TED is an inter-connected web of inspirational speakers and progressive thinking people that got together to fund conferences and events for outreach into communities. Where people that are on the fringe of the progress in their community are shared with the world and also, in some cases, funded.
What TED stands for is actually an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Started in the heart of Silicon Valley in the mid 80’s and starting in 1990 as a yearly conference with the slogan of “Ideas Worth Spreading”. And it did spread. For the last 20 years, it’s the pinnacle conference to be asked to in sharing ones’ idea with the world. Some of the most inspirational speeches I’ve ever heard were through TED. Here is a list of my top 5 and why.
Benjamin Zander’s: The Transformative Power of Classical Music
“The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.”
Benjamin Zander is the conductor for the Boston Philharmonic orchestra and a fantastic motivational speaker on leadership. This single talk is motivation for me to live my life on a single, thought-out impulse, driving me to do the things I want to do while I can so I don’t have huge impulses to do these things later in life when I know it’s not smart or plausible. To lead people that I have the privilege of leading with the same undoubted trust that this man has. To be kind and happy throughout life with a sense of joy in daily life.
“It’s one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize whatever he’s dreaming.”
Dan Barber’s: How I Fell In Love With A Fish
“For the past 50 years, we’ve been fishing the seas like we clear-cut forests. It’s hard to overstate the destruction. Ninety percent of large fish, the ones we love — the tunas, the halibuts, the salmons, swordfish — they’ve collapsed.”
Dan Barber is the Head Chef and co-owner at New York’s Blue Hill Restaurant of the Stone Barn Farm. His restaurant is an ecological master piece, basically married to agriculture and the earth. Oh, by the way, it’s a three-Michelin-star-worthy restaurant, as reviewed by some of the top critics in New York. Even the president and his wife have went out of their way to eat here. His speech is about sustainability and the relationships a human needs to tend to in the wild to create sufficient, extensive growth of wild game and fish we all take for granted. It’s incredibly thorough and eye-opening. Needless to say, I’d drop everything in my life to go work at his restaurants if I got the opportunity. To add to all that I’ve already said, he’s also named one of the world’s most influential people in Time’s annual “Time 100” list.
“It takes fifteen pounds of wild fish to get you one pound of farm tuna. Not very sustainable. It doesn’t taste very good either.”
Rita Pierson’s: Every Kid Needs A Champion
“Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”
“I gave [my students] a saying to say: ‘I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I’ll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here.’”
Have you ever had a teacher that you knew actually cared about you and your education? Was so passionate about a subject that it emanated through the entire room, spilling into other classrooms? Even the kids that hated that specific teacher didn’t actually hate them, but hated that they liked them so much? I have. And Rita Pierson embodies every single one of them. She explains that kids thrive through relationships with other people in school and that teachers need to see these students as someone they actually care for. Her quote “You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” is incredibly striking to me. I remember a few select teachers that thought of their students as just marks on an attendance sheet and very few kids liked them. All through high school my english teacher thought this same exact way and I literally flunked every single class of hers. My very last semester, however, I switched to a different teacher. Mrs. Arango was the only english class I ever passed because I knew she cared about what she taught. She got her students excited about the subject to the point where failing kids could actually thrive in her environment. I wish I had her my whole high school experience. Anyway, As Rita Pierson is the champion to these unsung heroes, I learned to connect with people I’m training at a job, a friend that asks my help with something that I know how to do, and even when I try to teach my 4 year old (or is he 5? hmm…) nephew about anything and everything.
“A colleague said to me one time, ‘They don’t pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson.’ … I said to her, ‘You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’”
“A student asked me… ‘What do you eat?’ ‘One of my favorite dishes on a expedition, butter and bacon. It’s about a million calories.'”
Ray Zahab is a 40 year old extreme runner from Canada that lives his life on the edge, trekking across the most desolate, dry landscapes on earth. He holds the record for the fastest time to the South Pole on the ground, shaving off 5 days of the previous record. He also holds the record of the only person to ever trek to the south pole completely on foot. The reason I find this talk so great is not only because I’ll be in Antarctica in October but because him and his two partners blogged live through the internet so kids could follow their journey. Two years before this, he crossed the entire Sahara Desert just to prove to people that it’s possible if you set your mind to it. He inspired kids all over Canada to dream the impossible. I firmly believe that people pushing the imagination of other people are one of the reasons anyone becomes great. He’s an inspiration to thousands. By the way, 5 years ago he was an avid smoker and sedentary person. This makes me believe anyone can make a change, turning their life around for the better while inspiring others to reach for the stars.
“The punch line to your journey? Look at the horizon. Yesss!!! It’s uphill the entire way because the south pole’s at 10,000 feet and you’re starting at sea level.”
Dennis vanEngelsdorp’s: A Plea For Bees
“Pollinators are canaries in the coal mine,” and their disappearance is a referendum on the state of our environment — a reminder of the brilliant and frightening interdependence of our ecosystem.”
Dennis is Acting State Apiarist for Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture (basically the bee guy). Studying colony collapse disorder, he’s trying to bring to light the alarming disappearance of worker bees and Western honey bees. As anyone knows me can probably attest, I’ve always had a fascination with the bee. Ever since I worked at Lagoon (an amusement park in Utah) as a manager, I often had to do jobs the other employees didn’t want to do. For instance, in fall when the bees come out to play, our many large soda dispenser machines would usually be gummed up by sugars from built up residue throughout the year. When this happens, bees from all over come in droves to collect this sweet residue, effectively swarming the machines in the middle of parties when guests need a cold beverage in the hot Utah summer. We tried everything to keep them at bay or to at least contain them. My bosses even went to the extremes of calling bee keepers but they never could track down the nests. As 14 and 15 year old employees that we usually employed to do this job refused, the job usually landed on me, happily might I add. So, as I stood in the middle of millions of bees all around me dispensing drinks for the masses, I learned a deep appreciation for these creatures. I even learned that bees can even be held and petted if you didn’t kill any of them, undoubtably bring the entire swarm down on you. It’s a beautiful experience being able to be in the middle of such activity dozens and dozens of times with the reassurance that if I was smart and slow in my movements, the bees would be completely fine with my presence. Dennis vanEngelsdorp is bringing to everyones attention that if we noticed 1 out of every 3 cows were dying from persistent disease, the US National Guard would intervene but while a third of the bees population are dying out, nobody seems to be doing much of anything. Since bees pollinate more than a third of the world’s food supply and 1 out of three bites we ever eat is directly or indirectly pollinated from bees, I’d say we owe it to them to figure out a way of helping cure them and stop poisoning them.
“It’s said that for bees, the flower is the fountain of life, and for flowers bees are the messengers of love.”
If you have any other videos that you think I would like, let me know. I really enjoy these talks and I hope you do, too 🙂 Also, it looks like I’ll be coming home for a week sometime between the end of April and the start of May to do the physical qualifications for Antarctica. If you want to see me, let me know since that week is already going to be jammed full.