Category Archives: TED

Maybe It’s Time to Question Our Sacred Cows

This TED talk by Mike Rowe is graphic but you can handle it. Rowe is the host of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery channel and he’s committed to bringing dignity to work by showing some of the most dangerous and well, dirty jobs.

He wonders whether we’ve declared war on work and suggests that we question platitudes like “follow your passion”.

Since enrollment in trade schools continually decreases, he wonders whether there will be enough skilled workers to fill the jobs needed to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

The mike rowe WORKS foundation promotes hard work and supports skilled trades through a trade school scholarship program. Rowe also wrote a book to promote the trades and to raise money for the foundation scholarships. “Profoundly Disconnected” was only available on the foundation website when it was published but that button takes you to the eBay auction page. Amazon’s prices seem to be more reasonable so I included it here. If you find out that the book is available somewhere that would benefit the foundation, please let me know so I can change the link.


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Transparency in Advertising with Morgan Spurlock

Welcome to Day 23 of “31 Days of Great Ted Talks”. You can find a run down of the other exceptional TED talks in this series by going here.

This funny and thought-provoking TED talk slash documentary shows how independent film maker, Morgan Spurlock, went about getting brand sponsors for a documentary about sponsorship, marketing and branding.

He even auctioned off the naming rights to the TED talk about the project.

One thing I loved was watching people tell him “no”. One guy even said “yes” then asked to turn the camera off so he could tell him “no”.

As uncomfortable as it is to watch people get rejected, it’s valuable-especially when they persevere and come out on the other side.

How to Cure Alzheimer’s

There’s been virtually no progress in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease since it was first diagnosed in 1906.

Samuel Cohen argues that promising new research could lead to a cure with proper funding and public pressure to do so.

Although Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease (1 out of every 5 medicare dollars is spent on patients with Alzheimer’s), it accounts for less than a tenth of funding.


Confessions of a Comedian With Depression

What’s so haunting about this TED talk by Kevin Breel a young writer, comedian and activist is how he could be just about any kid I know.

I realize anyone can suffer from depression at any time but you don’t think of young, athletic, academic and funny kids when you think of depression. You think of the kid who OBVIOUSLY doesn’t fit in and that circumstance leading to depression.

The thing is, how do I know that any of the 4 kids under my roof aren’t suffering or struggling with depression if, as Kevin described, it’s possible to present two different personas?

Let’s say my kids are all relatively healthy, mentally and emotionally speaking, it sounds like there’s a great chance that one or more of their friends, who otherwise looks healthy and stable is suffering. How can you tell?

Mental health issues are so stigmatized unlike other organs and body parts that are broken that it’s nearly impossible for kids to reach out to the people most likely to be able to help them.

I would love to hear what Kevin has to say about his parents’ role in helping him understand his depression and his ability to advocate for mental health. According to his website, he traveled extensively as a teenager doing stand-up comedy, it sounds like they’re pretty supportive.

If you watch this talk, please let me know if you also can’t stop thinking about it.

Kevin has a new book out that I’m anxious to read.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks.

7 Deadly Sins of Speech

I loved this presentation by sound expert (who knew there was such a thing?), Julian Treasure. It’s entertaining and practical.

Even if you don’t plan to give a public talk in the near future, this information applies to every day communication skills.

I could summarize the sins, but they’re much more effective coming from Treasure.


I haven’t read his book “Sound Business“, but I probably should since I think I suffer from a curmudgeonly sound-sensitivity as I get older. Sort of the opposite of hearing loss. The presentation was so useful that I’m guessing the book has some suggestions on how to  optimize environments through sound (or no sound-which is what I would prefer).


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John Wooden’s Definition of Success and Other Life Lessons

John Wooden's definition of success

In honor of the former official start of the NCAA basketball season (Midnight Madness and all that), I present Coach Wooden.

Sure, this chat is almost 20 minutes long but I could sit and listen to him all day. Grab a hot cup of something and gather round.

I can’t imagine any student or player who had contact with John Wooden failing to live up to his potential. He’s just that clear and sensible.

Coach Wooden shares simple insights but as all great leaders do, you have no doubt that he lived these principles.

He’s written a few books. Mark owns “Wooden” and recommends it to just about all of his students (and usually gifts it to students who graduate).


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, I receive a small commission and I thank you. You can always open a new window, go to amazon and search the title without clicking the link in this post and make a purchase outside of the affiliation….or grab it from the library 🙂

Education Revolution!

Sir Ken 2-2Welcome to Day 16 of write31days. Over the hump, so to speak. For this installment of 31 days of Great Ted talks, I have to bring Sir Ken Robinson back for an encore.

Though this presentation isn’t as popular as the first, it is just as poignant and urgent.

Robinson argues that we should revolutionize our model of education rather than reform it (which he views as “simply improving a broken model”).

This isn’t about “privatizing”. I believe public education is already privatized (public money going to huge corporations that control everything in the form of textbooks, testing, testing prep, “technology”, supplies, constant assessment of students, evaluating teachers, food service, “health” initiatives and all manner of “consulting” costs and “studies” before any program, facility or change is implemented).

Recorded around 2010, the exponential infiltration of new technologies affecting nearly every industry and disrupting linearly-oriented institutions make Robinson’s argument even more relevant and urgent. The idea that there’s one linear path to “success” and anyone who takes it will be secure is laughable and irresponsible today-yet that’s how schools prepare students for the world.

Adopting Robinson’s suggestion would allow teachers to teach in the way they are wired and most gifted, instead of conforming to a standardized format. Maybe it’s impossible but worth trying.


Every High School Student Should Learn Statistics

When a MATHEMATICIAN argues that statistics should be taught to high school students before calculus, how can’t we listen? Yet, the pinnacle of mathematics is calculus, a subject that’s important to students who will go on to study mathematics, engineering and the sciences but it doesn’t really apply to daily life.

On the other hand, probablility and statistics if everywhere and can be fun!

Arthur Benjamin argues that our world has moved from an analog to a digital age and statistics drives it (GOOGLE ALGORITHM ANYONE?). In fact, one reason Amazon has become so huge and successful was Jeff Bezos’ foresight in collecting consumer data.

It’s unbelievable that this TED talk was recorded in 2009 and there’s no evidence that stats has taken a front seat in high school curricula. In fact, it’s largely regarded as a “lower level” math.

Wouldn’t you love to know the probability that a guy named Arthur would wind up an academic?



Touch As An Antidote to Loneliness

This particular TED talk has personal implications for me.

As I mentioned in this post about my aunt’s improved health since she came to live with us, loneliness is as serious a health risk as smoking and obesity.

Helena Backlund Wasling, a leading researcher in the science and benefits of touch explains how soft touch activates parts of the brain that control emotion. It’s a key element in reducing stress, forming relationships and connecting with people.