Chen Lizra is an Israeli-Canadian change agent. Chen is bestselling author, business consultant, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, life coach, seminar leader, and professional dancer. In 2010 she published My Seductive Cuba – which became an Amazon US and Canada best-seller, and won the prestigious IPPY book award in NYC. In 2012 she walked onto the TED stage and delivered a powerful talk that showed seduction with a 180 degrees twist. She’s since developed the men and women’s programs of the Art of Allure & Human Connection. –“I’ve gotten where I am today because I leave myself only one option – success. Every time something fails I just consider it a temporary setback and try to figure out how to do it right.”
Chen, your TED talk is on the benefits of seduction as a social skill in our everyday lives – what is your definition of seduction?
You are right to ask this question because many cultures have a filter when it comes to seduction, tinted by past experiences. Most cultures see seduction as a negative thing, as a form of manipulation, taking away something from someone, associated with being slutty or cheap, pick up artists, and so on. The way I view seduction, the way I got to experience it as a positive life skill, is a way to tap into our innate power as men and women, which is part of our true nature. It is an ability to use our Social Charm in a business context in order to connect deeper, and to draw to us, to attract, but also in our personal lives. It is about creating a win-win and not win-lose. This is your measurement of success – whether the other side wishes to interact with you again and again or not. If you focus on giving and not taking and you leave the other side with great energy and a desire for more, then a deeper connection will be formed and you will notice reciprocity and a desire to continue building something together. Seduction gives us more influence power in the best sense of the word.
Seduction has been over-sexualized over the years – how would you distinct seductiveness and promiscuity, and how are they both related to self-esteem?
Pure seduction has nothing to do with promiscuity. According to Wikipedia promiscuity is the practice of having casual sex frequently with different partners or being indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners. Seduction doesn’t even have to do with sex. It has to do with self-love, the way I mean it. It has to do with knowing your boundaries, having healthy ones, first feeling good about yourself, and then learning how to exude. When I work with people who have low self-esteem via the Art of Allure & Human Connection I begin with working on their vulnerability, trust and boundaries. I focus on cleaning up the internal mess and getting them to love themselves first. The sabrosura (from Spanish – tastiness, enjoyment and delightness) is the female sensuality that mesmerizes others. It’s inside all of us – men and women alike – and where we feel our own magic. It feels so special because it sits on self-love, but not the kind that’s narcissistic. Seduction has to do with our internal process and self-worth and finding our own internal beauty, and then turning to the outside to form deeper connections and memorable engagements, some of which are driven by our Social Charm. When you have self-worth you can seduce and attract, but you also feel certain classiness. Seduction, in the process that I have created, has to do with coming back home to the body and to ourselves, to our true nature, to where we feel simple happiness.
You talk a lot about Social Charm – what does this skill look like, can it be cultivated and developed and what or who is its worst enemy?
Social Charm is in all of us – we are born with it. The best way to know this is to observe young kids – they find out really quickly that one thing in their personality that gets them the results and they start to use it with their parents and the adults around them, to activate them to give them what they want. It’s innate. But as children grow older they get conditioned to stop using their Social Charm and to start using less effective means of communication. Adults start to treat Social Charm as a negative thing and as a form of manipulation. In our minds if we are activating the other person and getting, because of it, what we want, without asking for permission first, then it must be wrong. I’ve observed Social Charm in Cuba, and I’m certain it’s true in other parts of the world as well, in these places children aren’t necessarily outgrowing this skill. Why is that? Because giving ourselves permission, or not, to use it, rewarding the behavior or punishing for it, is cultural conditioning that we can change. Cuba exposed me, for the first time, to the concept that as we move from childhood to adulthood we don’t have to lock up our social charm, in fact, quite the opposite. They don’t disconnect from the very thing in their personality that makes them so enrolling and gets them the results. I believe that it has to do with the mentality in the Western World where we believe that we have to “grow up.” And we pay the price.
So, you are saying that every person, no matter of age, sex, nationality or intellectual capacity, has the ability to be socially charming?
