5 things to know about amy cuddy

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In spite of all the advice my mother gave me about good posture, I’ve been known to slouch, cross my ankles, put my arms across my chest and — on occasion — hover over my iPhone. When I watched Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk a few years ago, I realized my mom was (once again) right. Not only has slouching given me a few back issues, but it’s also likely that I’ve “made myself small” by slouching in challenging situations at work or elsewhere.

Thanks to Cuddy’s examination of how body language shapes who we are, I was excited to see that she’s one of the keynote speakers at the 2016 Annual SHRM Conference. She’s someone who will not only provide valuable insight that relates to the workforce with whom HR practitioners interact, but also information about how nonverbal behavior might affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

For HR leaders who will be attending the conference, here are five things you need to know about Cuddy:

1. She’s known around the world for her 2012 TED Talk.

Cuddy has a successful career at Harvard Business School; she’s written for numerous publications, and now she’s published a book. But the event that (literally) put her on the stage was a TED Talk she gave in 2012. Her talk is the second-most viewed in TED’s history, with nearly 34 million views. During the 20-minute presentation, Cuddy shared her findings about nonverbal behavior that instantly gained the interest and attention of people outside the Ivy League.

2. She has personal experience with being bold.

Cuddy didn’t take the easy road to becoming a Harvard Business School professor and accomplished social psychologist. In fact, some people doubted she would even be able to finish college. After suffering a traumatic brain injury at the age of 19, doctors said Cuddy would struggle to finish school.

“I woke up in a head injury rehab ward, and I had been withdrawn from college, and I learned that my IQ had dropped by two standard deviations, which was very traumatic. I knew my IQ because I had identified with being smart, and I had been called gifted as a child,” said Cuddy in her TED Talk.

In spite of what she was told, Cuddy went back to school; she finished college and went on to earn two more degrees. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado, as well as an MA and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Princeton University.

3. She studies how people influence each other.

The core of Cuddy’s work is focused on the “origins and outcomes of how people judge and influence each other.” In addition to studying the impact of nonverbal behavior (including “power poses”), her research examines stereotyping and discrimination, the significance of specific emotions (e.g., envy and pity), and the hormonal reaction to social stimuli.

4. She’s been named a Game Changer.

TED Talk viewers aren’t the only people who have noticed Cuddy. According to her website  she’s been named a Game Changer by Time, a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science, one of 50 Women Who Are Changing the World by Business Insider, and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. At Harvard Business School, Cuddy teaches graduate-level courses on power, influence, leadership, and decision-making. (And to think people said wouldn’t even be able to finish school!)

5. She’s got advice to help you add “bold” to your toolbox.

Cuddy will take the SHRM stage to deliver a keynote presentation, Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, on Monday, June 20. If you’re looking for insights about how to prepare your brain for situations during which you want to perform with confidence, Cuddy’s research-based information might be just what you need to inspire you to “harness the power of presence.”

In the meantime, check out her TED Talk if you haven’t already seen it. Maybe consider watching it again, like I just did. My back – and sense of confidence – are thanking me already.

By liz sheffield
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