TED

Remembering pastor Billy Graham, and more news in brief

Behold, your recap of TED-related news:

Remembering Billy Graham. For more than 60 years, pastor Billy Graham inspired countless people around the world with his sermons. On Wednesday, February 21, he passed away at his home in North Carolina after struggling with numerous illnesses over the past few years. He was 99 years old. Raised on a dairy farm in N.C., Graham used the power of new technologies, like radio and television, to spread his message of personal salvation to an estimated 215 million people globally, while simultaneously reflecting on technology’s limitations. Reciting the story of King David to audiences at TED1998, “David found that there were many problems that technology could not solve. There were many problems still left. And they’re still with us, and you haven’t solved them, and I haven’t heard anybody here speak to that,” he said, referring to human evil, suffering, and death. To Graham, the answer to these problems was to be found in God. Even after his death, through the work of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, led by his son Franklin, his message of personal salvation will live on. (Watch Graham’s TED Talk)

Fashion inspired by Black Panther. TED Fellow and fashion designer Walé Oyéjidé draws on aesthetics from around the globe to create one-of-a-kind pieces that dismantle bias and celebrate often-marginalized groups. For New York Fashion Week, Oyéjidé designed a suit with a coat and scarf for a Black Panther-inspired showcase, sponsored by Marvel Studios. One of Oyéjidé’s scarves is also worn in the movie by its protagonist, King T’Challa. “The film is very much about the joy of seeing cultures represented in roles that they are generally not seen in. There’s villainy and heros, tech genius and romance,” Oyéjidé told the New York Times, “People of color are generally presented as a monolithic image. I’m hoping it smashes the door open to show that people can occupy all these spaces.” (Watch Oyéjidé’s TED Talk)

Nuclear energy advocate runs for governor. Environmentalist and nuclear energy advocate Michael Shellenberger has launched his campaign for governor of California as an independent candidate. “I think both parties are corrupt and broken. We need to start fresh with a fresh agenda,” he says. Shellenberger intends to run on an energy and environmental platform, and he hopes to involve student environmental activists in his campaign. California’s gubernatorial election will be held in November 2018. (Watch Shellenberger’s TED Talk)

Can UV light help us fight the flu? Radiation scientist David Brenner and his research team at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center are exploring whether a type of ultraviolet light known as far-UVC could be used to kill the flu virus. To test their theory, they released a strain of the flu virus called H1N1 in an enclosed chamber and exposed it to low doses of UVC. In a paper published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, they report that far-UVC successfully deactivated the virus. Previous research has shown that far-UVC doesn’t penetrate the outer layer of human skin or eyes, unlike conventional UV rays, which means that it appears to be safe to use on humans. Brenner suggests that far-UVC could be used in public spaces to fight the flu. “Think about doctors’ waiting rooms, schools, airports and airplanes—any place where there’s a likelihood for airborne viruses,” Brenner told Time. (Watch Brenner’s TED Talk.)

A beautiful sculpture for Madrid. For the 400 anniversary of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, artist Janet Echelman created a colorful, fibrous sculpture, which she suspended above the historic space. The sculpture, titled “1.78 Madrid,” aims to provoke contemplation of the interconnectedness of time and our spatial reality. The title refers to the number of microseconds that a day on Earth was shortened as a result of the 2011 earthquake in Japan, which was so strong it caused the planet’s rotation to accelerate. At night, colorful lights are projected onto the sculpture, which makes it an even more dynamic, mesmerizing sight for the city’s residents. (Watch Echelman’s TED Talk)

A graduate program that doesn’t require a high school degree. Economist Esther Duflo’s new master’s program at MIT is upending how we think about graduate school admissions. Rather than requiring the usual test scores and recommendation letters, the program allows anyone to take five rigorous, online courses for free. Students only pay to take the final exam, the cost of which ranges from $100 to $1,000 depending on income. If they do well on the final exam, they can apply to MIT’s master’s program in data, economics and development policy. “Anybody could do that. At this point, you don’t need to have gone to college. For that matter, you don’t need to have gone to high school,” Duflo told WBUR. Already, more than 8,000 students have enrolled online. The program intends to raise significant aid to cover the cost of the master’s program and living in Cambridge, with the first class arriving in 2020. (Watch Duflo’s TED Talk)

Have a news item to share? Write us at contact@ted.com and you may see it included in this weekly round-up.

