Certified High-Performance coach, speaker, author, husband, adventurer, former commando-paratrooper, and tsunami survivor.

The Role of Appearance in Achieving Success: How to Make a Great First Impression


The role of appearance in building charisma and achieving success is often overlooked but plays a crucial part in making a great first impression. We consciously and unconsciously judge people in the first few seconds of meeting them. That’s just how it is. They are multiple factors that influence how we occur to people. And we can influence most of those factors to make sure to stay on top of our game. In this article, you’ll learn the role of appearance and strategies to show up as your best.

Let’s broaden the term “appearance” to include a combination of factors such as your look, walk, talk, posture, and voice. I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid:

“On est pas responsable de la tête qu’on a, mais de la tête qu’on fait” which roughly translate to: we are not responsible for the face we have, but for the face we make. (I don’t know if I should be offended by it or not, but it is great wisdom).

They are things you can’t change, like your body type or symmetry but there are many things that you can work on and be intentional about! And if you want to build charisma and achieve success, you must understand the role of appearance and become more intentional about how you show up.

This article addresses one of the key topics featured in the no-bullshit guide to creating success and fulfillment in life and business, where you’ll uncover the 3-part formula to design and live a more rewarding life. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s a system that actually works. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do so now to gain a better understanding of what it takes to reach excellence. Additionally, you can read the 4 steps to reach excellence and learn a methodology you can apply to any subject to speed up your progress.

The Role of Appearance in Achieving Success: How to Make a Great First Impression

Symbolising the role of appearance in leadership

The role of appearance

Your appearance impacts the way that others perceive you, which can, in turn, affect your opportunities and the way that you are treated. For example, if you’re rocking a unibrow and dressed in a way that looks like you just crawled out of bed, you may be more likely to be seen as a slacker and untrustworthy. Which can lead to fewer opportunities and worse treatment.

More than that, it is not only about how others perceive you: if you look good, you feel good, and that’s half the battle won! Taking care of your appearance has a positive impact on your own confidence and self-esteem.

Your appearance gives information about many things, including your confidence, your beliefs, your interests, your personality, etc. The best is to use this to your advantage so that your appearance reflects who you truly are and matches your role.

However, while appearance can be a factor in success and fulfillment, it is not the only factor and should not be the sole focus. It is important to also focus on developing skills, knowledge, and other inner qualities that contribute to success and fulfillment (no-bullshit guide to creating success and fulfillment in life and business). Because let’s be real, nobody wants to be a pretty face with an empty brain!

Beauty and self-acceptance

What makes a person attractive or beautiful is subjective and varies from person to person. Some people may find someone with a great sense of humor more attractive than someone with six-pack abs. The criteria are different for everyone; how they look and their inner qualities are important. That being said, some common factors that can contribute to a person’s attractiveness include:

  • Physical symmetry and proportionality
  • Clear, glowing skin
  • Good hygiene
  • Confidence
  • Kindness and compassion
  • A sense of humor
  • Intelligence

You can improve all the things on that list!

You can practice self-care by exercising, getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, staying hydrated, incorporating relaxation techniques, developing your skills and expertise, and being kind to yourself and others.

A note about plastic surgery

In no way am I suggesting using medical procedures to change your body. I am personally against it and encourage natural beauty.

Unfortunately, it seems that, nowadays, esthetic surgery has been normalized.  One of the main problems is that the definition of beauty is less and less reachable naturally. People tend to compare themselves to an impossible ideal. Seriously, it is easy to feel not enough in our society!

I agree that, in some cases, medical procedures can help people feel better about themselves. But I am not talking about the size of body parts here. It’s amazing to have access to those medical operations in case of an accident or rare malformation.

We have to accept the way we were born. We are all unique, and attraction does not only come from the size of your nose (or lips, breast, or butt) or the symmetry of your eyes.

As I mentioned in the previous section, you don’t need a surgeon to look neat, fit, and healthy! You can change it on your own without intrusive and dangerous procedures.

Self-acceptance vs. self-discipline

Self-acceptance is important, but don’t confuse it with a lack of self-discipline!

“I am obese, but that’s ok because I should accept myself the way I am.”

“I am an addict, but that’s just who I am.”

Nah, don’t fall for that trap. Love yourself, yes. But don’t justify or diminish your situation with self-acceptance. You should show yourself compassion by understanding and recognizing that suffering, mistakes, and imperfections are a normal part of the human experience. And forgive yourself without being overly self-critical or harsh. If you have control over your situation, don’t accept it as a victim; change it!

Taking back control requires self-discipline, and you need a balance of both self-compassion and self-discipline to create a more fulfilling and successful life. (Learn how to build self-discipline here)

If you can do something about it (and you always can!), empower yourself and take back control.

Symbolising the role of appearance in leadership

The way you show up and its impact on success

The role of appearance on the the way others perceive you is not to be taken lightly. In the military, we know that all too well! We work a lot on our physiology because how we show up impacts how others treat us. I can still hear the Staff Sergent yelling: “shoulder back, chest out, chin up!”

It also conditions the mind! Research on power poses has found that taking these postures for a short time can positively affect your psychological and physiological state.

One famous study by social psychologist Amy Cuddy and her colleagues found that when people assume a high-power pose for just two minutes, it increases their testosterone levels (a hormone associated with power and dominance) and decreases their cortisol levels (a stress hormone). These changes in hormone levels increased the feelings of power and confidence and decreased the feelings of stress and anxiety.

