With Smith Is Legend
Will Smith was born on September 25, 1968 in West Philadelphia. (Born and raised, on the playground was where he spent most of his days. Chilling out max and relaxin’ all cool… and… yeah, I couldn’t help myself? Sorry it’s now stuck in your head.)
And he certainly wasn’t born with no silver spoon in his mouth either. His origins and upbringing were truly modest and humble. His mother was a school board administrator in West Philadelphia neighborhood of Wynnefield and his father was a refrigeration engineer. He didn’t make it to the upper echelons of superstardom because he got lucky or had his way paved for him by a life of privilege.
Just like the character he played in “The Pursuit of Happyness” (great movie to get your mind right if you are a climber in this world), Will Smith is 100% Self Made. Part of his success is his incredible drive and devotion to being successful. More on that in a future article here on Self Made. The other critical ingredient to his success is his deep well of pure liquid charisma.
They say the adult human body is on average made up of 60% water. Well if Will Smith were to die tomorrow and scientists were to dissect his body on the autopsy table to find what made him so special, they would very likely find that he was walking around this planet with his heart pumping 60% liquid charisma through his veins.
Real quick, before we look at what makes him so charismatic and three surefire ways you can let the same charisma and charm of Will Smith change your life for the better, let’s look at how it changed hisP
He’s world famous for being an A-list Hollywood actor, producer, Grammy Award winning songwriter, and rapper. In April 2007 Newsweek called him “the most powerful actor in Hollywood.” He’s been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards for his acting, two Academy Awards, and he’s won four Grammy Awards.
He started his career in the late 1980s, becoming a somewhat famous minor celebrity under the stage name of The Fresh Prince. In 1990 his big break came (when he was on the verge of bankruptcy and had the IRS garnishing his income to pay for back taxes) when NBC aired the hit television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which ran for six incredibly successful seasons until 1996. Smith then made the conscious choice to become one of the biggest movie star in the world and started studying what all great box office hits had in common.
He’s star in several blockbuster movies and is the only actor ever to have eight consecutive films gross more than $100 million each in the U.S. box office, eleven films in a row take in over $150 million globally, and eight films in a row in which he starred open at the number one box office spot in the United States. How’s that for success? He’s one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. His total take as of last year was $7.5 billion at the global box office. Audiences love Will Smith. He is just so damn charismatic.
By modeling yourself after Will Smith in your interactions with other people here’s how you can be too:
1. Be Approachable
When Creative Director and designer Michael Janda and his sons met Will Smith on a beach one day in 2014, they were so smitten that Janda took to his blog to write a post about the experience. He recounts:
‘As I walked up the path with my two older sons in tow, camera in hand, he undoubtedly knew what we were coming for. We got close enough to talk and I said, “Hey Will, can we get a picture with you? We are big fans.” He replied without hesitation, “Absolutely.” He didn’t say, “I guess so,” or “I suppose,” or “Nah, man, I’m good.” He used the word, “absolutely” and relieved any concerns that I had of him being put off by our visit.
“My wife told me not to bother you on vacation,” I said. Will replied, “It is no problem at all.” (My wife is grateful that I cleared her name. I am grateful that Will made us feel comfortable by assuring us that we weren’t hassling him.)’
Will Smith is incredibly friendly and approachable. A common, ugly trope is that “nice guys finish last.” Will Smith is the definition of a nice guy and he definitely hasn’t come in last place in the great march of humanity. He’s universally adored and beloved by people.
Another thing Janda noted about meeting Will is that he made great eye contact, and that’s another way to be approachable, put others at ease, and exude charisma. You cannot be charismatic without making eye contact. It’s impossible. Janda says the kind of eye contact Will made said, “I’m here with you right now. I’m not worrying about anything else.” Another Will who bent the world to his powers of charisma– Bill Clinton– is also well known for making incredibly warm eye contact with everyone he meets.
The Step by Step Recipe
The step by step recipe for being approachable is as soon as you encounter someone new, make warm eye contact with them, beam at them with a big smile, open your heart to them (don’t cross your arms), extend your hand for a handshake, squeeze firmly, but not too hard, give two or three good pumps, and say, “Hi, my name is….” When they tell you theirs, repeat it back to them.
That’s what Janda says Will Smith did and he won their hearts in person just as he wins over audiences on screen:
‘I said, “This is my son, Mason.” Will replied, “Hi, Mason.” I then introduced Max and myself, “This is Max and I’m Mike Janda.” Will stated, “Hi Max. Nice to meet you, Mike.”
Hearing Will call my boys by name meant a ton to them and I’m not going to lie, I appreciated it too.
Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Will certainly knows this. Call people by their name.
Will shook each of our hands when we made introductions and when it came time to snap our photo, he didn’t hesitate to rest his hands on my boys shoulders as if they were close friends.’
2. Be Generous
If you really want to study Will Smith’s charisma, go on YouTube and watch how he acts during his television appearances on talk shows. He empowers people with a ton of generosity. He affirms what they say. He laughs at their jokes. He is very generous with praise and positivity for others.
Being charismatic isn’t about trying to win affirmation and admiration from others. It’s about affirming and admiring the best in them. It’s not about proving to others that you’re witty. It’s about proving to them that they’re witty. Will Smith is stuck in this mode all the time. It’s who he is. He makes the people around him feel funny. They can tell he enjoys their company.
Some people try to be charismatic by hording power for themselves and exercising it over others. It might work out okay for them, but it is not the mark of a super star of charisma and human interaction. Don’t make yourself big and tower over others. That comes off as overbearing and tyrannical. Make yourself small. Help others tower. Don’t try to shine. That comes off as annoying and try-hard. Help others shine.
Will Smith is proof that it works.
3. Be Your Lighthearted, Playful Self
Be your authentic self and ooze with light-hearted, fun-loving playfulness. That’s who we all really are at heart. Spending any time with a young child is proof of that. Young children are very fun and exciting to be around because they’re just so playful. Studies find the average child laughs 300 – 400 times a day. Somewhere along the way most of us get crushed in some way and we bury our true playful selves. That’s why the same studies find most adults laugh an average of 17.5 times a day.
Finding your true self and finding the joy in every moment of life will make you as charismatic as Will Smith. When people encounter him on the screen or in person they can tell instantly what a light-hearted, playful person he is. They can feel that they’re seeing the man himself, not a rigid, forward facing public mask or persona that so many of us wear.
On his television show, in his music videos, in his blockbuster Hollywood hits, during interviews, Will Smith always wears a smile, he cracks jokes, he pokes fun, he teases, he laughs. He’s a real pleasure to be around. That relaxed, fun attitude makes him incredibly easy to watch and nurtures our own true, happy selves. Audiences fell in love with Will Smith in the early 1990s because of how light hearted he was on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. People will fill in love with you in direct proportion to how much you smile and laugh with them.