Charisma University: Brutally Honest Review & Summary

Charisma University is Charlie Houpert’s online course on social skills.
The goal of Charisma University is to increase your social skills and teach you how to become more charismatic.

This is a review of Charisma University.

About The Authors

Charlie Houpert

is the co-founder of the YouTube channel Charisma on Command.

He has written a book on charisma called, guess how, Charisma on Command.

He majored in philosophy and it seems like he started off dabbling as a dating coach.

Charlie says he went from introverted to charismatic extroverted.
Anything can be, but I’m not convinced that’s the case. Going from introvert to extrovert is rare -and we might argue if that’s even something an introvert would want to do-.
Maybe he was a shy extrovert, an ambivert or he simply learned to “act like an extrovert” over some periods of time (edit: watching their podcast, it seems like he learned to act as an extrovert indeed).

Introversion is a relevant subject when discussing Charisma University and Charlie’s approach.
As we will see, what he recommends is the extrovert, high-energy approach to socialization -the extreme far end of extroversion-.

See Charlie in real-life action:

Ben Altman

is the co-founder of Charisma on Command.

Unluckily he’s not in the Charisma University course because he could be a higher-power role model for learning social skills.
We go more in-depth on effectiveness, high power, and status in Power University, but Ben is generally more grounded and more “alpha male type” than Charlie.

See some social examples:

And business negotiation:


1. First Impressions

The first rule of first impressions is to not try to impress.

Charlie says you must hit 4 key emotions to make a great first impression:

  1. Positivity (light-hearted, fun)
  2. Trust
  3. Respect
  4. Show interest

My Note: Good points, not sure the order must be hit in sequence
Charlie says you must hit them in the order or you’re in trouble.
I like the idea of forming a strong “social foundation” before you show interest. Early interest might otherwise seem phony or might even be unwanted.

However, I am not a big fan of segmenting socialization into pre-defined “steps” that one must hit for success -it reminds me of The Mystery Method in seduction-.
Reality is complex and all components co-exist and overlap. Beginners who try to focus on the steps to hit one after the other might get stuck in their own heads and end up being even more confused.

Examples of First Impressions

I love the format of showing examples.
That’s what helps people understand abstract concepts and bridge the gap from theory to real-life practice.

However, frankly, I really didn’t like the examples of first impressions in Charisma University.
Here they are:

Obama First Impression

This should be an example of a charismatic way of managing first impressions:

Obama: (slaps a man on his shoulder for 6 times)

I disagree with this example.
Yes, Obama is generally a great role model, but not here. To me, this is not the best example of a gregarious or charismatic man.
Obama comes across as haughty, distant, and even rude. His “touches” are way too aggressive

If he had done that to me, I would have been annoyed and would have pushed back to enforce my boundaries.

Jennifer Lawrence & Charismatic Vulnerability

Charlie says that revealing a weakness early makes you likable and charismatic.

I think that’s really situational though.
If you come across as cool and high-power, a vulnerability makes you more attainable and relatable.
If you’re not coming across as cool and high-power, too big a vulnerability may even make you come across as a loser.

For example, Jennifer Lawrence’s shyness in Charisma University’s example works great after she had already won an Oscar.
Do you think that would have worked nearly as well if it was on her very first networking event or casting audition?

Also, it wasn’t only vulnerability.
Jennifer Lawrence showed great power awareness to counter the interviewer’s power move.

Look at this:

Jennifer: (shows “vulnerability”)
Interviewer: You’re not worried about peaking too soon (<—- power move!)
Jennifer: (looks up and raises her arm as if to sub-communicate “that was stupid”) Well, now I am.
(with obviously annoyed tonality) God…

Also, this example falls short of providing the most value to the students.

Jennifer wasn’t just being vulnerable.
Jennifer was being a great social strategist by being vulnerable at the right time -and also very effective when needing to defend herself-.

Generally speaking, there can indeed be power in vulnerability.
Both in connecting with people and in showing emotional strength.

However, it’s also equally possible to do vulnerability too early in an interaction, or at the wrong time, and come across as out of place, insecure, submissive, or socially awkward.

Also read: vulnerability is NOT power.

Breaking Boring Rituals

Charlie often recommends capturing attention when someone asks you the typical, “ritual” question.

For example, instead of replying “good” to “how are you”, you would say something like “jolly”, or “never been better”.
I think these can be good at the right times, but not in all situations, or you can come off as try-hard.
See here why.

2. Confidence

The second module builds on Tony Robbins’ work.

Charlie Houpert takes a leaf out of Tony Robbin’s book, almost literally, and duly gives proper credit.

