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Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges Hardcover – December 22, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of December 2015: Madonna isn’t the only person famous for telling people to strike a (power) pose. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy advocates for the same in a book that expounds on the ideas set forth in her popular 2012 TED Talk, “Your Body Shapes Who You Are.” It may sound silly, but assuming the assured body language of Wonder Woman, or that “Man Spreader” on the bus, can literally change your body chemistry and make you feel more confident in anxiety-inducing situations. I must admit I was a bit dubious when I first heard about this, but Cuddy’s Presence offers up sound science to back up her claims, and, well I tried it. Even sans the Lasso of Truth, I was less nervous about a public speaking engagement after taking Cuddy’s advice, and was therefore more successful at that endeavor. Translate this to a first date, a job interview, even those prickly conversations you hesitate to have with loved ones…and you’re conjuring self-confidence at the times you need it most. This is something that hits home for Cuddy, who overcame a traumatic brain injury to become a respected professor and researcher at the Harvard Business School, a feat she once thought inconceivable. Learning about the tenuous time in her life when she was paralyzed with doubts about her intellectual capacity, about how successful she could be in life, lends Presence a certain emotional center you don’t find in many books of its type. –Erin Kodicek
New York Times bestseller
Washington Post bestseller
Wall Street Journal bestseller
USA Today bestseller
Publishers Weekly bestseller
Amazon "Best Books of December" pick and December spotlight
Amazon Canada "Best Books of December"
AARP Editor's Pick and a "Top Ten Books of 2015"
Forbes "15 Best Business Books of 2015"
Business Insider "20 Best Business Books of 2015"
Business Insider "20 of the Best Books by the Most Influential Thinkers in Business"
Washington Post "12 Leadership Books to Watch for in 2015"
Inc. #1 pick for "12 New Business Books for the Perfect Gift"
People "Book of the Week"
BusinessMirror "10 Books to Look for in Early 2016"
Bustle "10 Books That'll Inspire You to Make the World a Better Place in 2016"
Irish Independent "The 6 Best Motivational Reads for 2016"
Shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Leadership Award (UK)
World Economic Forum #1 pick for "Books on Leadership to Read This Holiday"
"Cuddy brings an abundance of humility and charm to the page. Her presence itself--her openhearted desire to help the insecure and the uneasy in this age of anxiety--shines through. PRESENCE feels at once concrete and inspiring, simple but ambitious--above all, truly powerful."
―Heather Havrilesky, front page, New York Times Book Review
"Amy Cuddy's must-read new book...is a triple threat: enjoyable, fascinating, and a brightly packaged New Year's resolution....There's a lot more to the body-mind connection, and that's what PRESENCE lays out so well.
―Lane Florsheim, Marie Claire
"A must-read for anyone looking to achieve their personal best."―Kim Hubbard, People (Book of the Week)
"Amy Cuddy fuses the rigor of a researcher befitting one of the world's finest universities with the raw empathic insight that springs from uncommonly trying personal experience."
―Maria Popova, Brainpickings
"A treatise on presence."―Forbes
"Filled with stories about achieving greater mindfulness, successfully coping with stress, and being present to our immediate moments, PRESENCE will help you direct all your competing energies more effectively. The first step in any great journey of change is into the self, after all."―Bustle
"Want to enjoy a more confident 2016? Consider power posing. This transformative self-help tome explains how assuming the Wonder Woman stance before a big interview sends an empowering message to your mind."―Deirdre Donahue, AARP
"...Cuddy is endearingly normal. And her new book, PRESENCE, is as entertaining as it is scientific."
―Associated Press/The National (UAE)
"Amy Cuddy is making the world a braver place with her book, PRESENCE. Courage is contagious and presence begets presence. Weaving together science, practical examples, and storytelling, Cuddy shows us how bringing our boldest, most authentic selves to challenging situations inspires others to do the same. This book is a game-changer!"―Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong
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For example, just last month, my professional singer friend Valerie was terrified of her upcoming auditions because of crippling stage fright. Right about that time, I was fortunate to attend a talk by Amy Cuddy on her new book. Valerie couldn't attend, so I gave her an advance copy of "Presence" that Amy had kindly given us. Valerie watched Amy's TED talk, read half of the book, executed the "power pose" (i.e. expansive body postures like the 'Wonder Woman' and the 'Usain Bolt' held for 2min) and "self-affirmation of core values" techniques right before her auditions, and nailed 'em: three auditions, three jobs booked. And it all worked *that* fast.
