Great Ideas from TEDxEast 2012


TEDxEast. by Keith Bendis

I attended the 2012 TEDxEast event last week and I was blown away–the variety and quality of the speakers was incredible. Here are my notes from the awesome event. You can also check out some pictures on the Humor That Works Facebook Page.


The Other Side of Separation (Keith Yamashita)

Keith Yamashita, a business innovator and consultant, talked about surviving separation after a loss and what it means for how we live now.

  • On the other side of separation is connection.
  • Life is what we choose. Fear or love.

Titan: A World of Both Strange and Familiar (Oded Ahronson)

Planetary Scientist Oded Ahronson shared the story of the Cassini mission to Titan.

  • Titan–a moon around Saturn.
  • Create a test to find out if there is water underneath Titan’s ice surface by reapplying spinning egg test of soft or hard boiled egg.
  • Life in the Universe? The Drake Equation

The Golden Ratio (Matthew Cross)

Business Consultant Matthew Cross introduced the idea of the Golden Ratio.

  • Also known as Phi and the Divine Proportion.
  • The ratio: ~1.618:1.
  • Camera Awesome App — uses golden ratio to frame picture.

Unlikely Targets of Modern Day Vaccines (Dr. Kim Janda)

Dr. Kim Janda presented his work on using vaccinations for more than the “typical” diseases.

  • First lab vaccine came from Pasteur, came about by chance because of an extended vacation.
  • Addiction isn’t a moral failure of the individual but a brain problem.
  • Trying to find vaccines for drug addiction. The vaccine works by blunting the rewarding effect (no pleasure from using the drug)

The Muslims are Coming! (Dean Obeidallah)

Comedian Dean Obeidallah gave a stand-up performance and discussed his work using stand up comedy to counter Islamaphobia.

Resolving the Health Care Crisis (T. Colin Campbell)

Dr. T Colin Campbell discussed his take on how the health care system in the US could be improved.

  • Whats missing from our health care? Nutrition.
  • 80-10-10 diet is the best diet in his view (80% carbs, 10% fat, 10% protein).

Gillian Grassie. By Keith Bendis

Musical Performance (Gillian Grassie)

Gillian Grassie, a singer / songwriter / harpist, gave the background of the inspiration for one of her songs and then performed it.

You Are Not an Ape (Jon Marks)

Dr. Jon Marks discussed evolution and racism.

  • Decades ago we distinguished between what we are and what we were.
  • You are not your ancestry, nor are your DNA. Your genetics are simply who you were, not who you are.


The Creation: Plus 40 (Carmen deLavallade)

Dancer Carmen deLavallade performed a piece titled The Creation: Plus 40.

Between Art, Architecture, and Monument (Maya Lin)

Maya Lin, an artist and architect, talked about her creative process and her current projects fusing art and architecture. See more of Maya’s work on Artsy.

  • There is tension between the straight and the curve.
  • Her work is a tripod of all three, can’t have one without the other.
  • Memorials are between art and architecture
  • “I do research for months, years, then put it away and try to create.”

The Gap (Julian Crouch)

Keith Yamashita interviewed Designer / Director Julian Crouch about his work.

  • Success is tricky because people want you to repeat THAT success (the same thing you already did).
  • Failure can be an amazing cleansing.
  • Be yourself more. Do the thing you loved when you were 8.

Nix, Nada, Nameless (Peter Wegner)

Artist Peter Wegner talked about his work and projects.

  • Zero, Nameless, Speck are all real towns in the US.
  • What makes the buildings possible is the “city in the sky” (buildings made of sky in the space between 2 buildings on the street.)
  • Making the invisible visible.

How to Pass, Kick, Film and Run (Charles Atlas)

Charles Atlas, filmmaker and video artist, shared how he captures dance on film.

A Public Place (Oskar Eustis)

Oskar Eustis, an artistic director, talked about his work on Angels in America.

  • Change can feel like death.
  • You have to give time and space for creativity (like blocking downfield for a running back).
  • Art and creativity is not a commodity. One way to keep something from being a commodity is by making it free.

Meet Wendy (Matthias Hollwich)

Architect Matthias Hollwich shared the process of how he created his most recent project.

  • Creativity is about an exhaustion of ideas… and then one idea after that.
  • After generating a list ideas that didn’t work, went back through them and selected what they like about each idea. Molded them together into something new.

The Song Makes a Space (Michael Friedman)

Michael Friedman, composer and lyricist, talked about his creative process and shared a song from his upcoming musical.

  • Fortress of Solitude, the telling of a story told through pop songs.
  • Which comes first, the music or the lyrics? Both. Neither. Depends.
  • Why is this person singing? (Its not good enough to say, “because its a musical.”)
  • Make it simple, not simplistic.


Excerpts from Beauty (Jane Comfort)

Jane Comfort and Company, a dance company, performed excerpts from an upcoming performance.

