The Function of man is to live not exist 

Here are a few short vignettes that get right to the point 

You are invited to a social gathering. You know only one or two of the guests, and of course, the person who invited you. The moment you walk into the room you are greeted by a young man or woman who you have never met before. They immediately shake your hand and introduce themselves to you. The next thing you know they are waltzing you across the floor to meet the other guests. You are made to feel special. This warm, friendly person, who you have never met before tonight has gone out of his way to make you feel as if you belong.


While talking to one of the other guests you notice that your new friend is greeting more new arrivals. Once this is done he easily moves from one small group to another talking laughing and seeing to the needs of those standing near him. When the time comes to toast the guest of honor your new friend rises to lead the festivities again. When you ask your host who this person is she replies, “Oh that’s Billy he’s always the life of the party. This group would be really dull without him”


Your company has hired an outside consultant to teach your team some very specialized state of the art material. You expect this all day seminar to be a great waste of time, especially since you have mounds of paper work to get through and several other   meetings you should be attending. To your surprise the seminar leader is funny, out going and chocked filled of valuable information. Her friendly smile and warm personality quickly disarm you. As a matter of fact when the group breaks for coffee at ten o’clock you are relaxed and looking forward to the rest of the day’s activities.


What exactly is charisma?


Charisma can be defined as the ability to influence others positively by connecting with them physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It’s the qualities that make people like you even when they don’t know much about you. Personal magnetism is a word that can be used interchangeably with charisma. Charisma also has many faces. It’s the sales clerk that makes you feel like an old friend, the doctor who can quickly put you at ease with his warm smile and reassuring touch. It’s also the young teacher who brightens up the lives of her students and colleagues.


No body follows a dud. To lead you must have charisma 

Here are several aspects of charisma. These characteristics are based on my working with and observing thousand of men and woman from all walks of life.


The ability to speak well   People with charisma command your attention when they speak. Their voices are filled with compassion and concern. Each idea and thought is carefully crafted to get the message across to the listener. They also have the ability to make us believe that we are the most important person in the room.


Your silent message   This refers to the “silent message” you are constantly sending out to others. Do you look people in the eye when you are speaking or are you staring at your shoes or a speck on the wall? Are you smiling and standing erect. Those with charisma also command attention because of the physical details of their appearance.


Motivating others   The ability to get other people to follow your ideas is one of the most important characteristics shared by charismatic people. They can persuade others to help get the job done. Political candidates spend a great deal of time and money to fine tune this skill.


Listening skills  Understanding others and making them feel special while they are speaking to you is a must if you want t o be charismatic.


Your ability to adapt to others    Men and women who have charisma can adapt their own behavior to others to win their support and confidence. This as we all know is important in our business as well as our personal lives.


Your vision and your ideas   Above all, people with charisma have something very important to say.


When people have charisma excitement follows them 

You too have personal magnetisms 

I’ve spent over twenty five years preparing men and women from all walks of life for careers in corporate America. This experience has taught me that charismatic people are not born that way. These men and women have developed a unique style that allows them to interact in a very different, but positive manner. I’ve seen people who by all rights should have been failures. They seldom smile nor do they enjoy mixing with colleagues and client’s. Yet year after year their performance has been outstanding-why; because these very same people know what they have and make the most of it. Maybe it’s their silent communication or the trust others have in them.


It’s safe to state that charisma can be exhibited in different ways. It doesn’t necessary mean being showy or flashy or an extreme extravert. Personal magnetism reveals itself very differently in each unique person. Here are five statements made by people considered to have charisma. Which of the following are what you are most likely to say about yourself?


  1. I like to get straight to the heart of the problem. I don’t let small annoyances keep me from making decisions and getting the results I want.
  2. I like to inspire other people to complete projects. My enthusiasm and energy usually get the job done.
  3. I enjoy coming up with different solutions to problems. I like finding a better way to do it.
  4. I enjoy listening to people. I learn important information that way, and then I pass it on to others. I also like every one to get along so I am a peace maker.
  5. I love to share what I’ve just read with other people. I also enjoy initiating conversations about things I’ve recently learned. Most of all…I enjoy sharing knowledge with any one who will listen.


Does any of this sound like you? These statements come from a wide variety of people. Yet each is charismatic in his own way. My point here is that we all have the ability to influence people positively, but it might not manifest itself in some stereotypical way.


You are unique 

The term charisma originated with the early Greeks and meant “divine gift.”

