In my last three blog posts I reported on the TEDxFolkestone talks without making any comments, since I wanted to encourage you to find out more about the speakers and watch the talks once available on YouTube to form your own idea. In this piece, though, I’m going to reflect on the events.
First of all, what has really impressed me is the contagious enthusiasm of speakers, organisers and volunteers; and the difference between the way some speakers appeared onstage (all looking passionate and delivering the concepts in a clear and engaging way) and the way they appeared during the Q&A sessions (fidgeting non-stop), making me appreciate even more the effort that everybody has put into this project. As for the talks, I enjoyed them all, and some inspired me more than others.
Like Catherine Durin’s talk PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF HOME. An immigrant myself, I have pushed the boundaries of what I call home many times. Grown up in the North of Italy, at 26 I left for London where I spent eight years, then moved to France and stayed there three years, went back to my own town for another four years, and six years ago I came back to the UK and settled down in Folkestone. Besides, my daughter is half Italian and half Algerian, and was born in France. So, what’s ‘home’? Like my friend Catherine stated, ‘where your heart is, that’s home.’
As a writer, Randolph Matthews’s talk BEFORE THERE ARE WORDS THERE ARE SOUND FEELINGS makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I find that sometimes the feeling conveyed by the written word is different from the one conveyed by its sound, and so reading out my pieces helps me fine tune my scenes. I don’t sing them though out of fear of upsetting my neighbours; you surely understand!
I enjoyed very much Jim Lockey’s talk THE FORGOTTEN LANGUAGE OF DRAWING. It took me back to my secondary school days, when I had drawing classes and I dreaded every single minute of them. No teacher succeeded in showing me the secrets of this mysterious art. Only my then best friend did. It’s thanks to her that I can draw lit candles and nice apples. Jim also helped me understand why I use emojis instead of words whenever I can. 😁
Emily Peasgood’s talk EMILY! DON'T DO THAT! was funny and also moving. I related to her dilemma between following her dream of implementing her ‘outrageous ‘ ideas and her longing to fit in. Her journey to be true to herself has taken Emily very far. For example, her interactive sound installation Halfway to Heaven is part of the international art event Folkestone Triennial 2017, which will take place all over the town from 2nd September-5th November 2017.
here is somebody very important that I haven’t mentioned yet.
Somebody that turned her desire of meeting like-minded business people into the successful TEDxFolkestone event: young and dynamic marketing visionary Liu Bachelor.
Last week I had the privilege to chat at length with her. She told me of her surprise at how well her idea was received, of the serious setbacks she encountered along the way, like the rejection of her first application for a TEDx licence; and of the dilemma of choosing the right speakers. Although their ideas were worth spreading, there was no guarantee that they would deliver them in a professional way.
I look forward to next year’s TEDxFolkestone event and in the meantime I would like to hear your comments on this year’s talks. Which one inspired you most? Which idea do you think can help to make a difference in the world?
The last video screening of the recent
TEDx Folkestone: Pushing The Boundaries’ talks
was on at the Lime Bar yesterday evening. This
time, only one speaker, Jim Lockey, was able to
attend so the most interesting part of this event,
the Q&A, was very short. I hope that in the near future there will be other occasions in which
we will have the chance to ask questions to the
other speakers as well.
Here’s the summary of each talk.
JIM LOCKEY: THE FORGOTTEN LANGUAGE OF DRAWING
Jim is an artist and educator who works especially with children and teenagers. In this talk, he demonstrates not only that anyone can draw, but also that drawing is essential to unlock our voice.
When people, especially adults, say they cannot draw, they make a statement about their confidence and not about their ability to draw. When given clear instructions to follow, anybody can draw. So why many people think they cannot draw then? It could be because somebody told them they couldn’t, or because culture tells them that drawing is all about proficiency.
According to Jim, drawings are vessels, containers for ideas, just like writing: drawing and writing are like related languages, each one interpreting the world in a slightly different way.
If people saw drawing in this light, they would draw as much often, they would enjoy it and find that they have more and more things to say.
EMILY PEASGOOD: EMILY! DON’T DO THAT!
Emily is a composer and an artist. All her life she tried to fit in but found it very hard because her ideas were always considered ridiculous. Only when she had enough confidence in herself and implemented her ideas, she found happiness and appreciation.
When she was little, she was very shy, very imaginative, and very inquisitive. Her ideas were welcomed with laughter and disbelief and as a result she tried to conform. However, she found out that to be herself she had to stop listening to the naysayers and had to be willing to do something that she had never done.
She invites us not to let ourselves get in the way of who we are, because our ideas are us.
ARPAD CSEH: TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE-A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Arpad Cseh founded the Climate Opportunity Initiative in 2016. He is also a portfolio manager at UBS Asset Management in the transportation, utilities, energy and social infrastructure sectors. He believes that climate change is man-made and the way tackle it is to make it convenient in the short-term to reduce the negative impact human activities would have on the planet in the long term.