The exercise for confidence is as follows:

  1. Think of a time you felt great (or think of someone feeling great)
  2. Move like when you felt great
  3. Repeat to yourself an incantation (ie.: “I’m a f*cking god”)

Overall, I’m not a big fan of this type of approach.
It’s unnatural, and it feels like patchwork to me, rather than working on the fundamentals.

And, like much of Charisma University, it’s based on doing high energy.
We dig deeper into Ultimate Power as part of the Power University package but, in general, deeper, longer-term confidence can only be achieved by working on the fundamentals of self-development.

But there was good stuff in this module.
And I really loved the example of the student who stopped all his classmates from cheating.

3. Expert Conversation

 Charlie presents here the ground rules for having good conversations:

  1. Don’t think you need to have a master plan
  2. Don’t filter yourself and just say what you think: the more you talk, the more “ammo” for conversation
  3. Make people laugh faster
  4. Go deeper faster and discuss things people relate to the hardest (values, motivations, emotions)
  5. Use you’re your body more (gesticulate on a wider plane)

I also liked Charlie Houpert’s analysis of verbal expressions and body language mismatch.
For example, if you approach someone fully frontal, you must say introduce yourself directly or cut to the chase about what you want, or else you look incongruent.

Example of Great Conversation

Again I have to disagree with what Charlie presents as “charismatic”.

Here is the Will Smith example:

Will Smith: (stands up and runs circles around the table mimicking some kind of headless chicken, eliciting laughter while looking goofy and silly)

Note: “funny”… Maybe. But NOT necessary
This might be funny in a sort of “over-the-top way”, but I must wonder what type of charisma this is.
And, unless you’re going for a jester style of social dominance, I’d recommend you generally avoid this over-the-top approach.

In a future video on their Charisma on Command channel after the infamous slap to Chris Rock, Charlie acknowledges so himself:

It caused him to laugh off things that upset him for years (shows Will Smith making fun of his wife’s affair)

Yep, exactly: a great example of low-power, unassertive, doormat behavior.

The other example was Chris Rock laughing at his own jokes.
That can also work, as long as you don’t do it because you’re afraid nobody else will laugh.

4. Storytelling

 Charisma University’s module on storytelling was by far my favorite.

Storytelling is one of my weaknesses and I learned a lot here.

The mindset of telling a story, says Charlie Houpert, is not to go from A to Z, but to adjust along the way depending on the attention you get and what the audience likes.

Here are some good advice on telling a powerful riveting story:

  1. Find an overarching question underpinning your story (ie.: “what happens?” or ” who was that guy stalking you”?)
  2. Drop a line to capture attention (ie.: “oh my God, the craziest thing happened to me last time” or “you’re gonna love this one guy”)
  3. Tell the story in the present tense
  4. Rising action: anything you say must contribute to the main point (ie.: If you’re telling a story of walking down an alley and are afraid, everything you say must be contributing to that suspense, for example by describing your feeling and your shaking motions)
  5. Expand the climax (don’t rush through the climax but expand it)
  6. Wrap up (a piece of advice, a lesson learned, or a little joke)

Charlie also differentiates between three different types of stories: the fun stories, the tragic stories, and the stories about yourself.

The tragic stories are slower and have lots of pauses to let the emotions sink in. 
The happy and fun stories are fast-paced and punctuated by laughter and different and rising voice tonalities.

Stories about yourself serve the purpose of giving you credibility or of making the audience like you and respect you.

5. Magnetic Presence

 For magnetic presence comfort, confidence and power are crucial, says Charlie Houpert.

He stresses the importance of posture -his tip: imagine a hook pulling you up- and voice -he has one single voice exercise but I loved it-.

Another couple more great ideas:

  • Moving people from one level of energy to the other sets you as the person who sets the tone of the interaction
  • Touch people more and let your hand linger for 1 or 2 seconds (example of the alpha female  Oprah Winfrey)

Example of Magnetic Presence

Once again, I was not convinced by Charlie’s Example of magnetic presence.

This makes sense, because Charlie’s examples are mostly of “over the top” personalities and I don’t believe that’s the only way -or the best way- of being charismatic -or socially powerful-.

Just see the example of magnetic presence in “Charisma University” for yourself and you’ll immediately understand what I mean:

Terry Crew: (enters with literally a whole minute of dancing and yelling)
Ellen: (much calmer, reaches out to his chest to remove his pin) You danced so much your pin came out (<—- sub-communicates “you slightly overdid that”)

Is that a “magnetic presence”?
Maybe, but you can certainly be “magnetic” in different ways, without turning into a dancing monkey.

