Is there a charisma myth?

Word count: 253 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers. Today, I introduce you to The Charisma Myth.

Like many others, I enjoy Seth Godin’s blog.

I don’t recall if he was the person who directed me to the book The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane, but it’s possible. He puts his name on the cover and says: “Charisma is not a gift, it’s a tool. Cabane makes a big promise with this book and delivers on it.”

I agree. But only sort of.

The information in this book is fantastic. Cabane argues convincingly that charisma is not a fundamental, inborn quality. Instead, she says, it’s something that anyone can develop. And she offers some very specific advice on how to do that. I think her suggestions excellent.

Unfortunately, she’s a mediocre writer. She doesn’t tell nearly enough stories and when she does tell them, she doesn’t give nearly enough detail or colour. How I wish she’d had a ghost writer! Perhaps she should have hired Charles Duhigg, who wrote the excellent book The Power of Habit. Now there’s a man who really understands how to tell a story!

I took The Charisma Myth out of the library but now, despite my hesitations about the writing style, I’m going to buy my own copy. Cabane’s premise — that charisma is based on presence, power and warmth — is persuasive. And her specific exercises for developing these traits are topnotch. Now, if only I could teach her how to write!

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