The Catholic Church used charisma to describe the wisdom, prophesy or healing powers of God. Early in the Twentieth Century German sociologist, Max Weber used the term charisma to describe “certain people who had a gift that set them apart from ordinary humans.”


You are not born boring and dull. As a child you were expressive, animated, and full of life. Little by little you were taught to be fearful of sharing yourself with others. How many times can you remember hearing, “Stop doing that and try to act your age?” This was roughly translated to don’t be spontaneous or fun loving.  Thus you quickly learned not to share your real self with others. Whatever charisma you had was buried until you   finally learned to keep your feelings and emotions in check.


As adults we all respond to positively to those who are open and spontaneous –those brave souls that do not fear rejection-who communicate a sincere interest in others-who walk through the world with self-confidence. These are the men and women with a special spark-and we all reach out to them. These people who come in all sizes, shapes and ages are not lucky. They have developed charisma.


To begin developing your own brand of charisma you must first understand that you too have these same ability to begin absorbing, and developing your own “special brand” of charisma so you can become one of these special people instead of some faceless person lost in the crowd.


God bless you Billy Mays 

If you are addicted to late night television, the way I am, you’re constantly being bombarded by commercials and infomercials.  The ones that have recently caught my attention are hosted by a bearded middle-aged gentleman by the name of Billy Mays.

Please try to catch this guys’ act if you can. He could sell you the BrooklynBridge or yesterdays’ left-over pizza if he wanted to do so. A recent article on Billy Mays stated that he was developing a “following”. This year, for the first time, a late night type commercial featuring our old friend appeared during the Super Bowl.  If you like this character or not there is something very special about him. It’s called charisma. God bless you Billy Mays.


Speaking of well known people who have used charisma to rise to the top of their professions we must not over-look people such as; Lee Iacocca, the big man who literally single- handedly saved Chrysler, and who could possibly forget Mary Kay Ask whose cosmetics have become a house-hold word? If you have ever enjoyed a soft ice-cream cone you can thank the graveled voice inventor of this great stuff Tom Carvel.  People thought he was crazy when he introduced his new form of ice-cream back during the dark days of the Depression. That didn’t stop Tom. It was his charisma and determination that set him apart from the thousands of would-be businessmen and women.


Before you continue reading let me emphasize several very important points: Your charisma or personal magnetism does not happen over night. It is not a substitute for character or expertise. If you expect to have an impact on other people you must be good at what you do. Your goals must be larger than yourself. And most of all…you must be ready to work hard…very hard.


Here is the big secret in life-you succeed the way you are 

Charisma wins the day


Recently my associate Jim Greico and I were asked to interview and select a candidate for a high profile position wit h a large Wall Street firm. The choice was narrowed down to two well-qualified young men. Their credentials and experience were almost identical.  Jim said: “I can’t bring myself to make the choice. These two guys are equally qualified” I suggested that we invite both of them to a cocktail party we were hosting for one of our clients to see how they interacted with corporate executives and their guests. This would be the tie-breaker.


Both dressed appropriately and arrived a half hour early. Each politely asked if they could help with any of the last minute details. Jonathan immediately began introducing himself to the guests as they arrived. He gave each a warm hand-shake and escorted them to the bar for a drink and some small talk. Within several minutes he excused himself and repeated the same process with new guests as they arrived. During the course of the evening Jonathan moved from table to table talking to our guests and attending to their needs.  One of the senior account executives asked how long he had been working with our firm. Another asked him if he was interested in switching firms. “I could use some one like you in my office”


Steve, the other candidate, walked over to the bar shortly after he arrived.  He immediately struck up a conversation with another young man who was also an ex-football player. Most of his evening was spent rehashing old stories about the big game.  Once or twice during the cocktail party Steve asked us if we needed help with any thing. Half- way through the party this young jock ran into one of his old buddies and they spent the rest of the evening drinking beer and discussing football.


On more than one occasion I caught Jonathan stepping into the hallway to jot down some information in a pad he kept in his coat pocket. Just before the party ended I asked him why he was taking notes during a formal party “OK, I’ll tell you now instead of calling you tomorrow morning. I was thinking of ways to improve our next party. Case closed. Not only did Jonathan get the position, but as of last January he has been promoted and moved to the company’s headquarters in WashingtonDC.