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You are here for a reason: 4 questions with Halla Tómasdóttir

Cartier and TED believe in the power of bold ideas to empower local initiatives to have global impact. To celebrate Cartier’s dedication to launching the ideas of female entrepreneurs into concrete change, TED has curated a special session of talks around the theme “Bold Alchemy” for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, featuring a selection of favorite TED speakers.

Leading up to the session, TED talked with financier, entrepreneur and onetime candidate for president of Iceland, Halla Tómasdóttir, about what influences, inspires and drives her to be bold.

TED: Tell us who you are.
Halla Tómasdóttir: I think of myself first and foremost as a change catalyst who is passionate about good leadership and a gender-balanced world. My leadership career started in corporate America with Mars and Pepsi Cola, but since then I have served as an entrepreneur, educator, investor, board director, business leader and presidential candidate. I am married, a proud mother of two teenagers and a dog and am perhaps best described by the title given to me by the New Yorker: “A Living Emoji of Sincerity.”

TED: What’s a bold move you’ve made in your career?
HT: I left a high-profile position as the first female CEO of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce to become an entrepreneur with the vision to incorporate feminine values into finance. I felt the urge to show a different way in a sector that felt unsustainable to me, and I longed to work in line with my own values.

TED: Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
HT: The women of Iceland inspired me at an early age, when they showed incredible courage, solidarity and sisterhood and “took the day off” (went on a strike) and literally brought the country to its knees — as nothing worked when women didn’t do any work. Five years later, Iceland was the first country in the world to democratically elect a woman as president. I was 11 years old at the time, and her leadership has inspired me ever since. Her clarity on what she cares about and her humble way of serving those causes is truly remarkable.

TED: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
HT: I would say: Halla, just be you and know that you are enough. People will frequently tell you things like: “This is the way we do things around here.” Don’t ever take that as a valid answer if it doesn’t feel right to you. We are not here to continue to do more of the same if it doesn’t work or feel right anymore. We are here to grow, ourselves and our society. You are here for a reason: make your life and leadership matter.

The private TED session at Cartier takes place April 26 in Singapore. It will feature talks from a diverse range of global leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers, exploring topics ranging from the changing global workforce to maternal health to data literacy, and it will include a performance from the only female double violinist in the world.

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New podcast alert: WorkLife with Adam Grant, a TED original, premieres Feb. 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam Grant to Explore the Psychology of Unconventional Workplaces as Host of Upcoming New TED Original Podcast “WorkLife”

Organizational psychologist, professor, bestselling author and TED speaker Adam Grant is set to host a new TED original podcast series titled WorkLife with Adam Grant, which will explore unorthodox work cultures in search of surprising and actionable lessons for improving listeners’ work lives.

Beginning Wednesday, February 28, each weekly episode of WorkLife will center around one extraordinary workplace—from an award-winning TV writing team racing against the clock, to a sports team whose culture of humility propelled it to unexpected heights. In immersive interviews that take place in both the field and the studio, Adam brings his observations to vivid life – and distills useful insights in his friendly, accessible style.

“We spend a quarter of our lives in our jobs. This show is about making all that time worth your time,” says Adam, the bestselling author of OriginalsGive and Take, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg. “In WorkLife, we’ll take listeners inside the minds of some fascinating people in some truly unusual workplaces, and mix in fresh social science to reveal how we can lead more creative, meaningful, and generous lives at work.”

