The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane: Applicable to Infosec?

These are the main points extracted from a talk that Olivia Fox Cabane gave in the Stanford's Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Lecture Series. The question would be whether we can use these learning points to build an Infosec charisma.

- Charisma is an asset.
- Charisma let people trust you, like you and want to be led by you.
- Charisma is the result of specific behaviours.
- Behaviours that define charisma: behaviours of presence, power and warmth.
- Presence is the core of charisma.

- Charismatic people make you think that they are present, with you, fully with you.
- People can read facial expressions in 17 milliseconds. So, when you are not fully into what they are telling you, they will instantly notice. Your presence will diminish, appearing inauthentic.
- How to avoid it? One technique, focus on the physical sensation of your toes (yes, your toes!).

- Second technique. focus on the myriad of colours that your interlocutor's eyes have (but don't overdo it!).
- Charisma is how you make people feel about themselves.
- Let them impress you and they will love you for it.

- We look for power signs in body language.
- Voice fluctuation and pitching skills are key,
- Powerfull people claim as much physical space as possible.
- When people adopt these poses, energy boosting hormones rise.
- Learn how to play Chemistry with your own brain.

Mental side of power
- The single biggest obstacle is lack of confidence.
- How to deconstruct the "impostor's complex". Recognise those destructive thoughts (e.g. I am not able to make it!) and consider them as graffiti on the wall and do not pay much attention to them.
- Learn how to read reality.
- We have a limited capacity of attention.

- It is so closely tight to body language that you cannot fake it.
- Warmth comes mainly from your eyes and your voice.
- Don't act as if ... be that person, that character. Our brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality.
- Think of something really nice, open your eyes and link it with what you are doing right now.
- The area around the eyes is the most mobile area in the entire human face. Eyes will tell everyone the degree of warmth you are displaying.
- Never assume that your immediate assumption is the valid one.
- Choose a charisma-enhancing assumption. Re-write reality: Invent a story to alleviate your anger. Choose the reality that puts you in the most useful mental state. Don't control your body language, control your mind.
- What to do with conflicting interlocutors, think of three positive features you find of them (they can also be part of an invented story).

Practice tips
- Get your energy levels up.
- Improvise.
- Learn something that teaches you to own the space around you.
- Dance.
- But don't get charismatic with "the charismatic person".

Imagine applying even if it is only 10% of all this in your next meeting with customers.

Happy charismatic reading!

Infosec Charisma