Monday, March 28, 2011

Charisma: Before & After

By Edward Brown

The manifestation of charisma has changed over the past 40 years. This Q& A delves into what happened and why.

Q: How has charisma changed in the last few decades?

A: Essentially, individuals started focusing on being popular versus being effective. Everyone wants his/ her 15 minutes of fame and entertainment has trumped all other vocations and aspirations.

Q: What brought about this seismic shift?

A: There are many factors to choose from: The expansion of multimedia, the emergence of the Internet, the morphing of art into reality, the transcendence of sports and entertainment as a past time activity to a way of life. Entertainment overtook law, science and education.

Q: How does the desire to be popular impact charisma?

A: Charismatic leaders are motivated by an internal struggle to rewrite history. It is a long and arduous struggle to start from mere imagination to an idea coming to fruition. Effectiveness takes decades where popularity can come overnight. It is the difference between Maurice White, who went from The Ramsey Lewis Trio to forming the musical group Earth, Wind & Fire and Justin Beiber. White created masterpieces where Beiber creates pop art. Both frameworks are conceptual.

Q: If there is a shortage of charismatic personalities and events, how does new technology fit in? Have the inventors of FaceBook, Amazon or Microsoft redefined what charisma is?

A: Zuckerberg, Bezos and Gates would be described as “geeks.” They were the guys in school who were out of favor with the “Cool Crowd” that girls didn’t necessarily like. These captains of industry proved that geeks or “smart” people win in the end. They are not charismatic, but their inventions have a high degree of magnetism. Interesting enough, a medium that would act most favorable to introverts and “cast aways” is also used by the Cool Crowd. These three individuals alone turned conventional wisdom on its ear by having the world come to them as opposed to them going to the world.

But, make no mistake, these three men are polar opposites of the late auto designer John DeLorean, who was charismatic and a great inventor simultaneously.

Q: So, did Zuckerberg, Bezos and Gates create an environment where charisma is null and void?

A: No, they created an environment where charisma could flourish. A charismatic leader has greater opportunities and resources for leading and maintaining a mission/crusade in ways that were not available years ago. The charismatic leader and people with compelling ideas can cut out the middle man. In the same vein, it is also more difficult to get a message out due to the cacophony or “mass noise” of insignificant people trying to gain fame.

The difference between the messages of the charismatic leader versus the masses is that the charismatic leader will spend a lifetime working towards the manifestation of an idea. The masses looking for 15 minutes of fame will quit and move on to something else in a quest to be popular. Today, more than ever, relentlessness and persistency pays off for the charismatic personality with a compelling idea.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Monday, March 21, 2011

Charismatic Leadership Uncovered

During this Q& A session, typical questions about charisma and charismatic leadership are addressed.

1. Why do many people describe themselves as charismatic?

The short answer is that people often like to consistently think well of themselves. They want to be seen as attractive, smart and engaging. Charisma is an ideal that most people desire and usually draw on one incident where they demonstrated charismatic traits. The fact is that charisma is more than what one does. It is who one is.

2. Why are people delusional about their charisma quotient?

Pundits and opinion makers often characterize charisma as easily attainable through certain behavioral manifestations. By merely developing high interpersonal skills, great oratory and the ability to tell great stories, one may be described as charismatic. Because many pundits do not delve into the inner recesses of the charismatic mind, they do not know what goes on inside the charismatic personality.

3. What actually goes on inside the charismatic personality?

Although charismatic personalities may differ from person to person, there are some similarities that may emerge. For example, the typical charismatic personality sees itself as a “bigger than life” figure. His vainglorious exploits are representative of his passion and missionary zeal for some great task to accomplish. He sees connections that other view as disparate. Charismatic personalities are immersed within the field of ideas as well as a compelling idea that serves as a motivating factor.

4. Is there a distinction between being charismatic and exhibiting charismatic traits?

Yes, anyone can utilize the tools used by charismatic personalities, i.e., engaged eye contact, focused attention and emotion-filled dialogue.
However, charismatic personalities use the aforementioned tools s as well as possess an insatiable desire to understand human nature, a preternatural ability to dedicate one’s life to a specific task and a “big picture” view of the world that has to be brought to fruition. Charismatic traits scratch the surface of a visceral charismatic personality.

5. What influences create a charismatic personality?

Extreme emotional sensitivity, social environment, insecurity, and biological proclivities make for the charismatic personality. Charismatic personalities emerge from the fusion of personal strengths and weaknesses aligning to create a highly motivated, highly imaginative, self-possessed, force of nature.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Can Charisma Help Overcome Personal Preferences?

Dear Core Edge/Mr. Brown:

I have followed your work on charisma, particularly your blog, radio show and You Tube videos. I’ve found your ideas inspiring, thought provoking and generally on point. However, there is one aspect of human nature I believe charisma can’t overcome---personal preferences. I don’t believe that individuals who are extremely short, unattractive or the myriad of characteristics deemed contrary to an ideal standard can be overcome by being more charismatic. On countless occasions, I have seen where nice guys have finished last and the “jerks” that women say they hate, succeed in numerous ways. How can charisma be used to help the “underdog” succeed?