Although the names have been changed this incident occurred just as I stated, both   candidates were equally qualified Jonathan had that “something extra” called charisma. Unlike Steve we saw himself as a dynamic candidate “working the room” to increase business. Jonathan was confident, affable, and above al he was not afraid to take command of the situation. Furthermore, his follow-up suggestions were astute and very much on target.  Jonathan did not develop charisma in his accounting or finance courses. These skills were developed as a teenager while he worked at a variety of part time jobs and learned how to become a responsible adult.


It’s about connecting with people


A person who develops charisma is more likely to do well in all aspects of his life. This is because they can connect to other people on more than one level. The charismatic person is “other directed” Compassion, concern, and the ability to respond emotionally will be among the most important characteristics of business leaders in the years to come.


Only action brings ideas to life 


Being connected to other people serves charismatic people in several ways:


Empowerment    Supporting others by allowing them to grow. As a leader you are expected to care for and respect the integrity of your staff.


Communication    You must be a successful communicator in the work place to succeed. A leader in today’s economy is one who has well developed their speaking and listening skills.


Ability to adapt to change   Developing charisma is more important than ever because those with personal magnetism are usually self confident and optimistic. There is little doubt that positive people are propelled forward negative ones are prisoners of their own fears. It is safe to say that optimism inspires rather than controls. It focuses on desired results and turns failure into challenge. Being optimistic also means doing something for the first time and taking the blame if it doesn’t work.


First impressions are lasting impressions


You only have one chance to make a first impression. It’s safe to say that you have already made a statement about yourself before you’ve opened your mouth. This is your “silent message” and it includes every thing from your posture to the smile (or lack of smile) on your face. True, image isn’t every thing, but we are sophisticated enough to know what we like and dislike in others. If you hear some one yelling across the room or pushing you out of the way to get past you  your sure to utter something like, “what a clod”. Needless to say it would take a great deal on the other person’s part to prove you wrong.


If a person matches our sense of values they have a good chance of influencing our decision. The important point here is, people with a presence usually have an excitement about themselves that begins with the first as well as all subsequent meetings. These people immediately catch our attention and they are at an enormous advantage when it comes to bonding with other people.


Dress for success or regret it


Last year my associate, Jim Greico, and I were looking for a new employee to help with our computer work. Since one of the local colleges on Staten Island was holding a job fair we thought this would be a great place to begin our search. I encouraged several of my Business English students to attend, especially those graduating in May.  There resumes and cover letters were already critiqued in class and several of these articulate young people were ready to be hired.


Along comes Joe (not his real name of course). One of my bright scholars shows up at the job fair wearing sneakers an open sports shirt and a pair of dungarees. This outfit included a pair of sun glasses and a tooth pick that hung from his lower lip. Joe also looked as if he had not shaved in three days. My first remark to him was, “unless you’re auditioning for a role in one of the up-coming episodes of the Sopranos I would strongly urge you to go home and change into something more appropriate for the occasion. As of the writing of this article Joe is still looking for a job.


Your appearance is an advertisement to the world


What’s your proper image? 

Here are several ways to project a positive winning image:


A winning image begins with a good self-image   Many of you are guilty of carrying a false image of yourself; one that has been formed by relatives and childhood traumas. This of course is subtly communicated to anyone you meet.  For example, if you feel that you are too tall, too fat or unattractive others will pick up on this. The reverse is also true. You could be a sloppy dresser and in need of a haircut and still believe that you are the coolest person in the room. Why not ask a relative or close friend to comment on your appearance? They may well make some very valid suggestions without being offensive.


Select your wardrobe carefully   Don’t buy clothes or shoes haphazardly or just because they are on sale. Please be sure that your clothes and accessories are complementary, not clashing. Always dress up, whether you are at a ball game or a board meeting with the president of your firm.


Avoid disturbing habits   This includes tugging at clothes, biting your nails, clicking pens, or doodling when someone else is speaking. These are sure to detract from your image even if you are wearing a thousand dollar suit.


Buy first class professional equipment   Don’t buy cheap business card, stationary or briefcase. Pay attention to the “little extras” they get noticed.


Stay away from losers   Choose friends who want to succeed and who encourage you to do so also. Also stay from negative people or those who gossip.


Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect.  While you’re at it drop the wise remarks and foul language. If you neglect to do this you will be relegated to the back room of any organization. Please trust me on this.


Give sincere complements    Thank people for doing a job well done. People just like you really do think what you think about them.


Stay physically fit -Get out and exercise. It’s good for your mind as well as your body. Obesity leads to illness which can put a dent in your career.


