Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgis, I don’t know, your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.

“Look, I don’t know where you rightfully live, but I know that there’s something in this world that you love more than you love yourself. Something worthy, by the way, so addiction and infatuation don’t count, because we all know that those are not safe places to live. Right? The only trick is that you’ve got to identify the best, worthiest thing that you love most, and then build your house right on top of it and don’t budge from it. And if you should someday, somehow get vaulted out of your home by either great failure or great success, then your job is to fight your way back to that home the only way that it has ever been done, by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next. You just do that, and keep doing that again and again and again, and I can absolutely promise you, from long personal experience in every direction, I can assure you that it’s all going to be okay. Thank you.”

- Elizabeth Gilbert.

“If I start by assuming the worst and work backwards, I can make sure that the protections we build work for both expected and unexpected use cases.”

“Given that I spend my days and nights imagining the worst that could happen, it wouldn’t be surprising if my worldview was gloomy. It’s not. The vast majority of interactions I see — and I see a lot, believe me — are positive, people reaching out to help or to connect or share information with each other. It’s just that for those of us dealing with scale, for those of us tasked with keeping people safe, we have to assume the worst will happen, because for us, a one-in-a-million chance is pretty good odds.”

via TEDEd

You can’t help it; sometimes, you just get a bad feeling about someone that’s hard to shake. So, what’s happening in your brain when you make that critical (and often lasting) first judgment? Peter Mende-Siedlecki shares the social psychology of first impressions — and why they may indicate that, deep down, people are basically good.


I had to watch it a dozen times in order to get the essence of his talk. It is very dense. So, how do we all get good at what we’re trying to do?

“I got my start in writing and research as a surgical trainee, as someone who was a long ways away from becoming any kind of an expert at anything. So the natural question you ask then at that point is, how do I get good at what I’m trying to do? And it became a question of, how do we all get good at what we’re trying to do?”

“In the last few years we realized we were in the deepest crisis of medicine’s existence due to something you don’t normally think about when you’re a doctor concerned with how you do good for people, which is the cost of health care. There’s not a country in the world that now is not asking whether we can afford what doctors do. The political fight that we’ve developed has become one around whether it’s the government that’s the problem or is it insurance companies that are the problem. And the answer is yes and no; it’s deeper than all of that.”

“The cause of our troubles is actually the complexity that science has given us.”

“We’re all specialists now, even the primary care physicians. Everyone just has a piece of the care. But holding onto that structure we built around the daring, independence, self-sufficiency of each of those people has become a disaster. We have trained, hired and rewarded people to be cowboys. But it’s pit crews that we need, pit crews for patients.

“Our experience as people who get sick, need help from other people, is that we have amazing clinicians that we can turn to — hardworking, incredibly well-trained and very smart — that we have access to incredible technologies that give us great hope, but little sense that it consistently all comes together for you from start to finish in a successful way.”

“Having great components is not enough, and yet we’ve been obsessed in medicine with components. We want the best drugs, the best technologies, the best specialists, but we don’t think too much about how it all comes together. It’s a terrible design strategy actually.”

“Now a system, however, when things start to come together, you realize it has certain skills for acting and looking that way. Skill number one is the ability to recognize success and the ability to recognize failure. When you are a specialist, you can’t see the end result very well. You have to become really interested in data, unsexy as that sounds.”

“Which brings us to skill number two a system has. Skill one, find where your failures are. Skill two is devise solutions.”

“And so we looked at what other high-risk industries do. We looked at skyscraper construction, we looked at the aviation world, and we found that they have technology, they have training, and then they have one other thing: They have checklists.
Could we design a checklist for surgery? Not for the lowest people on the totem pole, but for the folks who were all the way around the chain, the entire team including the surgeons. And what they taught us was that designing a checklist to help people handle complexity actually involves more difficulty than I had understood. You have to think about things like pause points. You need to identify the moments in a process when you can actually catch a problem before it’s a danger and do something about it. You have to identify that this is a before-takeoff checklist. And then you need to focus on the killer items. An aviation checklist, like this one for a single-engine plane, isn’t a recipe for how to fly a plane, it’s a reminder of the key things that get forgotten or missed if they’re not checked.”

