Turn On With TED

Social Good

Ruth Sheldon
Watch a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) speaker and you’re likely to feel an “intellectual adrenaline rush,” according to one Forbes correspondent.

No exaggeration here. I was transfixed while watching the TEDxWomen 2012 conference live-streamed from Washington, D.C. to the Paley Center in New York last weekend.

This year’s conference focused on “The Space Between.” Speakers explored the chasm between poverty and plenty, fact and faith, IQ and EQ, rhetoric and reality, left and right, and stops and starts. These were stories of passion, hard work, helping hands, brains, brawn, and solutions.

Founded in 1984, TED is a series of annual conferences designed to share “ideas worth spreading.” Speakers have 18 minutes to give a subject they’re passionate about their best shot. One individual is selected annually to receive the TED Prize ($1 million this year) to seed a wish to change the world.

Among this year’s extraordinary speakers were:

•  Rosie Rios, current Secretary of the Treasury, who spoke of her mother’s voice instilling in her the determination to make a difference in the world.

•  Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author and writer for The New York Times who explained why women who control three-fourths of all U.S. spending can be the lever we need to reverse global recession.

•  Malehlohonolo Moleko, a native of South Africa, who told the story of her rise from poverty, to building a successful business with help from Coca Cola’s 5by20 Program, and passing on what she learned to others.

•  Jacki Zehner, the first woman to sit on the Board of Goldman Sachs, who showed how money talks when we invest in companies that support women.

•  Julie Bluhm and Issie Labbe, two young women who successfully petitioned Seventeen Magazine to stop Photoshopping girls’ shapes and faces in their publication.

•  Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic who initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund a video series exploring the depiction of women in video games.

My takeaways from the talks:

1. Women have more power than they think—in the form of guts, drive, resilience, and spending power.

2. We can demand change by voting with our wallets.

3. Make it a priority to support companies that support women.

4. We all need mentors at one time in our careers. Be one or get one.

5. We are a reflection of our mother’s influence in our lives, just as we wield influence over our children. Use it wisely.

6. Get business training if you need it.

7. Entrepreneurship, education, and corporate investment are critical change agents.

Check out the TED website and listen to riveting talks by remarkable people that are free to the world. The experience is definitely an adrenaline rush.

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