Wed11262014

Books

Meet my new best friend, TED

If you haven’t met TED yet, I would be thrilled to introduce you. Knowing TED will give you an edge at any social gathering, improve your self-esteem, impress your friends and family, and generally enhance your life in every way.

Who is TED? I hear you cry. Well, I am really not screaming his name in all-caps – “TED” stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” It is an awesome website (Ted.com/talks) with brief talks by the most interesting people imaginable. And it is free.

TED began as a global set of conferences sponsored by the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, created to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” The first one in 1984 was developed as a one-off event. By 1990, it had morphed into an annual conference.

And then the website Ted.com was born, featuring TED Talks – short videos of the best and brightest global thinkers and innovators. I guarantee you will LOVE (yes, this time I am screaming with enthusiasm!) this site. You will find wonderful speakers and thinkers who address a wide range of topics and share their ideas eloquently, often through storytelling. Speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their information, and they do so in the most engaging ways possible. Complex and interesting topics are distilled to concise, entertaining summaries that will make you feel smarter.

You may be wondering what this has to do with books. I am happy to say that authors feature quite prominently in the array of TED Talk speakers.

It stands to reason that many innovative thinkers are known to us through the books that they write. For instance, check out Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love” (Viking Adult, 2006); Jill Bolte Taylor, author of “My Stroke of Insight” (Viking Adult 2008, 2009); first-time author Karen Thompson Walker, “The Age of Miracles” (Random House, 2012); and my all-time favorite (so far), Brené Brown’s audiobook CD “The Power of Vulnerability” (Sounds True, 2012). What a gift to see these authors and thinkers and learn more about who they are and how they think.

Even though it may not be your birthday or Christmas, you can give yourself a really big gift today by watching, listening and learning from some of the best communicators around, in 18-minute video/sound bites. If you don’t already have a favorite in mind, I suggest you start with Brown, who can present “data with a soul” like no one I have ever heard.

I’m just saying … there is no longer any excuse for being a boring person. Get a few TED Talks under your belt and watch your popularity soar and the party invitations roll in. You will be the talk of the town and everyone will marvel at your insights and want to bask in your company.

Come to think of it, I might need a TED Talk on “Reality” pretty soon, but not just yet. I’m having too much fun imagining what I’ll say when TED calls and offers me my 18 minutes of fame.

Perhaps I will start with my humble beginnings as a little-known columnist at the Los Altos Town Crier.

Sharon Lennox-Infante, contributing editor for Book Buzz, is a Los Altos resident.

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