may take on similar traits and not tarnish their femininity should be accepted. The singer Madonna reportedly exhibited traits believed to be masculine in her ascension to stardom. She was focused, brusque, ruthless and committed based on biographical accounts. It was her unorthodox approach that aided her success, which defined her charisma. To say that a learned behavior cannot apply to a particular gender would create the slippery slope of discrimination. But we would be naive not to observe the differences in expression. If we are referring to the illusory aspects of interpersonal communication which charisma imparts, could we suggest that men are apt to create illusions that connect; whereas women are less inclined to demonstrate similar proclivities? The will to power by men alters the acceptance of charisma by both genders. Again, we would have to expand its definition merely for inclusionary purposes. While Denzel Washington, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Smits may be deemed charismatic, they exhibit it differently. The same would be true for Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Julia Roberts.

Is charisma equally distributed among the sexes? Based on our analysis, charisma is subjective and intangible. It can be compared to being physically attractive. If enough people believe that you are attractive then you are deemed attractive. However, how charisma plays out is often deemed more masculine within a male dominated society. It is no accident that it may be easier to randomly recall men who are deemed charismatic than women. Often there may be a general consensus when naming men, but when it comes to women, we may have to ponder a little longer in our listing. The term has not been traditionally used to describe women. As the role of women has drastically changed, the dynamics that create charisma would naturally level the playing field to encompass personal expression in this arena also.

The onslaught of the philosophy of charisma has created excitement for both sexes. The discussion, up until recently, was null and void. It was not and could not be seen as a legitimate philosophy when there weren't any serious studies on the subject. Now that the discussion has begun, it becomes even more interesting for both genders to utilize this new information in the realm of marketing as a competitive tool. Those who use charisma to separate themselves from competitors as well as seek personal fulfillment will have the advantage and ultimately end up redefining it-whether male or female.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Charismatic Communications

Charismatic leaders often express themselves well, but their greatest attribute is their ability to listen and feel for the person who is speaking. It is the ability to listen and empathize with others that make them so compelling. Communication is a life-long process in which you are not merely speaking to the person, but her childhood, worldview and past experiences. We are a product of all our experiences as well as genetic makeup. The age-old question has always been, "Are we influenced more by our genetics or our environment?" It is tantamount to asking the question, "Is the glass half-full or half-empty?" In each case the answer is both. It makes no difference how you view a half-full glass; it will always be half empty, also.

We are inextricably attached to our genetic makeup and environmental influences such that we do not know where one ends and the other begins. The charismatic leader uses all that she has at her disposal. She has an arsenal of tools in her repertoire to pull out at will based on the necessity of the situation. The individual who is multi-faceted in her world-view will exhibit greater communication skills than someone who is one-dimensional. Relating and connecting to people requires a keen awareness to the nuances of human motivation and behavior. Charismatic people are outgoing and thrive on exploring new experiences where they are able to communicate pragmatically as well as theoretically. The key to the charismatic communicator is this endless desire to expand her horizons as she looks at the world from different perspectives.

Related: Charisma

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Charm vs. Charisma

Quite often, people confuse charm, magnetism and charisma. In fact, they use the terms interchangeably. It is understandable how this could be the case, but a bit of demarcation of the terms is necessary. The Core Edge Image & Charisma (Core Edge) define “Charisma” as “The creating of perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through flair, finesse and glib language.” In other words, charisma is the ability to capture the hearts and minds of people through the use of compelling self-expression. One of the tools used by charismatics is charm. defines “Charm” as “The power or quality of pleasing or delighting; attractiveness…” Charismatics have a high prescience about human nature and people. As a result, they use charm to enchant the emotional aspect of individuals. This enchantment serves as a magnet for charismatics to attract others. Invariably, charismatics are comfortable and confident in their ability to persuade people by understanding what makes them “tick.” Charisma as such is a mindset, philosophy, paradigm and position on the world stage. Core Edge defines the comprehensiveness of charisma under the banner, ”Charismatolgy,” which is the study of charisma in all its dimensions.

For many theoreticians, charisma has been like “trying to catch air in a bottle.” The intangibility leads many to provide random opinions without the forethought of empirical data or case studies on popular charismatics. By understanding the charismatic personality and his manifestations, the layman can actually use some of the tools of charismatic’s for greater influence on the world stage.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Charisma Unchecked

The shortcoming of many leadership models is that they view human nature idealistically at its core. This overly optimistic view of people often leaves the aspiring leader insufficiently equipped to build upon. The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a belief system is determined by what emanates from its core that affects the desired results. Most religious reformers like John Wesley, founder of the Methodist faith, based their religious zeal on the notion that man is decadent and through a higher power he can only be saved. Man left to his own devices would wreak havoc on the world much more than he has without the buffer of religion, laws and governance. While the temperament of man among other members of the animal kingdom, may not be the most destructive (scientists have said that the temperament of a baboon is such that it would nuke the whole world if it had the capacity), the consequences of his decadence is evident throughout the world. There is no true utopia where all are treated justly and fair. Every economic system throughout the world has its version of the "Haves" and the "Have-Nots".

