“The difference between normal language and seductive language is like the difference between noise and music” – Robert Greene
In 1937, a journalist named Napolean Hill wanted to understand what exactly it takes to become rich* (*filthy rich). Over the course of 20 years he studied 500 of the world’s wealthiest men including Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie. The results of his research were published in a book optimistically titled Think and Grow Rich. In this book, Hill highlights the five attributes of what he describes as “sex energy”. Something he believes all of history’s most successful people have in bucketloads. These attributes are the ways sexuality can reveal itself in your presence. This presence, otherwise called magnetism, is something you’re aware of in certain people, but it’s difficult to define. What exactly it is that makes someone seem almost bigger than others around them?
“There never has been, and never will be a great leader, builder, or artist lacking in this driving force of sex.” – Napolean Hill
As a large part of your ability to attract and interest people, developing your magnetism can be very valuable and you have more control over it than you might think. JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Oprah, Naomi Campbell, Elon Musk. Influential people that have worked on these aspects of themselves, increasing their allure. They all have the power to spark a sense of possibility and interest in other people.
You could also look at this quality as your seductive ability. ‘Seduction’ is often thought of as a negative thing, associated with trickery or sexual manipulation. But seduction in a purer form, isn’t really about manipulation. Seduction is about bringing people round to your perspective. You gain influence simply because others want to follow you and co-operate; it’s a skill of persuasion, essential if you want to be successful in business and in life.
“Seduction is a skill no matter how you use it” – Chen Lizra (from the Ted Talk The power of seduction in our everyday lives’)
There are many detailed books and essays written on this, but I believe through the five demonstrations of “sex energy” Hill has outlined the most transformative areas. Characteristics which have been nailed by some of the world’s most powerful and magnetic people. Focus on these and no matter who you are or what you look like, you can enhance your magnetism and begin to exercise greater influence over your peers. Men and women. Worth noting that, the five areas are not gender specific. Fundamental to Freud’s psychological work was that the human libido is essentially bisexual and the areas I’ll describe affect both genders, regardless of sexual orientation. Most of the examples I’ve used focus on women because, well, I am one and therefore find them more relatable, but the same rules apply to all genders.
“Seduction is a psychological process that transcends gender, except in a few key areas where each gender has its own weakness.” – Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction
No. 1: The hand-shake. The touch of the hand indicates, instantly, the presence of magnetism, or the lack of it.
Hands are important for many reasons. Not least because they provide one of the most intimate forms of contact you can have with anyone. In some cultures, they’re the only part of a woman men can see beyond the eyes.
When I was growing up, the first magazines I read offered advice on the very early stages of flirtation and sexual contact. After I’d read through “How to kiss” in depth, there was some particular advice they always gave, which was to “reveal your wrists to your crush”. Now whilst this was a diluted form of journalism giving pre-teens some safe flirtation tactics, there was some truth in it. Because our hands are generally face down, wrists aren’t seen so frequently and therefore revealing them is a very small hint towards intimacy. Think back to the days men traditionally greeted women by kissing their hands; a sign of respect and admiration in both the giving and receiving.
Hands are without doubt one of our most powerful tools of communication. They’re used in prayer, to get the bill in a foreign restaurant, to tell someone that you’re a-OK and to safely land a plane. Ballet is a 300 year old performance style in which gestures actually replace the need for speech.
One of the most famous romantic scenes ever written is the first time Romeo meets Juliet. Before kissing, their hands meet, as if to test their chemistry through physical contact.
“For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.”
Juliet, Act i, Scene Vi
When it comes to maximising the impact of your hands in daily life, consider the humble handshake. An exchange you make many times a day in formal settings, the handshake gives you an opportunity to distinguish yourself. A firm handshake is often unexpected by someone very feminine but it confirms intent. For that moment when you have someone’s hand you can use it to let them know you are engaged and mean business.
No. 2: The tone of voice. Magnetism, or sex energy, is the factor with which the voice may be coloured, or made musical and charming.
When I read this, one very famous and very fictional woman came to mind. Daisy Buchanan. The highly powerful seductress (and ultimately quite repulsive but nonetheless very magnetic) lead female in The Great Gatsby. In the celebrated novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the first time we meet Daisy, this is how she is described: “I looked back at my cousin who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth–but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.”
It’s not just what you say, it’s the voice you say it in that provides influence and makes people listen to you. Think about the people you’re drawn to and then those you naturally withdraw from. I’d be surprised if the tone of their voice wasn’t a factor in this chemistry.
