We are almost half way there. In this week's update, I will cover the big ideas that I gleaned from last week's seven TED Talks and announce the next seven. Special thanks to Cindy Sheets, Elaine Haukdel Chesebro, Krissy Venosdale, Lena Deskins, Susan Daniels, and Suzanne Dixon for their recommendations. I am still looking for more ideas of MUST WATCH TED Talks. Please share your ideas with me.
Days 6 - 12
Here are the videos from last week:
Why some of us don’t have one true calling — Emilie Wapnick
The power of vulnerability — Brené Brown
The danger of a single story — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Why you should make useless things — Simone Giertz
The myth of average — Todd Rose
The decline of play — Peter Gray
What adults can learn from kids — Adora Svitak
What I Learned
1. Story Is Essential
Throughout each of the talks this week, the power of story was central. Well, maybe that is just what a good TED Talk or speech is and each and everyone of us has a story to tell. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie powerfully warns of the danger of telling a single story. When we hear only one side or one perspective then our knowledge and understanding are limited. Instead, we need to hear a variety of stories from varied voices and backgrounds. When we only get one side, we think only one thing is possible and we limit our world view. Meanwhile, Brené Brown starts out by identifying as a researcher story teller because an event organizer did not want to advertise her as a researcher because she was afraid that no one would come. Far too often this is the case. We have to realize that there is always a story to tell. We need to search within ourselves or even our data and let that story be told for the world.
2. The Power of Play
Peter Gray and Simone Giertz all emphasize the importance of the importance of play. Peter Gray focused the physical aspects of play. I found it quite sad that today what we call play for kids is often just recreational sports organized and managed by adults. Instead, Gray defined play as something that is self controlled and self directed. He also pointed out that in the 1950s that school was not nearly the big deal that it is today. Simone Giertz employs physical machines that are absurd in their creation. In many ways they echo some of the creations from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. It is through her play and engineering that she essentially built a job for herself as a consultant and YouTube artist. Instead of trying to succeed, she set out to build things that she hoped would fail.
3. Do We Really Have To Grow Up?
Certainly, Simone Giertz's useless machines are a good example of childlike wonder. But an actual kid, Adora Svitak discussed how kids should be inspiring and teaching adults. As adults, we do a pretty good job of messing up the world. Adora suggests that we look around and realize that none of this is the fault of kids. Instead, “Kids still dream about perfection. And that’s a good thing. In order to make anything a reality, you have to dream about it first.” Kids don't think about their limitations. Emilie Wapnick talked about how some of us don't have one true calling, and that being a multipotentialite is not a bad thing. We ask kids from a very early age what they want to be when they grow up, but the idea that you have to pick one thing and do it for the rest of your life causes anxiety and panic to those who are easily bored by doing the same thing over and over again. While there is a need for specialists in the world, not everyone need to be one. Instead, the multipotentialites have the superpowers of idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptability and are a critical part of a successful team.
4. One Size Does Not Fit All
As we learned of the danger of a single story and that there are multiple ways in approaching a problem, Todd Rose tells the story of the myth of average. His explanation of the evolution of cockpits in fighter jets reminded me very much of the segment from the documentary Objectified discussing how OXO designs their kitchen utensils. In order to be a useful product, you can not design for the average person because they do not exist. Instead, you must design for the two ends of the Bell Curve. I used to speak about this idea and after this talk I will be coming and revisiting it.
5. Some Presentation Tips
Like last week, there was a range of speakers this week. One thing that really stood out to me was the speed of delivery. I found the Todd Rose talk to be very slow. So, much so that I increased the speed of the playback video to make me feel more comfortable. On the other hand, I really wanted to slow down Adora Svitak's speech. The ones that I enjoyed the most this week were really more conversational in their style. Peter Gray's use of Comic Sans really bothered me. I guess he was trying to make it seem playful, but his slides were often overrun with multiple images and hard to look at. Emilie Wapnick had a limited number slides that were mostly words that served to help her emphasize her points. The best slide design of the week goes to Todd Rose. He makes effective use of images that help you to clearly see the points that he is making. My take away for this set of TED Talks is that it takes a combination of factors to make a good speech.
I went back through the recommendations that I received and tried to come up with a balance of talks. Let's see how the next seven TED Talks fare. Again, I am still looking for more recommendations. So, suggest away!