Jan 032013


Why You Need To Know About TED — Inspiration And Ideas

If you are looking for inspiration and ideas, I strongly suggest that you check out TED.  Technology, Education and Design, for which TED is the acronym, is a series of conferences and talks that cover a wide range of subjects.  Most importantly though, at this time, TED’s website, www.TED.com offers over 1,000 such talks, usually less than 20 minutes each, for free.  It’s a truly amazing resource!  Their tagline is “Ideas worth spreading”; I couldn’t agree more.

Here are a few of my favorite talks on TED.com, the variety of which gives you a good idea of the range of topics covered on TED.  The site contains ideas and inspiration for you, regardless of your interests.

1.)   Steve Jobs:  How To Live Before You Die

This talk was filmed at Stanford University in June, 2005.  Steve Jobs gave the commencement speech shortly after he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  At that time, he had received treatment and the cancer was in remission and Steve Jobs provided his words of wisdom to the students, many of whom probably had a difficult time digesting his message.  It was very insightful, but perhaps a bit dark and difficult for younger people to appreciate and digest.  He made several great points, but the one that stuck with me most was about asking himself the question whether, if today were the last day of his life, he’d want to do what he was about to do.  If the answer came up “no” too many days in a row, he knew it was time to make a change.  Great insights from a true legend of the entrepreneurial world.

2.)   Susan Cain:  The Power Of Introverts

Ms. Cain’s talk is humorous and insightful.  She makes a good argument about the importance of introverts in our society, which she convincingly contends is geared toward viewing extroverts as “successful”.  I recommended this talk to my daughter who confronts many of the same issues Ms. Cain seems to have faced and continues to overcome to this day.  She points out that you’re not either an introvert or an extrovert – it’s not binary.  Rather, you fall somewhere along a continuum from completely extroverted to completely introverted.  Those who are equal part introvert and extrovert she refers to as ambiverts, a label that strikes me as funny, but apt.  I think this talk should be required viewing for all educators.  Let me know if you agree.

3.)   Elizabeth Gilbert:  Your Elusive Creative Genius

I found this talk fascinating.  As a heavily left-brain, analytical thinker, I’m always searching for ways to use my right-brain more and be more creative.  It’s an uphill battle at times, but this talk was an inspiration.  In particular, I found it very interesting how, in ancient Greece and Rome, they did not believe that creativity came from humans; they believed it came from a divine spirit.  It was in the Renaissance that humans were put at the “center of the universe” (figuratively speaking), so it was then acceptable to attribute creativity to humans, rather than to some divine spirit.  This led to some ego inflation, of course, but it also had the effect of putting serious pressure on creative types, as they could no longer blame a lack of creativity on some mystical spirit.  It was a double-edged sword, quite literally in some cases – humans could take the credit for creativity, but they also had to withstand the blame and punishment if creative genius was nowhere to be found.  Ms. Gilbert tells a few stories that make quite palpable some of the challenges of the post-Renaissance concept of creative genius.

This is just a small sample of the ideas and inspiration that await you on TED.com.  Don’t take my word for it – check it out!  Let me know what you find.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin



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