10 Nov

I went to my first TEDx today. If like me you had heard about TED Talks, but aren’t quite sure what they are meant to be I’ll give you a broad definition. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. TED’s mission statement begins:

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

So I enter the stunning Lowry Theatre with Perry, Amanda, Ana and Catalina, Elbow’s ‘Beautiful day’ is playing in the background, technology is everywhere (despite no WIFI and poor 3G signal) and there is a much younger crowd than the events I normally go to. There was a real buzz from the beginning and it was clear that TEDxSalford had reached a varied number of spectators.

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All the sessions were streamed live on the website, all the 18 minutes speeches will be on YouTube and I loved the mixture of live guests and great videos. In this brief blog post I won’t be able to review/summarise every single speech, but I will post some of the videos that really captivated me today and inspired me. I can see myself spending hours on YouTube listening to multiple TED’s every night and I think they would all be worth listening to.

However if you’ve never come across this video before please have a look:

Soul pancake #kidpresident –>


Also, check out this video on sanitation. 2.5 million people do not have toilets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmDtw4npb1g

The morning was great, with an emotional 2 minute silence for Remembrance Day and despite the poor 3G signal, I managed to tweet a couple of things featured in this Storify. –> https://storify.com/Damiana_HR/tedxsalford

There was also a great talk by ‘seeker of Immortality’ Aubrey De Grey. If you’ve never come across his work, I would recommend to check it out. However the afternoon had promised to be even better and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Clayton Anderson, the mystery guest from NASA came on straight after the break and told us the story of his 151 days in space.

‘I never had a bad day in space apart from when there were no emails for an entire weekend, or the toilet was broken. A lot of people take a lot of time to make sure we’re safe, so it wasn’t bad at all.

It was 1968, Christmas eve, we woke up and there was a black and white TV and all of a sudden we were watching men on the moon. I was hooked when I was 6. It took me 15 applications to become and astronaut. 15 years of my life to make my dream come true. Then I got to see the beauty of our planet. 

Astronauts are not what you see in movies. Astronauts are people with life, families and responsibilities, they inspired me when I was 6, however we can all help people figure out how to dream. Make people do things that maybe they didn’t think they could do. NASA is an American institution, but we need to make it bigger and accessible to everybody. Let’s combine STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math to change lives. Do it in your school, in the office, at home, understand that in the world of entertainment we can use a movie to make people dream. Art can help.

I was superman when I was in space, I was flying to breakfast, flying to work, flying to go to the bathroom. With 2 fingers I could lift anything. I was flying 220 miles around the earth. Even a simple idea is worth spreading. Take what you have, use your mind and imagination and help young people achieve their dreams. We need more supermen and superwomen’.

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I enjoyed the speech from Historian and archaeologist Martin Hall about Salford and cities in general. We were shown a picture of Salford Quays in 1914. Nearly a century ago it was the third biggest port in Britain and ¾ of England’s GDP was coming from the Manchester/Liverpool area. I love hearing this story in particular as this is the reason why I came to Manchester to study Social History. I always have been and always will be fascinated by the story that Engels has described so well when writing about mills and the condition of the working class in Britain. One century later, this same slot of land is home to BBC, BBC Breakfast, home of ITV and some serious players in the media industry right now. Salford Quays is the largest concentration of high performance digital studios in Europe. The cities we now live in have been affected by rapid change and contradiction. They are places of inequalities, but also full of creativity and energy. Cities are global destinations, exciting places and places of discovery and I fully enjoyed having a look at comparing the area to how it used to be 100 years ago.

Tariq Ramadam’s 18 minutes started to really dig deeper. He started asking a few of the important questions that I am sure we’ve all spent a lot of time in trying to answer. What is the true meaning of freedom? Are you sure you want what you want? We can be alienated by emotions. You think you are free, but you are open to be a consumer. Discipline is not against freedom, quite the opposite. In order to achieve freedom, what will we need? Knowledge. There is no freedom without knowledge. As Socrates said: know yourself. Ignorance is the first prison. Instead of judging other religions, come to a dialogue. We have a lot to do together. We should stop being an observer of our own failure. Start with yourself.

What is spirituality? Putting meanings in our actions and in our life. The quest for meaning is a universal and intimate quest. What is the goal of your life? What are you trying to achieve? If we are sincere and real, we know that we all have a very intimate struggle. Trust your qualities and face your weaknesses. Be ethical. We are here with a mission to change this world for the better. We need to be committed about the values that we have. Being ethical means to always ask the meaning of the ends. Question the goals and you’ll know the way. It is important to work and promote knowledge. We all have to try and know each other. Know how others think, know in what they believe. We have to be courageous. We have to face reality and we have to speak against what others think. Remain positive, humble and ambitious.

One of my favourite talks (there were however too many to choose from) was Eleanor Longden’s: ‘The Voices in my Head’. In my HR network and more in general this year I have been increasingly exposed to mental illness and this has really inspired me to continue to support the cause and do my bit. Please have a look at this video:


Interesting how some of my favourite talks of the days were delivered either by women or Asian speakers. This made quite a difference from the CIPD Conference I attended this week. #CIDP14 would really benefit from some of the profound, interesting and inspirational speakers I witnessed today. While I was listening to these great speakers, I couldn’t help but thinking about Sukh’s last blog post ‘HR and Diversity’. It is clear that a lot still needs to be done in HR in order to truly promote diversity. It just has to be on the agenda. Just like mental illness.

Up next was Graham Hughes, on 1st January 2009 he started travelling around the world with the mission of going to every country in the world without ever taking a plane. ‘Impossible’, I hear you say, well no, 4 years later, only £27,000 poorer and with great stories to tell, he did it. This was an incredible and fascinating story and I’d recommend to check out his blog at http://www.theodysseyexpedition.com

I found myself daydreaming about travelling the world during Lemn Sissay‘s beautiful poem. If there is one negative element (which is actually also a positive) about today, is that there is no time to think or elaborate on what has just been said. However, no doubt, these inspiring words and stories will come back to me whenever I need them. As this is the incredible power of words and individuals.

Before the end we had Thad Starner, the technical lead on Google’s Project Glass and Lucy Siegle, but the last speaker/performer brought tears to my eyes. Hetain Patel, artist and performer, had a relatively fun concept and idea. His mission and dream was to create a ‘Fiesta Transformer’ as piece of art. His dad is passionate about cars and he wanted a project that would make them come together. This made me realise that whatever your mission is, whatever you dream of doing, if it’s taking apart and rebuilding a car/robot with your dad, or if it’s travelling every single country in the world, it is just as important as it is your dream. It’s not how big the project is and it is not always about how valuable it is for everyone else. It is about what you want to achieve. It is about your dreams. I was clearly very lucky to have some great people today sharing their dreams with me, so thank you TEDxSalford. You’ve been a great first TEDx and I am sure only the first of many.

Now I need to figure out what my dream is.

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