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Transcript: Olivia Fox Cabane Debunks Charisma at Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner

Olivia Fox Cabane

Olivia Fox Cabane, the author of The Charisma Myth, debunks charisma in this talk titled “Build Your Personal Charisma” at Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner. Here is the full transcript.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Olivia Fox Cabane on Build Your Personal Charisma at Stanford


Thank you so much. Thank you so much. And I’m honored and flattered to see that it’s not just standing room only, but three rows deep. So the pressure is on.

It was a sunny day in New York City 1955. The streets flowed with traffic, the sidewalks bustled with busy people. And Marilyn Monroe wanted to prove a point. With a photographer in tow, she walked down into Grand Central Station. Though it was the middle of the week and the platform was packed with people, not a single person noticed her, while she stood waiting for the train. As the photographer’s camera clicked, she boarded the train and rode along quietly in a corner of the car. Nobody recognized her.

What Marilyn wanted to show was that just by deciding to, she could be either glamorous Ms. Monroe or plain Norma Jeane Baker. On the subway, she was Norma Jeane. But when she resurfaced onto the busy New York sidewalks, she decided to turn into Marilyn. So, she looked around and she teasingly asked the photographer: “So, do you want to see her, the Marilyn?” And then he said, there were no grand gestures — she just “fluffed up her hair, and struck a pose.” And yet, with this simple shift, she suddenly became magnetic. An aura of magic seemed to ripple out from her, and everything stopped.

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