Produced by TED in partnership with Pineapple Street Media and Transmitter Media, WorkLife is TED’s first original podcast created in partnership with a TED speaker. Its immersive, narrative format is designed to offer audiences a new way to explore TED speaker ideas in depth. Adam’s talks “Are you a giver or a taker?” and “The surprising habits of original thinkers” have together been viewed more than 11 million times in the past two years.

The show marks TED’s latest effort to test new content formats beyond the nonprofit’s signature first-person TED talk. Other recent TED original content experiments include Sincerely, X, an audio series featuring talks delivered anonymously;  Small Thing Big Idea, a Facebook Watch video series about everyday designs that changed the world; and the Indian prime-time live-audience television series TED Talks India: Nayi Soch, hosted by Bollywood star and TED speaker Shah Rukh Khan.

“We’re aggressively developing and testing a number of new audio and video programs that support TED’s mission of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading,’” said TED head of media and WorkLife co-executive producer Colin Helms. “In every case, our speakers and their ideas remain the focus, but with fresh formats, styles and lengths, we can reach and appeal to even more curious audiences, wherever they are.”

WorkLife debuts Wednesday, February 28 on Apple Podcasts, the TED Android app, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. Season 1 features eight episodes, roughly 30 minutes each, plus two bonus episodes. It’s sponsored by Accenture, Bonobos, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Warby Parker. New episodes will be made available every Wednesday.

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The Big Idea: How to find and hire the best employees

So, you want to hire the best employee for the job? Or perhaps you’re the employee looking to be hired. Here’s some counterintuitive and hyper-intuitive advice that could get the right foot in the door.

Expand your definition of the “right” resume

Here’s the hypothetical situation: a position opens up at your company, applications start rolling in and qualified candidates are identified. Who do you choose? Person A: Ivy League, flawless resume, great recommendations — or Person B: state school, fair amount of job hopping, with odd jobs like cashier and singing waitress thrown in the mix. Both are qualified — but have you already formed a decision?

Well, you might want to take a second look at Person B.

Human resources executive Regina Hartley describes these candidates as “The Silver Spoon” (Person A), the one who clearly had advantages and was set up for success, and “The Scrapper” (Person B), who had to fight tremendous odds to get to the same point.

“To be clear, I don’t hold anything against the Silver Spoon; getting into and graduating from an elite university takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice,” she says. But if it so happens that someone’s whole life has been engineered toward success, how will that person handle the low times? Do they seem like they’re driven by passion and purpose?

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Take this resume. This guy never finishes college. He job-hops quite a bit, goes on a sojourn to India for a year, and to top it off, he has dyslexia. Would you hire this guy? His name is Steve Jobs.

That’s not to say every person who has a similar story will ultimately become Steve Jobs, but it’s about extending opportunity to those whose lives have resulted in transformation and growth. Companies that are committed to diversity and inclusive practices tend to support Scrappers and outperform their peers. According to DiversityInc, a study of their top 50 companies for diversity outperformed the S&P 500 by 25 percent.

(Check out Regina’s TED Talk: Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume for more advice and a fantastic suggested reading list full of helpful resources.)

Shake up the face-to-face time

Once you choose candidates to meet in-person, scrap that old hand-me-down list of interview questions — or if you can’t simply toss them, think about adding a couple more.

TED Ideas interview questions

Generally, these conversations ping-pong between two basic questions: one of competency or a one of character. To identify the candidates who have substance and not just smarts, business consultant Anthony Tjan recommends that interviewers ask these five questions to illuminate not just skills and abilities, but intrinsic values and personality traits too.

