Posts Tagged ‘ted’

365great Day 3:

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , ,

Learn more about 365great here.

Do you thirst for knowledge? is a great place to satisfy that urge. If you’re not familiar, TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design” and it started off as a conference, but has evolved into so much more. Initially the conference brought together people across those three fields, but now it has grown into many branch-off conferences and best of all (in my opinion), the website. It’s like YouTube for curious minds who want the latest knowledge from forward-thinkers.

365great challenge day 3:

Watch ideas worth spreading at!

What I love about in particular is that it allows access to talks from leaders in their fields. Most people will never get the chance to attend a conference of this caliber (or maybe even any conference at all) so this is a great way to share, as they put it: ideas worth spreading. There are some truly inspirational, informative, and innovative ideas shared in this forum and everyone should spend some time watching the videos. In my never-ending quest for knowledge, TED stands out as an excellent resource. The fact that they offer so much valuable information for free, well that’s what I find great.

Life as a game

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,

Go check out this TED video and if you’re not interested in the beginning bit, skip over to about 20 minutes in.  I find it fascinating, the way he’s describing how our lives are going to resemble a game more and more.  And it’s true!  I mean, it’s already so prevalent – think of all the things you’re signed up for to earn points.  Credit cards, store member cards, search engines, and really just about any service these days are using points to entice you to use them more.  I mean, I search with because I want to earn Swagbucks.  I use only one credit card (my Chase Sapphire) because I like racking up points on it.  My mom obsesses over getting frequent flyer miles every time we travel.  I never forget to enter my Ralph’s customer card number when I buy food there (not only to get the discounts, but also to collect the rewards).

I think it’s pretty brilliant.  When you make life into one massive game full of a series of mini-games, people have greater motivation to get things done.  Even better is when things are transparent and these accounts are linked to your social media account, so your friends can see how you’re doing.  People like to win, so seeing someone else did better than them encourages them to spend more time and effort to get a higher score.  Then with sensors, just about everything you do can be tracked and have consequences.  If you don’t have healthy habits, your insurance premium will go up – there’s a strong motivator to just fit in that quick half hour each day!

I think it comes down to accountability.  When people are easily able to hide what they do (or don’t do) and lie to themselves about how well they’re taking care of themselves, they’re more likely to continue with those bad habits.  But the moment everyone knows if you’ve flossed today, or had too much to drink, or didn’t get enough sleep, you want to do what you can to improve yourself.  Plus, having some friendly competition to egg you along doesn’t hurt.  If you see on your friend’s profile that they worked out every day for the past month and you haven’t done squat, it makes you reconsider, doesn’t it?

In a way, it’s bad though – if companies and the government can track you so closely, they’re going to make assumptions about you that may not be true.  Just because you don’t eat healthy doesn’t mean you can’t appear perfectly healthy in a physical and feel great.  There have got to be certain controls put into place protecting people’s privacy so insurance companies can’t rip people off because they don’t have the healthiest habits.  After all, the whole point is to protect against the unknown.  Trying to make too many predeterminations can lead dangerously close to a sort of eugenics and determinism.  But overall, I think turning our lives into games would lead to better results.  Let’s see how long it takes to happen!

Childlike wonder & curiosity

laelene Posted in general blog, video blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was watching this video of Aimee Mullins about adversity, and the thing that struck me, strangely enough, was not her main message, but the moment when she spoke of “childlike curiosity.”  I do agree with her message and the powerful way that language sets a precursor, as well as the strength of the human spirit.  So I suppose that’s why everything else she said didn’t hit me the way that the reference to curiosity being childlike did.

Why did that part stand out?  Well, because I wondered why attributes like wonder and curiosity and innocence are so often described as “childlike.”  It’s as if we no longer recognize that adults can be like that and when they are, it’s a rare thing.  What’s wrong with “adult-like” curiosity?  What has happened in our society that makes everything children do so great and everything that adults “grow into” so bad?  Actually, I think that’s exactly what happens because of society.  Because we have this sort of structure, at a certain age, things like responsibility and maturity take hold.  Expectations develop into more serious ones and we lose much of our freedom to do what we want, enjoy as we like, and not worry too much.

