TED Conversations

Chris Anderson

Curator, TED

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Has a TED Talk ever influenced you? How?

We get beautiful feedback on how much people appreciate watching TED Talks. But as well as learning, has a talk ever actually changed your (or someone else's) behavior? Or led to something intriguing? I'm curious to get some stories about how an idea can have impact... big or small, significant or just funny. I may share a couple of the best at TED2011 next week.

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Closing Statement from Chris Anderson

Many thanks to all who answered. I found a lot of these responses really moving. My take away is that perhaps the biggest single impact of TED Talks is in expanding peoples' sense of possibility and thereby motivating them to get up and realize their potential.

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    Feb 23 2011: Liz Gilbert's talk at TED2009 hit so close to home, it's scary. When she said, "It's exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me." it hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember the moment well. I was transiting the back of the theater and it her words stopped me in my tracks. I almost dropped the camera I was carrying.

    It took me a few seconds to realize that the reason it smacked me so hard was that it's the same thought (said much more eloquently than I could put it) I had been wrestling with for over a decade. I've watched people try to put my career changes and life path in context of a few bits of software that I created in the late 90's that have done quite well. As my public career has morphed from software to photography and now settled in a world somewhere between, I've watched as people explain it. And it always came back to stuff that happened ten years ago, not now or not the path that I'm currently on. And, quite frankly, I hated that. I despised it, in fact.

    But then, as she went on with her talk and argued that it'd be much better to think about creativity as something that flows through us, I was able to start changing my thoughts on the matter—in real time as she continued to talk, and I somehow managed to keep making photos of her with the camera I almost had dropped a few minutes before—and start recasting my view on it.

    Instead of trying so hard to live up to something in the past that I happened to be in the right time and place for, Liz's words guided me to consider a different view on it of being a conduit for that creativity. Maybe that would be enough. Furthermore, if I could indeed follow her advice and be the best conduit for my own creative spark, maybe I would be that much more ready for the next right time and place and prepared to apply everything I could. And if that time never came, well, I'd done my part.

    By the time she finished, I was both emotionally spent and at peace with the idea. Thank you Liz

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