The Charisma Myth – Olivia Fox Cabane

Gepostet von

On my personal scale of 0-10 this book ranks at 8. The most interesting part of this book was “Imagine your own funeral” (p. 78) and the pages about “Visualization”. Now the last one seems like a paranoid and illusionary cheating to me…perfectly suited to counter your irrational fears. These parts of the book remind me of a quote from Steve Jobs which will stick with me to the end of my life: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way i know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.”


Author Olivia Fox Cabane

Publisher Portfolio Penguin

Pages 264

Price 9.99$ (2016)

ISBN 978-0-670-92287-1

Quotes from the book

Here i share some passages that i like and wrote down on a piece of paper as a short list of most important statements of this book. A few of these quotes i a have written down on a piece of paper which i carry with me to important events .

As much as you can, plan ahead to ensure you’re physically comfortable – p.30

From my own experience i can totally agree on this. When i held a talk in Frankfurt, Germany back in 2016 about Algorithmic Trading, i didn’t thought of my comfort. While on the stage i wore a sweater that was way to warm for the room temperature. I couldn’t just take the sweater off since underneath i wore a random t-shirt that you wouldn’t want to wear while on stage.  Next time i will plan ahead and e.g. take a good looking backup shirt with me.

Key takeaway: Charisma has three essential components: presence, power and warmth. – p.26 Presence: A person that is looking at his phone, PC, book or whatever seems absent and thus not really charismatic.  Power and warmth are a bit contradictory. You can make yourself look powerful (speech, body language, clothes), but you also have to be powerful (financially, politically, physically, etc.) or else you may be seen as fake/acting.

And remind yourself that, like every other experience, this one, too, will pass. However uncomfortable it feels, it will fade as completely as all the previous experiences you’ve ever had. – p.65

In such situations i like to imagine how my role model would master this situation. As i read the Steve Jobs’s Biography (review coming soon) i was amazed how persuasive, energetic and emotionally attach he was at everything he did. So currently (2014-17) i do think about how Steve Jobs would handle the (tough) situation i am in and try to imitate his hypothetical actions. That really helps.

To keep people talking, simply ask open-ended questions […]. Closed questions […] can be answered by ‚yes‘ or ’no‘, and once answered, they land you right back where you started, trying to think of something else to keep the conversation going. – p.123

This Tip is theoretically simple to comprehend but practically hard to implement. Open-ended  questions begin with „How“, „What“ or „Why“ e.g.: „How did you pulled that off?“, „What was the reason for this reaction?“ or „Why did you do that?“. The problem with these questions is that if you ask them to often, you’ll be seen as pushy or intrusive. That doesn’t mean that open-ended questions are bad, it just means that you have to have some information too that you can share in the discussion.

To make yourself even more relatable adjust your choice of words, your breadth and depth of vocabulary, and your expressions to suit your audience. – p.124

This behaviour comes naturally to me and everyone who was raised in a city of a multicultural country like UK, USA, Germany, France, etc. In these countries the people that are surrounding you come from every class of the society. It means that you will get in contact with poorly educated people and of course smart people. This means that you’ll automatically learn to adjust your choice of words, body language and your expressions to the current social group you are talking to.

Nonverbal communication amplifies verbal communication when the two are congruent. – p.163

It would be very irritating if you held a TED-Talk about complex astrophysical algorithms wearing Adidas Shorts and a way too big t-shirt.

Tips for speeches:

  • Arrive early;  walk the stage to visualize and own it.
  • Keep [confident] eye contact 1-2 seconds per person.
  • Use a wide stance; take as much as possible on stage [be the gorilla] – p. 200

Let me comment on the first point. You feel like an alpha-male that has his territory (for physical events [arriving early]) in control or a professor that knows more about a specific than anyone else (for intellectual debates, discussions [being in this field or researching that issue longer than your counterparts/audience]). When you are familiar with a location or a intellectual domain you feel like you are at home and you will inevitably come across as a very confident person.

Charismatic leadership: expressing high performance expectations of people while communicating a high degree of confidence in their ability to meet those expectations. – p.203

I wasn’t really able to relate to this quote. Then i recalled some encounters from the past with people that were expecting me to execute highly complex tasks. I wouldn’t accept these tough challenges on my own, but these people expressing high confidence that i would master these challenges without any doubts. Their high confidence in my skills (even if these people were acting or exaggerating) lent me the motivation that i needed to achieve these tasks.

Charismatic Leaders often point out deficiencies in the status quo, contrast this picture to a glorious future, and show how they intend to get there – p.203

You don’t get to use this kind rhetorical tool very often. You have to be selling people something (idea, business, product, yourself as a leader (e.g. Steve Jobs, Donald Junior Trump)). The book „The Challenger Sale“ (review coming soon…) does cover this topic in depth – i recommend you to read this book. I think that one of the many factors why  Donald J. Trump won the election is because he described an exorbitant future of a great America while excessively pointing out the disastrous current state of USA.

Kommentar verfassen

Trage deine Daten unten ein oder klicke ein Icon um dich einzuloggen:

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Abmelden /  Ändern )

Google Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Google-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )


Du kommentierst mit Deinem Twitter-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )


Du kommentierst mit Deinem Facebook-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )

Verbinde mit %s