By Olivia Deng, InBusiness Editor
On Friday, the auditoriums of the Broad Institute, the Koch Institute and the Ragon Institute in Kendall Square were filled with individuals ready to be inspired. These were the sites of the 2014 fall TEDxCambridge event. A smaller division of the global TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences, TEDx are local, self-organized events that focus on innovators and inspirers in the area. Missed out on the conference? Don’t worry. Here you can read a little bit of the wisdom that each speaker had to impart, or watch a short video for a visual of what the conference was like.
Peter Hurley, Portrait Photographer and Anna Rowley, Applied Psychologist
“We either own it, pose, diminish or run.”
The focus of the duo’s talk was on self-acceptance, using inferences from observing people’s behavior in front of a camera to make generalizations on how individuals approach life differently. Hurley discussed the gap between the way people perceive themselves and how the world perceives them, expressing his frustration over the lack of self-confidence among some of his photograph subjects. Rowley noted that society encourages us to find faults and the camera lens becomes an extension of our harshest critics.
What talk about photography would be complete without a mention of the ubiquitous selfie? Hurley noted that, while people may shrivel like a prune in front of his camera, they react differently when taking their own pictures. Why? Because they are in control. They have broken through what he referred to as the “picture-avoidance syndrome.”
Linda Hill, Management Visionary
“It is not about solo genius; it is about collective genius.”
Hill, who serves as a professor at Harvard Business School, spoke about her study of 16 leaders. She highlighted her experience with Pixar in 2005, commending them for their collaborative work ethic. Leadership, she said, is not a solo effort. She noted that innovative organizations have three factors in common: creative abrasion, creative resolution and creative agility.
Colleen Macklin, Game Designer
“Use failure as a flashlight to illuminate the path to positive change.”
Does a game of Budgetball sound enticing to you? Macklin designed Budgetball to educate players on the U.S. budget deficit by encouraging strategic thinking and making decisions in a group setting. The game has been lauded for turning abstract economic issues into actual ideas that college students can better understand.
Tyler Jacks, Cancer Pioneer
“Why do we keep going?”
Think that your life as a student at Boston University is difficult? Jacks, director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talked about his experience as a cancer researcher. He likened some instances of his long career as being trapped in a maze, stressing the importance of perseverance in the face of difficulty.
Gabriel Stulman, Philosophical Restaurateur
“Celebrate the individual.”
Employee engagement is a problem in the United States. Many employees see work as a chore; they are not truly invested in it. Stulman, who owns six restaurants in New York City, envisions a world with employees who are not only incentivized to work for the salary, but also for the relationships they cultivate with coworkers. Companies, he said, ask individuals to dispose of their passions and invest in the ambitions of the company. Stulman suggested that companies take more interest in their employees as humans, not work drones.
Tali Sharot, Behavioral Neuroscientist
Had Niccolò Machiavelli attended this talk, he would have been seething with disagreement. Sharot discussed the futility of fear as a mechanism to change human behavior. Instead, positive incentives have a greater likelihood of motivating change in individuals. Citing an example of an NSTAR bill that compared her energy usage to her neighbors, Sharot said she was incentivized to be more energy efficient.
Lofti Merabet, Neuro-navigator
According to a survey Merabet displayed, humans fear blindness more than life-threatening conditions such as HIV/AIDS or cancer. Merabet, director of the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity and associate professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, explained that visual blindness is not equivalent to complete blindness. Through research, he found that the visual cortex in the brain is active in those without the ability to see when they are using their other senses to create images in their minds.