Your Mother Was Right, ABA Forum Keynote Says
It’s time to channel your inner Wonder Woman or Superman, according to Dr. Amy Cuddy.
She’s the Harvard Business School professor and TED-talk sensation who spoke at the American Bar Association’s annual Forum on Franchising in Seattle, telling the gathering of 800-plus attorneys to strike their “pride pose” before making a high-stakes presentation.
Such a pose—like the arms-overhead victory sign, the expansive sprawl with feet on the desk and arms a-kimbo, or the hands-on-hips stance favored by two popular superheroes —indicates power. That’s true whether you’re a gorilla pounding its chest, a peacock displaying its feathers or a human member of the animal kingdom standing tall.
And her research shows striking such a pose before a high-stakes event—preferably in private, because otherwise people look at you funny—for just a minute or two, actually increases testosterone in your bloodstream and lowers cortisone, for males and females alike. That combination is magic, Cuddy says, because then you’re calm and comfortable, free of anxiety, and can perform to your highest level.
So yes, your body language influences others, but also it influences yourself—if you make yourself big your confidence increases, too.
Cuddy’s 2012 talk at TED has been viewed 19 million times, the second-highest TED talk in history, according to her introduction. Whether you’re a homeless teen living in a shelter, a horse trainer trying to make a submissive horse find his mojo, or a professional preparing for the presentation of your life, all examples of people with whom Cuddy has worked—“the point is we are animals,” she says, and what works for one member of the kingdom works for all.
She ended with a quote by the late poet Maya Angelou: “Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. Stand up straight.” This blogger could hear her mother agreeing wholeheartedly, but no one listens to their mother because they didn’t go to Harvard.
The American Bar Association’s 37th annual Forum on Franchising was October 15-17 in Seattle.