The revolution came for her when she was (almost) done. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist who is best known for her research on power and body language, had been working as an assistant professor at Harvard University for about five years when the post-recession job market took its toll. Her contract was not renewed in 2011.
Cuddy wasn’t discouraged: “I thought I would find another academic job,” she says now from her office at Stanford University, where she’s a visiting professor of business administration this year. But that didn’t happen quickly enough to keep up with student loan payments or to pay off credit card debt accrued during graduate school–so in 2012, she left academia altogether and became a full-time speaker, writer, and consultant.
The Revolution Came For Amy Cuddy When She Was (Almost) Done | Forbes
Here’s what happens when you let go of your ego: You can take risks without worrying that they’ll ruin your reputation or career prospects; you can experiment with new ideas instead of sticking to safe ones; and most importantly, people will start listening because they know that it doesn’t really matter if you fail. And then–this has happened to me time after time–you get the happy surprise of being told, “I would never have guessed you wanted to do this,” or “you fooled me!” If I can change the world for a few more people and make it slightly better when I leave than when I came in–that’s about everything any person could hope for.
First, she was a researcher at Harvard. Then, she had her TED talk go viral with over 20 million views. And now Amy Cuddy is an author (with the new book Presence), speaker, and corporate consultant on communication—and one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2016.
It’s been an amazing and improbable journey for the 47-year old Cuddy, who lives with her husband Doug in a Cape Cod home filled with books. It is also one of great intellectual discovery–about how to present yourself (the “power pose”), what your body language can tell others about you, and even when it might be best not to speak at all (“I Can’t Tell You If This Lecture Will Change Your Life”).
She got the idea for her famous talk in 2008 when, as a grad student studying psychology at Harvard University–and after passing on being an elementary school teacher because she couldn’t handle kids’ crying–Cuddy had been asked to give a lecture to high-level executives from all over the world about how our minds and bodies could be influenced by nonverbal cues. The day before giving that speech, Cuddy happened upon a TED video of social psychologist Robert Zajonc talking about his theory called “social facilitation” which explains how people perform better individually when they are part of a group. He argued that we might feel safer taking risks when other people around us can see those risks too. So then he did this little experiment where he gathered a group of people who were told they would be learning how to do something new, like solving puzzles or juggling. It was actually just the act of watching those other people seem so competent that made them feel more confident and capable of themselves
grad student studying psychology at Harvard University–and after passing on being an elementary school teacher because she couldn’t handle kids’ crying–Cuddy had been asked to give a lecture to high-level executives from all over the world about how our minds and bodies could be influenced by nonverbal cues. The day before giving that speech, Cuddy happened upon a TED video that ended up changing her life.
The talk was by psychologist Amy Cuddy, who at the time had been researching how our nonverbal behavior shapes other people’s perceptions of us and vice versa. In her talk she pointed to research that showed when we fear or want to intimidate others–such as during a job interview or delivering tough feedback–we tend to fold inward with “lowered power poses.” But in contrast, adopting high power postures can have an immediate effect on our hormones (raising testosterone levels) and overall sense of well-being.
She found herself feeling more confident just because these executives were sitting up straight! She also learned that when you’re stressed out after making a mistake at work, for instance, your body tenses up; but if instead, you strike a confident pose, your body can release adrenaline and other stress chemicals.