  1. What are the one or two traits from your parents that you most want to ensure you and your kids have for the rest of your life? A rehearsal is not the result you want. This question calls for a bit more thought on the applicant’s end and sheds light on the things they most value. After hearing the person’s initial response, Tjan says you should immediately follow up with “Can you tell me more?” This is essential if you want to elicit an answer with real depth and substance.
  2. What is 25 times 25? Yes, it sounds ridiculous but trust us — the math adds up. How people react under real-time pressure, and their response can show you how they’ll approach challenging or awkward situations. “It’s about whether they can roll with the embarrassment and discomfort and work with me. When a person is in a job, they’re not always going to be in situations that are in their alley,” he says.
  3. Tell me about three people whose lives you positively changed. What would they say if I called them tomorrow? If a person can’t think of single person, that may say a lot for the role you’re trying to fill. Organizations need employees who can lift each other up. When a person is naturally inclined toward compassionate mentorship, it can have a domino effect in an institution.
  4. After an interview, ask yourself (and other team members, if relevant) “Can I imagine taking this person home with me for the holidays?” This may seem overly personal (because, yes it is), but you’ll most likely trigger a gut reaction.
  5. After an interview, ask security or the receptionist: “How was the candidate’s interaction with you?” How a person treats someone they don’t feel they need to impress is important and telling. It speaks to whether they act with compassion and openness and view others as equals.

(Maybe ask them if they played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons in their life?)

The New York Times’ Adam Bryant suggests getting away from the standard job interview entirely. Reject the played-out choreography — the conference room, the resume, the “Where do you want to be in five years?” — and feel free to shake it up. Instead, get up and move about to observe how they behave in (and out of) the workplace wild.

Take them on a tour of the office (if you can’t take them out for a meal), he proposes, and if you feel so inclined, introduce them to some colleagues. Shake off that stress, walk-and-talk (as TED speaker Nilofer Merchant also advises) and most important, pay attention!

Are they curious about how everything happens? Do they show interest in what your colleagues do? These markers could be the difference between someone you work with and someone you want to work with. Monster has a series of good questions to asks yourself post-meeting potential candidates.

Ultimately, Tjan and Bryant seem to agree, the art of the interview is a tricky but not impossible balance to strike.

Hire for your company’s values, not its internal culture

Culture fit is important, of course, but it can also be used as a shield. The bottom line is hire for diversity — in all its forms.

There’s a chance you may be tired of reading about diversity and inclusion, that you get the point and we don’t need to keep addressing it. Well, tough. Suck it up. Because we do need to talk about it until there’s literally no need to talk about, until this fundamental issue becomes an overarching non-issue (and preferably before we all sink into the sea). This is a concept that can’t just exist in science fictional universes.

Example A: a sci-fi universe featuring a group of people that could be seen working together in a non-fictional universe.

(Ahem.)

MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito and writer Jeff Howe explain that the best way to prepare for a future of unknown complexity is to build on the strength of our differences. Race, gender,  sexual orientation, socioeconomic background and disciplinary training are all important, as are life experiences that produce cognitive diversity (aka different ways of thinking).

Thanks to an increasing body of research, diversity is becoming a strategic imperative for schools, firms and other institutions. It may be good politics and good PR and, depending on an individual’s commitment to racial and gender equity, good for the soul, say Ito and Howe. But in an era in which your challenges are likely to feature maximum complexity as well, it’s simply good management — which marks a striking departure from an age when diversity was presumed to come at the expense of ability.

As TED speaker Mellody Hobson (TED Talk: Color blind or color brave?) says: “I’m actually asking you to do something really simple.  I’m asking you to look at the people around you purposefully and intentionally. Invite people into your life who don’t look like you, don’t think like you, don’t act like you, don’t come from where you come from, and you might find that they will challenge your assumptions.”

So, in conclusion, go out and hire someone and give them the opportunity to change the world. Or at least, give them the opportunity to prove that they have the wherewithal to change something for the better.