To be fair, Charlie Houpert does say that you can be magnetic with lower energy.
But most of his examples are high-energy. He even mentions that Marlon Brando’s magnetic low energy charisma works only because it’s scripted.

With that, I must disagree.
Also see:

6. Leadership

This is the module I probably enjoyed the least.

The leadership module is mostly one type of leadership: inspirational leadership.

And the rest is about how to better understand people which is basically a summary of Tony Robbins’ Creating Lasting Change.

Tony Robbins’ material is great, but frankly in a module on leadership, I expected insights on, well… Leadership, not a rehash of a motivational speaker.
New examples, new breakdowns, new case studies of great -or failed- leadership and how to lead

Also, I liked Tony Robbins’ approach to analyzing and understanding people based on his list of six human needs. 
But despite being Tony’s own take and not being based on any solid science, I don’t even find it that relevant to leadership.

We provide a blueprint for leaders in Power University, but to get a better idea you can check:


I enjoyed Charisma University, and these are the cons for how I see social skills:

1. Power & Effectiveness Should Be A Higher Priority (Charlie Convened)

Ultimately, my main “con” comes down to this.

There is obviously much overlap between charisma and power.
Yet, they’re not the same, and it’s far more effective for students to learn power first.

Charisma is just one subset of social power -and only a tiny fraction of general power-. And it’s less effective to achieve life-relevant goals than many other approaches -including dominance and general high-power behavior-.

And by “life-relevant goals” I’m referring to things such as dates, mates, status, career promotions, networking with high-value men, etc., etc.

Charlie hinted so himself on his podcast.
Charlie and Ben talk about the elements that make you attractive, and this is what he says:

Charlie: At the highest levels it’s the one that people respond most strongly and to the exclusion of the other two. If you are rich and powerful you can be a jerk and you don’t need to be physically attractive and people will still flock to you. That is all true. We tried to focus on personality (with our business)

Ben and Charlie are discussing what matters most for social and life success among wealth, power, and personality.
And they admit that power matters more than personality -albeit they mix up nice personality with general personality-.

Ben then says that charisma/personality is the quickest to change.
But I disagree. I think it takes pretty much the same amount of time to learn power dynamics and to start acting more (socially) powerful and respect-worthy.

2. Several Examples & Role Models Were Not Good

Let us say this first:

In this review, we focused on the examples we disagreed with.
There are plenty more we do agree with.

That being said, some of those bad examples that were instead presented as “examples to emulate”, in our opinion, were quite poor.

“Great first impressions”, and slapping a man like you’re trying too hard to assert dominance over him.
“Magnetic Presence” as in dancing and yelling for a minute -and then being disempowered by the host-.
“Great Conversations” as in running around like a headless chicken…

They don’t really help students to learn effective socialization, in my opinion.

Dubious Role Models: Charismatic but Powerless Will Smith

Charlie hails Will Smith as an example of charismatic mastery.

Well, Will Smith is a great and successful man indeed.

And he may be charismatic in some circumstances, and to some people.

However, there are far better role models in Hollywood, in my opinion.

Many people, including in male self-development circles, believe he was disempowered, publicly shamed, and potentially manipulated by his cheating wife.
So, to me, that type of Will Smith “charisma” is useless if you still end up on the losing end of a toxic relationship.

I’d rather have the power dynamics knowledge, drive, self-respect, and skills to re-empower myself, set stronger boundaries, and maintain a good status and reputation in life.

3. One-Sided Representation of Charisma (High Energy)

Charlie seems to prefer “high-energy” socializing.

Including jokes, “silly role plays”, lots of laughing, loudness, etc., etc.
That tends to work better in bars or clubs.
Even modern-day (2022) Charlie who’s out of the club scene seems to confirm that:

Charlie: especially in a bar / night club scenario, which I think is what I’m tending towards more

And for those places, he’s right, high energy works better.

But as Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth says, there are many different ways of being charismatic.

Charlie seems to favor one only way of being charismatic in this course: loud, extroverted, and high energy.
I was surprised, to be frank, because that’s not what he says in his YouTube breakdowns, which often find me nodding in agreement.

Also, read:

This is what one member of the TPM community said:

In the past I tried Charisma University but while I thought the content was good I didn’t feel like it worked well for me for three reasons (…) 2) the high energy style of charisma is quite exhausting for me (…)

Mats G

Mats also reviewed and enjoyed Emotional Mastery by Charlie.

4. Same Approaches For Both Men And Women?

Charisma University is the same for both men and women.

