I’m staying in Mysore now, at the lovely Green Hotel. If you happen to be visiting Mysore, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I am still processing the conference and trying to sort out what it all means, and how what I learned there will change me and my course. The one thing I can be sure of is that it has changed me. The speakers, naturally, were (mostly) all amazing, but what really pulled the whole event together were the attendees. From the moment I stepped out of the registration I was greeted by one warm, generous, and engaging person after another. As the conference proceeded, little networks began to form. One new friend would introduce me to another until I felt I knew every like minded person in the thousand person audience.
I could go on about the amazing off stage experiences, and perhaps I will in another post, but the title of this post promises my recommendations so I’ll deliver.
As I mentioned all but a small minority of the talks were amazing and inspiring in their way, but there were eight that really impacted me. Some people use the word impacted in a loose way, but I can honestly say that these talks had a physically palpable affect on me. The very best continued to wrack my physical being for hours afterward.
The conference started out with Hans Rosling promising to predict the exact date when India would overtake the rest of the world on average per capita wealth and health. While I haven’t been a fan of his previous talks, this one was funny and engaging. Later on Shashi Tharoor commented that it is not right to look at India as overtaking the world. He believes that we are heading into an era of increased equity. I hope he is right.
Jib Ellison spoke about taking his family on a trip around the world. I spoke with him and his family later, on the ride to dinner, and was blown away by their experience and their warmth.
Ananda Shankar Jayant talked about her struggle against breast cancer and described how she conquered her fear and despair through belief and dance. She then painted us a powerful picture (both literal and figurative) through dance.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev spoke to us about his spiritual awakening, and the power of mind (and spirit) over body.
The last three speakers that I’m going to tell you about were by large margin my favorite of the conference. Each one of them made me cry, and think, and long for a better world.
Sunita Krishnan gave a passionate accounting of the state of human trafficking. She described the plight of young girls who have been sold into slavery and prostitution. I’m still processing my emotions, so I won’t go into any more detail but I strongly encourage everyone to watch her talk when it shows up on ted.com. When she left the stage, an audience member stood up and offered $10,000 if 10 other people would do the same. 100 people stood up.
Kavita Ramdas, the president of the Global Fund for Women, told us about her middle path. She learned the middle path by observing strong and determined women working in conflict areas. They taught her a way to address injustice which navigates the space between anger and despair. This third path utilizes the power of love and respect, along with strong will and determination to disarm and co-opt the opposition. If you are fighting for a cause, and sometimes find yourself fighting outrage and anger (or hopelessness) you owe it to yourself to watch this amazing woman’s speech.
Lastly I submit Eve Ensler for your consideration. Eve is the author and star of the famous Vagina Monologues and has given at least one other TED talk in the past. I really enjoyed the one I had seen previously, but the end of this talk just left me breathless and speechless. Eve ended her time on stage with a passionate and theatrical delivery of her new poem “An Emotional Being”. You really must watch the whole talk but stick through to the end because this poem rocked me!