The good thing is that it seems our culture is more and more tolerant of “childlike” activities in adults.  After all, records of generations past make them seem rather rigid, but that could just be because what is recorded is not the playful silly moments shared, but the serious and “important” moments had.  Nevertheless, I still do feel that generally we are heading towards habits that allow more carefree expressions from older people.  I just hope that soon we can progress to such a point that people who sing in public because they are happy aren’t given strange looks as if they’ve lost their minds.  Or that fully-grown men and women can get child’s meals without feeling shameful.

Speaking of, why is it that small portions are only allowed to those under a certain age?  It’s like the problem with McDonald’s Super Size meals – when you offer larger portions, people will get them*.  And when they get them, they try their very best to finish the portions in front of them.  So why not just offer smaller sizes and alleviate this pressure that people have looking at their uneaten food?  I think we still stuff ourselves full much of the time because of our hunting and gathering days, when food wasn’t so easy to come by.  Nowadays, it’s far too easy to overeat, and judging adults who want to get a “child’s” meal is part of the problem.

Personally, I believe in expressing your joy.  People sometimes find me too enthusiastic or hyper when I am happy and excited.  Generally, they enjoy it, though they are wary and wonder if I’m just a bit cuckoo.  But why is that?  Why can’t I burst into song because it was playing in my head?  Why can’t I be giddy over the smallest victories?  Why can’t I jump around and share my positive emotions?  Well, I can.  Just not without being judged.  And that’s ok, I’m used to being judged.  When I’m happy, I’m happy and I’ll show it if I want to.  I think more people should.

I hope that people will learn to stop putting up the walls around themselves and open themselves up the way they did before society taught them otherwise.  I think that’s what people mean when they refer to those childlike qualities.  It’s freeing yourself from the bounds that society puts you in, even if just a little.  Let’s not become drones and make all the motions going through life without experiencing and enjoying the way we did before the clamps started to pin us down.

*The issue of portion size and the poor eating habits is up for discussion in a future post – ironically, I just watched another TED video, this time about America’s (and now the world’s) eating problem.

The best woman in the world

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
photo credit:

photo credit:

I’ve been going through another binge period of TED video-watching and many of the performances I saw were dedicated to that particular person’s mother.  It reminded me of this crazy phenomenon where so much of the population admire and adore their mothers.  It’s really amazing because mothers (and fathers and grandparents) are one of the most often-lauded “groups” in society.  There’s a certain mystical nature about the influence of a mother and it strikes me as a curious thing.  After all, all mothers were just women before that, and little girls before that.  At what point do they suddenly become wise and caring and protective and loving and inspirational?  I wonder if the hormonal changes during pregnancy suddenly mature a lot of them and prepare them for a life as a role model.  What happens to make women transform like that?  I don’t get it.  Do I just have to wait my turn to feel the magical effects?  Many really rise to the occasion and do a great job in their role.

Take my mother for example.  She’s smart, she’s capable, she’s supportive, she’s patient, she’s skillful; she’s a handyman, she’s a chef, she’s a gardener, she’s a bargain hunter, she’s a problem solver, she’s a nurse, she’s an engineer, she’s a planner, she’s a housekeeper, she’s a financier, she’s a daughter, she’s a wife, she’s an aunt, she’s a mother.  Honestly, a lot of the things she does baffles me and I hope I don’t need so many skills when it’s my turn.  She can fix almost anything in the house, she can scrimp on money to leave extra for me to spend, she can cook and clean and handle our finances, all the while never running out of energy.  I think about cooking sometimes and it makes me tired.  I think about the laundry stacking up and leave for just one more day.  I see the clothes lying everywhere and consider them part of my personal “style.”  Meanwhile, she’s bustling around vacuuming the whole house, hanging up my clothes, taking care of her plants, investing in stocks, teaching herself programming, auditing classes at the local community college, and working on a few projects for her job.

photo credit:

photo credit:

There’s also truly something to be said for a motherly touch.  It instantly soothes me, between a combination of the warmth, gentleness, and pure psychology of knowing it’s my mother caressing my forehead when I’m ill.  I remember a Vick’s VapoRub commercial that advertised the effectiveness of their solution combined with a mother’s hands to soothe a sick child in bed.  It really struck me because it’s completely true!  A little bit of cooling and heating ointment, plus the soft touch of my mother and I would feel so much better!  There’s a tenderness in that sort of treatment that helps as well, melting away all my worries.  I know I’m safe and cared for.  It beats any other option for recovering from illnesses!

