There felt to be something fitting about viewing Amy Cuddy’s TED talk (the second most viewed ever) in the week that Mattel brought out three new more diverse Barbies. Tall, glossy lipped, wearing a black belted cardigan, Cuddy starts out her talk brittle as moulded plastic. Then, two thirds of the way through, everything changes. She tells how a car accident when she was nineteen left her with brain damage, a diffuse axial injury or DAI. Crucially, for someone who had always thought of herself as highly intelligent, she was told her IQ has dropped by “two standard deviations”, removing her chances of going back to university. You can feel the audience connect, extending her an empathy that Cuddy clearly finds almost unbearable.
It’s a remarkable performance, one you feel just could not have been planned or scripted to have the impact it had. Clearly, Cuddy did make it back to university; she’s now Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard. And in her recently published book, Presence, Cuddy acknowledges that watching the talk now makes her wince; she hadn’t planned to reveal as much about her own story as she actually did. Continue Reading →