Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some Talks and Speeches

Dear All,

Here the links to the clips I showed you the other day - as well as some more that I find really interesting. Please watch these talks, speeches, and performances and let yourself be inspired by them.

Please also comment on some of these talks and/or performance - or other talks and/or performances that you find particularly good. If you choose other talks or performances, please add the relevant links.

Thank you,


Here my little list. Please note some of the talks/performances (9 to 12) are given by kids and teens!

1) Elizabeth Gilbert, "Creative Genius":

2) Chimamanda Adichie, "The Danger of a Single Story":

3) Thelma Golden, "How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change":

4) Robert Gupta, "Between Music and Medicine":

5) John Bohannon, "Dance vs. Powerpoint - a Modest Proposal":

6) John Maeda, "How Art, Technology, and Design Inform Creative Leaders":

7) Joseph Lekuton, "A Parable for Kenya":

8) Sugata Mitra, "How Kids Teach Themselves":

9) Adora Svitak, "What Adults Can Learn from Kids":

10) Zoya Jiwa, "Simply You":

11) Sarah Kay, "If I Should Have a Daughter":

12) Francis Arevalo, "Speak! (Poetry form the Heart)":


  1. One video I discovered recently conveys a deep message that has stuck with me these last few days. It is entitled: "The best gift I ever survived". This talk is performed by Stacey Kramer. The basic message of looking at things a little more positively is conveyed through sharing with the audience the trauma and frustration she went through after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
    Personally, I too believe that this world could be a happier place if everybody looked at life with a little bit more optimism and less negativity. I am a strong believer in the saying "Everything happens for a reason". Life is never perfect, and one will never achieve happiness and perfection all day everyday, but as Marilyn Monroe once said: "...People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
    Finally, here is the link to Stacey Kramer's performance:

  2. Amy Cuddy's TED talk about body language was one that stood out to me. She speaks about how one can "fake it 'til you make it" by using one's body language. Her research found that your body can shape the mind, proven by the sucess people who posed in "power poses" before their job interviews.

    Cuddy's talk also integrates her personal life story, which I found very moving and emotional. Amy was once a very intelligent student, but she had suffered a car accident that caused her IQ to go down immensely. This didn't stop her from graduating from university, but in the process she felt like she "didn't belong" because she took four years longer than everyone else. The moral of her story is that you can "fake it 'til you make it," and in fact, you can "fake it 'til you become it," like Cuddy has done in her life.

    Consequently, this talk has convinced me I can fake it until I make it, and I decided I would fake it, and make myself feel like I belong in situations where I feel inferior. Amy Cuddy's level of emotion and depth in this talk really sets it beyond any other I've seen.

    Here is the link to this talk, I hope you enjoy:

  3. I started out by watching Sugata Mitra's talk, "How Kids Teach Themselves"; and to be honest, I couldn't get through it. Something about that talk, just didn't intrigue me, didn't excite me, and didn't want me to watch or listen to more of it. Probably 3 or 4 minutes into the video, I stopped watching. Although, this doesn't necessarily mean that he did a bad job, but perhaps the introduction or the "hook" wasn't something that I personally found interesting.

    So I moved onto a different talk. This one was by Sarah Kay, "If I should have a daughter". This one, really caught my attention. I was listening the whole time, and was watching every motion she made as she spoke her poetry. The whole time I was listening, I was reflecting about everything she said. But now that I think back, it was really not that relevant to my life; mostly because I don't believe I can write poems. The thing is, that is what amazed me the most about this talk. Even though I'm not a fan of poem writing, I was still engaged the entire time, because it felt personal, and even entertaining. That is what I think makes a good talk.