It’s funny to hear how mothers are, as I’m sure many of yours are too – protective, concerned, crazy, embarrassing… they’ve got spunk, they’ve got personality, and they’ve got style that none can match.  Some prance around doing silly things, some make you do silly things, but in the end, you can’t help but love them.  I especially love cross-cultural mothers who have had to make the best of their culture in a new culture.  If you’ve never heard of My Mom is a FOB, you should go check it out.  It’s a collaborative blog that chronicles some of the strange, but ultimately endearing things that Asian-American mothers do.  (There’s also a counterpart for fathers.)  And so has been my experience, with way too much advice and quite a few grammatically confusing e-mails.  But hey, it’s hard to consolidate East and West into some sort of cohesive cultural mold!

Really though, what woman do you admire more than your mother?  (And perhaps your parents’ mothers?)

Consumerism’s path

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

Businesses should always be looking forward, spending time innovating and working to stay ahead of the curve (or create it!).  So it naturally follows that they should know what their customers, aka consumers, will want (this is more focused towards actual people rather than organizations).  And where are things headed?  Well, wouldn’t you like to know?  😛

tedSeriously though, I was actually inspired to write this by a TED video I watched where Joseph Pine that explains just that, so let me share its message (or you can just go watch it).  What companies should realize is that the newest frontier in what is valued economically is authentic experiences. Not sure what I mean?  Here, let me break it down for you:

  1. First there were commodities.  They were extracted from the planet and traded.  The key was to supply availability.
  2. Second there were goods.  They took commodities and made something from them.  The key was to control cost.
  3. Third there were services.  They concentrated on how they delivered the goods (and included plenty of customization).  The key was to improve quality.
  4. Now there are experiences.  They take services and stage them in such a way that you go for the entire package (customization of the service).  The key is to render authenticity.
photo credit:

photo credit:

Sprinkles has been a great example of a company that provides an experience.  Sure, people love the cupcakes for their novelty and such, but so many of them go to the store and line up for the entire experience, from the line itself to the door that must be kept shut to keep freshness in to the way they display the cupcakes.  I believe Kogi Korean BBQ operates similarly.  People love the entire experience of tracking down the trucks and standing in lines to order from this little mobile restaurant.

Let’s not forget other classics as well, like Disneyland, where it’s the fantasyland that has been created for you that is such a big draw.  People like to go there and experience other worlds, go on the rides, walk down Main Street, and meet the characters.  Similarly, Vegas is THE experience city of the world.  You go there to get immersed in everything it has to offer, from the gambling to the shows to the endless buffets.  Oh, and let’s not forget those shady people flicking cards of naked women at you (though I’m sure that’s not what you go for).

An interesting point brought up in this video is that all experiences are authentic.  Because to anyone experiencing it, it is real and it affects them.  So really, “authentic experience” is a bit redundant.  Yet on the other side of the coin, since businesses are man made, they are not “authentic” and thereby can’t supply “authentic” experiences.  So what it really comes down to is making the consumer perceive it as authentic.

Now authenticity comes in two forms: being true to yourself and being true to what you represent yourself to be.  Pine provides a nice little matrix here showing the four possibilities:

  1. Real Real: is what it says it is and is true to itself.
  2. Fake Fake: is not what it says it is and is not true to itself.
  3. Real Fake: is what it says it is but is not true to itself.
  4. Fake Real: is not what it says it is but is true to itself.
At night, you can immerse yourself in the stories they tell with the fireworks show.

At night, you can immerse yourself in the stories they tell with the fireworks show.

Disneyland, for example, is a Fake Real because it is not what it says it is (a magic kingdom), but it is true to itself (sticks to company values).  One important thing that businesses can lose track of is its identity, which then makes it impossible to stay true to themselves if they don’t even know what they are.  So on this end, I think it’s important to have values, missions, and goals that everyone knows about so the staff know what is expected and the consumers know what to expect.  Once that is identified, it really shapes the culture of the company, so then it’s just about staying in touch with what that means for all future endeavors.

So, the newest thing is to not only provide a good or service, but to package up the entire process of getting it into a desirable entity.  This could be anything from the ambiance created from decorations and uniforms/costumes to the unique experience itself (like studying at Starbucks or the do-it-yourself style of Build-A-Bear).  It’s the difference between a nail salon and a spa, where the former is more focused on providing the service (though some places add to the experience with massage chairs and drink services) and the latter is about the entire experience, where everything is designed to make you feel more relaxed and pampered.

I hope I’m not the only one who finds this interesting!

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