Charisma University is Charlie Houpert’s course on improving your social skills and becoming more charismatic.
This is a review of Charisma University.
Charisma University – Summary
Charisma University’s goal is to increase your social skills and teach you how to become more charismatic.
Charlie Houpert is the founder of the YouTube channel Charisma on Command and he has already written a book on charisma called, guess how, Charisma on Command.
Charlie doesn’t expressly say it, but by reading his book and taking the CU course, it seems like he started off dabbling as a dating coach.
Charlie says he went from introvert to charismatic extroverted.
Personally, 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 grew into his own with time and effort.
Introversion is a relevant subject when discussing Charisma University and Charlie’s approach as we will see because what he recommends is the extrovert way of socialization -the far end of extroversion-.
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:
- Positivity (light-hearted, fun)
- Show interest
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-.
But reality is complex and all components co-exist and overlap.
Examples of First Impressions
I love the format of showing examples. That’s what helps people understand the abstract concepts and bridge the gap from theory to real-life practice.
However, I really didn’t like the examples of fir impressions in Charisma University.
Here they are:
- Obama First Impression
This should be the example of a charismatic way of dealing with people:
To me this not an example of a gregarious or charismatic man.
Obama comes across as haughty, distant and 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 makes the point in Charisma University that revealing a weakness early makes you likable and charismatic.
However, vulnerability expressed too early in an interaction can easily come across as out of place, insecure and socially awkward.
Yes, it can give you some brownie points in making you more likable and relatable, but that’s hardly more charismatic and definitely not powerful.
Also read: vulnerability is NOT power.
Charlie Houpert takes a book out of Tony Robbin’s book, rather literally, Awaken The Giant Within and duly gives proper credit.
The exercise for confidence is as follows:
- Think of a time you felt great (or think of someone feeling great)
- Move like when you felt great
- Repeat to yourself an incantation (ie.: “I’m a fucking god”)
But it was a good module and I really loved the example of the student who stopped all his classmates from cheating.
3. Expert Conversation
Charlie presents a few good ground rules on having good conversations:
- Don’t think you need to have a master plan
- Don’t filter yourself and just say what you think: the more you talk, the more “ammo” for conversation
- Make people laugh faster
- Go deeper faster and discuss things people relate the hardest (values, motivations, emotions)
- 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, else you look incongruent.
Example of Great Conversation
Again I have to disagree with what Charlie presents as “charismatic”:
This might be funny in a sort of “over the top way”, but I must wonder if this is charismatic.
And, unless you’re going for a jester style of social dominance, this is far from powerful.
- Chris Rock & Laughing at Own’s Jokes
Chris Rock is another example of great conversations in Charisma University.
Charlie recommends you laugh at your own jokes, and albeit that has a place in very high energy situations, I don’t recommend you always do so because it can make you come across as insecure.
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:
- Find an overarching question underpinning your story (ie.: “what happens?” or ” who was that guy stalking you”?)
- Drop a line to capture attention (ie.: “oh my God, the craziest thing happened to me last time” or “you’re gonna love this guys”)
- Tell the story in the present tense
- 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)
- Expand the climax (don’t rush through the climax but expand it)
- 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
Example of Magnetic Presence
Once again, I was not convinced by Charlie’s Example of magnetic presence.
Which 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 by yourself and you’ll immediately understand what I mean:
To be fair, Charlie Houpert does say that you can be magnetic with lower energy, albeit most of his examples are high energy and he mentions that Marlon Brando magnetic low energy charisma works only because it’s scripted.
This is the module I probably enjoyed the least.
Leadership 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’ Cheating Lasting Change.
Tony Robbins material is great, but for 600 bucks I expected something more. New examples, new breakdowns, deeper insights or similar.
Also, I loved Tony Robbins’ approach to analyzing and understanding people based on the six human needs.
But, as per all other systems designed to reduce the complexity of reality, it can end up being a generalization unless you are aware of the limitations.
Just to give you an example:
- Tony Robbins says that people can be analyzed based on the 6 human needs
- Vanessa van Edwards says that the Big Five personality traits (OCEAN) are the most reliable framework to understand people.
- Many more authors of social skills products swear by the Myers-Briggis
- And Dave Kerpen, author of The Art of People, says that Myers-Briggis suck and that the Enneagram of Personality is the real deal
Of course they are all right.
And they are all wrong in the sense that each system has its own limitation.
I enjoyed Charisma University, but it has soome cons for how I see social skills:
- One-Sided Representation of Charisma (High Energy)
As Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth says, there are many different ways of being charismatic.
Yet, Charlie seems to present one only way of being charismatic: loud, extroverted and high energy.
- Several 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 video to use as examples, I know how hard it can be.
Yet, I managed to find many high-quality examples.
And in a 600 USD course, I would have expected high-quality examples.
- Bit Shallow on 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.
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 the already good course content, I learned the most from his way of speaking.
I absolutely loved the format of mixing own videos with examples.
It’s similar to what I was aiming for my course social power -in the end I went for a mix of written words, own videos, video examples, pictures and quizzes as well-.
I also enjoyed Charisma University’s content, it’s very good for the basics and I loved the module on storytelling.
However, I didn’t like the overarching theme that to be charismatic and successful with people you have to be high energy.
That, in my opinion, makes Charisma University a great fit for more extrovert people or people who want to acquire a more lively, “bouncing off the wall” type of personality.
It’s not as good for different personalities though, such as introverted, more pensive, highly sensitive, as well as more charming, seductive, socially powerful and intense individuals.
These different personalities would lose out going for the big “used car salesman smiles”, the loud voices, the touching, and, overall, the high energy.
Personally, I would give a 4-star rating to the content of Charisma University. It’s rather high for a critical reviewer as I am.
Given the price though, I was expecting 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?
I find this question spurious: it depends heavily on your current social skills, social intelligence, and your financial situation.
A millionaire with low emotional intelligence, probably yes.
A guy who’s already been into self-development for a while, with an average income and who doesn’t like “over the top style”… Not so sure.
Ultimately, to this question, I can only answer from a highly personal point of view.
And from my highly personal point of view, I find 600 USD to be a rather steep price.