  4. Leadership -> Art – Design -> Technology
    It is interesting that he chooses to think in this way: in using art to help manage a company. Usually the word “art” gives people a sense of inefficiency and emotional thoughts. Artistic people usually do things by their imagination and emotions instead of numbers and rationality. In reality, numbers are usually the most effective and efficient way to communicate in business. Thus, the word “art” in business usually gives people a sense of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. However, no one ever thought of the positive side of art, which is the speaker’s definition: arts make people to ask questions. Asking questions do aid management to enter another stage of advancement. In my definition, science is about observing, creating hypothesis and finding relationships between variables. As a leader, he needs to observe his followers or workers to search for the dominant ones. The dominant ones are the ones who have the most and important connections with the others throughout the company as well other departments as well. Connections in the business world are professional or causal relationships between workers. For example, worker A has connection with worker B. The manager of worker A would like worker B to perform better. However, worker B might be embarrassed if the boss tells him directly. Thus, the boss would ask worker A to encourage worker B with his or her relationship with worker B. To search for them, these dominant workers, the manager has to use scientific ways, such as asking questions through different mediums, such as through survey or interviews. Then the manager can initiate an investigation about the dominant employees to verify if they are truly dominant in the companies. After filtering out the true workers, the leader can start having the true dominant workers to influence other workers within the firm, putting the dominant worker’s connections in use. Thus, the leader can then observe how the workforce is being influenced. This example has no arts involved, even though the question asking process is completely scientific. Thus, why must arts play such a big role in the speaker’s theory? Couldn't it just be “leaders -> science -> design -> technology”?

  5. Sarah Kay’s “If I Should Have a Daughter” drew me in for a few reasons. I’d only recently discovered the existence of spoken word poetry a few years ago, and had heard of Sarah Kay, so watching her perform her work and hearing what she had to say was interesting and engaging. I loved when she said “I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn’t sit on paper, that something about it demands to be heard out loud.” After watching her perform her poem, I feel like I better understand what she is saying in this statement- not only does spoken word more directly demands the attention of the audience, it utilizes the phonetics of the English language in a way that cannot possibly be captured on paper. In a sense, the voice of the poet is more evidently heard, as not only the words but also the emotion behind the words can be felt as the poet is speaking.
    I wouldn’t say that spoken word is superior to written poetry. I think there’s also something unique shared with the poet and the reader in the fact that every reader may interpret a poem differently- and yes, the same may happen with spoken word as well- but the connection between poet and interpreter is less direct. All in all, I think both forms should be valued as the expressive forms of art that they are; though I must say I think spoken word deserves to be more widespread as it is less well known.
    I admire and respect Sarah Kay and how she shares a very personal part of herself with the world. Two lines she spoke especially stood out to me:
    “But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air” and “I want her to know that this world is made of sugar/It can crumble so easily/But don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.”

    1. Hi Danielle, Sarah Kay's performance also inspired me in many perspectives. Unlike you, I have only heard of Sarah from the blog but I was immediately interested in finding out more about her work and Project V.O.I.C.E.

      Many phrases from her talk stood out to me but I specifically enjoyed, "Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him" and "I'll write a poem I can be proud to let sit in a museum exhibit as the only proof I existed."

      It makes me wonder what legacy I'll leave behind when I'm gone.

  6. "How Kids Teach Themselves"

    I found this to be a rather interesting topic. Possibly because I've heard something similar from my parents around the time we moved to Canada.

    When I was 8, on the flight from Korea to Canada, I asked my parents why we were moving to another country. They told me that we were moving so that my sister and I could receive a better education. They were referring to the fact that the Canadian education system is far more open than that of Korea, which they believed would allow our creativity to survive during our elementary, high school, and post secondary life.

    What Sir Ken Robinson discusses in this video is something similar. He talks about the hierarchy of subjects, where Mathematics and languages are at the top, and arts are at the bottom, ranked according to their relevance in the work force. From the perspective of an engineering student, being able to manipulate the variables in multiple equations and solve for the unknowns is far more important than being able to fly across the dance floor gracefully. However, solely focusing on mathematics or its physical applications can leave one extremely narrow minded, as one only needs to follow some sort of algorithm. And what good is a human being that does nothing but follow algorithm? We got machines for that.

    I believe what Sir Ken Robinson is trying to convey to us is simple. Stay Balanced. Of course we need math and physics, but we also need creativity that separates humans from machines as beings that can think.

    Since Sir Robinson criticized the education system quite a lot throughout the video, I feel the need to defend it just a little bit. Here’s a youtube video of a slam poem performed by Taylor Mali. Only if all teachers in the world had the same mentality as Mr. Mali…..