So far, all the initiatives implemented by politicians have failed to deliver concrete results because politicians don’t want to ask their voters to make sacrifices straightaway to benefit others in the distant future. If they did, they will not be re-elected.
However, if countries were given rewards and opportunities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it would be convenient for them to take action now; and Arpad has envisaged such a system that would work better than the actual climate negotiations.
REBECCA ROBERTSON: IF WOMEN RULED THE WORLD
Rebecca Robertson is the award-winning founder of Evolution for Women, a website dedicated to giving women professional financial advice, and is passionate about putting women firmly in control of their finances.
In this talk, Rebecca looks at why women in their fifties are in a weaker financial position than men in the same age group (education, salary, work opportunities, divorce) and at the financial services industry.
She believes that if women were in control of their finances, the wealth in the world would be more widespread and not in the hands of just a few people, and she invites the people who are already in control of their finances to help those were not and also to reach out whenever they need financial advice themselves.
CHRIS CAGE: CREATING THE CARE WE ALL WANT
Chris Cage is a social entrepreneur and organisational development practitioner, with a background in community and engaged theatre practice. He believes that each one of us can make a difference in the quality of care by being creative.
With few examples, Chris illustrates how creative ideas can change people’s lives for the better. In fact, the Care Quality Commission that regulates care homes in England says that creativity is one of the key characteristics of outstanding care.
To be creative though, people must overcome their fear of being rejected, of making mistakes, and of being made look stupid for suggesting something different. As many stick to what has been tried and tested, no chance is given to potential benefits.
Chris invites everybody, whether working, visiting, or living in a care home, to see the possibilities in every situation because it doesn’t cost a penny but it can make an enormous difference in other people’s lives.
Yesterday evening I attended the second video screening
of the recent ‘TEDx Folkestone: Pushing The Boundaries’
talks at the Lime Bar here in Folkestone. The event was well attended, with lively Q&A sessions.
Here’s the talks’ messages in a nutshell.
SIMON COLEMAN: INNOVATING TO CHANGE
In this talk, Simon explains how to push the boundaries of the economic system so that it becomes sustainable and profitable.
He starts by talking about one of his main concerns, the rate of deforestation, currently at 300 football pitches per hour. Forests are destroyed to grow beef cattle, palm oil, and soya, while the wood is used to make furniture and paper.
Throughout the years, the situation hasn’t improved, proving that the deforestation won’t be stopped by our political leaders or by the industries that benefit from it. Also, there’s the big problem of illegal deforestation.
How can we push the boundaries of the economic system then?
By listening to Bruce Lee, who once said: “Be like water. If there is no wave, create one.”
The wave that will change the economic system will be the result of Personal Purchase Power. If every consumer reduces the consumption or stops buying products that are produced unethically, more and more entrepreneurs will offer ethical goods. Eventually, those who don’t change the way they operate will go out of business.
The good thing is that not only more and more consumers are making informed decisions, but also more and more entrepreneurs are concerned about the same issues and are already looking for new solutions.
PAUL BRANSINGTON: HUMANS, ROBOTS AND BUSINESS: HOW MAD LANGUAGE DAMAGES EVERYTHING
With examples of corporate messages, Paul helps us understand why public’s trust in companies is at an all-time low, why 87% of workers worldwide don’t feel engaged in their work, and what can be done about it.
According to Paul, the problem is the depersonalised language companies use to communicate with their customers and their employees.
This depersonalised language is a sign of deresponsibilisation of companies. In the following example, the first sentence is the most sincere one, and the last one shows us what deresponsibilisation means:
“I try to be honest.”
“I value honesty.”
“Honesty is one of my key values.”
In a company, deresponsibilisation is the consequence of confusing consistency with uniformity when implementing the ideas on which the corporate identity is based (mission, vision, and values).
The insistence of using the same concepts at every opportunity regardless of its appropriateness leads to uniformed messages that sound robotic and push customers and employees away, achieving the opposite of its declared aim–-to strengthen relationships with employees and customers.
This robotic language affects also the way management behaves, as it makes managers feel disconnected from the company values and as a consequence they don’t use those values as guidelines for their decisions––hence the lack of consistency.
The discrepancy between what companies say and what they actually do is why trust in them is so low.
What companies need is clear values to judge managerial decisions with, and ‘human’ language, sincere language to communicate with customers, employees and the community at large.
ADAM WILSON: CONSCIOUSNESS — WHERE NEXT?
Adam looks at how consciousness (the state of being aware of one's own feelings, thoughts, sensations, needs and surroundings,) can be taken to new levels to increase happiness and well-being in our society.
According to Adam, meditation is the key to expand our consciousness and therefore the key to enjoy a more relaxed approach to life. His conviction is supported by scientific studies, which show that the brain of people who meditate regularly is wired differently from non-meditators--a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. The long term benefits are higher judgement, better decision-making, better prospective, more empathy and compassion, reduced stress and fewer stress-related diseases.
