Aja B.
  • Aja B.
  • New York, NY
  • United States

CEO / Software Architect, TED


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What have you accomplished in response to a TEDTalk?

Have you ever been inspired to do something specific after watching a TEDTalk? Examples:

• Took lessons at Khan Academy after watching Salman Khan's talk
• Bought and read one of his books after watching one of Alain de Botton's talks
• Volunteered in a classroom after watching Sir Ken Robinson
• Became a "weekday vegetarian" because of Graham Hill
• Tackled a new creative project after watching Liz Gilbert
• Changed how you work with quiet people because of Susan Cain's "The Power of Introverts"
• Donated to an organization that helps the oceans after watching David Gallo or Sylvia Earle
• Registered for a footrace because you watched "Are we Born to Run?"

Etc etc etc. Can you think of any specific actions you've taken that were directly related to watching a TEDTalk? Please share!

  • Jun 19 2012: As a result of seeing a TED talk by an economics professor about "Why you will never achieve your dreams," I really woke up. I saw it about 4 months ago. I regret that I can't remember the gentleman's name or the talk title because I believe everyone, and I mean everyone, should see it.

    As a result, while keeping my day job, I'm opening up a microbrewery. I've dreamed of doing that for nearly 15 years. I'm moving in circles in the industry, making connections and getting direction for doing original scientific research in the field, as well, in preparation for applying to a masters or Ph.D program in anthropology studying mankind's relationship to fermentation.

    I've had a few things happen over the last 4 years, single events, which radically changed my life. Seeing this TED talk built upon all the things that I've been cultivating since my first wake up moment when I realized I had some form of massive depressive disorder that had to be treated if I ever wanted to do anything in life.

    Other TED talks have led me to act, but none so significantly as that one.
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    Jun 19 2012: Seconds after I finished watching Stefan Sagmeister's talk on "The Power of Time Off" (where he explained the creative benefits of shutting down his studio every 7 years and taking a year off from work), I instantly started crunching numbers. Looked at my savings. I figured out how much I would need to save, and for how long, so that I could afford to take a year off myself.

    16 months ago I quit my job. My first personal creative project I started during my year off became the subject of a TED talk I gave during the first ever auditions here in NYC last year. And this past March, exactly as my year off came to a close, I gave a TED talk about that project at TED2012 in Long Beach, CA.

    Stefan Sagmeister's TED talk has profoundly changed my life. But so have many other talks... but each one is a different story :)
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    Aja B.

    • +2
    Jun 19 2012: Wow, these stories are incredible to read! Please keep them coming. And is anyone else noticing an "I quit my job because of a TEDTalk" trend? Life-changing, indeed! :)
  • Jun 19 2012: I was totally blown away by Brené Brown's talk on vulnerability. As a counsellor, I was amazed at how she managed to reduce such complex issues such as shame, vulnerability and connection into a message that was so simple and profound. After watching both her videos I enrolled on her 'Ordinary Courage' e-course and have just begun a blog to further explore the idea of connection and potential barriers to it. I have recommended her TED talks to countless people, and everyone has commented on how the key message touched on some aspect of their life.
    • Jun 21 2012: Hi Quiet One

      I am a filmmaker and was also was very touched by Brene and am doing some research into a documentry on how a TED talk that goes viral really changes peoples lives. I am interested in hearing more about how Brene's talk influenced/ changed your life

      • Jun 21 2012: Hi Kath, if you have specific questions post them and I'll do my best!
      • Jun 29 2012: Cool.
        Keep us posted on this.
  • Jun 19 2012: after i've heard (Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days) i've decided to watch two TED videos everyday for 30 days, and share them smartly...
    smartly, meaning that i had to look for a context for each talk, and i'd share them with specific people whom i thought would be affected by the talk, and take feedback for how well they fit in that context.
    well, u can guess that watching the overall 60 talks did lots of things to me, but the side effects that i see now on the community i've been sharing with...is inspiring to me.
  • Jun 19 2012: Ive done a lot of things in response to a number of TED vids, TED has in essence become the part of my life that the rest of it gravitates around. I joined Kiva in response to Jessica Jackley's talk but unfortunately couldnt make enough to give a loan but found a local version of kiva here in India called Milaap and gave my first loan on my birthday. I purchased a clay nonstick frying pan after watching Anil Gupta's talk on the hotbeds of innovation. I am currently working on a prototype of a vertical axis wind turbine for domestic power generation after watching a whole bunch of talks and piecing stuff together. I started being more loud about things I considered right and started fighting for basic human rights for everyone after watching a whole lot of vids including Richard Dawkins'.
    I owe the way I live my life now and the development I hope to bring about in the near future to TED. My next wish is to actually attend a conference in person which I havent been able to do yet unfortunately, but hope to soon.
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    Jun 19 2012: Yeah!
    I quit my Job!