    Andrew Moon

  7. In Adora Svitak’s “What Adults Can Learn from Kids”, many important thoughts about the creativity and innovation of children are brought up. Nothing could be more convincing and powerful than a child themselves brining these important concepts to our attention. Adora discusses traits of kids that are often looked upon negatively, most importantly, that children are not hampered by concepts of what is possible and impossible. She argues that the people we most need in the world are the people who are not limited into thinking only of what is already possible, who can push possibilities and be the leaders of tomorrow. Ken Robinson in his talk on how “School Kills Creativity”, speaks about the innovative capacity of children and their ability to take chances. He also brings up a similar point to Adora’s that adults often squander the talent and creativity of children.

    Adora brings up her belief that learning between adults and students should be reciprocal. I think that children have a lot to offer us that should not be overlooked because of their age. They have the capacity to dream and imagine much more vividly and creatively than most adults do.

    Robinson also ties in education to the talk about student creativity and innovation, mentioning that the school system is too focused on subjects considered to be academic or intellectual such as mathematics and language arts. Robinson demands that we expand our definition of what skills are useful and important to include different talents as well. Howard Gardner, who is a developmental psychologist introduced the theory of multiple intelligences. This theory states that there is more than one type of intelligence that each individual possesses, and that less recognized intelligences should be valued. These intelligences include linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical, body/kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. I believe that this presents many implications of how our values need to change so that we can recognize what great talent we have here and now instead of wasting it by trying to shape students to our ideal. Ken Robinson agrees with this viewpoint and accordingly believes that creativity should be valued much more in schools.

    Robinson states that intelligence is diverse, dynamic, and distinct. By knowing this, we can all come to value the great contributions that children have to make, and ensure that their creativity, risk-taking, and imaginations are nurtured as they grow.

  8. To me, the talk that I found spoke the most to me was Elizabeth Gilbert's "the creative genius". At first I was completely ready for just another spiel about how these days everyone is entire focused on the academic and never takes time to indulge in any creative ventures, but what she went on to describe was entirely different. My attention was especially caught at her mention of ancient Greece and the belief of these "daemons", or creative spirits that were in fact the root of all imagination. This idea gripped me. The thought that you alone are not responsible for the ideas that come to you to me didn't only seem plausible, it one hundred and fifty percent made sense. Although I've never directly addressed this ulterior power directly, as Elizabeth has, I can completely imagine the relief that must have come from passing the blame off onto this invisible being. Her point of view on creativity was refreshing and thought-provoking. All i ever hear these days is that no-one indulges their creativity, so I really enjoyed hearing about the actual issued involved with being professionally creative. Next time I'm having imagination issues, I will definitely try addressing it directly.

  9. I was really inspired by Adora Svitak’s “What Adults Can Learn From Kids”. In Adora’s speech, she advised adults to keep imagination and dreams, trust children and learn from them and I completely agree with her viewpoint.

    Kids can sometimes be described as childish, largely due to the fact that they don't fully understand the situation. They also don't feel responsible and still rely on others to care for them. Another big factor is that as their brains are not fully developed they don't have the ability to completely grasp the consequences. Ironically, this is what adults could learn from them. For example, adults need to think more positively and laugh more because people say laughter is the best medicine. Kids laugh more compare to adults because adulthood makes us serious as life is tough and if you are not serious you will lose your focus and direction. But stop once in a while from what you are doing and just look your life, think about your past, analyze the good and the bad and let out a healthy laugh.

    Another thing that adults might learn from kids is stop being judgmental. We all aware the saying “don’t judge a book from its cover”, however, we as adults tend to judge others because of our insecurity. Kids on the other hand, they don’t judge others based on gender, religion, race and social status. Children are accepting and pure in their perception of humanity.

    There are plenty more things that adults could learn from kids, such as being fearless in the quest of your desires, learn to let go, always finish what you started as well as try to live a worry-free life. Children are pure in mind, body and spirit and Adora’s speech is truly a reflection of what we can learn from kids in the way how they embrace their lives.

  10. I enjoyed the way Chimamanda Adiche gave the presentation on “The Danger of a Single Story” that we watched in class. She started off by saying that she was a storyteller, and throughout the presentation we got to see evidence of that. The stories all connected with the theme and helped to get her point across in a more effective way.
    I think that “the danger of a single story” is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives, probably from both sides. Even Chimamanda Adiche gave examples of times that she had listened to only a single story. This shows that even someone who is conscious of the dangers can still get caught up in a “single story”. This is because believing a single story is easy. We are told one story, and unless we actively seek to find another side to that story, all we have is one side. Even if that story is true, it paints an incomplete picture and can lead us to forming false views of something or someone.
    Since throughout the speech, she had a specific focus on Africa and the views that people typically have of the continent, I liked that she ended by actually giving us a different story- many different stories. She told us of people she knew who were successful, who had dreams, and above all, were just like us. I think that it is always important to remember that wherever people come from, we are all human, and we need to think of and treat each other accordingly.

  11. I enjoyed all the talks listed here, however, none have inspired my as much as a talk given by the Kid President that I first watched a month ago. This “pep talk” made me want to make a change, to make the world awesome and to dance immediately, from the moment I first watched it to every time since. It is inspirational, honest and innocent. Who doesn’t want to make the world dance? Who doesn’t want to follow our dreams? A video like this reminds me of these questions, that I sometimes forget with the stress of life and university. However, hearing and watching a child talk about following your dream, reminding you to be awesome has a certain effect. He is so positive and inspirational.

    After watching this video a few times, I was curious about the Kid President so I watched a few more of his videos. I learned that he has osteogenesis imperfecta and has over 70 bone breaks in his life. Learning this made me appreciate his videos even more, because he has faced more adversity then many, and is still positive and happy and helping to inspire others. I love that his catch phrase is “give the world a reason to dance”, which is ironic considering his disorder, but makes the message even more meaningful. This video reminds me that no matter what, there is always a reason to dance.

    Here’s the link:

  12. Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids.

    This video awed me in multiple ways. Firstly, at the complete lack of any inhibition Adora had. She was comfortable in her own skin, in front of the huge cameras and the crowd of strangers who were all adults. Yet, she thrived in the setting, she was smooth and funny and entertaining. This is one example of how children have fewer inhibitions than adults or teenagers do.
    I also, completely agreed with the points Adora made in her speech. Children are usually brushed off as young, inexperienced or naïve when they try to make a change, or try to input their own opinions on serious matters. My own father is a huge culprit of taking age into consideration when we’re having serious discussions as a family. If I would make a valid point about how my generation viewed certain situations versus how his generation’s point of view, he would brush it off and say, “when you are ten years older, tell me how you feel.” It used to infuriate me, we would get into playful fights and I used to sigh, frustrated and say, “why don’t you just lock me in my room until I’m old enough to make decisions then?”
    The truth is that children aren’t taken seriously, because yes, they are young and don’t really fully understand situations sometimes, and in most cases yes, they haven’t seen enough of the world to fully size up consequences that come from certain decisions or goals. However, adults should also understand that children should be given a chance to be heard and their untainted opinions should be taken into serious consideration, because these thoughts or ideas may go to places the adult mind has cordoned off by their black and white outlook on life.
    Give children a chance to take control, because if allowed to, they will be able to control the world around you correctly and responsibly when their turn comes.

  13. Logan LaPlante: Hackschooling Makes me Happy

    When people ask thirteen year-old Logan LaPlante what he wants to be when he is older, he replies simply by saying, “when I grow up, I wanna be happy.” To many, this is a startling reply because when asking this question, the assumption is that no matter what the answer, the child will be happy. As children, we are taught happiness through examples by relatives, friends, and the media. These often stress the importance of education, money, and marriage in the search for true happiness. However, these factors are perhaps less important to creating a happy life than generally thought.

    Research done by Doctor Roger Walsh shows that there are eight Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLCs) that many people do not perform and have not learned. These TLCs include exercise, diet and nutrition, time spent in nature, contribution and service to others, relationships, recreation, relaxation, and stress management. According to Walsh, the current education system does not properly teach the importance of these TLCs, as the system is more aligned with “making a living rather than making a life.” In other words, the system educates students in the technical aspects of life, such as the sciences and history, but neglects to invest them with the more practical tools of creating a happy and balanced lifestyle.

