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How You Can Develop the Charisma of Elon Musk

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Think about the space industry for a second; one of the world’s most expensive, complex, and bureaucratic industries you can find. Now, imagine one day a software wiz kid decides he wants to start building rockets and compete against large competitors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Although he had no experience in the space industry, after 15 years and billions of dollars spent, this entrepreneur succeeds on disrupting the whole industry, defeating its competitors along the way.

As you can imagine by now, the entrepreneur I’m talking about is Elon Musk. Not only has he disrupted the space industry, but he also changed the financial industry with PayPal, the automobile industry with Tesla Inc., and the renewable energy industry with SolarCity. If there’s one common attribute among all Elon Musk’s successes it’s his charisma.

If you see Elon Musk and wish you had his charismatic personality, don’t despair. Elon Musk wasn’t born charismatic. All you need is learn how to develop your charisma, just like Elon Musk did.

Hit the right level of charisma

When Elon Musk speaks at a press conference, he’s far from looking like Steve Jobs, the classic example of a charismatic CEO. He talks like a normal person would. It turns out having moderate levels of charisma, like Elon, is a good thing. According to a study from Ghent University, it’s more important for CEOs to have a “good enough” level of charisma that fits their personalities best than trying to force looking charismatic.

Researchers measured different charismatic personality traits using 56 questions from the Hogan Development Survey. Researchers then compared the scores from 600 business leaders with their effectiveness rated by their superiors, peers, and subordinates.

They found charisma has diminishing marginal returns; as charisma increased, so did perceived effectiveness, but only up to a point. After a certain point, as charisma scores continued to increase, perceived effectiveness started to decline. “Leaders with both low and high charismatic personalities were perceived as being less effective than leaders with moderate levels of charisma,” said Filip De Fruyt Ph.D., one of the co-authors of the study.

The less charismatic leaders ended up being seen as less effective due to lacking in the vision and strategy, while the more charismatic ones were scored lower due to their weakness in operations. Having a good mix of both vision and execution, as seen in moderately charismatic leaders, seems to be one of the secrets behind Elon’s success.

“You want to have a future where you’re expecting things to be better, not one where you’re expecting things to be worse.” – Elon Musk

Have a presence

One common element among all charismatic CEOs is their presence. According to Amy Cuddy, Harvard psychologist and author of the book by the same name, presence is “the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express our true thoughts, feelings, values and potential.” Presence is “confidence without arrogance.” It is all about being in the moment.

Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth, considers Elon Musk as a prime example of someone who has mastered the art of charismatic presence. Despite the fact he’s naturally introverted, he can show high levels of intense focus and presence when he speaks. When he speaks to someone, he gives his full attention to a few people, which makes people feel like they are special. Other charismatic leaders that were famous for their intense focus were Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy.

To develop presence, Cuddy recommends two exercises. The first one is called “power posing,” which consists on adopting the body language of other powerful people, so you feel and act more confident. The second one, self-affirmation, consists on writing down your core values and why they’re meaningful to you.

Have conviction

Take a look at the life of Elon Musk, and you will see in each of his successes he had to overcome a myriad of nerve-wracking challenges. His challenges include avoiding a near bankruptcy by a matter of days and building two separate companies while going through a messy public divorce with his first wife, Justine.

Antonio Gracias, an investor in both Tesla and SpaceX, said Elon Musk: “has the ability to work harder and endure more stress than anyone I’ve ever met. The harder it gets, the better he gets.” After all his setbacks and mistakes, Tesla is valued at over $56 billion, whereas SpaceX is valued at $21 billion.

The only way he was able to keep his companies afloat was his conviction. According to Charlie Houpert, author of Charisma on Command, “conviction is the heart of charisma. It is the belief that things will work out. It’s the belief that somehow, someway your goals will be achieved. It’s being sure of yourself in the face of the unknown“.

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk

The only way you can build conviction like Elon Musk is by believing in yourself regardless of what other people think. Build conviction in everything you do and people will follow you.

Developing charisma is like learning a skill because there are no shortcuts and it takes time. With the right attitude, which includes patience and perseverance, it can be developed. Elon Musk was able to develop his charisma just like he was able to build his company, step by step, mistake after mistake. Follow his steps, and you will be able to develop charisma to become a more effective leader in your own life.

What do you like most about Elon Musk? Share with us in the comments below!

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    Aaron Force

    Mar 9, 2018 at 5:58 am

    Great article, Ivan. It seems the whole world is in love with Elon right now and I never put it together in my mind that he is, in fact, highly charismatic. He has an incredible presence to him yet he is entirely accessible— he is not too lofty for any of the rest of us. Excellent work!

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Success Advice

5 Things You Can Learn From The 5am Club by Robin Sharma

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It has been said by Robin Sharma, “5 AM is the time of least distraction, highest human glory, and greatest peace.” This also happens to be the central idea or the core value he has discussed in his book, ‘The 5 Am Club.’ Speaking of early mornings, at what time do you wake up? Are you annoyed by the fact that you wake up on the edge of time and then rush to work in haste? 

