Thoughts on TEDx Berkeley 2012

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend TEDx Berkeley, my first TED conference. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and is a worldwide conference with speakers, performers, and videos.

The Berkeley one that I attended was independently organized (by students, no less), and although I went in with pretty much no expectations, I came out from the conference pleasantly surprised and inspired.

Inspired would be a good word to describe my feelings, as the theme of TEDx Berkeley was “Inspiring Innovation.” After an entire day of talks and performances (10 AM – 5 PM), ranging from innovative ideas, non-profits, robotics, ethnobotany, and performance art, TEDx won me over because the content it presented was substantial.

Let me give some examples.

One speaker, Nipun Mehta, talked about “giftivism” and the gift economy – basically, the power and surprising results of helping others altruistically. People actually donate more money when they follow a pay-for-the-person-after-you model. It’s definitely possible for this to translate to other parts of society.

Another speaker, Tapan Parikh, talked about dropping everything he did at one point in his life to live in India as a teacher. He began to travel all across the country with a group of people searching for villagers with innovative ideas, and basically established a network of forward-thinking people in small Indian villages.

There were 12 speakers, and just hearing their unique life stories and how they were inspired to accomplish what they eventually accomplished really got me thinking about my own career goals.

TEDx Berkeley raised some important points that I found useful:

1) It’s very possible to live a happy and rewarding life helping others, and doing so may actually lead to higher job satisfaction than a well-paying one.

2) Don’t be afraid to pursue a project or job that you want to do. It may take lots of sweat and tears, occasional failures and setbacks, but in the end, you’ll come out on top.

3) Life is short. One of the speakers, Dr. Neha Sangwan, talked about how one of the greatest fears coming from patients was not dying, but dying before accomplishing all they had wanted to accomplish in life.

All in all, I definitely thought more about what I’d like to accomplish in life. Like a lot of people, I want to eventually start something on my own, and I want it to make a positive impact on society. How cool would it be to love what you’re doing and help other people in the process?

The hard part is actually going out and doing it, while risking status, wealth, and comfort. I think it’s a risk worth taking, and while I don’t know how things will pan out for me, I do hope to one day reach that goal.

TEDx Berkeley at

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