To be totally responsible and accountable for one's lot in life comes with great toil. This is the kind of work that most people would rather pass on to someone else. Whether it's dictatorships or representative forms of governments, the citizenry ultimately opts for those who aspire to govern, so that they may pursue their leisurely lives in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Charismatic leadership fills the void because the leader is willing to do what the next man is unwilling to do. The idea of transformational leader calls for leaders to "get inside" the people they are trying to influence. The Ohio State Leadership Center online newsletter, Leadership Discoveries warns against the abuses of leaders having charismatic appeal: A leader's use of power reflects integrity.

Leaders who lack integrity can rely upon deceit and manipulative methods to get people to follow their agendas for the leader's benefit alone. Power becomes a potential danger if leaders have their focus on themselves or on building resources alone rather than on building their followers (Bass & Steidlmeir, 1999). Two of the most obvious perils in leadership are pride and egoism (Sanders, 1994). The Leadership Discoveries newsletter goes on to suggest that leaders and organizations may institute safeguards to prevent against such abuses. While this is a great notion, the circular logic that continues asks the question of the role and responsibility of the individual to become astute enough to protect himself.
Remember, human nature consistently operates from its own self interest, it only is altruistic when it engages in "hard-core" altruism for a small cadre of close-knit individuals and the majority of people opt to let others make their decisions for them, because of life's choices have rendered them incapable of being as vigilant. With all these dynamics occurring simultaneously, we are still requiring leaders to check themselves, not for people to check the leaders. The patriarchal notion that people need to be "fathered" is part and parcel why again charismatic leadership gets a bad rap. Charisma leaders should be accountable and responsible, but undue trust and allegiance should never go unchecked.

Related: Charisma

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Charisma in the Modern World

Niccolo Machiavelli, Alexander Hamilton and Napoleon Bonaparte are just a few of the progenitors of modern day charisma. Under “Charismatology,” (the study of charisma), charisma is not only a manifesting of self-expression, but a whole worldview. To determine a true charismatic, one must look at the total human being’s self -expression, biology, environmental conditioning and insecurities. The charismatic has a personal philosophy, ideology, theme and objective for shaping public opinion and making the world bend to his will. Power is a core motivating factor for charismatics, not only for narcissistic objectives, but because charismatics feel their ideas are better. The will to power separates the charismatic leader from all other leadership forms. Through sheer will and personality, the charismatic leader uses hybrid approaches best suited for the situation in achieving a goal. In this notion, the charismatic is “amoral”, closest to Nietzsche’s idea of the “Amoral Super Man.” To the charismatic, he has become a god. Before eminent sociologist Max Weber secularized “charisma,” it was a religious concept literally meaning in Greek, “Grace or gift in action”. The modern charismatic has self-deified the term to reconcile it with its spiritual roots. Only, today’s charismatic sees himself as the Alpha and Omega of its original higher-power form as a literal manifestation. Whether it is a charismatic politician or a charismatic cleric, he feigns praying to a Supreme Being when he is mentally praying to himself.

Related: Charisma

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Objectifying Charisma

Why is defining "charisma" so elusive? Why do researchers make the same mistake when researching "charisma" as a concept? Why isn't more research done on the genesis of charismatic personalities? In short, rarely is charisma approached scientifically, that is psychologically using empirical data. Typically, a researcher will compile questions to a focus group or random sample asking them their views on charismatic personalities. The common responses will be pared down until a few identified traits remain. These remaining traits will be the foundational attributes given to charismatic personalities. What's wrong with this model? Nothing on the surface! A similar method is used to determine the electability of political candidates. Surprisingly, it's been reported that 800 people surveyed randomly are an accurate reading of what 300 million people are thinking. Essentially, it's a start to characterizing the potential attributes for charisma, but not what makes it work. For example, how was Elvis Presley's charisma formulated? Muhammad Ali? Michael Jordan? Muammar Quadafi? What is the thinking behind charismatic figures who revolutionize an industry through sheer personality and self-expression? Moreover, is charisma required to revolutionize an industry? Is Tiger Woods charismatic? How about the Williams Sisters in tennis? One might surmise that charisma and revolutionaries are mutually exclusive.

If traits like insecurity, ego and visions of grandeur are parts of the charismatic personality, shouldn't they be closely researched to determine its viability? How does insecurity fit into the charismatic attribute if society extols the virtue of confidence? Could societal defined traits purported to being negative actually be an essential trait for charisma? Metaphorically speaking, instead of separating the chaff from the wheat, is the chaff and wheat necessary for charismatic personalities to develop? The overly idealistic or "Polly Anna" defining of charisma won't bring more clarity, only further ambiguity. A phenomenon with such potency on the world stage should not be fraught with so much ambiguity.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Friday, May 1, 2009

Charisma & The Creating of Icons

The notion of icons is deeply imbedded within the psyche of most cultures. People often look for identification greater than their individual existence. These icons generally take on religious or mythological forms. The ideas behind Santa Clause, the Bogey Man and the Tooth Fairy have iconic impressions that serve to impact behavior. In short, icons serve not only as belief systems, but a means of altering or maintaining specific behavior.

