Are You Being Fascinating Enough? How to be Fascinating

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Are You Being Fascinating Enough? Bay to Breakers

When your dream is to be a top blogger and you are regularly writing on your blog, you should eventually (hopefully) arrive at the place where you are consistently asking yourself, “Can I do better?” and “How do I make this better for my audience?”

Checking in with yourself and striving to be better is a big part of blogging success and making your dream come true.

And so are your motivations.

It’s equally important to regularly check your motivations for putting your work out there for public consumption and check in and see if you are being selfish by posting content only for yourself and maybe your mom — instead of with your readers in mind.

Your motivations are your reasons for working on your dream and for putting yourself on the line professionally.

Your motivations are what keep you writing as you curse your prose because it doesn’t feel “good enough”, or while you make bargains with the Gods to help you in some cosmic way, or when you need to pick yourself back up from failure and continue on like never before.

Questioning what you are doing opens up your talents for tweaking and re-shaping. It’s not such a bad thing.


And if you aren’t getting the results that you want from the public, then it typically means you need to fix something that you are doing.

For me, my latest soul-searching dream question has been: “Am I fascinating? Is 8 Women Dream fascinating? Am I screwing this up? Can I ever be fascinating? What if I am never fascinating?”

OK, that’s several questions, but you now get how my mind works. I know. It’s not pretty.

This year, I have been working through the workbook, Heart of a Visionary and looking at ways to improve myself and 8 Women Dream while sharing what I’m learning with other creatives who want to ruin their lives too run their own popular website.

But this fascination question has been bugging the crap out of me lately. I want more for 8 Women Dream and more for you so right in the middle of working through the workbook, “Heart of a Visionary” I started to simultaneously read, “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation” by brand executive, Sally Hogshead.Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

I mean, why not question EVERYTHING that I am doing all at once — right? I’m a writer. We like making ourselves miserable.

But I love this book. Sally Hogshead points out right away that “the degree to which you are willing to step outside your category norms is the degree to which you’ll fascinate others.”

BOOM. There it is.

How many risks am I taking with my writing, with 8 Women Dream and with my dream itself?

You’ve got to step outside the Bell Curve to be a successful blogger or gain recognition (if that’s what you need to make your dream come true) and it just isn’t going to happen by playing it safe.

Quit playing it safe.

That’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

But if like me, you aren’t sure exactly where to take this new-found informational fact that you might not be fascinating enough either, then Hogshead has advice on what to do about it.

The first thing you’ve got to do is sit down and identify your primary fascination trigger. The lure for getting people to notice you. Do you know why people would be attracted to what you are doing or why they should be drawn to help you?

There are 7 fascination triggers and all successful people and companies exude more than one trait. They are:

1. Lust
The lust trigger fulfills your audience’s desire or craving for sensory gratification.

2. Mystique
The mystique trigger lures your audience with a puzzle, or unanswered question.

3. Alarm
The alarm trigger threatens your audience with immediate consequences.

4. Prestige
The prestige trigger earns your audience’s respect through symbols of achievement.

5. Power
The power trigger shows your audience your command over others.

6. Vice
The vice trigger temps your audience with forbidden fruit.

7. Trust
The trust trigger comforts your audience with certainty and reliability.

Stop for a moment and think about a publication that you like to read, or a brand that you like to follow. How many of these triggers do they use?

For example, think about the Nike brand. Don’t you think their triggers are prestige, trust, and lust?

And what happens when you aren’t clear on your triggers and why your followers like you?  Guess what? You will kill your chances for success.

Think about if you aren’t sure what your triggers are, but your current audience believes (based upon your past actions) that your triggers are trust, prestige, and power.

Then suddenly you stop blogging, or your blog posts become filled with errors, misspellings, and typos, or you stop following any sort of blogging schedule, or you suddenly post half-naked photos when your followers don’t see it coming, or you switch blog topics all the time. Suddenly you are anything but trustworthy, prestigious, or powerful.

You won’t build fascination.  And you won’t build a following.

And then you won’t sell anything.

Irish Mannequin NOLA Highsmith

You will succeed in losing all credibility with your current audience — then you must start over building a new audience, and let me tell you, building a new audience is hard work. Damn. Hard. Work.

You can’t move all around the 7 trigger types either because you will never build momentum. Different audiences are drawn to a different set of triggers and you need to settle on a primary trigger for who you are.

This portion of the book really kicked bubbles out my butt, but kudos to you if you believe that you’ve already got this down.  Can you answer these questions about your big dream?

How are you fascinating?

1. Do you have purpose –
What is your reason for being here?

2. Do you have core beliefs –
What do you stand for?

3. Do you have a heritage –
What is your back-story? You know, your real story – the one you don’t want the world to know because you think you’ll be judged.

4. Do you or can you create –
What goods, services or information do you produce?

5. Do you create benefits –
What is the reward you offer for spending time with your offering?

6. Do your actions speak louder than words –
How do you conduct yourself? Does it line up with who you are and your dream?

7. Do you have culture –
What is your identity – personality, executional style and mind-set?

8. Do you create emotions –
Do you provoke strong and immediate emotional reactions? Or do you offend the fewest people? If you are not generating a negative reaction from someone, then you are not fascinating anyone.

9. Do you attract apostles –
Do you or what you do create advocates? You can’t could your friends and family here. They usually do it because they feel they must. We’re taking strangers here. If your fans are not passionate and vocal about what you are doing then you aren’t reaching out to them enough.

10. Is there a Wikiyou –
Are you a cultural shorthand for a specific set of actions or values? Do you represent such a distinct point of view that you stand for a symbol of certain values? DO people think of you when they think about a certain belief?

11. Are you part of a network –
Do you incite conversation? What opportunities do you create for people to talk with one another about what you do?

12. Do you cause a redirection –
Do you force competitors to realign around what you are doing? Can what you are doing start a new trend?

13. Are you a Social World 1.0 creator –
Do you trigger social revolutions? What groups communities and tribes could your message excite and activate, so that they champion your message as part of their own?

These 13 points from Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation are great questions to sit down with yourself and answer truthfully. Part of the reason dreams don’t come true is because the dreamer will often lack clarity – a one purpose — where everything else can line up behind.

All too often, creatives believe that they are being clear when actually they are only being clear to themselves.  Sometimes creatives believe that a little bit of success means they know all there is to know about their craft when it may have just been luck that’s caused a certain amount of success thus far and there’s more work to be done for the real prize.

But the takeaway from this that I want to give you is the understanding that the degree to which you are willing to step outside your norms is the degree to which you will fascinate others with your creation – whatever that is.  If you are not pushing your limits then it’s not the right dream.

Because it’s not even being fascinating enough to push you past your fear.


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  • Melissa Halsey Caudill

    This is a great article – thank you so much for writing this. I’ll be thinking about this quite a bit from now on while I’m writing. Such valuable info.

    • Thank you Melissa. The fascination trigger is something that I seem to be obsessed with – maybe it’s all the fascinating TED videos I’ve seen over the years.

  • ImanWoods

    You are seriously a walking bible about getting your message out into the world.

  • Oh! I need that book… now. Great topic and one I’ve been knocking around my brain for a few months now. Here’s to pushing your limits – again!

    • Yeah I thought of you a lot while I’ve been reading it. I bought the Kindle edition, but I think this is a book you need to have in paper format so that you can make notes and fold pages to work on because there is a lot to the book – almost like a workbook. If you watch the video you will see that it started as a big workbook and worked it’s way into the book I am reading.

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