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Athletic Director U. from D1.ticker - Original content every Sunday evening designed to help you lead.
Athletic Director U. from D1.ticker
Arkansas Athletic Director, Jeff Long, is our next Athletic Director in Residence. Long will answer your questions in an entry set to run next Sunday, September 25th. There's still time to submit more questions for Jeff's review, which you can do here by the close of business on Tuesday, September 20th.

One of Athletic Director U.’s objectives is to take important, in-depth pieces of content and synthesize them down into a Cliff-notes version for your efficient consumption. Today's entry, like we did previously with a recode interview of MLBAM & BAMTech's Bob Bowman (here), should deliver value on a key topic is a short amount of time.
Fake It 'Til You Become It
Like you, over the years I've watched dozens upon dozens - if not over one hundred - TED talks because, well, a great majority are brilliant. Eye-opening, engaging, informative and thought-provoking are all descriptors applicable to the series of presentations originally started way back in 1984 that have grown into an international brand with numerous events around the world every year.

Earlier this week, I stumbled across a TED talk from 2012 with social psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy titled, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” I’ve now watched it five times and think it contains key lessons for both established and growing leaders in the field of college athletics. Upon further research I also found, much to my surprise since I hadn’t seen or heard of it previously, Cuddy’s talk is the second most-watched in TED history with over 32M views. Given its popularity, you may already be practicing Cuddy’s principles. If so, well done. If, like me, Cuddy’s talk is new, below is what you need to know.

Cuddy’s TED Talk

(1:04) Cuddy starts by noting how we’re all, as human beings, interested in the body language of other people and how it’s a clear form of communication. “Social scientists have spent a lot of time looking at the effects of body language on judgements. We make sweeping judgements and inferences from body language. And those judgements can predict really meaningful life outcomes like who we hire or promote. Who we ask out on a date.”

(3:00) Example: Cuddy points to a study out of Princeton that found judgements made in literally one second on the faces of political candidates can accurately predict 70% of U.S. senate and gubernatorial races. “When we think of non-verbals, we think of how we judge others, how they judge us and what the outcomes are. We tend to forget the other audience that’s influenced by our non-verbals and that’s ourselves.”

(4:00) A review of dominant body language from throughout the animal kingdom (think, a gorilla expanding its chest in a show of power). What’s most interesting here is the finding of the congenitally blind throwing their arms in the air and tilting their chins back in moments of physical triumph even though there’s no way they would have ever seen others do the same.

(5:07) Followed by illustrations of powerless poses, like shrinking into our bodies (ever done this in a meeting when you’d like to avoid talking?) and Cuddy’s researched reality of gender playing a role in body language at the graduate school level. “Since participation accounts for half the grade, there is a grade gap business schools have been dealing with. So, I started to wonder, is it possible that we could get people to fake it (with their body language) and it would get them to participate more? Can you fake it ‘til you make it? Can you fake it for a little while and actually experience a behavioral outcome that makes you feel more powerful?”

(7:25) Do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?

(8:05) It’s true that our minds change our bodies, but is it also true that our bodies change our minds?

(8:20) When Cuddy says “thoughts and feelings” she’s really talking about hormones and here’s where it gets really good. “Psychologically, there are differences between powerful and powerless people with two hormones. Testosterone, which is the dominance hormone and cortisol, which is the stress hormone.” Studies have found effective leaders have high testosterone and low cortisol, which makes them exhibit dominant traits (confidence, risk-taking), but not be over-reactive in stressful situations (thus, low cortisol). There’s also evidence that a role change, such as a promotion from, say, Deputy Athletic Director to Athletic Director, can lead to more testosterone and less cortisol. “So we have the evidence that facial expressions can shape the mind, but also that role changes can shape the mind.”
Teamworks: Revolutionizing The Way Athletic Departments Communicate
(10:15) Cuddy and her team ran an experiment - and this is maybe most important for those of you in middle to lower management roles in college athletics - where subjects provided saliva sample, then struck high-power poses (hands on hips, feet spread, taking up as much space as possible or hands behind head, leaning back in a chair) or low-power poses (bent over, shrunken down in a chair or a hand on the neck with the other arm crossed) for two minutes. After the two minutes, the subjects were asked a series of power questions and then given an opportunity to gamble, followed by submitting another saliva sample.

(11:33) “This is what we find: Risk tolerance, which is the gambling, 86% of those in the power position for two minutes will gamble. When you’re in the low-power position, only 60% will gamble. That’s a pretty whopping significant difference.” More, “Here’s what we find with testosterone: From their baseline when they come in, high-power (pose) people had about a 20% increase and low-power (pose) people experience about a 10% decrease. Again, two minutes and you get these changes. Here’s what you get on cortisol: High-power (pose) people experience about a 25% decrease and lower-power (pose) people experience about a 15% increase. Two minutes can lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to either be assertive, confident and comfortable or really stress reactive and feeling sort of shut down.”

(12:44) With her point starting to drive home, the next key question is, “Can power posing for a few minutes really change your life in meaningful ways?” Cuddy argues you want to use these principles in social situations where you’re being evaluated. Speaking in front of group or performing well during a job interview are two prime situations.

(14:30) Another study (Cuddy is an academic & researcher, after all), where people were put through job interviews where the interviewer gave them zero non-verbal feedback on their answers. Video recordings of the interviewees were then coded by professionals who knew nothing about the context of the experiment and almost universally voted to hire the interviewees who had more powerful body language during the interview. Again, “it’s not about the content of their speech, it’s about the presence of the speech.”

(15:40) Here’s where the common vernacular of ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ transforms into, ‘Fake it ‘til you become it.’ Cuddy launches into her personal story of identifying as smart and gifted as a young adult before experiencing a traumatic car crash where she was thrown out of the vehicle and was later told she would never finish college. Four years after the normal matriculation timeline, she finally graduated and ended up at Princeton with the help of an advisor. “I was like, I am not supposed to be here. I am an imposter. The night before my ‘first year talk’ - the ‘first year talk’ is for 20 minutes in front of 20 people - that’s it. I was so afraid of being found out the next day, that I called her and said, ‘I’m quitting.’ She was like, ‘You are not quitting. I took a gamble on you and you are staying. You’re going to stay and this is what you’re going to do. You are going to fake it. You are going to do every talk that you’re ever asked to do. You’re just going to do it and do it and do it, even if you’re terrified and paralyzed and have this out of body experience, until you have this moment and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m doing it. I have become this. I am actually doing this.’”

We all know body language matters. It’s such an obvious thing. Cuddy’s research shows it’s scientifically possible to increase testosterone and decrease cortisol prior to situations of social evaluation. Cuddy’s research also shows how important non-verbals are in positions of power. No matter how silly or ridiculous you may feel power-posing behind your closed office door or in a bathroom stall, you can configure your mind to exhibit more effective body language. Ranging from an internship interview to the first time overseeing a department to presenting in front of a Board of Trustees, Cuddy’s principles can help to prepare your mind and body.

To watch Cuddy’s full TED talk, click here.
Teamworks: Revolutionizing The Way Athletic Departments Communicate
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