 

 

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Lee Cronin’s ongoing quest for print-your-own medicine, and more news from TED speakers

Behold, your recap of TED-related news:

Print your own pharmaceutical factory. As part of an ongoing quest to make pharmaceuticals easier to manufacture, chemist Lee Cronin and his team at the University of Glasgow have designed a way to 3D-print a portable “factory” for the complicated and multi-step chemical reactions needed to create useful drugs. It’s a grouping of vessels about the size of water bottles; each vessel houses a different type of chemical reaction. Pharmacists or doctors could create specific drugs by adding the right ingredients to each vessel from pre-measured cartridges, following a simple step-by-step recipe. The process could help replace or supplement large chemical factories, and bring helpful drugs to new markets. (Watch Cronin’s TED Talk)

How Amit Sood’s TED Talk spawned the Google Art selfie craze. While Amit Sood was preparing for his 2016 TED Talk about Google’s Cultural Institute and Art Project, his co-presenter Cyril Diagne, a digital interaction artist, suggested that he include a prototype of a project they’d been playing with, one that matched selfies to famous pieces of art. Amit added the prototype to his talk, in which he matched live video of Cyril’s face to classic artworks — and when the TED audience saw it, they broke out in spontaneous applause. Inspired, Amit decided to develop the feature and add it to the Google Arts & Culture app. The new feature launched in December 2017, and it went viral in January 2018. Just like the live TED audience before it, online users loved it so much that the app shot to the number one spot in both the Android and iOS app stores. (Watch Sood’s TED Talk)

A lyrical film about the very real danger of climate change. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign by director and producer Matthieu Rytz, the documentary Anote’s Ark focuses on the clear and present danger of global warming to the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati (population: 100,000). As sea levels rise, the small, low-lying islands that make up Kiribati will soon be entirely covered by the ocean, displacing the population and their culture. Former president Anote Tong, who’s long been fighting global warming to save his country and his constituents, provides one of two central stories within the documentary. The film (here’s the trailer) premiered at the 2018 Sundance Festival in late January, and will be available more widely soon; follow on Facebook for news. (Watch Tong’s TED Talk)

An animated series about global challenges. Sometimes the best way to understand a big idea is on a whiteboard. Throughout 2018, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and his team are producing a six-part whiteboard-animation series that explains key themes in his theology and philosophy around contemporary global issues. The first video, called “The Politics of Hope,” examines political strife in the West, and ways to change the culture from the politics of anger to the politics of hope. Future whiteboard videos will delve into integrated diversity, the relationship between religion and science, the dignity of difference, confronting religious violence, and the ethics of responsibility. (Watch Rabbi Sacks’ TED Talk)

Nobody wins the Google Lunar X Prize competition 🙁 Launched in 2007, the Google Lunar X Prize competition challenged entrepreneurs and engineers to design low-cost ways to explore space. The premise, if not the work itself, was simple — the first privately funded team to get a robotic spacecraft to the moon, send high-resolution photos and video back to Earth, and move the spacecraft 500 meters would win a $20 million prize, from a total prize fund of $30 million. The deadline was set for 2012, and was pushed back four times; the latest deadline was set to be March 31, 2018. On January 23, X Prize founder and executive chair Peter Diamandis and CEO Marcus Shingles announced that the competition was over: It was clear none of the five remaining teams stood a chance of launching by March 31. Of course, the teams may continue to compete without the incentive of this cash prize, and some plan to. (Watch Diamandis’ TED Talk)

15 photos of America’s journey towards inclusivity. Art historian Sarah Lewis took control of the New Yorker photo team’s Instagram last week, sharing pictures that answered the timely question: “What are 15 images that chronicle America’s journey toward a more inclusive level of citizenship?” Among the iconic images from Gordon Parks and Carrie Mae Weems, Lewis also includes an image of her grandfather, who was expelled from the eleventh grade in 1926 for asking why history books ignored his own history. In the caption, she tells how he became a jazz musician and an artist, “inserting images of African Americans in scenes where he thought they should—and knew they did—exist.” All the photos are ones she uses in her “Vision and Justice” course at Harvard, which focuses on art, race and justice. (Watch Lewis’ TED Talk)

Have a news item to share? Write us at contact@ted.com and you may see it included in this weekly round-up.

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