Tag Archives | communication

What makes Amy Cuddy a great communicator?

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 →

What are you going to be wearing when you’ve become who you want to be?

Call me shallow, but one of the best ways I’ve learned to help people figure out their desired future is to have them think what they are going to be wearing once they’ve achieved it. Now, as it happens, I had a great coaching call first thing this morning while wearing a pair of elderly Princess Tam Tam PJs, still sexy, in my view, if a bit bobbled; flip flops and the indigo blue Three Dog Bakery t-shirt I bought in Santa Barbara in 2002. We did good work; I logged the time, hung up. All good. If I’d been working with my coach on this 10 years ago and said my Future Self would be working in elderly PJs, and aThree Dog Bakery etc. I would not have felt inspired. I’d have been seeing myself more in terms of the Diana von Furstenberg wrap dress, kitten heels and Lancôme Teint Idole which I had carefully applied after my blow dry at 06.30.

So when we play with how we can realise our best selves at work – which is what we are talking about – personal style is a great way to access what matters to us as individuals. At one level it’s superficial, but at another, it’s a doorway into our identity. There are loads of good ways both to find and to live your personal style. One of the best is to find your own personal stylist, be that online (I’m a huge fan of Alyson Walsh’s www.thatsnotmyage.com) or in person (pick your fave store and book a personal shopper just to get started, usually at no cost). Find a magazine cover that speaks to you, or log onto labels you love (www.winserlondon.com is currently making me feel I have come to safe harbour, clothes wise). Another tip is to pick three words that describe your personal style. The first two tend to come easily (classic, comfortable). It’s usually the third that skewers it; witty, dark, chrysanthemum. As Orson Wells – not your obvious style icon – said: style is knowing who you are and what you want to say. And that’s the starting point for great communication.