A while back this year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at TEDxFukuoka. It was an amazing experience. I was a Japanese/English translator and I was a speaker assistant, on duty making sure the speakers had everything they needed. I have loved TED talks since college, and any time our professor used on in class was the highlight of my week.
For me, TED talks are similar to books in that they open my mind to new ideas, expose me to people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and remind me that I’m not alone. Books have always done that for me, but TED does it in a 20 minute audio visual way that allows me to acquire a nugget of knowledge for free without a lot of extraneous time. I’m sure everyone’s heard of TED by now, but just in case you haven’t seen some of my favorites, here’s a few to broaden your horizons.
Jane McGonigal – Gaming can make a better world
I first watched Jane’s TED talk in college, and it inspired me to read her book Reality is Broken. I then went on to use the idea that gaming is useful and helpful rather than destructive by writing the paper for my ethnography class on gaming and the gaming community at my university. Being a woman and a game designer is so inspirational to me, as a girl who grew up loving games. Her talk bleeds into the education realm, which is where my real passion lies, so I love to tell everyone I can about her work.
This is another talk by Jane that is really interesting, mostly about social interaction and stress relief, two things I think about a lot.
Sir Ken Robinson – How schools kill creativity
Our school systems need to change. They are not the best they can be and they aren’t doing the best they can and should, and no one explains it better than Sir Ken Robinson.
– Bonus: Changing education paradigms
This is a clip we watched in my education class in college and it really motivated me to think about the way I think about education.
Benjamin Zander – The transformative power of classical music
This talk made me cry. I really love music, and it influences so many of the decisions I make during the day. I feel lost on the train into the city without my ipod, and the musical choices I have made in my life have brought me some of the closest friends I have today. I took piano lessons for a year when I was about 8, so I can really relate to the beginning of his talk. Music connects us all no matter what culture we’re from or what language we speak, and I really want to appreciate classical music more after watching this talk.
Andrew Solomon – Love, no matter what
This talk will pull at your heartstrings. While I know I won’t be a parent for at least a few good, long years, I really love thinking about how I will raise them and give them the best environment for growth and love. Andrew Solomon devoted his life’s work to talking with parents of children who the world might look at differently, and his conclusion is beautiful.
Alain de Botton – A kinder, gentler philosophy of success
Success in our society is seen in one way, and we often become envious of certain people who have a certain kind of success. As a young expat, I struggle with the meaning of success and I daily face the challenge of finding meaning in all the fragments of my life. I really love this talk and the message Alain has for all of us.
Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are
I still think about this talk any time I am at school and I need a boost of energy and confidence. I strike a pose and remind myself that two minutes can propel me into a better outlook on the rest of my day. As a theatre nerd, I highly recommend thinking about the way you carry yourself and your mannerisms. The way you present yourself to the world shapes how others see you, so be mindful of that as you go about your day, and use Amy’s tips to guide you.
I’d also like to mention a few articles by Amy S. Choi that are featured on TED. Though not traditional talks, these pieces are inspiring and informative, and they really helped me reevaluate the way I think about certain things. Check those out here.
I’m a huge TED fan, and I will continue to gain inspiration, wisdom, and empathy from them. There are so many more talks out there, so go discover some for yourself. Let me know a few of your favorite talks in the comments!