It’s that point in the semester where classes are in full swing, professors are mercilessly peddling along toward Spring Break, and warmer temperatures have us gazing out the window instead of studying. However, next time you’re searching for a little respite from the daily grind look no further than a balanced, informative TED Talk. It’s like a stimulating break for your brain without the usual guilt that accompanies an hour spent on YouTube! Below are five of my favorites, from five inspirational, intelligent women.
- Celeste Headlee: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation– Ignore the irony of the medium on which you’re reading this for a moment. With our smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart watches, and e-readers always within arm’s reach, the experts have been mumbling for a while now that out interpersonal skills are suffering. Celeste Headlee, host of the Georgia Public Broadcasting program “On Second Thought,” has worked as a woman in competitive world of radio journalism for nearly two decades. (If you want an idea of how hard her job really is, remember our media obsession with “vocal fry”?) In her TED, Headlee discusses how our current society is more polarized than it has ever been, which means we are less likely to engage in productive conversation with one another. She provides some welcome insight into improving your interpersonal skills and how to really engage in a conversation.
- Amy Cuddy- Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are– Sit up straight for this one. No really, social psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy, wants you to adjust your posture because it could change your life. In her TED, Cuddy discusses the fascinating influence of body language, the power pose and how to fake it till’ make it. According to Cuddy, adjusting your body language is about more than projecting confidence; it’s a reflection of our self worth. She touches on the idea that our society teaches men and women to embody space and express power in different ways. Men are encouraged to take up space, whereas women tend to shrink into ourselves in public spaces. However, as Cuddy reminds us power is found in the way we react to pressures, not in our bravado.
- Cameron Russell: Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.– While the expression “genetic lottery” may not mean much, supermodel Cameron Russell has built a career on winning it. According to her, it’s a competition that has prepared her for looking vaguely surprised and hopping back and forth in front of a camera. In short, nothing to idolize. Her popular TED Talk sheds some light on how image can play a huge part in our lives and how it can be a powerful, but also superficial influence. According to Cameron, her goal is to insert brains into an industry based on beauty (although to us, brains are beautiful). Cameron touches on gender, race, and what it’s like to build a career on her appearance in this insightful and confidence-boosting Talk.
- Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame– From the age of twenty four, Monica Lewinsky has been embroiled in a spiral of public shaming and vitriol. After many years, the former White House intern has finally begun to reclaim her voice and her personal narrative. Lewinsky’s Talk, which was her first public speaking engagement, follows her essay written for Vanity Fair entitled “Shame and Survival.” In both her Talk and her editorial, Lewinsky candidly shares the excruciating experience of losing her reputation and dignity on a global scale. She encourages viewers to take a hard look at the digital age and calls for greater accountability for our actions online.
- Shonda Rhimes: A Year of Saying Yes to Everything– We love Shonda Rhimes. Team Shonda. Team late-night red wine. Team strong and powerful, career oriented women. You can imagine my excitement when we saw that in addition to her critically acclaimed film and television career (Scandal anyone?), Rhimes came out with her own TED Talk. Her Talk is a companion to her memoir published in 2015, Year of Yes. For an entire year the creative force behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder said yes to all the things that scared her. Rhimes recounts her experience of a year of saying “yes” and how it saved personal life and her already impressive career.