You are a leader on a global scale. Make your mark a positive one.
TED talks saved my life. They gave me a reason to get up each morning, re-engage in life when I was seriously contemplating checking out, and get moving onwards and upwards. The talks were the external jet-pack I was missing at the time. In fact, TED talks, once I had been introduced to them, became an integral part of my healing plan after my world disintegrated bit by bit under my feet during the years of 2012-2013. We know that distraction is key when someone is suffering through physical or emotional pain. TED talks are the mother of all distraction; they not only distract during the duration of the talk, now you have new and exciting information planted in your brain to distract you all day long in a positive manner.
The brilliance of TED talks are:
1) The talks are available to you anytime and anywhere you have an internet connection.
2) The speakers are all leaders in their fields, some of which are obscure, such as mammalian penile structure or shame research.
3) The talks rarely run more than 20 minutes and some are as short as five minutes.
4) The “thinkers” are such excellent public speakers that these really are performances as opposed to speeches.
5) There is probably a TED talk on any single subject you can think of, from porn to metaphysics.
These soundbites aren’t the fast food crap that media is feeding you, these are fascinating topics that get you thinking in a new way and can inspire new action in your life. There is often a call to action within these talks. Most often, my favourite TED speakers have introduced me to their websites or books so that I can gain further knowledge in their area of expertise. Each teacher has inevitably led me to other teachers. A TED talk is really a snapshot introduction to a new idea that you can either take or leave without too much investment. You don’t have to buy a book, commit to a weekend retreat, or sign up for a class at your local university. The mission of the non-profit foundation, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is : “we believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.” Since 1984 the organization has been building a “clearinghouse of free knowledge” in “more than 100 languages”.
Here is why you too should watch TED talks regularly:
1) You will become a better conversationalist.
2) You will start engaging your brain again like you did in school, but with topics that you find interesting.
3) You might be introduced to a new career or hobby.
4) You can share inspiring talks with your friends and family thus spreading out ripples of learning and excitement for life.
5) Your world-view will get expanded.
6) You will find new heroes or teachers for your life.
So, tomorrow during your commute, while you are sipping that first cup of coffee, or when you go for a walk, launch TED, do a search, and listen to a talk. I am willing to bet if you have a curious nature you will get hooked. Maybe you will be inspired to form a next generation “book club” in your community and gather a group together to watch and discuss talks on a specific topic. I used to love watching TED talks with my girlfriend and then discussing it and sharing our unique experiences and perspectives on that topic.
My top ten TED talks:
Jane McGonigal – The Game that can give you 10 extra years of life.
Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are.
Shawn Achor – The happy secret to better work.
Amy Webb – How I hacked online dating.
Brene Brown – The power of vulnerability.
Brene Brown – Listening to shame.
Esther Perel – The secret to desire in a long-term relationship.
Helen Fisher – Why we love, why we cheat.
Helen Fisher – The brain in love.
Kelly McGonigal – How to make stress your friend.
I think the emerging theme of my favorite talks is pretty clear. I largely focussed on talks about happiness, love, and relationships, because that was where I was struggling in my life. Which is why I say these talks saved my life. The talks noted above drastically expanded my limited knowledge of how to cultivate peace and happiness, gave clues as to what dynamics were at play for me within my relationships, and helped me understand how the brain is impacted by various chemical reactions during love and lust. I watched these talks during a time when I was suffering my losses, drowning in grief and questions, and struggling through a hopeless period. Those talks gave me hope that I could change my behavior, and thus change my reality and my future.
TED talks specifically for men:
Tony Porter – A call to men.
Colin Stokes – How movies teach manhood.
Cindy Gallop – Make love, not porn.
Ran Gavrieli – Why I stopped watching porn.
Guy Winch – Why we all need to practise emotional first aid.
Diane Kelly – What we didn’t know about penis anatomy.
