Today I watched 4 talks totalling just under 30 minutes. The first was direct and the other three where on a 15 minute playlist of ‘inspiring’ talks. Here they are:


#1 Chrystia Freeland: The rise of the new global super-rich

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Since the 1950’s the rise of the super-rich (the top 1%) has been rising more than steadily. Chrystia’s observation the gap between the top 0.1% and the next group along (the next 0.9%) is even more interesting. She goes on to provide some numbers to back this up.

She offers some reasons for the rise – the internet,  crony capitalism and globalisation. The main problems with this skewed distribution is the misuse of political power and the influence of established and emerging plutocrats.

Though I knew of this topic already, it was interesting to hear Chrystia’s perspective and supporting data.Really interesting was the education of the rich and how it is designed deliberately to capitalise and grow their wealth – through the Stanfords and Harvards of the world.

My key learning: There is not just the ‘rich’ anymore. There is also now the ‘super-rich’. The rich and super-rich intend on staying so and approach the education of their progeny accordingly. How will the scales ever be be balanced – should they?

#2 Kartick Satyanarayan: How we rescued the “dancing” bears”

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This talk was incredible! The story of how a small group of dedicated and passionate conservationists focused on the problem of bears baited and captured, their spirit broken by a desperately poor and mostly illiterate tribe in India.

Some of the captured bears are sold to be made into traditional medicines in the far east. Others are kept as performing animals – dancing bears – to earn their captor and owner much needed money.

What I really loved hearing about in this talk was the holistic approach the conservationists took. The bears were essentially economic objects – versus food or entertainment – for their captors and the conservationists designed alternative forms of economic activities for each of the bear captors in exchange for the imprisoned bears.

Astounded to hear that they succeeded in their mission to find, free and rehome all 1200 dancing bears in India – wow!

My key learning: For best results – equitable to all concerned, least confrontational – work to understand and address the causes of the problem you are trying to fix, as well as trying to address the main problem. By offering seed capital to previous bear owners, the conservationists address the primary cause of the bear capturing.
Also, it brought home to me that there are often more stakeholders in a problem than we are conditioned to see.

When I first watched the talk, I considered the villagers cruel and undeserving of any help. Yet they are stakeholders in the solution – it has to work for them to work for the bears. I felt deeply humbled and grateful to Kartick’s talk that I was able to challenge my thinking.

#3 Hannah Brencher: Love letters to strangers

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I’m all for unrequited love for humanity but I struggled to get beyond Hannah’s overlyrical waxing. I love the idea of writing people letters and generally anything that one human being can do to help another through a desperate time.

Why desperate? Because I think I would have to be emotionally desperate to fully appreciate and receive the love that a complete stranger expresses in an unsolicited letter.

Maybe that says more about me than it does the world.

Also I think that love, even if unrequited, must still connect with a need the receiver has – otherwise it is a noble waste. For example, if I have a need for a friend to listen and I receive a letter that does not address that need (letters by definition do not) then it really is pointless. This may be a utilitarian view of love but one that resonates deeply with me.

My key learning: Nevertheless I learnt something from Hannah’s talk, more a reaffirmation of something I already knew – that the world is full of amazing stories and even in this age of super fast digital communications, there is still a place for analog that communicates love through the time and care someone takes to do something like write a letter.

#4 Laura Trice: Remember to say thank you

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Saying ‘thank you’ has become so blaise now that it might as well be meaningless. Laura’s talk explores what it means to say ‘thank you’ and to display/demonstrate genuine appreciation. I found the stories from her work with mental illness fascinating about how some of the problems she hears about have , at the their core, the person not feeling appreciated.

Very interesting for me was Laura’s suggestion that people own their need for appreciation. This resonates deeply with me and my journey in Non Violent Communication. By communicating this need, we make it easier for others to have the permission to say ‘thank you’ to us.

My key learning: Laura’s talk really brought it home to me that people still fundamentally value appreciation and regardless of the words, sincerity is the key. Also I learnt that who is saying the ‘thank you’ is often as important as what it is being said for.

I make a point to say thank you to my sons every night as I put them to bed and to praise them for trying their best today. This talk reminded me to expand that to my wife and others who make my life happier everyday.

What did you learn from these talks? How did they move you? I’d love to hear your opinions, comment below or tweet!

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