When Foreign Policy first published my essay "Soft Power" in 1990, who would have expected that someday the term would be used by the likes of Hu Jintao or Vladimir Putin? Yet Hu told the Chinese Communist Party in 2007 that China needed to increase its soft power, and Putin recently urged Russian diplomats to apply soft power more extensively. Neither leader, however, seems to have understood how to accomplish his goals. Power is the ability to affect others to get the outcomes one wants, and that can be accomplished in three main ways -- by coercion, payment, or attraction. If you can add the soft power of attraction to your toolkit, you can economize on carrots and sticks.
Nye, Jr., Joseph S. "What China and Russia Don't Get About Soft Power." Foreign Policy. April 29, 2013.