Life’s a stage and you have the leading role   Shakespeare once said that “life’s a stage” He was right. People with charisma are always “on”. They smile and are ready to extend a hand or a new idea to whoever needs them. One more thing: take the smile off your face just before you go to sleep at night.


You are never too good or too experienced to ignore the fundamentals of public speaking 


Communicate and win


  • Your ability to communicate well will make a big difference in your career
  • 80% of all adults, regardless of their background or education fear speaking in public
  • The ability to speak confidently is one of the main components of charisma
  • The road  to upper management is littered with able men and women who mumbled, stumbled, and mispronounced lots of words


It’s time to start speaking with authority

  • Make eye contact with every one you speak with every one you speak to.
  • Always stand to greet or shake hands with another person
  • Avoid vulgar language and ethnic humor
  • Smile and communicate a genuine interest in your audience
  • Do not speak to fast, pause and allow your audience to digest your message
  • Never frown or look annoyed while you are speaking
  • If you are presenting a speech dress for the occasion
  • Be sincere and convey honesty and trust to your audience
  • Never slouch while delivering a speech. This will detract from your material
  • Avoid using words your audience may not be familiar with
  • If research is required do it honestly without cutting corners
  • Be sure the topic you are speaking on is the right one for your audience


How to handle stage fright

At one time or another everyone has been a victim of stage fright. Remember when you were called on to speak in front of a group? Maybe you became nervous. You began sweating and your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth. “What if I forget my speech, what if the audience laughs at me, what if I faint? When you opened your mouth to speak your voice sounded flat and your facial expressions were blank or distant. For a brief moment you were transported back to the Bataan death march.

First understand that stage fright is very normal. None of us are immune. Even the most seasoned professional speakers often get butterflies in their stomach before the get up to speak. While your fear of speaking never completely goes away, professional have learned how to manage their fear of speaking in public. Here are a few tips that can help you control stage fright.

  • Know your subject matter.  One of the best ways to combat stage fright is to thoroughly versed in your topic. This will do a great deal to boost your confidence.
  • Practice your presentation until you feel comfortable with it, but do not memorize you speech. It will sound stilted and rigid.
  • Have a friend video tape your presentation so you can play it back so you can polish it up and correct any mistakes before the actual event occurs.
  • Quickly establish rapport with the audience by making eye contact with them. Be sure to smile and avoid any distracting gestures
  • Be sure that your visual aids are well prepared and in keeping with your presentations.
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion. Your audience will be influenced by your style of dressing almost as much as your presentation.
  • Be yourself and don’t try to imitate someone else, not unless you are participating in a talent show.
  • Focus on the “big idea” of your presentation.
  • Grab your audiences’ attention with a powerful introduction and conclusion.


A few words about nonverbal communication

Your body movements and facial gestures reveal as much about you as do your words. Get your eyes into your speech. They are one of the most expressive parts of your body, and define your emotional state. It would appear that the old adage, “the eyes are the windows to your soul” is correct.

Don’t cross your arms or place then behind your back while speaking. This sends your audience or the person you are speaking to a silent message that says “I don’t want to be here or I anticipate an attack.” The best way to use your hands is to keep them in front of you and use them to gesture to your audience. This helps to animate your speech and is guaranteed to make it more interesting. To learn more about nonverbal communication you can down-load another one of my articles entitled: “How To Ace Any Interview.”

There are also very subtle forms of nonverbal communication that you may not even be aware of. This includes rolling your eyes when the person you are talking to not in agreement with you or if feel bored or annoyed with the other person. Crossing your legs during a meeting or interview means that you are placing the responsibility for producing results on the other person. Playing with a pen or drumming the table is a good indication to those present that you are bored or just not interested in what they have to say.


Listening attentively


Have you ever entered a room where everyone seems to be talking at the same time? First someone talks about their new car then another brags about a recent promotion or one of their children. You nod, smile and quickly walk away to the next conversation where          the same process is being repeated.


It doesn’t take long before you realize that no one is really listening to each other. They might be thinking about how good they sound or how to influence the people they are speaking to. In all probability the people in the room are trying to out-do each other. Whatever their motives may be, it’s clear that no one is listening to anyone else. They are carrying on a monologue with someone else present. In most cases we hear, but we are really pretending to listen to the other person.

When we think of people with charisma we naturally think of men and women who speak well. Yes, of course this is critical to your overall success, but that’s only half the picture. If you are interested in gaining someone’s attention or gaining their confidence –good listening will draw them into your circle. On the other hand if you are a poor listener they will drift away from you and find someone else who will listen to them. 

