Robert Fripp Speaks About Charisma: APA 28th Congress Pay Heroes

On Tuesday, May 25 at the American Payroll Association’s 28th Congress in Washington DC, my brother Robert Fripp joined me in a session called How to Be a Hero for More Than One Day: Position Yourself for Promotion. As this years theme was Pay Heroes, and Robert played on David Bowie’s Heroes album it was a good idea and well received. We think of our heroes as having Charisma. However, very few of us think about charisma the way Robert Fripp does!



Two Definitions / Descriptions

Charisma is the energy that makes possible the impossible.
Charisma is the energy that enables an act of quality.


Seven Views Of Charisma

1. Owned.

The charismatic owns the charisma they possess. The person is charismatic. They possess their charisma.

2. Loaned.

Charisma descends upon the ordinary person; i.e. they are possessed, or inhabited, by the Muse.

E.g. Men & Women of Destiny who are not, in & of themselves, charismatic but have a particular & necessary function to discharge;
the power of the Office;
fulfilling a role in a necessary undertaking.

3. Attributed.

Celebrity. The aura of charisma comes with high levels of media attention.

The juice is attributed; rather than owned, loaned, earned or borrowed.

4. Distributed.

This is the juice that flows within a network.

The energy in the network develops synergistically & is available to the members of the group.

In a group of four, there is one quartet & four trios.
In a group of six, there are fifteen quartets and twenty trios.

5. Acquired. Four forms: bought, begged, borrowed & stolen.

i) The juice is earned. This is the hard work school of heroism: no charisma, just ongoingness on a daily basis to develop a discipline or practice.

Bach:  “I was obliged to be industrious.”
Haydn: “I … always composed with deliberation & industry.”
Graham Greene: “I have no talent. It is a question of working hard, being willing to put in the time.”

This juice is bought, paid for by putting in the work & putting in the time.

It can sometimes be seen in an ordinary person who has just completed an honorable piece of work: they shine.

ii) An appeal for help. There are people who are gifted, perhaps in healing, who are able to transfer juice to us. Begged.

One example: prayer.

iii) Borrowed. There are exercises where we can obtain the juice needed for a particular piece of work; perhaps by breathing the air around someone who has personal merit or their own charisma.

iv) Stolen: legitimate & illegitimate forms.

a) Conscious theft: where we intentionally take from a pool or reservoir of energy, e.g. from sacred sites, to make possible an otherwise impossible task. This is in the knowledge that when we die, nothing that is not our own will be taken from me.

b) Energy vampires. We feel less when this person leaves our presence, taking our life away with them: some people can suck us dry; e.g. by a constant demand for attention.

6. Specific & Situational.

i) Response to challenge: a Person of the Moment.

From time to time, in exceptional circumstances, the event requires that someone step forward & take charge. This person becomes transformed into a saving angel of that moment.

ii) Shock: often a personal disaster, that releases & unfixes who & what we are.

7. Invisible: this is measured by the effect one has on others. In the others, this is an enabling charisma.

Often, the originator is unknown to the world.


Personal charisma is not a reliable power: that is, its presence cannot be guaranteed.

I have known people with charisma whose light has dimmed; I have known the hard-working with discipline & no charisma who move to the front.

So, better for the person with charisma that they develop a personal discipline.
Better for the person without charisma to develop a personal discipline.

Discipline confers effectuality in time. The presence of charisma may not be reliable, repeatable & responsible.

But we may be able to hold ourselves reliably, repeatably & responsibly in place & available to when the Muse descends.

If you would like to hear samples of Robert Fripp speaking

Want to learn to be a better public speaker? Patricia Fripp and Darren LaCroix  hold a coaching camp Friday-Sunday, June 25-27, 2010 at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Home of the amazing Donny & Marie show. Having watched it three times they have Charisma!

Talking of charisma…Dan Maddux, the Executive Director of the American Payroll Association is a Super Hero (watch for the next post on the 3 types of heroes

Bob, Pat, Dan 2010 apa