The Story’s the Thing: Emily’s Favorite Ted Talks

Ted. The name of a Marky Mark movie, a president, a rockin’ DC restaurant, a pro baseball player, and (ironically) my boyfriend. While all of these people and things are notable in their own right, I want to recommend another Ted, one where listening, watching, believing, and understanding stories have become an internet phenomenon. If you haven’t already watched our own Andrew Slack’s hilarious, adventurous talk (here!), you should click on over and watch that first. For this week’s Story’s the Thing, I wanted to share some stories and ideas that have hit me like a bludger and knocked me on a whole different, better, Quidditch field.

My relationship with Ted started three years ago. My new boss was unlike any I’ve ever had – she was strict and quick as a cat, yet always taking the time to check in with me. One morning, she was laughing while intensely watching something online. She asked me if I had ever seen a Ted talk – no, I replied. She said, “take 20 minutes right now and watch this. Ted believes that 20 minutes is max amount of time that a person can focus continually. Let’s see if that’s true for you.” What did I watch? One of the most popular Ted talks: how one woman became connected to the world through a Stroke of Insight. Undoubtabley, Jill Taylor is a fantastic speaker – she brought in a brain for Pettigrew’s sake!- and she makes science so accessible. But, her story is one that should be shared, and liked, and shared again.

Ted resurfaced in my life when a new, vibrant coworker from Texas asked me to tell her a story about love. I ended up telling her a story about my long distance relationship while I was abroad, how lonely it was to be in a new place, and how many events I missed in his life. She asked me to tell her about the person I had been most connected to and I told her about my best friend who was becoming distant from me thanks to a horrible break up with her boyfriend of 6 years that had thrown her into a deep depression. Then, she had me watch this talk. It is like Brene Brown befriended my best friend, holed up in her brain, and spoke specifically for her. She talks about the need for embracing vulnerability, how shame in makes us feel unworthy (of love, relationships, or raises), and the way courageous people become whole hearted.

In light of International Women’s Day, it would be fitting to watch Colin Stoke’s video on How Movies Teach Manhood. Has anyone seen Brave? Merida wrocks, right? Talk about a spitfire, funny, Scottish (!!) princess who wants her freedom from marriage so much so she turns her mum into a bear. Well, that is an extreme action, but Merida and her mother are two special women – they are female main characters in a non-war movie. Brave is one of the only children’s movies to pass the Bechdel test, a movie that has two women with lines that talk to each other about something other than men. Sounds easy right? Nope. Hard. And this guy tells us why, despite the magically fantastic worlds that characterize children’s movies.

Poetry has always plagued me – I can never seem to pull myself away from the thousands of novels and (some) short stories on my lifelong reading list in order to read poetry. However, Sarah Kay astounded me. She is emotional, influential, and strong. She uses spoken word poetry to express herself (to be vulnerable) and make sense of the world. Listen to the first minute, if anything, and be ready to be floored.
There are other Ted talks that are worth mentioning – Ken Robinson’s “How Schools Kill Creativity”, Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Your Elusive Genius“, and Colin Powell’s “Kids Need Structure” are others that have so much inspiring, candid, and different thoughts which could change the way we see ourselves and our society. While some of my suggestions may no be everyone’s cup of tea, Ted itself is an awesome creation. It truly shows the power of the internet, the meeting of technology and people, and the powerful way stories can touch our lives.

Do you have a favorite Ted talk?

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  1. Camille

    March 14, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Sarah Kay’s “If I Should Have A Daughter…” has fantastic spoken word, and Sir Ken Robinson’s “Why Schools Kill Creativity” is really interesting. A short yet sweet one by Derek Sivers is about about leadership called “The First Follower.”And let’s not forget Andrew Slack’s 2 TED talks! :)

    There are oodles more, but those are my favourites! I love TED talks!

    • Camille

      March 14, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Whoops, didn’t see you already had Robinson’s.

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