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512 of 521 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book of its kind I've ever read, May 15, 2012
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This review is from: The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism (Kindle Edition)
I read a lot of books in this genre - call it "professional self-help." I've spoken professionally a few times now about leadership and communication, and for my most recent one just a few months ago I did a ton of reading research and a lot of it was books like this one. Most of them are mediocre. I began reading The Charisma Myth expecting more of the same, frankly: platitudes, some common sense stuff, the kinds of advice that will only make sense to people who don't need it. I was just hoping for a tidbit or two that would be useful.

I don't really gush about things. If anything I tend to be very demanding and therefore very critical. Like I said, I think most books in this genre are essentially useless.

The Charisma Myth is a truly phenomenal book. It's so good that I have recommended it to several of my colleagues and it has already changed the way I manage my team and relate to my coworkers. In fact, my first gut reaction when I read it was "I guess I should stop speaking, now, because everything I'd want to talk about is covered in here."

Here's the thing: most of these kinds of books give you a few things:

1. Platitudes: useless, pithy sayings.
2. Random Anecdotes: stories that don't really offer any takeaway you can act on.
3. Abstract Imperatives: things like "be a good listener!" If you're not already a good listener that's kind of like saying "Roast Beef Recipe: Get some beef and roast it." It's not helpful - it doesn't tell me what actual specific actions to take.

Here's what this book gave me:

1. Extremely concrete, specific actions: Every piece of advice about conduct or mindset is accompanied by direct actions to take. When you're in a conversation and find your mind drifting, bring it back to a physical sensation in the present, like the feeling in your toes. That's just one example of many, but they're all things you can actually DO, not abstract imperatives like "be a better listener" or pithy-but-vapid stuff like "smile more!"

2. Visualizations: I've never seen anyone push visualization like Olivia does. She makes the compelling point that visualization is something top athletes and actors have known about forever. In my talks I've always felt slightly uncomfortable urging people to do visualizations, but not anymore, not after reading this. She runs through a lot of specific visualizations, and they're immediately useful practices.

3. Taxonomies: Of the most useful business and management blogs I read, some of their most useful posts (I'm thinking of randsinrepose.com, for example) are taxonomies. "The five kinds of meeting attendees." "The four kinds of firefighting." Or whatever. These are helpful to me because by enumerating a problem space as a handful of distinct categories they help me crystallize my own thinking about it. Olivia does this when she enumerates the four kinds of charisma. Look, I think I'm a good manager and leader, an empathetic guy and good at my job, I'm not gonna lie, but I'd never thought about it in this way. This was pretty eye-opening to me. I read this part and thought, oh yeah, I've got the "focus" and "kindness" charisma but less of the "authority" and definitely least of all the "visionary" charisma. And that gives me specific things to work on, and a way to understand why I'm better at motivating people in certain circumstances rather than others.

To anyone who wants to be more charismatic: to be more successful at work, more able to positively influence those around them, more able to open up and make real connections with others, and just more able to lead a rich and happy life - and I know how this sounds, I swear I don't usually gush like this! - this book tells you everything you need to know. Everything! No other book I've read does that.

To be clear, that's like saying Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" tells you everything you need to know to be a very good, extremely strong weightlifter. You still have to do a ton of really hard work! This book doesn't make you magically charismatic. But it gives you direct, specific, applied practices that, if you do them, will make you more charismatic and enrich your life. Of all the pop psychology, management, leadership, and professional self-help books I've ever read, I cannot say that about a single other one.

I give this book my absolute highest recommendation. It is absolutely superb. I don't say that lightly.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 23, 2013 9:11:41 AM PST
dan says:
great review. charisma is underrated and has the potential to improve many facets of your life. im glad not many people understand this hahaha

Posted on May 13, 2013 9:34:32 PM PDT
Greate comprehensive review! Could you please recommend some of the "professional self-help" books? most of them are really useless) tweet in your twitter would be fine :) thx

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2013 12:19:00 AM PDT
Brian Sharp says:
_Difficult Conversations_ by Stone et al is a MUST-read. Their _Getting to Yes_ is also great but _Difficult Conversations_ is a masterpiece. Off the top of my head, some others: Kahneman's _Thinking: Fast and Slow_ is really great. Gives a gestalt sense of our best current understanding of why humans behave as they do, which any good leader has to understand and really reflect on. I also just finished _Power of Habit_ and it was worthwhile in terms of thinking about how you coach people through changes and helping them really sink in. Lee Glickstein's _Be Heard Now_ was very helpful to me in finding a really authentic and fluid manner of public speaking. That's what comes to mind right now, hope it's helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2013 6:51:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 15, 2013 6:54:54 AM PDT
Igor, you could also try The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill by James Scouller. I agree with everything Brian Sharp said in his review about most of the books in this genre, but Three Levels is different. It has real content (not 80% filler), big new ideas and practical tools. It is well known in the UK, but not yet so well known in the USA.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2013 7:02:54 AM PDT
Thank you, guys. Already started "Difficult Conversations" and will definitely take look at "The Three Levels...".

Posted on May 20, 2013 6:17:54 PM PDT
Raj Dhawan says:
Thanks for a very comprehensive and detailed review of the book. You gave good specifics about what is in the book, and more importantly, what you liked about it. I also liked the way you compared this book to other self-improvement books; others offer platitudes, this one offers specifics. Loved that !

So thank you. I was looking for a convincing review before purchasing the book. And I think I have found it, so am ordering it now.
Good day !!!

Posted on Oct 7, 2013 8:43:48 AM PDT
Scott Bolan says:
Read through a number of reviews and was unsure if I was going to buy the book.

Saw your review mentioned Mark Rippetoe and immediately bought the book. :)

Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2013 5:43:11 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 14, 2013 5:43:33 AM PST]

Posted on Oct 18, 2014 12:24:47 PM PDT
Joe says:
I liked your comparison to Rippetoe, will be checking this book out based on your recommendation.

Posted on Oct 24, 2014 2:32:14 PM PDT
Your Starting Strength reference gave your review instant credibility to me. If this book is to charisma/self-improvement as Starting Strength is to weight lifting, this is absolutely a must read. I'm definitely going to give it a look.
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