Book Review: The Charisma Myth

cover image courtesy

Cabane, Olivia Fox. The charisma myth : how anyone can master the art and science of personal magnetism. Portfolio/Penguin, 2012.

Years ago, I attended a 3-day retreat with 35 members of Fuqua’s administrative staff.  One attendee was a charismatic man, a young faculty member who had achieved a key position as Associate Dean at an early age.  He was influential and inspiring, powerful but approachable.  Midway through the retreat, I noticed that other administrative staff had picked up his manner of speech and his habit of touching his shirt when making a controversial point.

The Associate Dean probably developed charisma at an early age.  By adulthood, his behavior was instinctual.   But in The Charisma Myth, executive coach Olivia Fox Cabane explains that the techniques of personal magnetism can be learned by adults.  She outlines a simple set of qualities that underlie personal magnetism and she provides exercises and tools to guide readers into developing their own charisma.

Cabane breaks down charismatic behavior into three core elements: presence, power and warmth.  Since people express themselves both verbally and in body language, these attributes can be learned and communicated, but only through much practice and patience.   Cabane provides techniques and tools for readers to practice, including exercises to remove obstacles to presence, power and warmth, such as anxiety and self-doubt.  She then shows how to create the right mental state to emanate warmth and power, using visualization.

The Charisma Myth includes examples of people with different charismatic styles, such as Bill Clinton and Steve Jobs.  Throughout the book are stories of anonymous people who learned to fully express their personalities to enhance their work performance.  This practical book is an easy read and is recommended for anyone wanting to improve his/her communication style.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

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