Some people walk into a room and all heads turn. When they begin to speak, people are mesmerized. They instantly gain respect and trust. In a word, they have charisma, one of the most desirable and enviable qualities in the world.

What is charisma? It's hard to define, but it is many things, including likability. If you want to influence people, they must like you and respect you. But charisma is so much more. I believe the definition is found in the ­letters of the word itself.

Confidence: Confidence doesn't come naturally to most people. The good news is that you can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait. Charismatic people believe in themselves and share that confidence with the people around them. Don't ignore obstacles, but focus on what you can achieve.

Happiness: The happiest people I know are not the richest or the most attractive or even the best at what they do. The happiest people are those who discover that what they should be doing and what they are doing are the same things.

Authenticity: Be real, be yourself, be consistent. When people know what to expect from you, they are more comfortable approaching you. Even if there may be disagreement, they know whom they are dealing with and that you have values and standards that are constantly demonstrated.

Respect: Charismatic people command respect and offer it in return. You will never meet a charismatic bully. One of the most important skills to master is learning how to respectfully disagree with someone. Show that you respect their viewpoint, and they'll more readily listen to your ideas.

Interest: Are you the person who walks into a room and announces, "Here I am!" or are you more likely to say, "It's so good to see you!" Putting the emphasis on others is not only charming, it's a wonderful way to acknowledge they are important to you.

Smile: It's so simple, yet so significant. People like to be around pleasant people, and nothing communicates a sunny disposition better than a smile.

Mannerisms: Body language must match speech. Watch how charismatic people walk into a room, how they shake hands, how they hold themselves while listening to others. Confident body language can win people over on a subliminal level.

Attitude: The late Steve Jobs, the computer genius who co-founded Apple, was a very charismatic leader of technical people. When his group was designing Apple's Macintosh computer, Jobs flew a pirate flag over his building. Its purpose? To signify his team's determination to blow the competition out of the water. He demonstrated the kind of can-do attitude that is contagious — with confidence in the people around him to produce successful results. Such validation makes a leader very charismatic indeed.

"The most important single ingredient in the formula for success is knowing how to get along with people," President Theodore Roosevelt said. I have never met a successful person who hasn't figured out how to get along with others.

Norman Vincent Peale, author of "The Power of Positive Thinking," said, "Getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them."

Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People," said: "You can win more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you."

Mackay's Moral: Charisma is likability on steroids.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail