The first five days of the TED Talks 30 Day Challenge are DONE! In today’s post, I will cover what I have learned so far and announce the next 7 talks on my list. Thanks to everyone who made a suggestion for a MUST SEE TED Talk. Special thanks to Susan Solomon, Magdalena Fitzsimmons, Jane Gorman, Kimberly Moore Jackson, Alicia Richwine, Ben Lacina, Christie Tate Ray, Linda Zillig, Joanne Sackett, Ruth Lyons, Sylvan Taylor, and Krissy Venosdale whose recommendations made the list for this week. I will be going back through the list to pull more next week, but I would love even more recommendations.
The First Five
Try something new for 30 days — Matt Cutts
The case for curiosity-driven research — Suzie Sheehy
The first secret of design is … noticing — Tony Fadell
Your kids might live on Mars. Here’s how they’ll survive — Stephen Petranek
Designing for simplicity — John Maeda
What I Have Learned So Far
1. Be more like a kid.
Thinking like a kid was a common thread in this first set of TED Talks. Stephen Petranek talked about how it is part of our DNA to be explorers and that kids are natural explorers and they will be the ones to live on Mars. Tony Fadell suggested that we often becomes victims of habituation and do not notice the things that are happening around us. To fight this Fadell advises us to THINK YOUNGER because sometimes kids questions are really smart. We need to think and work with young minds and strive to stay a beginner. Suzie Sheehy emphasizes the importance of staying curious and proclaims that if we only created things out of a need rather than curiosity, then we may never achieve new innovations.
2. Never underestimate the power of a quotation.
To summarize his point about the importance of thinking younger, Tony Fadell cites the Pablo Picasso quote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Likewise, in her talk on the practical uses of cathode rays, Suzie Sheehy uses the Jonathan Swift quote, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”
3. Being a beginner is a good thing.
Matt Cutts talks about how doing small things can lead to big things over time and that you can do ANYTHING for 30 days. Tony Fadell repeatedly emphasizes that being a beginner requires you to consciously think about what you are doing rather than to simply do things automatically. Being a beginner allows us to see the world the way it really is rather than what we think it is.
4. Strive for simplicity.
John Maeda’s talk on Designing for simplicity really provided a good synthesis for this first chapter. That we should work to refine everything to its essence and avoid the distraction of excess. I think that this is what I may like best about TED Talks. They try to strip away the excess of an hour long lecture and challenge the speaker to get to the core of meaning. Rather than simply rush through his 10 Laws of Simplicity, he refers the audience to his website and book. As soon I was done watching, the first thing that I did was to read more of what he had to say.
5. Some presentation tips.
Let’s just say that there was a range of speakers. All of them made good use of visuals or even props. Props are fun. It was far more interesting seeing a cathode ray than to just see a picture. Think about ways that small props like an apple with a sticker in Tony Fadell’s talk can better make a point. On the downside, while I was really interested to learn more about how we might live on Mars, the presentation was read from pages of notes. If I was not highly interested in the topic, I probably would have given up on this one. Less movement is better. I really liked hearing John Maeda speak, but he was pacing back and forth the whole time. He had a multitude of great visual images, but the crux of the pacing issue was that he could only see his slides by turning around and looking at the screen behind him. Having a monitor in front of you makes a big difference.
After reviewing the recommendations made online, I first tried to select things that were suggested by multiple people. From there, I chose two additional talks that seemed to provide a nice rounding out for the week. I will be back next Tuesday with a review and with the next 7 TED Talks.