Over his 25 year career Paul McKenna has helped people to lose weight, reduce their stress levels and increase their levels of self-confidence. We caught up with him to discuss his new book which promises to help you to become a more charismatic and influential person.
What can readers expect from your new book Instant Influence and Charisma?
This book is aimed at everyone really- if you're a parent who wants to influence their children as they are growing up, if you want to be more successful at dating and more confident socially, if you want to be a better sales person or a better leader.
This could work for everyone in every different profession. We are all influencers but similarly we are all influenced so it will stop you having unwanted influences from politicians, cults or sales people who are getting you to do something that you don't necessarily want to do.
You have helped people from all walks of life to change their situations for the better- but who was the first person you recall helping to make a real change with?
I think one of the first people I worked with was my friend's mum. She had fallen down a well when she was a child. She had claustrophobia and as a result hated flying. I did one session with her and she took up flying lessons. My friend rang up and said 'I think you have overdone it a bit here- I just wanted mum to be happy not training to be a pilot!'
You have written books on stress, weight and confidence to name a few- so where does your drive come from to help others in so many different ways?
I have been doing it for about 25 years now so I am confident in what I do. I work with large groups of people- say 500 at a time or I work with an individual. When you see a massive change in somebody it's really quite heart-warming so that is what I aim to do.
Does human influence and charisma work especially well in one area or is it equally effective in personal relationships at it is in working ones?
I think it depends on the person you are working with because everyone is different, so I take each situation differently. I try to work naturally with everyone and be authentic- I think that's very important. When I was a teenager I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and this book is inspired by that.
It was a great book of its time but the world has changed now. We have social media; we have the internet- all different ways of communicating with people. It's a much more sophisticated world we live in- it seems that way to me. When I was growing up in the seventies there we four TV channels and that was it and now we have 4 million on the internet. You have got lots of different ways of communicating with people and this book is aimed at everyone from all walks of life.
Why does charisma go such a long way with others?
I live in LA and people say there are many talented, good actors out there but a movie star is someone who when they come on the screen- you can't take your eyes off them. They have a personal magnetism and you are drawn towards them.
I have studied people who are charismatic and it doesn't necessarily mean that you are the life and soul of the party. You can be quite a quiet and intense person who just asks lots of questions. People feel drawn to you emotionally because you have got an intensity about you, a passion or a joy for life.
It can come from experience as well- having all sorts of emotional experiences both positive and negative. Charismatic people have a lot of emotional flexibility and they can move from one place to another. When I worked with people with body dysmorphia- all too often- ladies who were overweight, had anorexia or bulimia- I found I had the cure for body dysmorphia. I have helped with 100s of cases of it.
What I thought was- if I already do it as a remedial technique what if I used it for people who are already quite confident but want to be even more so? It's something we could all do with from time to time. That's really what the charisma element is.
When I first started doing stage performances I wasn't very good because I was a radio broadcaster. I would imagine stepping into people who are very good in television or very good on stage and see the world through their eyes and feeling how good they felt. I found it changed my state.
Who in the world of celebrity do you feel is most influential right now?
I think Simon Cowell is quite powerful. He is across all media- he is one of the most recognisable and like people on the planet.
You have worked with many celebrities over the years so do you ever get star struck when you meet such famous people?
Funnily enough- I was just asked the question earlier- yes it did happen once. I was really overwhelmed and I wouldn't let it happen again. If I was sitting, working with the president right now I wouldn't be overwhelmed. It was David Bowie.
Why has the word 'manipulation' got so much bad press and how can it be used for good?
It's associated with a used car salesman, a high pressure salesmen, cult leaders and politicians- that sort of thing. I think that those people have changed the word 'manipulation' into a pejorative term. It's not necessarily so- paint can be manipulated on a canvas- a masseuse manipulates your back to make you feel better. Manipulation is seen as a pejorative thing in our culture I believe.
What is your process when writing one of your books- is it quite formulaic now or do you have a different process for each one?
There are some elements that are formulaic. I start by promising what I am going to do at the beginning and pacing people's expectations. Then I start to lead them in the direction of where I want them to go. What I do is I sit and think- what does the world need right now? What can I give it? I think of a title and I produce a book a year. It takes 25 years to write a book like this one. My experiences of over 25 years have been condensed into one book. It comes with the little credit card to download an audio hypnosis and some video techniques as well which I have done and am very pleased with.
What is next for you?
I plan my life in blocks of ten years. I have just come to the end of the last ten year plan. I am engaged- I am in a happy relationship and I am probably going to move back to England I think. More of my friends are here than in America. I will still have a house in America but I think it's very important to be around your friends and people that you trust.
Instant Influence and Charisma by Paul McKenna is out now.