The life lessons put forth by The 5 AM Club are exactly the learning and motivation you need to challenge your complacency. In your race against time, you may not have the time to read this fabulous book. So, we have summed up the key book’s takeaways for your convenience.

1. The vigor of waking up early

This is what the book’s most fundamental advice to everyone is. Waking up at 5 am every day can work wonders to avert failures and make success a natural habit. When we wake up at 5 am, we have more time on our hands than others. Besides, this is when we have minimum interruptions and maximum powerfulness of the mind. 

To add, the early morning peace is priceless! You can schedule your most important tasks of the day between 5am, and 8am. This book teaches us in the simplest way, how we can train our mind and strengthen it to deliver the highest productivity by waking up early. This energy that you have when you wake up in the morning and the few additional hours in your day are what serve as perfect ingredients for success.

“The secret to productivity is simplicity.” – Robin Sharma

2. The power of finding the right balance in life

The book talks about a precious lesson of finding the right balance within. We often talk about the need for mindfulness and achieving the right mindset to perceive things. But this book goes a few steps ahead of our usual approach to life. It highlights the vitality of mindset and introduces the concepts of heartset, healthset, and soulset.

These terms may seem new, but they are self-explanatory. The idea of heartset endorses the essentialness of emotional stability and well-being. Next, the perspective of healthset indicates the need to look after physical health. At last, soulset is an attribute of spirituality. As explained in this book, success prospects can be enhanced big time by achieving the right balance between these internal virtues.

3. The iconic 20/20/20 modus operandi

What is the first thing you will do if you start waking up at 5 am every day? Did you ever spare a thought about it? This book has the answer to this question, and you will be convinced that it is a great way to begin your day!. The author suggests that you should split the first hour of the day into three equal parts of 20 minutes each.

In the first 20 minutes of the day, you should prioritize your physical fitness and exercise. In the next 20 minutes, you should energize your soul and spirit via self-reflection and soulful meditation. This will prepare you for the rest of the day and will enable you to bolster your commitment and focus. In the last 20 minutes of the first hour, you should read and learn. But what are you going to read about in those 20 minutes? Read about successful people and their inspiring journeys to the pinnacle of success.

4. The significance of a proper sleep schedule

In this book, there is a mention of ‘a ferocious global sleep recession’, which is intriguing and enlightening. It hints at the state of sleep deprivation that this world is sinking into gradually. We often associate success and hard work with the notion of staying up all night and testing our endurance beyond limits. But that is not the right approach to accomplishing success, or rather, it is a flawed methodology.

Sometimes even if we do not have any critical work, we keep whiling our night time on social media or television. What are we gaining from it is the real question, and I am afraid the answer is nothing! We learn from this book that it is critical to look after your sleep cycle and start your day at 5 am afresh. Sleep and rest are indispensable for mental and physical well-being, or your productivity will decline.

“If you want to have the results only 5% have, you must be willing to do and think like only 5% do and think.” – Robin Sharma

5. The art of evolving

The book sheds light on the need to be spiritual and master self-reflection. However, do you realize the purpose that the routine of reflection each morning serves? The idea is to keep learning, keep reflecting on the mistakes and keep evolution an ongoing process. You should evolve every day and strive to be a better version of yourself every day. So, one of your primary goals after waking up should be to reflect on your actions and missed opportunities of the previous day.

To recapitulate, The 5 AM Club is a must-read book if you are a passionate reader. It has the prowess and charm to refurbish your perception of life altogether. Even if you cannot read the book for some reason, make sure you incorporate the above key takeaways into your life. By starting your day at 5 am, you can rediscover your lost soul and enthusiasm, and you would not have complaints to make about the lack of time. If you can own your mornings, you can go places on the ladder of success, for excuses are only for those who are not committed to their goals.

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Success Advice

Prepare Yourself for Prosperity With These 6 Success Habits

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Success stories don’t come from naturally successful people. They come from ordinary people with starry eyes and big dreams who stayed true to their end goal and consistently put in the work. They are just like you and me. What sets them apart is their mindset — a success mindset. (more…)

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Success Advice

How to Overcome the Emotional Rollercoaster of Success

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If you’re reading this, I’ll let you in on a little secret: you’re a human being. You have feelings, emotions, beliefs, complexity, and a mind that’s always racing. Your feelings at any given moment in your life have the power to affect what you do and how consistently you do it. (more…)

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5 Important Choices that Make Life Worth Living and Success Taste Sweeter

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As we start another year, you’re probably thinking about your life goals, dreams, aspirations, and what you want to accomplish. We know that New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad reputation because most people lose focus after the first few months and the first signs of resistance. (more…)

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