Roadblocks to good effective listening 

  • Listening takes effort. It means really taking the time to listen to the other person.
  • There is an enormous amount of competition for our attention, radio TV, etc. With all of this s tuff constantly bombarding us we’ve learned to screen out lots of information; unfortunately some of it is important.
  • We think we know what the other person is going to say. We falsely assume that we have a full understanding right from the beginning.
  • Each of us speaks at between 135- 75 words a minute, but we comprehend at 400-500 words a minute. This gives us plenty of time to dream and jump to conclusions.
  • You don’t listen because you don’t know how. You spend more time speaking then you do reading writing and listening.


Practice your listening skills just like any new skills you are trying to develop. Good listening takes, time patience and practice. Here are a few ideas to help you improve your listening skills.


  • Take the time to really listen to one person each day.
  • Create a positive listening environment
  • Do not interrupt the other person. If someone else is interrupting the speaker do not do the same. Show restraint and listen t o them
  • Don’t overdo it by staring or continuously nodding your head as they speak. Eventually the speaker will realize that you are artificial
  • Remember that your body, face, hands, and posture also send out signals as to whether you are listening or not.


People are not born with charisma

If you remember earlier in this article I stated that people with charisma are not born that way. They have learned how to relate to others on many levels.    Here is a list of characteristics that charismatic people have in common. You may wish to apply some of these behavior traits   into your own life 

  • Charismatic people are courteous, almost to a fault. They will now allow themselves to lose their temper, especially in public.
  • Charismatic people go out of their way (sometimes way out of their way) to help others solve problems.
  • Those who possess charisma are known to take charge and get the job done.
  • Charismatic people have their own unique way of dressing
  • Their code of behavior reflects the rust and respect we have for them
  • A man or woman who has charisma will help you build your own self-esteem
  • They are also loyal, and do not speak badly of others.


How to become the new you

You are a self-motivated man or woman who has been working hard to build a better life for you and those close to you; as a child you studied hard which got you into the right college or technical school. Perhaps you attended graduate school or studied for a license exam or a promotion then another until you got to where you are today. Yet something seems to be missing. Why are less qualified people than me being promoted to the top positions? Why can’t I make new interesting friends? Questions, questions and then some more; you’re begin to believe that some old gypsy put a curse on you.  Then once this strange idea has passed you realize that it is time for change…real change.

Some philosopher once said “real change begins in the inside.” I’ll go one step further and state that “real change” begins when you make the conscious decision to move out beyond your own self-imposed limitations.

Here’s a life-changing exercise you will enjoy. But first, way back in the 1920’s a young actor, from the wrong side of London, named Archibald Leach wanted to become one of the most famous actors in England. This poor half Jewish boy was definitely not a candidate for fame and fortune.  This bright lad was smart enough that in order for him to become famous a major make-over was in order.

This bright young man began his self-development program by literally creating the person he wanted to be. He accomplished this by adopting behavior characteristics of men who were already out-going, poised, and prosperous. This enterprising young man  learned how to speak like an educated refined gentleman. He continued his program by investing the little money he had on well tailored clothes. With time and practice Archibald Leach transformed himself into Cary Grant-the well known-well lived international actor.

No, I’m not suggesting that you become someone else, not at all, but you can successfully transform yourself by adopting characteristics you admire in other people. For example, as a child I admired how the rabbi of our temple enjoyed working with young children. He was patient and kind even to outsiders he came in contact with. I loved his compassion and concern for all the youngsters in our neighborhood.  While in college I admired one of my professors for reaching out to share himself with us. He was always there when we needed him.  I also aspired to be like one of my older cousins who spent most of his time studying for advanced college degrees. When I think back to the characteristics I’ve adopted I remember how my father always dressed like a professional.

As you attempt this exercise make a list of the characteristics you admire in other people. The next step is to adopt them into your very own unique personality. The beauty of this exercise is that you can continually add new life-giving characteristics year after successful year.

Please try the exercises and suggestions I have carefully laid out here for you. Experience has taught me that those of you who are willing to put the time and effort into this project will reap the benefits of your labor. If you are stuck or need help with your own program for self-discovery and change please feel free to contact me. I’ll be there to help you…I promise.


A publication by:

James R. Weiss


Copyright by: C+B+R Publications

Staten Island NY