    When Logan was eight years old, his mother pulled him out of the education system because she believed there was not enough emphasis placed on these eight TLCs. Now, Logan is part of a small movement of alternative schooling called Hackschooling, which teaches students how to create a life for themselves by placing emphasis on these four categories: happiness and health, creativity, technology and online resources, and experiential classes and camps. Like other students in the public school system, Logan learns about the sciences, history, and how to write, but in addition, he learns how to be happy and healthy, to employ his creativity and what he calls the “hacker mindset,” as well as earning job experience.

    This video inspires me by telling me I am in charge of my own learning process and can augment my education in ways specific to my needs. By employing the eight TLCs to my life, I can ensure I am a happier, healthier, and more intellectually curious student and individual.

  14. I enjoyed listening to John Maeda’s speech on how art, technology and design inform creative leaders. I do agree with what john says about technology makes possibilities. From technology, our leaders like doctors have found ways to help people. It is a useful tool for us to use. An example that John used was how it went from only typing letters, to images, to sound, and then to moving pictures. This evolutionary process is what we thrive off of today; this is what gives us the possibilities to make better products that do those things; I think that is what John was trying emphasizing.
    Then there is design that makes solution. Within design there is content and form. I found his approach on form very interesting and true. For example, John used the fact that if you change the font, it’s like changing the way the word is expressed. This reminds me of when people say: it’s not what you say it is how you say it. I think content is a powerful tool to use for leaders to persuade people and enforce their ideas.
    Thirdly, there is art that makes question. This reminds of when I look at piece abstract art and there are so many questions that come to my mind. It is the same for leaders as well. According to john, when people say that they do not understand the art that means the art is working. When leaders want people to learn a concept they can use art to get people to ask questions.
    Lastly, John’s last topic is about leadership. Regular leaders avoid mistakes and are always wanting to be right but creative leaders likes to learn from mistakes and hopes to be right. I agree with this statement because I think regular leaders do not get the outcome that they want at points because they do not do what the creative leaders do and that is the hope part. Hope is what gives people the thought that they might be able to do something if they try really hard. It is like a does of motivation that does not stop. I think that is what separates the succeeding leaders who are creative and the regular leaders who only want to be perfect and do not succeed. What I like most about the creative leaders is that they connect improbable connections and hope something will happen.

  15. After watching John Bohannon’s “Dance vs. PowerPoint – a Modest Proposal”, I felt that Bohannon did an excellent job of demonstrating the differences between dynamic and static presentations. In his presentation, through the use of dance, he was able to portray complex concepts into simpler terms, all with the use of dance. Compared to PowerPoint, which only has the ability to display text, pictures, and simple animations, using dance in presentations can portray a wide range of topic based off the different styles and choreography of dance. Having a sister that dances, this application of dance in presentations intrigued me, compared to people prancing around in different costumes. Dance, by itself, has the ability to portray and express different emotions, but when combined in a presentation to simplify difficult concepts, it allows viewers to understand that concept through a series of movements and expressions rather than through a bunch of words.

    Thinking about the many lectures that I’ve had at UBC, most of the professors us PowerPoint to try and convey certain concepts. On the occasional times, there would be demonstration to show how the concept is used in real life. Although PowerPoint does have a use in demonstrating the fundamentals and the theory behind concepts, I believe the actual application, either through dance or demonstrations, is a more effective way in remembering difficult concepts. These different methods of presenting creates interest in the audience and allow the audience to interact with the presenter.

  16. I enjoyed listening to Adora Svitak 's talk, and her argument for abolishing the word "Childish" was a take I have never heard before. Her point that learning should be reciprocal between adults and children is a notion that I think we should pay more attention to, specifically when it comes to an educators role in what facilitates the child's learning. During early years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, adventurous learners throughout their lives.

  17. John Bohannon, "Dance vs. Powerpoint - a Modest Proposal":

    As a student with a severe case of day dreaming i find it hard to stay focused in a 50 minute class, matter of fact it usually takes me around 30 minutes to space out. I find it hard to relate to the unmoving picture or graph that are put in front of me in the class slides. I could just imagine how different my soil class would look like if my professor would use dancers to explain why magnesium ions are attracted to the soil colloid, Using dancers and not using a picture with a few arrows on it. the dancers would keep me interested during the whole class, and definitely make me understand how processes work with much more ease.
    I wish this could work yet I feel that the professor would have to work 100 times harder just to prepare for classes.