Simon Sinek Speaks at CreativeMornings San Diego – October 2016

Storytelling encompasses a variety of styles, from the personal, to the historical and investigative. There’s another style that I’m calling analytical, in which a situation or paradigm is broken down and examined in order to find the underlying truth. This is not an easy fete to pull off, but Simon Sinek has become a master at doing it in a way that resonates with the audience.

You may have watched his talk from TEDxPugetSound in 2009 on How great leaders inspire action, or his talk at TED 2014 on Why good leaders make you feel safe. In each case he peels back the onion on connection between why humans do what they do, and why they feel how they feel.

Simon’s talk at CreativeMornings San Diego was titled Understanding the Game We’re Playing, which focused on the current state of the millenial generation, and why they are often misunderstood by previous generations.

Whenever he’s asked to describe what’s going on with the millennial generation, Simon replies with four observations – parenting, technology, impatience and environment. In Simon’s view, millennials are not entitled, narcissistic, or lazy, but instead were simply dealt a bad hand, by their parents, and by society.

Could it be that engaging with social media is, in the end, a dopamine addiction, similar to the desire for drugs or alcohol? Are they turning to technology, instead of turning to real people in their life? Are social skills being diminished due to the ease of avoiding interaction?

The generation of hard work and long journeys – life, career, relationships – has , for some, shifted to an environment of impatience and the need for instant gratification. Compounding the problem is the move by corporations away from people and toward the bottom line.

Simon offers the view that life is not a scavenger hunt, jumping from job to job, and relationship to relationship. Instead the challenge is in finding a sense of purpose, fulfillment and joy, and that will only occur when the current generation undertakes the hard work of repairing the world around us. And it will only occur when we realize that our true competition, is us, not someone else.

Simon Sinek’s Website

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Simon Sinek on YouTube

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Marwa Al-Sabouni at TEDSummit 2016

How Syria’s architecture laid the foundation for brutal war

While some stories are meant to be a factual record of what has happened, delving deeper into the why it happened, and what we should do, involves a collection of subjective assumptions, individual conclusions, and personal hypothesis. In this talk from the TEDSummit 2016 conference, delivered by Marwa Al-Sabouni via the internet, we see such a blend.

Marwa takes us into the city of Homs, Syria where she has always lived, and which has been ravaged by years of conflict. While recognizing the fact that there were many factors which caused the war, she takes a close look at the role of architecture in regards to how it can strengthen, or weaken, the social fabric of a community.

Architecture is not the axis around which all human life rotates, but it has the power to suggest and even direct human activity.

In classic Ideas Worth Spreading style, Marwa’s talk combines harsh reality (facts that can be verified) with personal insights and suggestions in a way that compels the listener to pause, consider her perspective, and then reconsider their own preconceived notions.

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The Craft of TEDx Speaker Coaching

As the TEDxSanDiego organizer for 3 years (2014 to 2016), organizer for TEDxMonumento258 (2015), and having attended 40+ TED/TEDx events since 2010, I’ve experienced a wide variety of stories and accompanying narrative styles. Like a fingerprint, each story is unique, as is each storyteller, and part of that uniqueness is related to the speaker coaching that happens behind the scenes, long before the speaker greets their audience to tell their story.

In my experience few TEDx attendees, or the viewers of TED/TEDx videos, are aware of the speaker prep that occurs in the months preceding an event, which is a shame, as the coaching process is such an important aspect of creating a memorable TEDx experience.

So how does that process work? Just as each speaker and story are unique, every coaching process is unique, as sessions are tailored to the speaker’s talent, experience, and narrative. In addition, no two speaker coaches are the same, with each having developed their own approach to the process. The intent, however, is the same. To maximize the speaker’s impact, and that only happens when a speaker truly connects with the audience with a talk that contains a relevant message.

Silhouette Speaker on Stage

Seeking that combination of connection and relevance is where I begin with a speaker. In the world of TED/TEDx, the mantra is Ideas Worth Spreading, and that phrase means that attendees in the audience, and viewers of the video, will find the idea compelling enough to tell their friends, family, co-workers and associates.

It’s never the job of a coach to write the story, that’s always the responsibility of the speaker, but rather to help define the central idea of the story, assist in the selection of assets which support that idea, and provide guidance on how best to thread those assets into a narrative that will both capture the audience’s attention, and convey the idea in a meaningful way.

Future blog posts will delve deeper into the details and mechanics, but in the meantime, think about the idea that you want to tell the world about, and write down why the audience would find value in hearing that particular idea. How would their lives change, how would they think differently, and most importantly, how would they act differently?