    ... and decided to strike it out on my own to develop a Hans Rosling/Gapminder inspired healthcare performance measurement, management and accountability decision support system. Thanks to TED I've already received awards and accolades for my work (and much higher personal life satisfaction!).

    Then, after Tim Berners-Lee's call for OpenData, I started finding, integrating and including as many opendata sets as I could scrape together into a data visualization tool and making them freely available to everyone to assist in evidence-based decision-making: Check it out at http://opendata.datatechsoln.com

    TED changed my life and providence willing will eventually lead to improvements in equitable access to health care services, healthcare performance and the general health, welfare and satisfaction of my fellow citizens.

  • Jun 19 2012: I guess for me the most significant impact TED's had on my life would be in running. Not that I'm a particularly apt or even vigorous runner: I'm a minimalist runner, and not great at it perhaps, but most definitely convinced it's the right way to go. All thanks to Chris McDougall's TED-talk about Born To Run. Sure, the book can get a bit haleluja at times,n and the hype's been completely out of wack of late, but then that's what happens to good ideas: they take flight. And sure, I'm guilty as charged: I too bought the expensive birthdayshoes from Vibram (I mean, you gotta wear something where I'm from, or you'll end up with badly lacerated feet). But in the end I guess all that matters is TED's talks are meant to inspire. And they did, and continue to do so. So thanks, and keep at it. Keep challenging convention, keep moving forward, do not let such a thing as compromise force you into a corner.
  • Jun 19 2012: Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's "A Stroke of Insight" began a process that, for the first time in my life, allowed me to have a moment of clarity and peace about the eventuality of death and the interconnectivity of life. It also changed the direction of my life's work. As a result, I published the following article which has received critical acclaim from the likes of Douglas Rushkoff, Noam Chomsky, Gary Snyder, Dr. Amit Goswami, Bill McKibben and Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor herself. It is been a real joy to interact with my intellectual, spiritual and cultural heroes. And TED made this all possible. Please continue to inspire us all to become inspirational ourselves. Together we will change the world.

  • Jun 19 2012: The biggest action I have taken was not immediate, but has been lasting. I now assign TED talks in all of my classes. I challenge students to start with one (I usually suggest Jill Bolte Taylor's 'Stroke of Insight,') and then to watch one a week in subjects they pick at random. Inspired by the TED talk on discipline cross-pollination, I suggest they watch them in subjects that have nothing to do with their own work or main interests as well. Many a student has told me it's changed their life. One started his daughter on them and she now downloads them regularly for her iPod. I think it may end up being one of the things I do as an adjunct college professor that stays with students the longest.
  • Jun 19 2012: I became a weekday vegetarian ^_^
    I have also been working on reducing the amount of "stuff" I have and how I use my space after watching "less stuff, more happiness" also by Graham Hill
    • Jun 19 2012: Both good talks. And I did these, too. I've even caused a few others to try out the Weekday Vegetarian concept.
  • Jun 19 2012: Shake and fold!
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    Jun 19 2012: I can think of several actions I have taken in response to TED talks but will list here only the first that come to mind. Several times I have purchased the person's book or printed out an article to understand more deeply the work the speaker presented in overview in his TED talk. For example, I printed out and read Yochai Benkler's article called Coase's Penguin. I visited Martin Seligman's Positive Psychology site and shared some of his ideas with the readers of my blog. I bought a book to which Stefan Stegmeister (I probably got the name a bit wrong here) contributed.
    I was impressed with the presentations given by two different people from IDEO, visited their website, and have since participated in challenges as part of OpenIDEO.
  • Steve C

    • +1
    Jul 2 2012: After watching Brené Brown, I am thinking much more about my "borders." I think it helps a lot. It think it "works" in my life subtly. I think it will become less-subtle as time goes on, and I get stronger.

    After watching Aaron Huey's "America's native prisoners of war," I keep thinking of the word, "washichu," and if I'm being covetous. I'm thinking about inviting some Indians to Thanksgiving!