People -- this is life-changing stuff.
As a therapist and speaking coach, I've been teaching Amy's material to to students and clients for a few years, so I was thrilled to hear that she's putting her knowledge into book form. If there were a central premise to the book, it would be this: "The lesson is clear: focus less on the impression you’re making on others and more on the impression you’re making on yourself. The latter serves the former, a phenomenon that should become clearer and clearer throughout this book." Here are some of the things I like about it:
-- Ample illustration of the concepts with real-life stories of folks from all over the world who have overcome huge challenges using the "Presence" techniques -- all the way from grade-school kids, to people stuck in bad relationships, to Icelandic show horses (really)
-- The author's generosity and vulnerability in sharing of her own stories, e.g her painfully slow recovery from a brain-damaging college car accident and her own struggle with Impostor Syndrome
-- It's a fantastic compendium of the relevant science on how the body affects the mind, all in jargon-free, highly accessible form, from the leading scientists of the day.
Of course, the main reason I read a book is to learn cool new useful stuff. And even though this book is smack-dab in my own field of work, I still learned a ton (took 19 pages of notes!). Here are some tidbits I particularly appreciated:
-- The cortisol-testosterone dual hormone hypothesis: you're most effective when you have high testosterone and low cortisol
-- We usually thing that confidence leads to decisions and thoughts drive behavior. But a surprising amount of the time, it's the other way around: decisions create confidence and behavior creates thoughts.
-- 80% of all fibers from the vagus nerve go from the body to the brain, not the other way around. Body changes mind!
-- The more people use the word "I", the less powerful and sure of themselves they are likely to be.
-- "Ultimately, participants’ speaking rate had an inverse relationship with how powerful they felt. That is, the more slowly they read the sentences, the more powerful, confident, and effective they felt afterward." Speak slowly to feel powerful!
-- Hunched over posture of staring at smartphones ("iPosture") kills both your mood and your productivity.
-- Why new year’s resolutions don’t work
-- Loved the section on self-nudges: little, incremental ways to change our behavior for the better.
-- "The three most important things to understand about the self, particularly as it relates to presence. The self is: 1. Multifaceted, not singular. 2. Expressed and reflected through our thoughts, feelings, values, and behaviors. 3. Dynamic and flexible, not static and rigid."
But wait: there's a bonus to Valerie's story. Now that she's back home for Christmas, Valerie's newfound adoption of more empowering posture is transforming her relationship with her sometimes difficult mother (which I'm sure none of you have, but just in case). Applying the teachings of this book can directly affect your relationships, performances, credibility, work, interviews, impostor syndrome, lie detection abilities, and overall mood. That's some important stuff, and "Presence" offers simple, practical, effective solutions to challenges in those areas of life. That's why I'm telling everyone about this book and buying a stack of 'em to press into the hands of my friends. It's quite possible that you, too, will feel compelled to give your friends the gift of a core skill for success after reading "Presence."
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Happiness Engineer, author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible, the highest-rated dating book on Amazon for 4+ years
I highly recommend for anyone interested in Somatic Psychology
As millions who have seen her TED talk now know, she has researched the mind-body connection that enables us to feel more powerful simply by holding expansive poses typical of people who have just triumphed. Presence goes well beyond her own work to explore complementary research related to the voice and breathing, to name just a few areas she explores. She admits her own skepticism along the way (“I’m not a yoga person.”), but as a researcher she puts the evidence before her personal biases. Ultimately she concludes that William James was right: “Our bodies speak to us. They tell us how and what to feel and even think.” If you want to understand how to use your body to change your brain, there’s no better place to start than Presence.