“And that brings us to skill number three, the ability to implement this, to get colleagues across the entire chain to actually do these things. And it’s been slow to spread. This is not yet our norm in surgery — let alone making checklists to go onto childbirth and other areas. There’s a deep resistance because using these tools forces us to confront that we’re not a system, forces us to behave with a different set of values. Just using a checklist requires you to embrace different values from the ones we’ve had, like humility, discipline, teamwork. This is the opposite of what we were built on: independence, self-sufficiency, autonomy.”

“Making systems work is the great task of my generation of physicians and scientists. But I would go further and say that making systems work, whether in health care, education, climate change, making a pathway out of poverty, is the great task of our generation as a whole. In every field, knowledge has exploded, but it has brought complexity, it has brought specialization. And we’ve come to a place where we have no choice but to recognize, as individualistic as we want to be, complexity requires group success. We all need to be pit crews now.”

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Three lessons for designing for the whole world: Margaret Gould Stewart at TED2014

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Margaret Gould Stewart. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Margaret Gould Stewart. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

“What do you think of when I say the word design?” Margaret Gould Stewart, director of product design at Facebook, is here to talk about the kind of design that you normally don’t think about — the design of digital systems that are used by billions of people each day.

As examples, Steward reminds the audience that Google handles 1 billion searches per day. People upload to YouTube more in a single day than all of the US television networks broadcast in the last 5 years combined. Facebook transmits the photos, messages and stories of over 1.23 billion people, or about 1/6 of humanity.

“What’s really hard at designing at scale,” she says, “is that it requires a bizarre combination of two things, audacity and humility.” Audacity to believe that what you’re doing is important, and humility because it’s not about the designer’s portfolio…

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Susan Cain announces news to make introverts happy

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Susan Cain spoke about the power of introverts at TED2012. Hear her plans for making the world a little quieter for them. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Susan Cain spoke about the power of introverts at TED2012. Hear her plans for making the world a little quieter for them. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Susan Cain is planning a Quiet Revolution. In her classic talk from TED2012, she spoke up for introverts, pointing out the many ways our culture encourages extroversion. “I wasn’t prepared for the intensity and voracity of response to these ideas,” Cain tells the TED Blog two years later. “There’s an enormous hunger for recognition, understanding and advancement.”

In her talk during All-Stars session 5 at TED2014 just now, Cain shared how she plans to empower introverts—for the benefit of us all—by creating quiet places at work, training quiet leaders, and empowering introverts in the classroom. The TED Blog caught up with Cain to learn more about the details of the movement that she didn’t have time to share in her short talk. Along…

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China’s pollution problem, everyone’s problem: Peggy Liu at TED2014

Originally posted on TED Blog:

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Peggy Liu. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

“I am so happy to be here, because I can actually breathe the air,” says Peggy Liu, who lives in China, as she steps on the TED2014 stage. Her typical day begins not with checking the time, but by checking the air pollution levels on her phone to determine whether her children will need to wear face masks that day. In Brussels, Belgium, if the air quality index reaches 50, she says, traffic is stopped for the day. But in Shanghai, China, she says, it routinely goes to 500—the end of the scale—and beyond. 

“Pollution crosses borders. China’s problem is everyone’s problem,” says Liu. “What this means for all of us is that the decisions China makes in the next several years are going to affect the world for the next several thousand.”

China is urbanizing at an incredible pace. In 20 years, an estimated 350…

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“I was sitting in a slum outside Gurgaon just next to Delhi, one of the flashiest, brightest new cities popping up in India right now, and I was talking to workers who worked in garment sweatshops down the road, and I asked them what message they would like me to take to the brands. They didn’t say money. They said, “The people who employ us treat us like we are less than human, like we don’t exist. Please ask them to treat us like human beings.” That’s my simple understanding of human rights. That’s my simple proposition to you, my simple plea to every decision-maker in this room, everybody out there. We can all make a decision to come together and pick up the balls and run with the balls that governments have dropped. If we don’t do it, we’re abandoning hope, we’re abandoning our essential humanity, and I know that’s not a place we want to be, and we don’t have to be there. So I appeal to you. Join us, come into that safe space, and let’s start to make this happen.”

- Auret van Heerden