Cultures affect our Social Charm because they have cultural rules of what is acceptable or not, yet we can break away from the herd if we choose to. Some cultures are looser like in Brazil and some are more reserved like in Canada. Yet it’s important to also remember that social charm Social Charm looks very different from person to person – being shy, funny, seductive, authentic and so on. Bringing it out can come easily to some people and is harder for others. Some of us are shy while others are outgoing. We all have the ability to activate it but it requires a different amount of effort depending on our personality. If you are an introvert then you will find it harder because it makes those who are shy feel exposed emotionally. You can even emotionally block it just by thinking “I can’t do it, I can’t do it…”. When I work with people who are introverts some of them get stuck because it goes against the grain for them, it requires a lot of courage for them to come out. If it’s easy for you and you love it, then it’s coming out of your passion and you are probably doing it naturally. Some extroverts even know what it is and activate it at will and it becomes their special ingredient and part of their success; it opens doors for them. Others tell me that they hide their Social Charm on purpose and pull it out only at important situations, out of fear of being judged as being manipulative. One way of bringing out or Social Charm is by speaking about something that we are passionate about. When we speak about something that we are passionate about our Social Charm gets released naturally.
Bulgaria is ranked by various research and studies among the saddest and most dissatisfied countries. e.g. Eurostat ranked Bulgarians the least satisfied nation in the European Union. What do you consider happiness and what is the way of getting there?
Well, here is the thing – there is the root cause of unhappiness and then there is how we meet the circumstances. So first of all we need to understand where this is coming from. This is important for us in order to own it. For example, if the problem is war, government, unemployment, attitude in the patriarchal approach that dominates and so on. Knowing what it is, I can either change the circumstances or not. If I can, it’s an easy solution. If I cannot, then we move on to how we meet the circumstances and accept that we cannot change them. Cubans have been under financial difficulties for over 50 years and they are the happiest people I have ever met. Israel is in war for over 60 years and Israelis know how to live life full out. Both cultures have this positive attitude of seeing the half that’s full. There needs to be a change in attitude towards life, to experience fully that simple happiness so that the body will know that it’s possible. I do this in the programs I teach. Then the tricky part is to sustain it by practicing it so that you will not get sucked back into the old patterns. It’s really about what Gandhi said – be the change you want to see in the world. It’s about daily practice of the lifestyle we want. It’s just like going to the gym. It’s possible to make this change and to sustain it but you have to experience it first and then remain committed to it.
You lead coaching sessions and seminars, and meet hundreds of people from around the globe on a daily basis. Based on your experience, what lies at the core of unhappiness and low self-esteem?
What I see a lot is unresolved issues that affect self-worth and self-love. They are usually linked back to things that happened in our past that linger. Also, people not really going after what they want in life and doing things that they don’t love because they are afraid of changing the status quo, afraid of taking a risk. There is a lack of satisfaction. I taught in Turkey, NYC and Israel lately and felt that women felt lost as women in the world. I think that in today’s world the focus has shifted to non-stop achievement and the media is constantly busy with perfection. Inside of this world we get treated and we feel like we are not enough. It’s in TV shows, in newspapers and it’s in people. If kids in school that gain weight are casted out, then what does it tell them – that they need the perfect body to be loved? Parents are not available to give love, they are too busy chasing careers. Kids don’t know their own worth if they are faced with difficulties and their parents are not there to envelop them with love. The culture which has been created in the past few decades is horrible for self-worth, it’s all about immediate gratification. If our parents feel like they are not enough, if they don’t have their full self-love, then how can they teach us? We need to do a 180° turn as a global society and realize that we are focusing on the wrong things. The sabrosura sits not only on healthy self-love, but also on taking pleasure, on allowing ourselves to enjoy what we do and who we are. That enjoyment is so critical to happiness. If we were to live through this sabrosura lifestyle then we will have happier societies. Cubans, as a byproduct of their regime have focused for years on the deep connections, Social Charm and sucking the juice out of every interaction and experience. This is why this country has become the inspiration for my project because we can go and see what life used to be like 50 years ago. It’s a strong mirror into what we lost in the world that we cannot live without that affects our happiness. This is also why I lead the tours.
Read more about Chen and her deeply inspiring work on her website.
You can also get in touch with Chen on her Facebook webpage .
(and don’t forget to move on to Part II)