6 TED Talks to Inspire You to Think Deeply, Laugh, Sigh, Share

I could listen to TED talks all day long. I love listening to people much smarter than me share their knowledge passionately — with conviction, and humor, and beauty. These talks in particular have stuck with me, speaking into the way that I approach my words, my actions and more. I hope that they speak to you as well — and lead you into the TED vortex where you can find your own favorite talks! If you do that, please let me know!

My Road Trip through the Whitest Towns in America • Rich Benjamin • May 2015

"America's Promise Ministries, the religious arm of Aryan Nations, happened to have a three-day retreat during my visit. So I decided to crash it. I'm the only non-Aryan journalist I'm aware of ever to have done so. Among the many memorable episodes of that retreat... is when Abe, an Aryan, sidled up next to me. He slapped my knee, and he said, 'Hey Rich, I just want you to know one thing. We are not white supremacists. We are white separatists. We don't think we're better than you, we just want to be away from you.'"

Every Kid Needs a Champion • Rita Pearson • May 2013

"I gave a quiz, 20 questions. A student missed 18. I put a '+2' on his paper and a big smiley face. 

He said, 'Ms. Pierson, is this an F?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Then why'd you put a smiley face?' I said, 'Because you're on a roll. You got two right. You didn't miss them all.'

I said, 'And when we review this, won't you do better?' He said, 'Yes, ma'am, I can do better.' 

You see, "-18" sucks all the life out of you. '+2'  said, 'I ain't all bad.'"


Do Schools Kill Creativity? • Ken Robinson • February 2006

"When she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school... wrote to her parents and said, 'We think Gillian has a learning disorder.' She couldn't concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they'd say she had ADHD... [So] she went to see this specialist...

[He] turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when [he and her mother] got out, he said to her mother, 'Just stand and watch her.' And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, 'Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn't sick; she's a dancer. Take her to a dance school.'

She's been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history, she's given pleasure to millions, and she's a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down."

A Simple Birth Kit for Mothers in the Developing World • Zubaida Bai • December 2016

"[After working] with experts, medical health professionals and the women themselves... we had a simple and beautiful design... We were able to deliver 'janma,' a clean birth kit in a purse. Janma, meaning "birth," contained a blood-absorbing sheet for the woman to give birth on, a surgical scalpel, a cord clamp, a bar of soap, a pair of gloves and the first cloth to wipe the baby clean. All this came packaged in a beautiful purse that was given to the mother as a gift after all her hard work, that she carried home with pride as a symbol of prosperity.

To date, our kit has impacted over 600,000 mothers and babies around the world...

But women's health issues do not end here... We have facts to prove that if we invest in women and girls and provide them with better health and well-being, they will deliver healthier and wealthier and prosperous communities."


Why Some People Are More Altruistic Than Others • Abigail Marsh • June 2016

"[What] makes extraordinary altruists so different is not just that they're more compassionate than average... what's even more unusual about them is that they're compassionate and altruistic not just towards people who are in their own innermost circle of friends and family.

I say, 'How is it that you're willing to do this thing when so many other people don't?... What is it that makes you so special?'

And what do they say? They say, 'Nothing. There's nothing special about me. I'm just the same as everybody else.'"

The Secret to Effective Nonviolent Resistance • Jamila Raqib • November 2015

"Nonviolent struggle works by destroying an opponent, not physically, but by identifying the institutions that an opponent needs to survive, and then denying them those sources of power.

[Activists protesting corruption in Guatemala] realized that they couldn't just keep protesting and ask the president to resign. They needed to leave him no choice. So they organized a general strike... In Guatemala City alone, over 400 businesses and schools shut their doors. Meanwhile, farmers throughout the country blocked major roads. Within five days, the president, along with dozens of other government officials, resigned already."

Have some favorite TED talks of your own? Share them with me in the comments below!