Planit Scotland

Three Takeaways from TEDxAberdeen

If you’re anything like me, you’ve lost hundreds of hours to TED Talks: endlessly scrolling through videos of the world’s greatest speakers on the hunt for ideas, advice and inspiration.

So when I was lucky enough to get the chance to sit in the audience at TEDxAberdeen, I was excited. Really excited. Can’t sleep because TED Santa’s coming the next morning excited.

The event was exceptional. Ten speakers and a handful of the organisers’ favourite TED videos graced the stage at the Aberdeen Arts Centre and the quality on display was staggering. The opportunity to network, and meet people from all walks of live, was also amazing. (And, unsurprisingly, I even managed to find someone who knows Cecilia – so I ticked that square off my Planit bingo card!)

Looking at the programme, every talk sounded intriguing… and even those that didn’t seem at first like they might be relevant to me and my experiences had a powerful message I could take away from them.

Themed around movement, I was hooked on every word of every talk: from the experiences of Chinese-Scottish immigrants to an astonishing first-hand tale of perseverance in the Sahara desert.

In time, the talks will be shared on YouTube and the TED website and I’d encourage you to seek them out… but until then, here are three of my key takeaways from the conference and how they might impact our working lives.

What do you want to stay the same?

It’s an important question, and one that we definitely don’t ask enough – as highlighted by Zoe Morrison in her honest and emotional presentation.

When managing change, we often focus on what will be different – but highlighting what will remain is an important tool in helping change-resistant individuals come round to a new way of thinking.

I’ve worked with many organisations over the years that have gone through change – whether that’s publicly changing their branding or even their name, or internally, through updates of structures and processes.

By highlighting only the differences in a ‘new normal’, we’re sowing the seeds of doubt and potentially creating an atmosphere of insecurity. But by reassuring others of the things that will stay the same, we can help people ease their way into the transition.

Stay true to your roots

Lauren Hay spoke openly about her life as a Doric speaker. As an Aberdonian through and through, I was shocked to learn that the last ever Doric speaker is likely to already have been born.

What resonated with me most, though, was her message of being true to yourself. When she tried to hide her Doric roots, Lauren tied herself in knots – but when she embraced her roots, she found her place in the world.

It’s an important lesson for businesses, too. Authenticity is a buzzword that’s thrown around a lot in marketing circles. But there’s a good reason for that.

By staying true to your values and your product, and by creating a consistent tone of voice, it’s far easier to connect with your customers and clients on a human level.

Be kind to yourself

This is a piece of advice I’d wager we all need to hear… but one that we’re often not ready to act on.

Katie Forbes spoke with passion about being diagnosed autistic at the age of 11. She stressed that autism is a difference, not a disorder to be ‘fixed’. Her message of being kind to ourselves really struck a chord with me.

It’s a cliché to say that the pen is mightier than the sword – but the words that we use to describe ourselves (and others) really do matter and have real weight behind them.

Think about the last time someone on your team made a mistake: how did you handle it? Did you offer them encouragement and support? Now consider how you felt when you last made an error yourself – were you as forgiving?

We need to be less hard on ourselves; frame mistakes as learning opportunities; and focus on the positives.

It might be easier said than done, but it’s worth the effort. And if we make that effort, we have the chance to flourish.

Need some inspiration? Sign up to TEDxAberdeen’s newsletter to be alerted when the videos from the 2022 conference go live.

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