How to Be Charming: Highlights from The Charisma Myth

Photo Credit: Shandi-lee via Compfight cc

I recently read a book called The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane. She’s an executive coach who trains people on developing powerful social skills to influence and connect with others.

I thought she brought up some really interested ideas about charisma: specifically that it’s a skill not an innate quality, and that it’s the confluence of three elements: power, warmth and presence.

One of my goals in 2012 2013 is to develop different forms of media, so I’ve put together a slide deck with some of the key highlights from the book. You can see it below, or click here to view the deck directly. You can find the book on here (referral link).

Winning Decisions – Initial Assesement

I’m reading the book Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time and I’ll be laying out the framework that it outlines over the next few blog posts. They correctly make the point that most managers need to make more decisions than ever, but never spend time training to make better decisions. The cost is simply too great to not do so. I’m bad about this personally and tend to have quite erratic means of making decisions – so its definitely a skill I’m looking to develop.

The basic outline is

  • Initial Assesement
  • Framing
  • Intelligence Gathering
  • Coming to Conclusions
  • Learning Lessons

In this post I’ll take a look at the questions they pose for the initial assesement.

Top 2 questions

1) What’s the crux or primary difficulty in this issue? Which of the four stages in the decision process will be most important?

2) In general, how should decisions like this one be made (eg alone or in  grous, intuitively or analytically, etc) Where do my own strengths and weaknesses lie? Where do I need help? (be honest)

Other questions

3) Must this decision be made at all? Can I delegate?

4) How much time have decisions like this taken in the past? How long should this one take? Are there deadlines? Can we negotiate them?

5) Can I proceed sequentially from framing to gathering intelligence to concluding or will I have to go back and forth?

6) Where should I concentrate my time and resources? Which stage will be most important?

7) Can I draw on feedback from related decisions and experiences I have faced to make this decision better?

8) What are my own skills, biases, and limitations in dealing with an issue like this? Do I need to bring in other points of view? Which view points would help?

9) How would a more experienced decision-maker, who I admire, handle this issue?

10) Does this deciision greatly affect other decisions? If so, what are the cross-impacts?


Overachievement : The New Science of Working Less to Accomplish More (Paperback)
by John Eliot

Synopsis: By entering into a “trusting mindset”, working smart, being seriously confident and chasing a big dream, you can achieve exceptional results.

Summary: Eliot says that most of the things you’ve been told about performance is wrong.  Things like get a handle on your stress, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket, minimizing risk, working hard, and learning from your mistakes.

Eliot says instead that peak performers use stress to enhance their performance, that they are totally commited, they know risks equal reward, they work smart and they never look back.

He makes an analogy to throwing keys.  When you toss a pair of keys to your friends, it is smooth, easy, and almost always accurate.  You are in the trusting mindset. But if there was a contest to win a million dollars with the best key toss, everyone who start overanalyzing their tosses, entering the training mindset.

Although you do need to train and evaluate yourself, you can’t be doing it when you are asked to step up and perform.

Jeffery Sachs: A Simple Plan To Save the World

Jeffery Sachs is a man with a plan. He wrote the book “The End of Pover ty” which I am going to buy today on Amazon. He is also the director of the Earth Institute in Columbia University and is a special advisor to Kofi Anan. You can read his wikipedia entry. Incredibly, there is no wikipedia entry for Sachs, so I started a short one. I’ll have to send you to his organization instead.

Anyways, the reason I am talking about him is because I stumbled upon a website supporting Sachs for President of the United States. One of their resources is an awesome pdf called A Simple Plan to Save the World. It was written for Esquire Magazine, by Sachs himself. It’s informative, clear, and slightly liberal. But most importantly it is optimistic.

This whole saving the world business can get you down. I’d be the first to tell you. But reading this article made me feel hopeful and motivated to make a change more than ever. So check it out.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry Into Values

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry Into Values (Mass Market Paperback)
by Robert M. Pirsig

Synopsis: An autobiographical story of a man and his 13-year old son take a cross country motorcycle trip across the Midwest. Along the way he reflects deeply on philosophy, Zen, the struggle between art and technology and the nature of reality.

Summary: This is one of the most famous popular philosophy books out there. The sparse story line is merely a way for the author to reflect on his ideas. The narrator, Pirsig, tells us how he suffered a psychotic break earlier in his life. His persona before the break he calls “Phaderus”, supposedly meaning “wolf” in Greek.

Throughout the story, the narrator goes into long ruminations, what he calls Chataquas about various topics. He talks about how he is really into maintaining his bike, but his friends who ride motorcycles, are not. They don’t like thinking about the systems and technology behind it. Eventually this discussion leads to the ideas of romantic versus classic views of the world and objective versus subjective thinking. The narrator tells us how Phaderus grappled with this huge ideas, eventually combining Eastern and Western philosophies.

It stems from the idea of Quality. What is it? How do you define Quality? You know its there, but you can’t say what it is. The reason this is, according to the narrator that Quality is pre-intellectual. It is not that objects produce or inherently have Quality. It is that we perceive Quality, and that produces our ideas of the objects. A rather complicated and deep discussion of this follows.

He also talks about other topics such as stuckness, gumption, peace of mind, and the lack of caring in this world. Caring is what produces Quality.

Takeaway: Subjectivity and objectivity are two faces of the same coin. In order to produce Quality, you must care about what you are doing and have gumption.