Today we have elected to revisit one of our favorites from the series of posts known as TOM Talks. Actually, I think this is also the only post in the series, but I’m not really sure, since I haven’t been listening.
For members of Generation Z, please feel free to load the post on your favorite device. Perhaps even the iPad strapped to your lover’s back. There is no read to interrupt your important business, such as the act of coitus, while you enjoy this talk.
Click the link below to begin the presentation.
The first TED conference was in 1984. TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. Since then, TED has grown in scope. The mission? Spreading ideas.
The official TED website says, “Today, TED is best thought of as a global community. It’s a community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.”
I’d seen a few TED videos here and there and always enjoyed them. Then I got an iPod as a bonus at work.
After learning how to work the thing, I discovered that I could use iTunes to automatically get podcasts and have them transferred to my iPod. Once there, I could listen to them any time I wanted, even without wifi.
I quickly loaded up that sucker with all sorts of podcasts like a kid in a candy store. Here’s a list of audio-only content that I’ve signed up for so far:
- American Public Media: The Story
- Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips
- NPR: All Songs Considered
- NPR: Fresh Air Podcast
- Real Time with Bill Maher
- Rob Cesternino has a Podcast
- TEDTalks (audio version)
- This American Life
I also signed up for video podcasts like College Humor, Lifehacker, Science Friday and TEDTalks.
Maybe you can already see the problem? I don’t have enough time! Every time I plug in my iPod to charge it, iTunes opens an automatically “syncs” more stuff. There’s no way I can ever watch it all. I’ve heard that every minute something like 18 hours worth of video gets uploaded to YouTube. It would be hard to watch it all.
I guess at some point you have to start making choices.
So now I’m listening to TED on my “ear buds” every chance I get. Mostly when driving to and from work, which is only about 20 minutes a day. But also in other places like the grocery store or waiting in the restaurant to get my food to go. Suddenly I’m not so irritated by having to wait.
The shortage of time to listen is frustrating. The other night I wanted to listen more, so I skipped dinner, slipped on the ear buds and went for a walk. I listened to NPR and heard a story about Seattle Slew, a famous racehorse that won the Triple Crown. (Which I formerly thought was three shots of whiskey.)
By the way, walking is a fantastic negativity activity. Every 20 feet or so is an intersection or driveway. And at every single one of these you’ll encounter something known as a car. These are highly impatient things that try to run over you at these locations. It adds a lot of fun, excitement and challenge to walking.
My goal is to listen to all of the TEDTalks on audio. Not all of them are topics I’d normally find interesting, but I listen just the same. (Like the trials and tribulations of some new parents and their baby. Bah!) But the talks are compelling even when the material is not normally something I’d ever click on. I hit play and get them in no apparent order. I never know what will come next.
During this experience, I’ve also been learning what it is to really listen. I’m constantly amazing myself with my mind’s ability to drift. I’ll catch myself again and again and realize I haven’t really heard the content. I wasn’t paying attention. This is disturbing to say the least. I wonder how often this happens to all of us in all sorts of situations. Life should not be lived on autopilot.
So I decided to work on my active listening skills. If I’m going to play audio, I don’t just want it to be background noise. I want to absorb what’s being said. I have to actively focus and pay proactive attention. This means I can’t listen during certain activities, like work. I can do it when I’m driving but it requires concentration. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do nothing but sit and listen. That’s why walking is such a great idea. Perhaps working on my fitness while listening to TED is enough “multitasking” for me.
I did try sitting down and listen a few times. Amazingly I’d still find my mind wandering and not paying attention. This takes a bit of effort and discipline. But I do think it is something I’m improving on.
Lastly, to close out this post, I’ve decided that I am going to give a talk at a TED conference someday. Yes, me. I’ve noticed that most of the speakers at TED conferences appear to be “experts” on their subjects, so I’m approaching the goal from that angle. In other words, “What am I expert at?” The obvious answer is “nothing” and I am a “nobody.” Thus, that’s how the topic for my TED talk was born. I’m going to speak about how to be a nobody and do nothing in our modern civilization. I’m a real nowhere man.
If TED permits this, then we’ll truly know if they welcome people from every discipline. 🙂
Hey peeps! Check out my pods!
Yes, I am quite bummed to announce the premier episode of The Tom B. Taker Show has been published. This is an audio-only blog and will only take a few moments out of your monumentally-important day.
I guess you could say this is quite literally the first time I’ve ever actually “shouted” from the Abyss.
So clicky the little button below to listen, damn you, or you can sit on it.
The Tom B. Taker Show – Episode 1 (Live Babies)
Tip: Hurry up and listen fast if you want a chance to get on the show before the phone lines close.
Music Credit: Thanks to Electric LarryLand for the bumper music provided under a Creative Commons license.
The modern era. As a people we know one thing for sure. We’re the best civilization this planet has ever seen. Hells ya.
And, by no small coincidence, we are the #1 “hey look at me” civilization of all time.
Seriously. Right now. Stop reading this and look at me. I mean it.
It used to be vanity books but that took way too much damn effort. These days it’s as easy as pie. Web sites, twitter, facebook, cell phones, and more, all give voice to a generation that screams, “Hey, look at me!” Hell, there are even some asshole pontificating bloggers who want you to read what they have to say as if they are interesting. (Hey! Don’t look at me that way!)
Naturally just putting out your wit and wisdom for the world to enjoy is usually not quite enough. Not by a long shot. After all, some folks might decide to not listen and/or not pay attention. What the devil should be done about that? Being ignored is unacceptable.
This is where our good, good friend “interrupting” rides in to save the day. Oh yeah.
The principle behind this is simple: Whatever I have to say is of Ultimate Importance and whatever you have to say is just a bunch of bullshit hot air.
You might even say this is the prime directive of our modern era. No doubt it is one of the most basic building blocks of a society that consists solely of assholes.
Let’s try a real life example. Pretend you are doing what you do best, talking about yourself and the painstakingly detailed minutia of your day, yet the other party tries to speak and interject a thought. What should you do?
Interrupt them, that’s what! Forcefully and with malice. Think of it as a conversation beheading.
Most of the time your audacious efforts at interrupting will win the day and the other party will submit. Sometimes, though, this won’t work. After all, they are most likely trying to simultaneously be as big of an asshole as you. They probably think they are important (like a special and unique snowflake) and expect your world to revolve around what they have to say.
Well, if interrupting is good, then even more interrupting is even better! Re-interrupt them. And, here’s the key strategy: Do it louder!
It’s amazing how effective a simple technique like raising your voice can be. This will shut down all but the most hardy of verbal opponents (aka your audience).
I’ve personally seen masters of this at work. Watching two black belt interrupters go at it can be fascinating. But don’t forget to bring your ear plugs! Sometimes the increase in volume can get intense enough to cause hearing loss.
The moment when one of the sparring beasts finally backs down can be one of the most spectacular as ever seen in nature. Even Mutual of Omaha hasn’t properly captured it on film yet. One party is victorious and the other submits and goes into a mode known as, “Whatever, fuckhead. You think I’m going to listen to you???”
I bet if you hone your powers of observation you just might be able to witness this phenomenon as you go throughout your day.
For those of you ready to take things to the next level, to be world-class interrupters, here is a special web site just for you. Now go out there and seize the say!