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TED Talks to Make You Think

TED Talks to Make You Think

March 11, 2021 | By Stacey Mason

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I’m a BIG fan of TED Talks. Thousands of 18 minutes (or less) talks are archived and available for viewing on the ted.com website.

Or if you’re so inclined, you could attend any number of their conferences held around the globe. What began as a one-off event in 1984 has blossomed into a platform that truly brings to life its tagline: Ideas worth spreading.

These talks are courageous and ingenious, harrowing and humorous. They are given by scholars and comedians, and by seasoned authors and the seemingly anonymous. These serve to educate, challenge, surprise, intrigue and infuriate – sometimes all at the same time. Mostly though they make you think about a lot of things you might not have been thinking about before.

Here are a few of my all-time favorites.

Do schools kill creativity? (Sir Ken Robinson). A passionate call to action to change the way we are educating our children, to rethink our school systems and to cultivate creativity by acknowledging multiple types of intelligence.

The power of introverts (Susan Cain). While our world may prize extroverts, this talk makes a compelling case for the quiet and contemplative.

Your elusive creative genius (Elizabeth Gilbert). A moving talk offering up the possibility that instead of the rare person being a genius, all of us have a genius.

Why some of us don’t have one true calling (Emilie Wapnick). An illuminating look at “multipotentialites” – those who have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime.

How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are (Andrew Solomon). Moving and heartfelt with a closing thought we would all do well to embrace: “Forge meaning, build identity and then invite the world to share your joy.”

The paradox of choice (Barry Schwartz). “Choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.” Perhaps too much of a good thing really is too much.

How to tie your shoes (Terry Moore). Yes, there is a wrong way and a right way!

Every kid needs a champion (Rita F. Pierson). Because we’ve all had “that teacher” – the one that made all the difference.

How I learned to communicate my inner life with Asperger’s (Alix Generous). The best Waffle House joke ever is in this talk. Understanding autism is a conversation we should all be having.

What does the future hold – 11 characters offer quirky answers (Sarah Jones). Slipping in and out of characters showcases improvisation skills at their finest.

The happy secret to better work (Shawn Achor). The positive psychology movement is alive and well, and happiness is the main conversation. “Your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stress.” Happiness is an advantage.

This is what happens when you reply to spam email (James Veitch). Laugh out loud funny! A tale of scamming the scammers.

Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast (Tom Wujec). An easy to adopt exercise in systems thinking. It’s all about collaborative visualization. And sticky-notes. Lots of sticky-notes.

I think we all need a pep talk (Kid President). This talk will warm your heart, recharge your batteries and leave you with a big challenge: What are you going to create to make the world awesome?

As I said, I’m a big fan of TED Talks. So much so that attending a global TED conference has earned a spot on my bucket list. I’m imagining an audience of rapt listeners rapturously taking notes on the next wave of ideas worth spreading.

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Matt WallerFounder of The Improv Lab, Stacey Mason has immersed herself in the field of Applied Improvisation for the last decade after co-founding several comedy improv troupes and training with various actor-teams including Second City in Chicago. Her corporate background includes nearly 20 years at Walmart in Logistics, Global Supply Chain and Merchandising/Replenishment before shifting towards culture coaching, stewarding the Walton Institute, Walmart’s flagship culture program. She partners with Walton College Executive Education on innovation programs and other initiatives