Power posing has shown up twice in Dilbert comic strips, and Planters nuts and Secret deodorant have developed ad campaigns around it.

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The TED conference has made a star of many unlikely people. These include Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School, whose talk promises personal transformation with nary a pill, cleanse or therapy bill.

Her rousing presentation in 2012 at TED Global on what she calls “power poses” is among the most-viewed TED Talks of all time (it is No. 2; Sir Ken Robinson’s “How Schools Kill Creativity” is No. 1). In its wake, Cuddy, 42, has attracted lucrative speaking invitations from around the world; a contract from Little, Brown & Co. for a book to be published next year; and an eclectic army of posture-conscious followers.

Elementary school students, retirees, elite athletes, surgeons, politicians, victims of bullying and sexual assault, beleaguered refugees, people dealing with mental illness or physical limitations (including a quadriplegic): they have all written to say that adopting a confident pose — or simply visualizing one, as in that last case — delivers almost instant self-assurance.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who calls herself “a huge fan,” invited Cuddy to develop teaching materials for her Lean In initiatives. David Gergen, a director of the Kennedy School for Public Leadership at Harvard, says Cuddy’s technique “gives people a taste of what it feels like to be the president striding into the cabinet room.”

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Power posing has shown up twice in Dilbert comic strips, and Planters nuts and Secret deodorant have developed ad campaigns around it.

People tend to do curious things after hearing Cuddy speak. Last May in Las Vegas, she told an auditorium of 1,500 Zappos employees that “making yourself big” for just two minutes before a meeting changes the brain in ways that build courage, reduce anxiety and inspire leadership.

“We tested it in the lab — it really works,” she said on stage. In the lobby afterward, clusters of men and women in blue Zappos T-shirts stretched out like starfish and stood like Wonder Woman (hands on hips, legs wide) to try out the effects.

Gender differences