Learning Points from Larry Smith’s TED Talk on “Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career”

A challenging talk by Larry Smith which builds on Steve Job’s Stanford speech featured here a few weeks ago.

He postulates that we will fail at having a great career because of all the reasons and excuses that we are going to give ourselves. For me, my issue is that I don’t really know what my passion is, and I’m not sure if pursuing it will feed the family, so I take the safe option and carry on with my life as it is. How else do people in the same circumstances as me choose? If there are examples, I would like to learn from and see how to go about doing it in a risk free way.

Learning Points from Markus Fischer’s TED Talk on “A Robot that Flies like a Bird”

I was intrigued by the title so I just had to watch how this was done.

Weighing only 450 grams, it’s a wonder how the team managed to achieve animal like flight modelled after a bird. There is a certain measure of gracefulness to how this was achieved. The control algorithms must also be spot on to adjust the wings accordingly to whether it wants to fly higher or lower. There’s so much more we can learn from modeling after animals. Who knows what’s next? Walking on water, regenerating list limbs, the list goes on.

Learning Points from Carol Dweck’s TED Talk on “The Power of Believing that You Can Improve”

The power of yet vs the tyranny of now. Carol Dweck shares the idea of the growth mindset with us.

1. Understanding that you have abilities to be developed is adopting a growth mindset. This is opposed to a fixed mindset where you run away from problems instead of taking them head on.

2. To promote a growth mindset in our children, do not praise intelligence or talent. Praise the process that they engage in, their effort, their focus, their strategies, their perseverance, their improvement.

3. Every time we push kids out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, their neurons in their brains can form new and stronger connections and over time, make them smarter.

This echoes Angela Duckworth’s talk on Grit, and serves as further reinforcement that we should praise effort rather than intelligence. Nowadays I’m making an effort to do just that for my children. In time to come, hopefully they will develop this same type of mindset to succeed in life and not give up too easily.

Learning Points from David Christian’s TED Talk on “The History of Our World in 18 Minutes”

David Christian covers what he terms as “big history”, the entire history of our world and what a tiny speck we are in the overall world timeline, and yet what a significant impact we have made.

The gist of the talk is that while we have grown rapidly these past few hundred years, we must be careful not to undermine the Goldilocks conditions that have allowed us to flourish thus far. There are many threats, for example, possession of armed nuclear weapons, overuse of earth’s natural resources such as fossil fuels, etc. The power of collective learning must be used wisely, and in the wake of the threats we might face, we should appreciate the fragility of what we have and be mindful about what we are doing.

Learning Points from Russell Foster’s TED Talk on “Why do we Sleep?”

Sleep! Something all parents yearn for and wished they have done more of after kids appear in their lives. Russell Foster shares his insights on sleep with us.

1. Scientists have dozens of ideas about why we sleep, but do not have a consensus on which is right. Some of these include restoration, energy conservation, brain processing and memory consolidation.

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