Inherently, most products and services strive to become icons. No one really wants to spend the rest of his or her life attempting to convince individuals of the merit surrounding an idea. Detergent X is better for clothes because it not only gets the dirt out, it restores clothing to its original luster. If Detergent X can take on iconic or mythic meaning, than Detergent B does not stand a chance. Detergent B is not only challenging a product, but a way of life. Imagine you or your product being a way of life. Most people, products or services never become icons because there are certain criteria necessary to graduate to this level. The same notion is applied for graduating from Star to Superstar to Megastar to Legend.

Legendary status qualifies for becoming an icon. Becoming an icon is a process requiring a concerted effort with relentless determination. Establishing icon status requires certain steps to be achieved, which require:

Revolutionizing/changing the thinking of a particular idea, product or service-- It isn't the "me-too" mentality that brings about revolutions, but the "never been done before" mentality. If you see voids within your industry that experts say are necessary, you have just embarked on an opportunity for innovation. What opportunities exist to expand worldviews or differentiate a product or service being offered? Answers to this question, brings forth watershed events. It is much more challenging to revolutionize an industry than it is to follow the status quo. Largely, complacency and mediocrity are the nemesis to becoming an icon.

Capturing imaginations through constant and consistent imagery--Quite often, you may capture the imagination of individuals through graphic depiction or acute profundity. In other words, you get their attention through the pictures you create from the words you utter! Once the mind has been elevated, it creates perceptions from stimuli that stretches and ultimately influences thought and behavior. If you can spark the imagination of others to see the world from your viewpoint, you can impact behavior, which enhances iconic status.

Maintaining innovation over a long period of time--Longevity is the hallmark for becoming an icon. "Quick buck artists" and "Overnight sensations" are not the model for icons. It is a long, arduous process that withstands the test of time. While there is no set time, icons usually span two or more generations. Each generation is influenced differently, because the icon evolves to reflect the relevancy of that age group. While the icon may curtail its innovation, its track record is sufficient to draw on for an indeterminate amount of time. An icon often has enough reserves to continue to influence generations to come.

Creating stories and fables around exploits-- Icons take on mythological forms by the aura created around them. Fables are created out of real life triumphs that become bigger than life when sparked by the imagination. Many great stories are based on some truth that becomes legendary though exaggerated repetition. What was once a simple act of perseverance takes on epic proportions of insurmountable feats. Every icon has a story of trial, defeat and final triumph that encapsulates the human spirit.

At the height of frenzy, become elusive and inaccessible--Humans as icons often stay in the limelight too long. The iconic idea is that of a good performance--always leave audiences wanting more! An icon preserves a memory as he or she preserves an image. It is essential to exit or become elusive while still on top. Once you stay too long and human frailties emerge, the icon diminishes. By becoming elusive and inaccessible, the crowd craves you more when all that's left are the innovations, images and stories.

Becoming an icon requires a concerted effort steeped in relentless determination. The scarcity of icons is not because of its impossibility. The scarcity exists due to the time, dedication and energy needed to excel to such a level. A life committed to an undying desire to achieve the ultimate within an industry is open to all.

Related: Charisma

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Charisma: Playing the Role!

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Edward O. Wilson in his book, On Human Nature, discusses the idea of man's relationship with the roles in society and its impact on one's "self." Essentially, Wilson contends that the role we assume become a part of our self. The conditioning process has already taken place, so that the role of employee, father and husband becomes a part of our personality. The impact of this notion is that while personality is based on biological considerations, it also largely has environmental and cultural implications. You can't determine where one begins and the other ends because of the interconnectedness. All to often, we believe that who we are is permanently shaped and formed and thus the world needs to accept us for who we are. Wilson's synthesis gives life to the changeability of the personality.

Consequently, we are what we think we are according to the roles we play. These roles, consciously conceived, can be altered through the shifting of roles coupled with a modification of behavior within this role. The great news is that all that make us human can be altered when it ceases to add value or hinders our growth. Becoming what is necessary to become more charismatic ceases to be inauthentic or fake, but a strategy of transforming into your ideal self to accomplish your objective. This turns self-limiting ideas on its head, because we can now wage a campaign that says that all means of assuming personality traits to attain a goal is not only allowable, it is necessary in a social context for achieving one's aim. If most of what we have become socialized to believe rests on the idea of a genuine and authentic self, it is only true to the extent that we believe in such a thing as an unchanging self. Experience shows us that we are forever evolving, so the questions becomes are we intentionally evolving on our terms or merely evolving based on cultural necessity? If we are doing the latter, we are again allowing societal dictates not only script our subjective reality, but also shape the course of becoming charismatic leaders. If we are to shape our personalities and thus our destinies, we must have a concerted hand in its formation. If everything that gives form to our aspirations is in our grasp, we are the creators of our subjective reality. The roles that we play either adhere to our ideals or accommodate a social desire.

Related: Charisma