It was amazing to talk with Amy Cuddy last month about presence.
She threw down the gauntlet almost immediately by telling her elevator pitch story about how she crashed and burned when in a high-pressure situation where she was asked to give her 30-second spiel in an actual elevator to rock stars in her industry. It was amazing, and encouraging, to hear from someone known for helping millions get grounded before important presentations in their lives, that she deals with the same issues as the rest of us!
We discussed afterwit, the idea that it is so easy to replay a situation afterwards and obsess about the thing we should have said to make just the impact we wanted in the moment. It heartening to know this tendency is something many of us share.
Having read her research, and story-packed book Presence, I was able to tease out several threads in her work that are especially important for those of us seeking more meaning and fulfillment through evolving the professional work we do, whether we are preparing to nail a job interview or for a presentation that lands with our audience. We explored what she learned from venture capitalists about what they look for, and what makes them invest in an idea and a person, when being pitched. The findings will surprise you!
We also talked about what she learned from interviewing an actor she feels is a master at embodying presence, both her in own life and in the various characters she plays. In the book she teased us with who this person was, ultimately revealing that is was Julianne Moore. Julianne had some interesting and enlightening comments about the connection between power and presence.
We talked about the relationship between cortisol and testosterone, as related to how we hold our bodies in power poses before important moments in our lives and the real connection between our minds and our bodies. It was fascinating to hear the science about how we hold and move our bodies and how that impacts our mind, attitude and ultimately, our outcomes in our lives, professionally and otherwise.
Amy is a pioneer; she has the honor of delivering the second most popular TED talk of all time.
It was an honor to be with her, and I was touched by how personally vulnerable, open, and gracious she was in spending time with me and my audience, including fielding some insightful conversations from the audience at the end. It was especially telling when she responded to my question about what she would go back and tell her younger self in that elevator, the young women flubbing the most important pitch of her life, and learning from what her personal and professional discoveries can inform in our own lives.