Interestingly, Charlie and Ben say that most of it is applicable across cultures, and to both men and women:

Ben: 95% of the lessons don’t have to be modified, they just are for people (…) you don’t have to modify it
Charlie: 98% is going to be the same

I partially agree with the intercultural aspect.
As a matter of fact, this website published an article with the provocative title of “intercultural communication is a waste of time“.

I agree less with the cross-gender applicability, though.

On average, men benefit from more higher power, dominance, and leadership to succeed in life.

On the other hand, women who talk louder and touch more can lose femininity, potentially gaining power but paying a steep social price for it (unless they’re careful with it).

As an example, just imagine a woman slapping a guy’s shoulder like in Obama’s example: how would that come across?

In the beginning, when Power University wasn’t differentiating between men and women a female student wrote this to me:

And I had to agree: I couldn’t provide the same advice for men and women.
So since then, Power University has had some lessons specifically for women.

Charisma is slightly different than power though, so I convene that there is more overlap between women.

5. Sometimes High-Energy & Reactions Over Effectiveness & Results

As a rule of thumb:

High-energy folks tend to get more good reactions.
But higher-power folks tend to get more results.

See an example on Charisma University’s own sales page:

example of why charisma university is low in power

Charlie: Vivian came running over to give me one of her big bear hugs and a kiss. All I could do was smile as he tried not to stare at her. I’d seen her have that effect on men before.

A… Kiss on the cheek?
Women who run to bear-hug you might like you but as a friend.

Women don’t run to bear-hug men whom they respect and are attracted to.
The women who are attracted to you and respect you as a more dominant man award you with some deferential space.

Worse yet, that “big bear hug” was disrespectful and harmful to your power, status, reputation, and even dating prospects.
First of all, touching and bear-hugging people are an example of what in Power University we define as a “babying power move”.
Second, that was just disrespectful and poor social behavior that you should have assertively checked, and not reveled in.

Just think about that:

You’re talking to someone, and this girl comes interrupting you while you’re talking to someone. That’s disrespectful to you, and the person you’re speaking to. You shouldn’t let that happen.
But that woman felt so higher power and in control, and so confident that you wouldn’t do sh*t to enforce respectful standards of behavior, that she barged in and disrespected you both in public.

And finally, that woman was “marking territory” and boosting her own social status to publicly display that she was close to the speaker -often a high-status person just for being on stage-.
You don’t want women you’re friends with to use you as “social pegs”, as we call it here: it’s low power and unattractive.

For more on power and charisma on command, see this breakdown:

6. Some Low-Quality Videos Examples

Some video examples and breakdowns were from rather low-quality videos.

As a guy who constantly struggles to find high-quality videos to use as examples, I know how hard it can be.
Still, I’d have preferred fewer low-quality videos.

7. Could Dig Deeper On Some Crucial Aspects of Social Skills

Charlie touches upon some of the basics of posture, voice, and clothing.

And of course, Charisma University is not meant to provide in-depth information on those topics. Yet, given how important they are, I think they deserved more space than what they actually got.
After all, that’s what often makes the biggest difference for beginners: the fundamentals.


Here are the pros of Charisma University:

  • Lots of Examples

Charisma University has lots of real-life examples and good breakdowns. Just as I like it.

  • Good Overview

The course provides a good crash course overview of social skills, especially for those who have a style similar to Charlie Houpert (or want to have a similar style).

  • Charlie Communicates Super Clearly

Charlie could be dubbed the “explanator in command”. He has a knack for taking abstract thoughts and communicating them clearly for everyone to understand.
Personally, even more than from the good course content, I learned the most from his way of speaking and presenting.

Charisma University REVIEW

I absolutely loved the format of mixing my own videos with examples.

And it’s exactly what Power University does (plus examples, pictures, and quizzes).

I also enjoyed Charisma University’s content, it’s good for the basics and I loved the module on storytelling. Charlie is also a master public speaker, and you can learn from Charlie himself as much as from his own examples.
Maybe it’s time someone makes a YouTube breakdown on “how to be charismatic like Charlie Houpert” :).

High-Energy Charisma?

On the con side, I didn’t agree with the overarching theme that charisma and social success require high energy.

I was surprised Charisma University clings to the high-energy style because the YouTube Channel has several examples of non-high-energy, higher-power folks.
But those different styles weren’t represented in Charisma University.

It seems like Charlie Houpert teaches Charlie Houpert’s path to charisma.
As researcher, Elaine Aron says: most social skills courses and books are sold by high-energy extroverts, who teach the high-energy extrovert way to social skills.
But that might not be the best solution for everyone.