Another study found that people who adopt high-power poses before a job interview or a public speaking event performed better than those who adopted low-power poses. They were more likely to be selected for a job or to be perceived as more competent and confident by the audience.

More research has yet to be done on the subject, but in my experience in the military, it really works.

You can start changing simply by asking yourself:

How do I want to occur to people?

How does such a person walk, talk, or move?

The role of appearance in leadership

Physique has always been associated with charisma. Your appearance is just one factor in charisma and is not the only thing determining it. But it is an easy trait to improve. It is easier to get a neat haircut than to be funnier. You don’t need to be good-looking to be charismatic, but that helps.

The way you show up also sets an example for others and influences the culture of the organization you are a part of.

You can’t tell people to push themselves if you are overweight.

You can’t ask for productivity if you are always sick. 

You can’t ask for respect if you don’t respect your body.

You can’t ask for performance if you are a physical representation of mediocrity.

You can’t ask for discipline if you look like you can’t control yourself.

You can’t tell people to go the extra mile if you can’t even run.

Your body reflects your discipline, how you care for yourself, and how much you are determined to show up as your best. To gain trust, build credibility and show up as a true leader, you must take care of yourself!

How you look reflects your values, so walk your talk! A leader has to be a role model and understand the role of appearance.

Learn about the key element to be a great leader.

man symbolising the role of appearance in building charisma and achieving success is often overlooked but plays a crucial part in making a great first impression.

Tips to appear more attractive and likable

Internal changes

Improve your nutrition and your hydration: better skin, better glow, more energy, better body shape. It also makes you feel better in your body and increase your self-confidence and well-being. 

Improving your nutrition and hydration will significantly impact your external appearance. You can achieve a healthy glow, increased energy, and a better body shape by nourishing your body with the right nutrients, drinking at least 2-3L of water per day, and prioritizing sleep. Not only will you look better, but you’ll also feel better in your own skin, leading to overall well-being. I’m not going into details about what you should do specifically because you probably know already.

But if you don’t, I recommend you look at The Sleep Consultant website to learn about maximizing your sleep. If you have no problem top sleep but can’t say the same about your child, there is a solution: Nights and Naps.

If you want to change your relationship with food, look no further: WILDFIT. This is not a diet (diets don’t work..) it is a 90-day challenge that will help you go deep into your food psychology and teach you how to nourish your body well. It is not something you start and stop; it will change your life. It completely transformed my health, and I will be forever grateful for it.

External changes

External changes such as moving your body regularly (intentional movement), cutting your hair, and smelling good all contribute to our overall appearance. It requires some effort (only the gym part), but the reward is huge. The clothes you wear greatly impact the first impression people have of you. When you dress for success, you convey a sense of professionalism and competence. I am not saying you have to research skin tones, colors, and patterns to know what to wear, but you can adapt to the occasion and the audience and make sure your clothing is clean, ironed, and well-maintained. If, just like me, you are traveling around most of the time and don’t have time to shop but still want to look great, check out “The Brotherhood of Style” website (by the way, it is not an affiliate link, I just believe they do a great job!)

Lastly, paying attention to your posture, gesture, voice, and facial expression will also make a big difference in how others perceive you.

Character changes

What comes next requires a bit more time to get just right. Transformation takes time; that’s just how it is.

  • Being authentic and genuine: Being authentic and genuine is key, as trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting and ineffective. Instead, embrace who you are and let your authenticity shine.
  • Cultivating a positive attitude and a sense of humor: A light-hearted and joyful approach to life is infectious and can make you more likable and engaging. And it’s more fun to make people smile!
  • Practice self-confidence: believing in yourself and your abilities will exude confidence and charm.
  • Show an interest in others: showing interest in others and actively listening to them can make you more likable and engaging. Let’s be honest; everybody loves to talk about themselves! Furthermore, you never learn anything if you keep talking!
  • Be a good listener: Show that you are paying attention to others by actively listening and engaging in the conversation. This is a lifelong skill to master; start now! The people in your life deserve the gift of your full attention.

In a nutshell

Here are a few questions worth reflecting on:

  • How do you want others to perceive you?
  • What do you want your posture, voice, gestures, and expressions (facial expressions) to portray about you to the world?
  • What do you need to stop doing so you occur to people the way you want to?
  • What do you need to start doing?

It is critical to understand the role of appearance in developing charisma and achieving success. Appearance is not only determined by your physical appearance but also by your posture, voice, and how you present yourself. And the good news is that you can improve all of that!

By being intentional about how we show up, we can make a positive impact on the way we are perceived by others and in turn, affect our opportunities and the way we are treated. 

In the end, it’s not about trying to be someone you’re not but about embracing who you are and using your appearance to reflect your authentic self. Remember, it’s not about the face you have but about the face you make. 

So, be intentional about how you show up, focus on developing your inner qualities, and embrace your authenticity to build charisma and achieve success.

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Download Chapter 1 of my new book: "The Illusion of Time"

After nearly dying in a tsunami, I dove deep into personal growth, trying to find answers to my questions. I promised myself to live every single day to the fullest and inspire others to do the same. But for that, I had to get better at life. In my book “The Illusion of Time,” I put together 11 lessons to not suck at life and make the most out of it.

Download Chapter 1 of my new book: "The Illusion of Time"

After nearly dying in a tsunami, I dove deep into personal growth, trying to find answers to my questions. I promised myself to live every single day to the fullest and inspire others to do the same. But for that, I had to get better at life. In my book “The Illusion of Time,” I put together 11 lessons to not suck at life and make the most out of it.

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