Estranged Labour (Samantha Sleeper)

Fashion Designer Samantha Sleeper shared insights from her clothing line and explained why she uses local labor.

Musical Performance (PS22 Chorus)

The boys and girls choir from PS22 sang a collection of songs.

PS22 Chorus

Biology of the Mind: Who We Love (Helen Fisher)

Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, talked about the biology of love.

  • 2 aspects of personality: nurture and nature; estimate 40-60% decided by nature.
  • 4 groups of personalities: explorers, builders, directors, negotiatiors.
    • Explorers: Dopamine/Norepherine, sensation seeking, live in big cities
    • Builders: Serotonin, conventional, numeric creativity, “more close friends”,
    • Director: Testosterone, analytic, rule based, direct. Use “Real”
    • Negotiators: Estrogen/Oxytocin, big picture, empathetic, indecisive, unforgiving
  • Love: Explorers and Builders want people like themselves. Directors and Negotiators want opposites of themselves.

Defining Photography (Antonio Bolfo)

Photographer Antonio Bolfo shared his worked and discussed the importance of perspective in art.

  • How do we make photos stand out? Finding a personal perspective.
  • Perspective is the key to photography. What did the photgrapher want you to believe?

Be Your Own Superman (Cassandra Lin)

Cassandra Lin, a 13 year-old social entrepreneur, shared how she was able to impact change in her community.

  • Steps to getting things done: 1) identify your allies; 2) Find adults to the work; 3) make sure everyone makes money; 4) keep it simple.
  • Do things for people (create the first draft, start the project, etc) instead of asking them to do it from scratch.

Dirty Minds (David Pizarro)

Psychologist David Pizarro talked about the emotion of disgust.

  • Disgust is one of the easiest emotions to elicit.
  • When something disgusting touches something clean that thing becomes disgusting (not clean).
  • Thus it can be used for politics and linking disgusting things with your target.
  • Signs reminding of washing hands increases political and moral conservatism.


Musical Performance (Julie Reumert)

Opera Singer Julie Reumert performed with an orchestra.

Julie Reumert

City as Platform (Beth Coleman)

Dr. Beth Coleman shared her dream of engaging strangers in urban areas.

  • Turn your city into a playground.
  • How do we use technology to be heads up (aka interacting with each other and the world) instead of head down (consumed in our personal lives).

Visual Anonymity (Sam Gregory)

Sam Gregory, a human rights activist, talked about the importance of anonymity in a world with social media.

Poetry of Misunderstanding (Ross Martin)

Creative SWAT Team Leader Ross Martin shared how the understanding and misunderstanding of poetry is important to creativity.

  • The best we can hope for is not to be understood, but to misunderstood by great minds.
  • People will not receive your work the way you anticipate it.
  • The world moves forward by creative minds using things in ways beyond our intention.

Prodigious Serendipity (Jeff Carter)

Jeff Carter, an innovator and creative, discussed how radical change occurs.

  • The audacity of self identity. I am who I say I am.

GERM that Kills Schools (Pasi Sahlberg)

Dr. Pasi Sahlberg shared what is helping schools Finland rank among the top in the world.

  • 3 reasons why Finland schools are doing well: 1) open to learn from other countries; 2) have never wanted to be #1; 3) take teachers seriously.
  • GERM — Global Educational Reform Movement
  • Accountability is what is left when responsibility is taken away.

Mahmoud Natout

How I Improved my Iteracy (Mahmoud Natout)

Educator / thinker Mahmoud Natout talked about the linear and nonlinear representation of life.

  • When presented with ambiguity, we project our feelings.
  • A refreshing bio would be about presenting our failures in addition to our successes. Do this?
  • We represent our life linearly. Why? 1) linear is predictable, clear and comfortable. 2) education told us to.
  • Linear representation leads to linear values (they are binary, either succes or failure).

There you have hit. Some ideas worth spreading from TEDxEast 2012.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Mahmoud Natout May 24, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Thank you so much. All the best. Mahmoud

  • Andrew Tarvin May 21, 2012, 9:56 am

    No problem, it’s changed. Thinking back to the presentation it didn’t make sense that it was “Literacy” but you started your presentation in such a cool, unique way I didn’t catch the title from you the first time.

    Thanks for the great talk!

  • Mahmoud Natout May 19, 2012, 12:59 pm

    Hi and thanks for the synopsis of my talk and the pic at tedxeast. I just wanted to draw your attention to a little error in the title of my talk. You see the intended title was ‘how I improved my iteracy’, however whomever printed the program for the event decided to ‘correct’ the word ‘iteracy’ by replacing it with ‘literacy’. The former, however, was the intended title. If it is not too much trouble, could you perhaps correct it on your website? Thanks in advance, Mahmoud Natout

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