If meditation became widespread, our society would be much happier and healthier.
RANDOLPH MATTHEWS: BEFORE THERE ARE WORDS THERE ARE SOUND FEELINGS
Randolph is a vocal musician who likes to sing and talk about the sounds the voice can make.
In this fascinating talk, Randolph demonstrates--singing,-- that we are all immersed in a sonic landscape and that sound has a feeling that imbues on people’s lives.
AMY MCMANUS: THE AD BLOCKER FUTURE
The ad blocker (or ad filter) is a type of software that can remove or alter advertising content from a webpage, website, or a mobile app. Already 25% of Internet users use ad blockers especially because they hate interruptions.
What if everybody used it?
At first, you'd think that we, the customers, would be happier, as we could spend more time on the website looking at things we're interested in, instead of waiting for the ads to upload and run. However, ad blockers could be a problem in the future, because 90% of the revenues of the biggest players in the market, Facebook and Google, comes from online advertising. This 90% is invested in medical researches, in new technologies (like driverless cars, AI, virtual reality, and so on) and it covers the costs of running the services and platforms that we use for free.
So far, online ad blockers have been pushing advertisers to invest in more engaging content. Eventually, though, we may have to choose between enjoying free content with ads or ad-free content on a subscription basis.
CATHERINE DURIN: PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF HOME
A boundary is, according to the dictionary, “A line which marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.” Therefore boundaries divide and separate people.
So what defines the boundaries of the place we call home? Is that music, history, tradition, language?
As a Belgian, Catherine was struck by a plaque she saw in Folkestone. It commemorates the arrival of 100,000 Belgian refugees in 1914. And she was moved by the painting 'Arrival of the Belgian Refugees' by Italian/Belgian artist 'Fredo' Franzoni, in which Belgian refugees are welcomed by the town mayor.
Nowadays, media label refugees as scroungers or as a danger to our society, forgetting that they are talking about human beings with unique life experiences.
Catherine had the chance to make friends with one of the refugees who from Syria had managed to reach Germany. Abdullah Ourfali, a 23-year-old man from Aleppo, had seen her posts on the page of the charity she worked with and contacted her. Despite her decision never to befriend strangers online, she felt he was genuine and a true friendship started to blossom.
She met him in Germany for the first time and then in Belgium. With his permission, she shared with us details about his life, his hopes and fears, his dreams for the future. Catherine urged us to go beyond labels and numbers and to get to know the refugees who live near us, because sharing our stories will allow us to connect as persons.
She concluded her talk by saying that, to her, where your heart is, that’s home.
For those who live in Folkestone and want to accept Catherine’s invitation, they could attend the Kent Refugee Action Network’s Open Morning on 29th of June.
DR REBECCA POPE: HOW CAN AI HELP OUR NHS AND SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED?
What is AI? AI is a tool that allows computers to learn by trials and errors like our brain does and it could be used in apps that help patients to monitor his or her health conditions.
Not only every patient would be connected with a clinic team via the app on their device and receive customised care, but they could also be more proactive and follow the advice provided by the app on how to improve their specific condition: which food to eat, what type of exercise to practice, how often to do it and so on.
Another advantage is that doctors could access patients’ data through those apps and decide to see a patient that has requested an appointment not on a first-come-first basis but on the "more urgent case" basis.
NHS resources could be used more efficiently because it will focus more on prevention than cure.
Doctors and nurses would always be at the centre of the NHS, because only humans can show empathy and offer comfort.
As the confidence of patients on these apps is crucial for the new system to work, there are crucial ethical aspects that must be addressed before the system can be implemented:
ADAM HENDERSON: RETHINKING WORK IN THE MODERN WORLD
In this talk, Adam looks at how the working conditions in marketing companies have changed with the arrival of the millennials. Before then, those companies didn’t care much about their workers’ happiness, because the working conditions were the same throughout the industry.
Millennials were different from previous employees. They had seen friends and family members lose their jobs after having been loyal to the same companies for many years. Also, the Internet allowed them access to know-how and places previously unreachable.
When they started to work, millennials didn’t accept the status quo and questioned the ways companies were operating. As a consequence, they either set up their own business or joined new types of organisations that were more aligned to their values, even though they didn’t enjoy pension schemes and were on lower salaries.
Adam found six new things these new types of organisations had in common:
More and more traditionally run businesses are adopting these new ways of operating and according to Adam only those ones that will adapt to the new ways of working will be successful.
As I am very interested in technology, I asked him what he thinks the millennials would do about the rise of the robots, rise that is threatening to take all the jobs away from us. He believes that millennials will manage to integrate robots in the work process so that everybody will benefit.
For those of you that are interest in this topic, here’s the link to another Ted talk, sent to me this morning by a lovely lady I met last night at the screening: The Digital Industrial Revolution from TED Radio Hour in Podcasts