To highlight a real world example of someone who has nailed this, consider Barack Obama. His voice is direct, clear, but with a warmth and softness that makes you trust everything he says. There is a website specifically dedicated to Obama’s oh-so-smooth voice, called “Talk Obama To Me”. Even when he isn’t ‘performing’ as such, or giving speeches, Obama’s voice still cuts through others in the room with greater authority, allowing him to command respect and attention.
No. 3: Posture and carriage of the body. Highly sexed people move briskly, and with grace and ease.
Posture, stance, the way you hold yourself; it communicates a lot to people about how you see yourself. Confidence radiates from it. People who are self-conscious and shy tend to fold inwards, making themselves smaller. Whereas those who are sure of themselves open up, encouraging greater trust, respect and confidence from others.
To highlight the power of posture to increase your magnetism, I’m going straight to the top of the hotness tree. The supermodel. With the obvious added height advantages, supermodels seem larger than life. They hypnotise through the height they stand at and the way they hold themselves on and off the catwalk. Always gracious, always elongated and open. They tilt their chins up and wear heels to exaggerate their enhanced standing amongst other women. Their hips sway in a slightly exaggerated manor to remind audiences of their femininity and grace. No Victoria’s Secret model walks down that catwalk looking at their feet. They look out and when they reach the end it’s like a battle of the poses to see who can have the greatest presence, the most je ne sais quoi.
Another example of someone who uses posture to enhance her magnetism would be Beyonce. A performer who seemingly could rule on talent alone, understands that to have the most stage presence she possibly can, iconic stances and moments of pause allow audiences to bathe in the power she gives off. At just under 5”6, you could be forgiven for thinking she was closer to 6” the way she holds herself. She conveys strength and fearlessness. Two highly seductive qualities in any person.
No. 4: The vibrations of thought. Highly sexed people mix the emotion of sex with their thoughts, or may do so at will, and in that way may influence those around them.
Moving onto the forth demonstration; mixing the emotion of sex with your thoughts. If we consider the greatest sex symbols of recent history, the person many would place at number one would be Marilyn Monroe.
Actor Clark Gable once said of the actress: “Everything Marilyn does is different from any other woman, strange and exciting, from the way she talks to the way she uses that magnificent torso.”
Without doubt, Marilyn Monroe cultivated her ability to influence and seduce. Beautiful, yes, but as the above quote from Clark Gable highlights, there was a lot more behind Marilyn Monroe’s hypnotism than curves and very blonde hair. She oozed sex. It emulated out of her every gesture, her voice, her smell, her eyes. It was impossible to ignore and differentiated her from many of the women around her who weren’t so comfortable expressing their sexuality in such a way. Even in photos there’s a wink in the eye that alludes to sex.
Another highly magnetic and seductive woman, who carries this quality is Angelina Jolie. Her physical features again help, having a full mouth and eyes. But it’s her character and presentation of herself which elevates her presence to where it is. A rawness and openness to her libido which can have an influence on both men and women.
“I need more sex, OK? Before I die I wanna taste everyone in the world.” — Angelina Jolie
Whilst you don’t necessarily want to explicitly drop sex into conversation with your colleagues, subtle ways of bringing the emotions connected to sex, such as hunger or desire to your presence can have a significant impact on your ability to connect with people.
No. 5: Body adornment. People who are highly sexed are usually very careful about their personal appearance. They usually select clothing of a style becoming to their personality, physique, complexion, etc.
Leaders carefully consider their appearance, even if to decide that understated is their style (Steve Jobs). Your personal appearance communicates a great deal about you, quickly, and will affect the way people react to you. Particularly in the digital world today, which increasingly limits us from connecting face to face.
“We’re dazzled by feminine adornment, by the surface
All gold and jewels: so little of what we observe
Is the girl herself
Ovid, Cures for Love (Peter Green translation)
As a woman who used her magnetism to consolidate an empire, Cleopatra is perhaps the greatest historical example of someone with a carefully considered personal appearance. Whilst her natural beauty remains hotly contested by historians, her decadent style won the hearts of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, helping protect Egypt during her reign. They respected her as a great Queen. She took care never to look anything less.
“What woman will not follow when an Empress leads the way?” – Juvenal [on Cleopatra], Satires (VI.617)
So whilst the topic of seduction may make some feel uncomfortable, I’d lean on Chen Lizra’s defence of it:
“Power can be used for good or for bad, it comes down to who you are inside. Seduction is exactly the same. It comes down to your DNA and what you choose to do with it. I choose to make seduction classy and to add to it my sense of loyalty and integrity.”
Master the skills of influence and persuasion and you can use them for whatever you fancy. The use comes down to your character, but know that these are lessons all great leaders have had to unlock, because without the ability to cultivate a following, you aren’t really a leader at all.