Tell me about your favorite talks.

Something I’ve noticed over time, when I ask people about their favorite TED Talks or they ask me about mine, is that the ones that we remember and love most are often on subjects that we have spent time exploring, even just peripherally.

It’s a magical moment — when a speaker says something and crystalizes an idea or concept you’ve been exploring but had trouble explaining in concrete terms. It’s a moment of camaraderie. That talk becomes more than just a talk — it’s your connect, your tool, to explain a concept you care about. Sometimes it offers you a step into further exploration, sometimes it’s a moment of comfort, the wow I’m not crazy! moment, and other times it’s the push in a direct you needed to take your thinking that lets you take the next big risk in your adventure.

This was clearest to me when I was standing on the sidewalk outside the Town Hall theatre on Monday after TEDTalks Live: The Education Revolution. I was with three friends, none of whom had attended a live TED event before. The format, for them, had been a series of individual talks, rather than the curated sessions that weave content together in ways meant to inspire the audience to weave ideas together with their own analysis and reactions.

One friend, like me, was most deeply moved by Nadia Lopez. Her own work reflected so many of the passionate late night conversations that we had had about education and the teachers who inspired us. Another friend who works in TV for kids was interested in what Sam Kass had to say about nutrition and attention. And my last friend was glowing after Salman Khan’s talk about education by mastery rather than “passing grades.” After Khan’s talk, he promised aloud, I am going to write that essay that’s been in my head about this!  He said this again on the sidewalk and again a few days later, when the talk had stayed with him.

These talks are beautiful to us long after we see them live because we connect to them and a little light inside our minds stays lit, offering a new point of orientation for ideas and further exploration. It’s about so much more than that short introduction to the speaker’s world and work. It’s about giving you a new stepping stone and the courage to keep exploring in your own right.

This is why I love TED Talks.

TEDTalks Live: The Education Revolution

Last night the Empire State Building was red in honor of the first sessions of TEDTalks Live on Broadway.

I was sitting in the balcony in the Town Hall theatre, surrounded by teachers, students, and TED staff who were there to celebrate some of the brave thinkers taking on the “Education Revolution” head on. Speakers included principal Nadia Lopez, who became an important figure in education reform when one of her students was profiled by Humans of New York and the student cited his high school principal as the most influential person in his life, Former White House Chef and food policy advisor Sam Kass, and Andrew Mangino from The Future Project.

Perhaps my favorite moment from the evening was when principal Lopez was introduced by host Baratunde Thurston and everyone around me stood up and cheered. It was the warmth of reception that celebrities usually receive… and it was amazing to be part of a community that is this excited about a principal committed to making change in the lives of her students. She spoke without jargon or false promises, it was purely focused on her students and the community she was building in Brownsville. How she showed up for them every day, and therefore expected them to do the same.

I think the commitment the TEDTalks Live team made to including students and teachers at this event was what helped create such a magical experience for the rest of the audience. My section of the audience positively glowed with warmth for many of the figures on the stage last night, and their love and enthusiasm was infectious.

I left optimistic for the future of education reform… and seeking new places to be useful in my own corner of the world.