    After watching Ron Eglash on African fractals, I find myself on strangers' rooftops talking about mathematics.
  • Jul 2 2012: I have been motivated to create music after watching Reggie Watts.
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    Jun 28 2012: I decided to organize a TEDx event in my country!
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    Jun 27 2012: I'm designing and building a battery operated rucksack sized interactive whiteboard after learning about the one laptop per child mission on TED.
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 27 2012: Hi Thomas, that sounds fantastic! Is your whiteboard designed to work with the OLPC laptop, or is it a standalone device?
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        Jun 28 2012: So far it is a standalone device that utilises the Raspberry Pi computer in order that it can all run on the same power format. It's very much a proto-type at the moment and part of a wider education project that i am working on that aims to get teachers more involved with hands of educational problem solving.
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    Aja B.

    • +1
    Jun 22 2012: I thought of another one last night: I've been setting aside "screen-free" time at home since watching Sherry Turkle's "Connected, but Alone?". I'm such a habitual email-checker, I find it's difficult to go even 2 hours without pulling out my phone. Her talk helped me clarify how important it is to make some device-free time in our lives, and I find it easier to remember to do it now. Well, not RIGHT now. ;)
  • Jun 21 2012: After I watched a TED talk about the joy and power of technology, I realized that my desire to demonstrate that America is NOT the divided country the politicians say we are, and my desire to energize Americans to work together, can be accomplished by a simple technology.
    I created a poll, the First Ever Spontaneous Self-Poll by the Entire American People, and if you're willing to get involved, take the poll (5 simple questions, about thirty seconds here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DMBX7B2. Then share it with others! Let's try to poll every American!
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    Jun 20 2012: I got out of my car and onto my bike to convert as much of the fossil fuel energy I was consuming into exercise after Allen Lim's "Life With Bikes" talk at TEDxMileHigh
  • Jun 20 2012: After seeing one of Daniel Gilbert's talks I was inspired to make an app called Happiness. http://goodtohear.co.uk/happiness
  • Jun 20 2012: After watching, Stphen Ritz...Started organizing local food advocates to form a cooperative that retails local food and helps the small farmer and urban agriculturist.
  • Jun 20 2012: I am at the Gates Foundation My Group Genius(#MGG2012) Conference in Atlanta and am creating a LDC Module that will include video and text of talks for my 9th graders. The unit will be on what education means to the student. I will use this module to begin my year and have students really think about where they are and where they are going on the life long quest for growth and knowledge.
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    Jun 20 2012: TED showed me I was not alone.
    Brene Brown cracked the egg for me on vulnerability and shame
    Reggie Watts reminded me of joy
    Temple Grandin showed me that we are all alike
    Sarah Kay put the poet back in me
    JR astounded me
    Isaac Mizrahi is in my head
    Jacqueline Novogratz reawakened the need to be 100%

    I am not alone.
  • Jun 19 2012: One TED talk has changed my life. After watching Kiran Bir Sethi's talk (TEDIndia) and falling in love with the idea, I decided to make it happen in my country (Brasil). I then contacted her, quit my job and started. I'm learning soooo much that I can't even begin to describe. So, exactly one year ago, that one TED talk changed everything for me - and for much better! :-)
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    Jun 19 2012: I became inspired to create a TED account and present my ideas to receive constructive criticism to better my ideas and learn from the many other geniuses on this website. I was inspired to better my knowledge of the world and get new ideas by the means of TED.com. This only after my first time watching TED on the science channel. Now I'm addicted to this website. Facebook is just Facebook to other kids, but TED is my Facebook.
  • Jun 19 2012: Honestly? I got involved with Project Chanology right when it got off the ground. I brought a lot of information to enturbulation.org (where I was a moderator), on history, philosophy and psychology, and many of the narratives I wove were completely ripped off from TED Talks. I was quickly recruited into #Marblecake, and we sorta 'social engineered' the rise of Anonymous. Mind you, I don't know the first thing about hacking.

    moot talks about it a bit in his TED Talk.

    An' there's another talk on here 'bout "Hire the Hackers". I think it talks about Anonymous (and possibly #marblecake) as well, but it moves into real 'cyber-criminals.' As opposed to just folk that are good with computers and don't buy the bullshit about intellectual property laws and government secrets (in a democracy??). Folk that just imagine themselves the latest incarnation of the fourth estate. That weird ideology 'voluntarism', manifested in libertarians and socialists alike. The synthesis of 'individualism' and 'collectivism.'