The Last Nice Guy
Omaha, Nebraska

Dear Last Nice Guy:

It has been my experience that most things in life are relative. Most people do not attempt to objectively determine their marketability within personal and professional settings. In other words, how do you rate against the basic choices and options an employer or opposite sex has at their disposal? If you have something to offer or bring to the table, you are in a better position to ask for and get what you desire. Individuals can be delusional and see themselves in “leagues” where they may or may not fit. But, the ones who have a track record of being confirmed to operate within certain arenas gravitate towards people they believe they have a kinship with. Opposites may attract, but similarities keep people together. Nice guys should attempt to meet nice girls, not necessarily “hot girls.” “Hot girls” are not necessarily negative, but the constant attention they attract creates a self-perception in their minds of being highly valued. Their ideal man has a similar impression of himself. He may be as much of a “monster” as she is. Remember, opposites may attract, but similarities keep people together. Many guys want to be charismatic to attract more women, but never take inventory of what they have to offer and how would those traits tie into the needs of women. For example, if women have a need for emotional, financial and physical security, how do you rank? Does a woman feel comfortable communicating with you (which leads to emotional security)? Does she feel you are fiscally responsible and manage your money wisely (which leads to financial security)? When she’s out in public with you, does she feel protected by the potential for danger (which leads to physical security)?

Guys who merely complain about the attitudes and maltreatment by attractive women have not developed the edge and savvy that life teaches you when you’re paying attention. In a patriarchal society, the totally secure woman is a misnomer. Everything from songs to TV commercials is geared to keeping women insecure (Men have also become targets). From childhood to adulthood, women are indoctrinated into an idealized belief system, which is used against them for manipulative purposes—Beauty, marriage and children. The “bad boys” have decoded this dynamic and consequently objectify women, because they seemingly view women as being cut from the same cloth. In this sense, beautiful women are not necessarily special to these guys. These guys play the numbers knowing full well that the odds favor their winning more than losing. There will be more women who give him what they want than those who reject them.

A man who is self-possessed and makes the world bend to his will is seen as attractive. This trait is often viewed as confidence, but it is also a paradigmatic reality or a mode of viewing people and the world. Nice guys often take a “permissive’” approach to life, looking for acceptance rather than acquiring and maintaining power.

Charismatic people are about achieving power and seeing their mission come to fruition. They are inclined to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. They are preternaturally curious about human nature and use this knowledge to affect their end. They are Machiavellian in that they do what is best for the situation rather than adhering to moral imperatives. The charismatic individual can be both loved and hated by people and understand clearly why both groups feel a certain way about him. In some respect, he created the dichotomy---intentionally.

Does charisma help individuals skew personal preferences in their favor? Yes and no. Charisma is all about pulling out of people what already exists. Effective oratory, storytelling and developing interpersonal communication skills are tools used to fulfill certain needs within individuals. By being a student of human nature and using the tools mastered by charismatic personalities, you can achieve greater personal and professional success. Here are a few tips:

1. Assess your strengths and what has helped you achieve past success to discover personal and professional opportunities.

2. Assess whether a potential mate will be mutually beneficial.

3. Determine that you are the center of your universe and everything revolves around your worldview and choices.

4. Operate where you have the greatest potential for success. Find people who are comparable to you by making an objective assessment of who and what you are.

5. Be professional, not nice. In some venues, niceness can be seen as a sign of weakness.

6. Don’t act like attractive people are doing you a favor by acknowledging your existence. Set the stage, make the rules and lay the groundwork for what you want.

7. Like any bad deal or opportunity, don’t be afraid to walk away. Be vigilant over all your interests—emotionally, financially and psychologically.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Charisma, “We’re Winning”

The latest on-air tirade of actor Charlie Sheen prompted me to begin thinking about how and why charismatic personalities win more often than average people. (Note: I do not suggest that Charlie Sheen is charismatic). One thing that Sheen did that is reminiscent of charismatic personalities is the ability to impact others through graphic and compelling imagery. Sheen’s use of terms like possessing “Tiger Blood,” or having “Adonis DNA” were exaggerated terms charismatics would have uttered, but couched within the context of a larger vision. In Sheen’s case, these powerful connotations were defensive shields used from a position of weakness. He was essentially fired and largely exposed as egotistical and lacking the proper comportment to inspire potential converts. That is not the mark of a winner! However, charismatic personalities differ in their degree of winning to achieve an objective, because they are relentless. Words are not defensive tools. Rather they are a means of expressing the manifestation of an idea. If the charismatic loses ground, he quickly assesses the situation and creates alternate routes to a destination. In Sheen’s case, he had no destination. His actions were a feeble attempt at bullying network executives into giving him his job back on the sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” It was tantamount to a fired worker picketing outside the company that terminated him. In this instance, Sheen was using competing networks that found his antics entertaining to further destroy the successful sitcom’s brand. Within this context, Sheen was essentially saying “If I can’t run it, I’ll wreck it.

Similar antics have been used by charismatic personalities. Adolph Hitler did it. Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi is doing it. The difference between the use of rhetoric between charismatic personalities and Charlie Sheen is the depth of the vision and the impact on supporting characters. For charismatic personalities, the power of their passion, perspective and personality are the driving forces that adherents support and get behind. On the contrary, Sheen was one piece of several parts of a puzzle. Successful projects that require an assembly of individuals to thrive are rendered ineffective when one of the pieces is missing. Charlie Sheen could not carry “Two and a Half Men,” by himself and the show’s formulaic success is not solely based on Sheen’s personal appeal. Rather, the success of the show hinges on the characters playing off each other. With charismatic personalities, their roles are seemingly indispensable. In short, they are the reason for the project’s existence.

It could be argued that the results of taking away the key component of a project is similar, whether the component is charismatic or merely the centerpiece. This may be correct. The loss of a key player is similar, but the impact is different in severity. The actors on “Two and a Half Men” are tied to a successful body of work and will be able to work on other projects. Conversely, the charismatic personality that goes down in ruins, not only destroys the project, he shakes the very foundation of the belief system of his followers. Sheen’s antics affects purse strings and pocketbooks, charismatic personalities affect hearts and minds. One can always regain money, but he loses everything when he loses his mind.

Related: Charisma