In my opinion, Charisma University is a better fit for people who want to acquire a more lively, “bouncing off the wall” type of personality.

Still, introverts can learn something from that super extrovert style -and they probably should learn to act extroverted!-.
Sometimes in life, it just pays to be more extroverted and higher energy. And the more tools you got in your toolset, the better off you are.

However, I don’t think lower-energy folks should try to change their nature to become what they’re not, because they can find social success within their own styles (plus, going against one’s own nature requires lots of effort for uncertain results).

This is something that different personality types who go through Charisma University should keep in mind: you don’t have to become like Charlie or like his examples, to be successful.
Introverts, seductive, highly sensitive, quieter, charming, or slow-moving individuals, all can leverage their own strengths.

More Power With Lower Energy

As a matter of fact, I believe there is often more power in being silent and moving slower, than in being high-energy.

It’s not about changing your nature, but finding the strengths in the style that more closely match their nature.
See for example the 7 archetypes of dominance, and you will see that one can be dominant and high-status in totally different ways.

Is Charisma University Legit?

Of course, Charisma University is legit.

Charlie Houpert shares well-known and time-tested tips and techniques for improving social skills.

The real question is not whether or not Charisma University is legit, but whether or not it’s right for you.

And, of course, whether or you’ll become charismatic right after you go through it

And the answer to the latter is “no, you will not”.
And it’s the same for any course.
You won’t come out of Power University and be a master of dating, power dynamics, and office politics as soon as you’re done.

But you’ll be better than before you started.

Plus, a good course can give you the knowledge and theoretical foundation.
And guide you on what to work on.
That’s a lot, actually.

And when it comes to that theoretical foundation, I would give the content of Charisma University a 4-star rating.

But everything is subjective.
For people who are struggling with social skills, Charisma University’s content might be worth 5 stars.

And finally, for me personally, as a more advanced student of human nature, I was seeking and hoping for a bit more refinement and depth, and that takes it to 3 stars.

Is Charisma University Worth It?

And now the big question:

Is Charisma University worth it?

Looking at what we know about refund rates, it seems it may be worth the current price, but no more.
Says Charlie Houpetr talking about refund rates:

Charlie: (talking about lowering after the first launch at a higher price tag) That’s why we set it high and then when it came down this is the one time that it worked better. Trust me I did not do this out of the kindness of my heart I was trying to make our business better (…) we were getting too many refunds

So, in brief: they originally priced it at $900, but they were getting many refund requests because people find it too expensive for the value they were getting.
At $600 instead, they started getting at a refund rate that they “are comfortable with”, so it seems that more people find Charisma University worth the $600 (albeit unluckily we don’t know the exact number of people who don’t find it worth it).

Now instead, what do I think about it?

And well, I find this question spurious.
Whether it’s worth it or not depends on your current social skills, social intelligence, and your financial situation.

A guy with poor social skills who wants to become more extroverted and higher energy better run and start it right away.
A guy with OK social skills, and who doesn’t want to take over the “high-energy style persona”… You will have to answer for yourself.

As for my very personal experience, my cheeky answer is that Charisma University was THE highest ROI course I’ve ever reviewed here because many people who read this review ended up as happy customers of Power University.
So yeah, it was very worth it :).

In any case…
They offer a money-back guarantee. And they strike me as very honest guys. So I’d stick my neck out and say that you can trust them and that you can try Charisma University at no risk.

5 thoughts on “Charisma University: Brutally Honest Review & Summary”

  1. I am midway through and you called everything I thought so far.
    Is there any other course you recommend?

    1. Lucio Buffalmano

      Hey Chris, you can sort through the “social skills” books, in book reviews, there are also a couple more courses I reviewed.
      What’s best for you also depends on what you’re looking for and what level you’re at.

  2. Spot on review!
    I got CU and found it somewhat basic and not fitting my more introverted personality. Still giving it a chance for the next few days.
    I’m going through the first module of your SP and it’s truly wonderful.
    Keep up the great work!
    -A happy customer.

    1. Thank you Tylor!
      Yeah, the two are quite different. If Charisma University is “How to Talk to Anyone” by Leil Lowndes, Social Power is “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene (what a book geek I am :D).
      But they’re also not opposite: social power requires social skills and, to me, they’re one and the same in the end. True social skills require knowledge of the “darker” side of socialization, which includes social climbing (and how to stop it), manipulation, workplace strategies etc. etc.

      If you have any doubts or questions, open a topic in the customers’ section of the forum.

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