    Hell, my own words got quoted in a New York Times front page article in Dec of 2010. It was the article about the DDoS attacks on Visa, Paypal, and Mastercard. I had nothing to do with it - like I said, I don't know shit about hacking. Just social engineering. I can source this.

    And Marblecake kept on, and played a significant role in sparking the revolution in Cairo. They were involved to some degree in Tunisia. Mind you, they didn't 'start' it, and by no means did they do (anywhere NEAR) most of the work. But they played a not-insignificant role. There's an article from The Atlantic that talks about the Flyer that Marblecake composed (using a lot of what we learned in #Chanology), they found someone in Cairo via Wael Ghonim's facebook page, that person translated it, and it was distributed throughout the city (clandestine, like a sort of underground newspaper). I wasn't involved in that project.
  • Jun 19 2012: After watching Shawn Anchor's "The happy secret to better work", I got my A-level Economics students to keep a diary of things they were grateful for each day. They loved it and I definitely noticed them being more positive about their work.Also, after Michael Norton's "How to buy happiness", my year 7 form and I donated to a classroom project through DonorsChoose.org. Keep the inspirational videos coming!
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    Aja B.

    • +1
    Jun 19 2012: Off the top of my head, I can definitely claim some of the actions from my list...

    • I did buy and read one of Alain de Botton's books because of his talk, and I've been finding ways to incorporate more tradition and scheduled inspiration in my everyday life.
    • Bought tickets to Jake Shimibukuro and Andrew Bird because of their amazing TED performances.
    • I use David Blayne's tricks for holding your breath when I'm at the pool.
    • I bought a pair of those barefoot shoes because of Christopher McDougall, and it's because of Brene Brown that I'm willing to admit it. ;)

    I need to go back through the TEDTalks archive and jog my memory! :)
  • Jul 2 2012: Ted talk allows for intelligent people(some of them) to state their views, reasons why, and read the views of others. This is what I have accomplished.
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    Aja B.

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    Jun 27 2012: Is anyone finding themselves inspired to build their own electronic device after watching today's Talk from TEDGlobal? I actually took a class in basic Arduino programming a few years ago, and I'm thinking it's time to dust mine off and make something new with it! :)

  • Jun 23 2012: I am very interested to find out how Brenes' talk affected you. What did you do after watching her talk. What was the step by step things you did. Do you workk with clients now in a different way. Do you live your live in a different way etc

    Your help with this is Much appreciated

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    Jun 21 2012: A really good topic Aja
    This was the first video I watched on TED : http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html ..

    Ever since I was following many interesting talks on TED , all speakers had one thing in common passion and happiness in what they are doing .

    I have submitted a couple of ideas to TED and I am contributing regularly to as many TED conversations as possible , voicing my opinions and connecting with people on TED . Reading more self help books and other short stories ,following my passion for music, psychology , philosophy etc . My enthusiasm is just increasing everyday as I watch a talk everyday .

  • Jun 21 2012: I took a sabbatical and started a blog where every week I watched a TED Talk, summarized its conclusion and applied then as rules for my life. http://tedrules.wordpress.com/
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    Aja B.

    • 0
    Jun 20 2012: Some responses to our Facebook post about this:

    • Bought the book "Quiet"
    • Started whistling (what Talk is this from? I should know this....)
    • Bonded with other like-minded people over watching TEDTalks together
    • Started growing and isolating mushroom strains because of Paul Stamets
    • Changed eating habits due to "Cancer fighting foods"
    • Visited and supported The Writing Center in SF after watching David Eggers
    • Organized a TEDxGrandRapids livestream for educators and students
    • Tie shoe laces differently
    • Started a company
    • Started running a community garden and other community volunteer work because of Rob Hopkins' Peak Oil talk
    • Lots more paper towels, shoelaces, and book buying/reading! :)
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    Jun 20 2012: After watching many Ted talks (and much more I expect to watch) the more important thing I've achieved is the strong conviction of there are many people all over the world thinking in positive, doing it well, worrying about the others, etc. It's really nice to feel that. Thanks and let's going on!
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    Jun 19 2012: Looking forward to purchasing a copy of A.J. Jacobs: A Year of Living Biblically, then reading it. =)
  • Jun 19 2012: yeah I've been up to that too, preaching the word to the meaties out there :p