Some of the Best in the Business of Ideas – TED Talks

Just the other day I was sitting online to get my daily dose of TED talks and while browsing through random online pages about ‘the best TED talks ever’, came across this really interesting line describing these talks. The line said that TED talks are in the ‘business of commoditizing and corporatizing ideas’.

Well, fancy words but if you cut down to the meaning then the words imply mean that TED is in the business of selling ideas. This set me thinking; how can something as abstract, as formless as ideas be sold? After tones of thinking, I realised that ideas cannot be sold-they can only be propagated and I believe that is precisely what TED is doing. Where you get to hear everything from the horse’s mouth.

One can say that I have a personal bias towards these talks since they made me learn so much simply by listening to other people’s experiences and lives. Let me introduce you to a few talks that I found highly inspiring and why:

A single story by Chimamanda Adichie-TED

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This talk is about the one-sided way in which we tend to see all things in life. The speaker is a Nigerian writer who, all her life, has seen and heard people giving Africa a step-motherly treatment simply because they have heard a singular version of the African story-that of violence, strife and war. The rest of the world never even heard about the normal lives of the normal people in the continent. The lady makes an effort to explain how this singular version of the African story has simply disregarded the very humanity of the residents of the continent.

Why this particular piece resonates with me is because we, as a nation, have seen a similar past. As the ‘black men’ under the ‘white men’ till 1947, a singular version of our story was told, the story of an uncivilized people. This story of white supremacy made generations of Indians develop complexes regarding their own color and country. The lady explains the dangers and pitfalls of such actions very beautifully.

My Philosophy to a happy life by Sam Berns-TEDx

This talk was given by the late Sam Berns. Sam suffered from Progeria and passed away in January this year. Most of us know of Progeria as the disease by which Amitabh Bachchan suffered in the movie Paa. The movie did a brilliant job of portraying the normality of a child’s desires against the abnormality of his physical condition. But Sam in this talk, speaks about how he remains happy and content in the face of the injustice that nature has done to him.

Why this piece resonates with me is because it reminds me that happiness isn’t something that is induced externally, rather it is a state of mind- a state that can be achieved by sheer will power and positive attitude, no matter how adverse your situation is. It inspires to be happy!

The Freakonomics of crack dealing by Steven Levitt

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Now, being an economics graduate does this to you-you start liking all those high-level funda that ‘Economists’ spout. But trust me, this stalk is nothing like those high level things. It is just a simple detailing of how the drug trade is not as lucrative as movies would make it sound.

Why this one resonates with me is because it talk about the daily use of a subject that has for long been considered the forte of nerds. You see I am doing a course (i.e. MBA) which is all about applying what you study in class to real life situations. And this talk, despite all my pessimism, gives me the assurance that such a thing is actually possible.

Language, I believe, has been one of the biggest reasons why we have been able to establish a civilization. Language is crucial simply because one generation could pass on it traditions, learnings, follies and everything else to the next so the latter’s progress is faster and their lives easier. It is very similar idea propagation that TED talks stand for and god knows, they stand high!