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Hacking Charisma 242

An anonymous reader writes: "Steve Jobs had it. George Clooney has it. So does Don Draper. Charisma is intangible but powerful: the personality trait that's used to win friends and influence people. Olivia Fox Cabane wasn't born with it. She was a high-school outcast, a socially awkward teenager baffled by the nuance of social interactions. But she was also an analytical thinker. She believes she has reverse engineered the secret of charm, and is so successful that executives now pay her to do the same for them. Cabane's self-help spiel comes with a dose of science. In this article, Teresa Chin examines the science of charisma, and asks why exactly Silicon Valley needs a charisma coach in the first place."
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Hacking Charisma

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  • "hacking charisma" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:14AM (#46591649)

    otherwise known as "learning sociopathic manipulation"?

  • cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:22AM (#46591701)

    If you need to read a book to tell you how to be cool, you're not.

  • by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:23AM (#46591705)

    "[Olivia Fox Cabane] is so successful that executives now pay her to do the same for them."

    Ever been to an offsite while working for a large company? And did they have an invited speaker who basically talked a lot of entertaining bullshit, which was nonethelss bullshit? Ever wondered how that speaker managed to con a bunch of supposedly savvy and high-powered executives to get the gig? Me neither. Then again, management consultancy still continues to thrive as an industry and I still don't know what they really do.

    It's almost as if most executives have no fucking idea what they're doing...

  • UGh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by period3 ( 94751 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:23AM (#46591707)

    I'm halfway through the article but so far all I've read is "blah blah blah". Atrocious website that requires a cut-and-paste into a word processor to make the narrow article even readable, and as utterly devoid of content as the reader's digest article I read at the dentist.

    Honestly do editors even try to read these submissions?

  • Charlatan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rumpledoll ( 716472 ) <rumpledoll.covad@net> on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:26AM (#46591717)
    Much like the psychic who never seems to be able to hit the lottery numbers and become wealthy, Olivia appears to have none of the qualities of which she purports to teach, besides being a charlatan that appeals to the pointy haired bosses of the world looking for that silver bullet.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:26AM (#46591719) Journal
    Charisma is merely the equivalent of a Doctorate in social interaction.

    Everyone isn't ideally suited for it, just like other specialty degrees.

    And sociopaths generally excel in this vocation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:27AM (#46591727)

    The moment I realised that most people in this world are winging it, and don't know what the hell they're doing, that's the moment I knew I had grown up.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:44AM (#46591831) Journal

    In today's world it's a very rewarding trait. The sociopaths are top dogs. Somebody needs to teach how to resist "charisma".

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:45AM (#46591839)

    Ever wondered how that speaker managed to con a bunch of supposedly savvy and high-powered executives to get the gig?

    Speakers like that prey on clueless managers that have nothing tangible to contribute to what the company is actually doing, but want to LOOK like they're providing valuable leadership in exchange for their overinflated salaries. It's a symbiotic relationship of bullshit. The speaker pretends they're offering valuable advice, and the manager(s) pretend that their brilliant idea of bringing the speaker in is going to somehow help the company. Meanwhile the real brains behind the company lose a day of productivity listening to a bunch of useless, vacuous crap.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:57AM (#46591895)

    Somebody needs to teach how to resist "charisma".

    Otherwise known as "critical thinking".

  • Re:UGh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:11AM (#46591967)

    What is also interesting is that the Slashdot Q&A section skips answers occasionally. For example, do you still remember the Richard Stallman [] and Theo de Raadt [] question sessions from some weeks ago? Where are the answers?

    If you keep an eye on the Q&A section, it's not that unusual for the answers to disappear.

  • by csnydermvpsoft ( 596111 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:18AM (#46592009)

    I'd turn that around: "Intelligence is realizing that nobody knows what the fuck they're talking about. Wisdom is realizing that you don't, either."

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:23AM (#46592033) Homepage

    It has been known for decades and the single book that is the bible in such things has been out forever now.. []

    How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

    She may have came up with a better presentation, but it's the exact same thing.

  • by MillerHighLife21 ( 876240 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:36AM (#46592139) Homepage

    It's not complete BS, but I think it's more learned by observation than taught. I was very socially awkward growing up but I also just sat back and observed people. When I got to college I made a point to modify some of my habits around people based on those observations and my college experience was a whole lot better than my high school experience. The short of it was that I just realized what type of things that I was doing that made people react badly and stopped them. It also didn't hurt that I lost 40 lbs, worked out every day, got contacts and got rid of my braces.

    Seriously though, the #1 thing that I learned to do was just stop talking so much. I geek out with programmers on programming stuff. People run away when you do that in other settings.

  • by HnT ( 306652 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:46AM (#46592233)

    Let's not focus on the website layout, the unnecessarily long article, her looks or what you might think you know about "sociopaths" and all managers clearly being manipulative swindlers.
    She is not teaching people to "mind fuck" others, she is not some "NLP" pushing sociopath. Essentially she is offering a pragmatic approach to overcoming your own anxieties or to calm down a competitive temper. She helps to make certain situations more pleasant for the client and is not pushing tools how to "one-up" conversation partners.
    So she suggests meditation and a mental exercise of focusing on a relaxing situation (the puppy, or kayaking) and she successfully sells that to some people? Well, good for her! You might think there is little information or "skill" there and you might be right, the point is it can still be damn hard to make a transformation of habits and ways you might have had for a long time and what a good coach does is help you along the way.

    I really do not understand the negative responses in here. Yes her message might be pretty simple and "duh!" but at least she has some interesting connections to scientific theories and like I said above, transformations like that are not only about identifying and then "simply" fixing what's wrong.

    I would much rather be coached by someone like her instead of some bullshit NLP training where you are taught how to mind-fuck your victim into scratching his left ear with his right hand, literally.

  • by modecx ( 130548 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:26PM (#46593621)

    If you need to resist it, you have already failed, as it had already affected you.

    Charisma, like the old tree branch that scratches your window at night, and the drive to eat and fuck, primarily affects the old lizard brain. It's near the same biological level as the autonomic nervous functions. Unless your name is Spock or Jesus H. Christ, of course you've already failed. That doesn't mean you're done for though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2014 @03:43PM (#46595461)

    "Critical Thinking" is a meaningless phrase. The Wikipedia page contains nine different definitions, some directly contradictory.

    The word you're looking for is ambiguous, not "meaningless". And none of those definitions are directly contradictory.

    So whatever "critical thinking" means, those that use the phrase without saying what they actually mean, are not doing it.

    There are multitudes of ambiguous words and phrases. Usage of any of them without "saying what they actually mean" does not in any way suggest lack of critical thinking.

    In fact, your inappropriate attribution of that error does suggest lack of critical thinking (by most definitions on the linked page) on your part.

  • by Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @04:40PM (#46596069)

    Thank you for your excellent example of rhetorical technique. You've built an impressive straw man from an ad hominem buried into a loaded question, with implied phony refutation, slanter, and appeal to ignorance tossed in just for fun. All in less than 20 words. Posting as Anonymous Coward just adds to the touch. Brilliant! You're catching on to how this social manipulation thing works. I see great things in your future.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban