The most magnetic, charming and well liked people aren’t popular because of their looks, their money, or their bodies. People like them because of they make others feel and the value that they bring into other peoples’ lives. These 5 qualities will help you create stronger, more profound connections with others, teach you to be instantly charismatic and become incredibly well liked by everyone around you.
- Why genuine likeability and personal magnetism are rare qualities, even in Hollywood
- Why sharing the spotlight makes you more popular
- How triggering one emotion in people makes them like you, instantly
- Why passion is so attractive in others
- How authenticity and vulnerability make people want to spend more time with you
…and so much more.
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So this week, I’m gonna apologize, but we’re going to start on something of a somber note.
If you’re a regular reader of Paging Dr. NerdLove, or you follow me on Twitter, then you know that last week, a very dear friend of mine, Bert Belasco passed away suddenly and without warning. Bert was an up-and-coming actor; he starred in the show Let’s Stay Together, as well as appearing in shows like Pitch, House, Justified, Key and Peele and a whole host of others. We still don’t know what happened, other than it seems like it was an aneurysm, and it just hit out of the clear blue sky.
Needless to say, that threw me for a serious goddamn loop; losing a friend like that with no warning is… really painful and it’s still hard to wrap my head around it.
I wrote a lot about my feelings and the weirdness about grief over on the blog — and if you want to check it out, you can hit the thing or check the link in the show notes — but this week, I don’t want to talk about loss. I want to talk a little about Bert and what made him special. In a very real way, he was like a brother to me, and honestly, I think one of the ways I want to remember him is to encourage people to be more like him.
Because, quite frankly, he was kind of amazing. He was one of those people who made friends the way other people breathe. And it wasn’t in some Hollywood-esque networking, what-can-you-do-for-me way that you see in a lot of folks in the film and television industry. He was completely natural and unaffected. He was exactly who he appeared to be — someone who was just unrelentingly charming, loving, friendly and open and down to earth. And that’s precisely what drew so many people to him and why he was so incredibly popular and beloved by his friends.
I think the world could use more people like that.
And since clickbait titles brings in the eyeballs… here’s what I learned from Bert about how to be genuinely charming, incredibly charismatic, and popular… without even trying.
#1 He Found People Fascinating
One of the first things that stood out about Bert is that when he met you, he wanted to know EVERYTHING about you. He wasn’t just being polite; he was genuinely fascinated by people and always wanted to know more about them.
He didn’t want to be the center of attention or have the focus on him and what he was up to. He wanted to know about OTHER people, what were YOU up to, what did YOU think? He preferred to share the love and spread the attention around, instead of having it all directed at him. This is a rare quality to find in general and especially in Hollywood, and it made him stand out.
It’s also a key part of why people found him so magnetic. People love to talk about themselves; we are all, more often than not, our favorite topic. In fact, studies have found that we like talking about ourselves more than we like food or money.
But that means OTHER people like talking about THEMSELVES too, which is why more often than not, we find that when we’re talking to somebody, they’re not listening so much as waiting for their turn to talk.
It’s very rare that we find someone who’s genuinely interested in what we have to say. When we give someone else a chance to talk — and REALLY listen to them and show interest in what they think — then we’re giving them a gift. It makes them feel special, and appreciated. That, in turn, makes them feel good… and they associate those good feelings with us, which means they’re going to prioritize relationships with US.
But it’s important to keep in mind: part of what made Bert so magnetic wasn’t that he was ready to listen to your life’s story. He was an active participant in the conversation, not just sitting there and making “uh-huh” noises at appropriate intervals. He wasn’t just passively listening; he was paying attention, asking insightful questions, wanting to know more. And he wanted you to know that he thought you were fascinating.
In fact, that leads me to my next point…
#2 — He Made People Feel Validated
I know a lot of you watching this deal with some form of social anxiety — and one of the most common versions of this is the understandable worry that hey, maybe you’re annoying people, or that you’re boring them or that they don’t actually like you that much. God knows I feel that way at times, especially with new friends or people I admire.
That was never a problem with Bert. You always knew exactly where you stood with him because he WANTED you to know that he thought you were awesome. And he took the easiest, and most welcome way of letting you know: he’d demonstrate it through his words and his actions.
Now the most obvious way to do this is incredibly straight-forward: he’d just tell you. And while sometimes he would just say “you’re brilliant, you’re funny” or what-have-you, just as often, he would bring it up in reaction to something you said or did. If you were talking and you made a point or shared some insight, he would take a moment to say “woah, you’re right!” or “yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say, that’s perfect!” or “Yes, that! I hadn’t thought about it like that, that’s great!”
When there were times he’d reach out to his friends — me, my wife, our friend Chris from One of Us, Korey and Martin from Double Toasted, and so on — he’d make it clear that part of why he was calling was because of how much he valued our insight or our experience or our advice and wanted to know what we, specifically thought, because we were people whose judgement or advice he trusted and respected.
Or he would brag to other people about how cool or smart or funny you were, especially when he was introducing you to friends of his, or introducing his friends to you. He wanted other people to know just how awesome he thought you were and, believe me, he would not let you get away with false modesty or trying to downplay your accomplishments.
He would laugh loudly at your jokes — never in a way that felt fake, but showing that he genuinely thought they were great, even if YOU thought it was a little lame. He’d tease you, but in gentle ways that were really about your being awesome or about needing to take things up a notch because that would make it even better.
And what was always amazing was that — again — he genuinely liked supporting others and bringing attention to them and making other people feel awesome. One of my most vivid memories of him was being with him at Canter’s Deli, and even as other people were coming up to him and wanting to get autographs or selfies with him, he wanted to take a moment to fanboy out because he saw Jesse Heiman — aka the World’s Greatest Extra — and wanted to tell Jesse how awesome he thought Jesse’s work was.
That kind of validation and approval is powerful. Having people, especially people you like, respect or look up to tell you that they think you’re awesome, is an incredible feeling. Even if we don’t necessarily feel like we deserve it, we still appreciate it; it makes us feel special.
Most importantly, though, is that the validation we often appreciate the most comes when people confirm or reinforce what we WANT to believe about ourselves. When someone reflects back our best selves — especially in ways that feel genuine and sincere —it feels amazing. We may not believe it ourselves, but someone saying “I see this and I think you are as incredible as you wish you were”, it’s a feeling like you honestly can’t describe. And when you know someone is giving you that compliment sincerely, without an agenda or trying to butter you up or feed your ego… it makes you feel like nothing else in this world. And again: we want to spend time with the people who make us feel this good.
#3 He Had Passion And He Wanted to Share It
One of the reasons why everyone loved spending time with Bert was because he wanted nothing more than to make sure his friends were having a wonderful time. And there were few things he enjoyed more than sharing the things he loved with others.
If his friends were visiting him in LA, then he wanted to show you all of the parts of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas that he thought were amazing. It might be the tunnel from Back to the Future in Griffith Park (complete with the soundtrack on the radio), the Getty Museum, the Warner Bros. backlot tour or random things like the best ice cream in the city, the pizza joint in Westlake where he spent his first month sleeping in his car or the best breakfasts in all of Los Angeles.
Actually, he loved taking his friends out for meals. The man could be a bottomless pit when it came to food, and he knew where to find THE MOST AMAZING MEALS. Food and feeding people was definitely his love language.
But he also loved sharing and enjoying all the geeky shit he collected. The man had a movie-accurate replica of the Ghostbusters’ proton pack and OH GOD I WANTED ONE SO BADLY.
But part of what made this so special and such an amazing quality was that he never, ever apologized for loving the things that he loved. He loved them and he didn’t care if other people judged him for it. And by that same token, he would apply that same standard to other people. Did you love something? Then there was no reason to apologize for it or feel like it was dumb or uninteresting. Even if he didn’t necessarily share that interest, the fact that you did meant that it was awesome and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it, and he’d be sure to ask you about it or want to know more. As far as Bert was concerned, there as no such thing as a guilty pleasure.
That level of passion and certainty isn’t just refreshing, it was inspiring. Most people don’t have that sort of conviction and self-assurance. Either they have very little passion or drive in their lives, or they feel the need to apologize for it because they think it’s not “cool” enough or “interesting” enough to other people. And while that feeling may be relatable… it’s not really attractive or magnetic.
We’re all drawn to people with drive, passion and certainty in their lives. This is partially because of how often we lack that certainty and admire it in others… but also because of how contagious enthusiasm can be. It’s very easy to get carried along with other people’s joy, and having someone who wants to have a good time and help YOU have a good time can be an amazing experience.
And those two things — passion and the desire to share that passion — combine in potent ways. One is by finding and sharing new, novel and interesting activities and adventures, doing things that take you out of your limited zone of experience and expose you to things that you may have always been interested in trying, but couldn’t necessarily give yourself permission to enjoy.
The other is that they give you permission to NOT JUDGE YOURSELF or to worry about what other people think. You’re free to do something silly or immature or childish, because you aren’t worried about the opinions of others. It gives you permission to do the things you love just because you want to do them, instead of thinking you have to be “too cool” or too above it to even consider it.
Because nobody is “too cool”, and trying to pretend you are just cuts you off from joy and happiness.
Which actually makes a great segue to the next reason why Bert was so popular and how you can learn to be more popular yourself:
#4: He was Authentic
You may have noticed how often I mention sincerity and being genuine when it comes to being more charismatic and getting people to like you. This is incredibly important, because sincerity and authenticity are traits we value in people.
Yes, we’ve all heard the old joke of “sincerity; if you can fake that, you’ve got it made”, but the fact of the matter is that authenticity is a quality that makes somebody radiate charisma. We live in a world where we’re encouraged to curate EVERYTHING about our lives to make us seem greater than we are. One of the most toxic things about social media is how much it enables and encourages this behavior; we see people living these “incredible” lives and assume that literally everything about them is amazing and that we need to be AS amazing or AS perfect. But more often than not, it’s smoke and mirrors. It’s incredibly easy to make your life seem astounding when you only allow people a very limited view.
But that’s precisely WHY we value authenticity in people and why it draws us to them. When someone is being authentic, they’re being brave enough — and trusting us enough — to show their genuine selves. We’re getting to see who they actually are, not just a carefully crafted persona… and it’s impossible to overemphasize how powerful that feeling is. It makes us feel special and trusted. Just as importantly though, it gives US permission to let our guards down, to quit holding up those Potemkin personas and being just as real, just as imperfect and just as genuine.
That was part of Bert’s gift. There was no pretense to him, no trying to create this “look at how cool I am” persona. He was always sincere and genuine… which, in Hollywood is rarer than a Ring Fit during quarantine. He had no compunctions about sharing how tough things could be, especially for a working actor. When roles seemed to dry up, or he wasn’t finding work, he’d talk about how hard and frustrating it could be. When his relationship ended because of circumstances outside of their control, he’d talk about how heartbroken he was, how hard it had been trying to make things work and knowing that breaking up was probably the right choice but it still hurt.
Now to be clear: this wasn’t just emotional vomit. He wouldn’t dump his feelings out all over the place or at inappropriate times. It was simply that he didn’t feel like he had to put up a false front or pretend to be something or someone he wasn’t. He was going to give you the respect of being real with you.
That willingness to be so real, so vulnerable, demonstrated just how much he trusted his friends. It was also a sign of just how strong and open-hearted he could be, that he was willing to share these difficult moments and feelings with us without shame or fear of judgement.
But it also meant that when he said that he thought you were amazing or smart or funny, you could take that to the bank. That was exactly how he felt, and he had no problem letting you know that he admired you.
And that authenticity meant that he had no compunction telling his friends that he loved them. He was open with his feelings and encouraged that same vulnerability and openness from the people he let into his life. He was warm and accepting, modeling the behavior he wanted from others. And you felt accepted and welcomed when you would reciprocate. That can seem like such a small thing but it has such an incredible impact on your connection with others.
But there was one trait, I think above everything else that explains why Bert was so popular and so well loved by the people in his life:
#5 He Was Positive
If there was one thing you could say about Bert, it was that he was RELENTLESSLY positive. No matter how hard things could be — and there were times that it was REALLY hard — he was positive and upbeat.
This didn’t mean that he was being Pollyanna and denying reality, or that he had delusions of grandeur. It’s simply that he didn’t let the world break him or grind him down. He believed that the best was still possible and that everything turn out for the better.
When he hit a dry spell and it seemed that he couldn’t get roles to save his life, his attitude was the same: yeah it was frustrating. Yeah, it absolutely sucked, and there were days it could be really goddamn hard. But he knew his worth, he trusted in his talent and he believed — with his entire being — that by putting in the work, putting himself out there and just keeping at it, then when opportunities came around, he’d be in the perfect position to take advantage of them.
The same thing applied to times when he was down to his last twenty bucks. He’d been there before, he’d struggled before, but he knew he could dig himself out. It just required hard work and perseverance and he could get there.
And that’s exactly what happened. That positive attitude — yeah, this blows, but with hard work and patience, I’ll pull out of it — gave him the strength and the resilience to keep going through the worst times.
But it’s also why he had so many people in his corner rooting for him and cheering him on. The attitude you give off affects not only you, but the people around you. Negative people drain the energy out of the room, leaving everyone around them feeling worse off than before. There’s nothing more tedious than dealing with someone who’s attitude is “this is awful, there’s nothing to be done and everyone should just give up now.” Even if you were in a good mood, dealing with people with that attitude leaves you feeling exhausted and worn out.
Having that positive attitude — wanting the best for others, having faith in yourself, believing that failures were temporary and conquerable and that the key to success was to put yourself into a position where you could maximize your opportunities — has the opposite effect. Just as you can get carried away by people’s joy and enthusiasm, you get a mood boost from people with positive attitudes. It’s very easy come away from spending time with them, feeling that “Yeah, they’re right, this IS just a temporary thing. I CAN do better”.
That feeling is INCREDIBLE. Knowing that somebody believes in you and that being around them makes you feel like YOU can do better makes you want them in your life. Having people who expect the best from you and encourage it from you in affirming and positive ways, and who give themselves that same sense of hope and optimism is profoundly rewarding. It inspires you to do more and makes you want to achieve more because you want to prove them right… and encourage them to succeed too.
And at the end of the day… that was Bert’s gift. He brought value to people’s lives because he made people feel incredible. He was a source of joy, of fun, of confidence and sincerity and the world was just a little brighter when he was around.
And since he’s no longer with us, then I think the best thing would be for more people to learn that from him and bring that same happiness and positive value to their lives and the lives of people THEY care about. I can’t think of a better tribute to him.