Jackson Katz – Violence again women – it’s a men’s issue
Adam Garone – Healthier men, one moustache at a time
Sam Martin – Claim your “manspace”
Alberto Cairo – There are no scraps of men
TED speakers have become my Rockstars. Attending a TED conference, with a price tag currently sitting at $8,500 US, has made it onto my bucket list. No longer are the Seahawks front-row 50-yard-line tickets a priority for me; the many speakers who will cross the stage over a three day conference are the people that would cause me to get all giggly and shy, knees wobbling, and voice cracking. Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert or Brene Brown would bring out that same reaction in me now. Okay, I might still blush and get tongue-tied if I met Dave Grohl, but there aren’t too many “famous people” by pop-culture standards that I care to meet. I want to meet the type of people who get nominated and sought out by the organizers of TED conferences.
Yes, you read that correctly, and not only do the speakers need to be nominated to be considered conference headliners, you, as a wannabe attendee, must apply and be approved to purchase tickets to a TED conference. Not every yahoo that can afford that price tag will get a ticket. According to their website, the organizers want the audience members to be of the same ilk and calibre as the speakers; “We … actively seek out leading thinkers and doers across a wide range of fields.” Why would such a high bar be placed on audience members you might ask?
Last year during the main conference in Vancouver, BC, I drove an hour from home to find a University that was live-streaming the chats, because even though I live near Vancouver, I had no faith that I would get within a block of the venue given the people that were in town for this conference. I watched Bill and Melinda Gates discuss their foundation during a question and answer period. I watched Elizabeth Gilbert talk about creative genius. After one talk, given by the winner of that years TED prize of one million dollars, there was a discussion involving the audience which you don’t see when you watch the talk, and I witnessed an audience member pledge one million dollars to the speaker’s NGO. The attendees have the resources to change the world that you and I might not have, but we can get onboard and support these “thinkers and doers” by educating ourselves and supporting their efforts.
TED has expanded its conferences to now include TED Global, TED Women, TED Youth, TED Active, and TEDx, the attainable version of a TED conference. In essence, a TEDx event is a small scale, local event that is usually free, that centers around the live streaming of the TED conference, and may or may not have live speakers or performers on site. There was recently a Facebook posting in my small community that someone has applied for a TEDx licence and was looking for organizers to help get a TEDx up and running. These events happen in communities all over the world, so if you have an interest in what a TED conference is actually like, look for a local TEDx event, or apply to host your own.
Do these incredible speakers leave me feeling inadequate? That question, posed to me by a fellow writer when I sought feedback on my idea for this article, is complicated. By and large, TED talks and TED speakers inspire me. Sometimes I feel a bit defeated by the late start I am getting in life due to my previous choices. If I find myself feeling inadequate or down because I have no notation on my resume that I have been a speaker at a TED conference, I can remind myself that neither has Oprah Winfrey. Overall, these speakers encourage me to think differently, dare greatly, dream bigger, be more conscious of my world and my wake in it, and aspire to leadership on a global scale.
These speakers inspire me that one day, I too might have an original idea that is interesting and thought provoking enough that I will be invited to speak at a TED event, even if it is “just” a local TEDx event. We are all gifted in our own way, each of us has a calling and a purpose. Each of us, at some point in our lives, will become an expert on something.
So, how on earth can an essentially unemployed blogger from a small farming community in a vast and sparsely populated land provide global leadership? Simply by spreading the message of TED I believe. I think that by watching the talks and bettering myself, and sharing these talks with my sphere of influence, I am bettering my world. Today, in our global social media community, I do have global influence. I have readers to my blog from all over the world and I regularly include TED talks in my articles. I have Facebook friends from the Philippines and Indonesia that will see the talks I share. I have Twitter followers in Jamaica, the United States, England and Australia. I bet you also have global reach if you think about your social media contacts. Our access to the global community from our computer monitor and keyboard has reached unprecedented heights in history.
I ask you to please share your favorite TED talk in the comment box and let us all experience your inspiration for a better world. This is not an original idea, but for today, the “idea worth spreading” I want to share with you is that you are a leader on a global scale by what you put out into your sphere of influence via social media. Make your mark a positive one.
Photo: Flickr/ Steve Jurvetson