TED Rule 11

Wamena, Bailem Valley, West Papua

Plans are made to be changed. From last week in Kuala Lumpur, I took 3 long flights back to Indonesia to arrive in Wamena, a village of the Bailem Valley, in the middle of West Papua. I’m going for a one week trek tomorrow, so no electricity and obviously no internet. Early TED rule this week!

And I’m introducing Sam Richards, an american sociologist.  I found that the method he is using in his talk “a radical experiment in empathy” is a good way to introduce the diverse realities of  the world we’re sharing.

Step outside of your tiny little world, step inside of the tiny little world of somebody else. And then do it again, and do it again, and do it again. And suddenly all these tiny little worlds they come together in this complex web and they build a big complex world. And suddenly, without realizing it, you’ve seen the world differently. Everything is changed. Everything in your life is changed.

Thanks to my sabbatical, it’s quite easy for me to “step outside of my tiny little world”, I do it physically everyday. An it’s one of the goal of my trip: to “attend to others’s lives, other visions, listen to other people, enlighten ourselves”…

But for this TED rule I wanted something even more concrete, or more physical.

If I can get you to step into their shoes, and walk an inch, one tiny inch, then imagine the kind of sociological analysis you can do in all other aspect of your life…

As it was the case in Mentawai, I’m meeting people who don’t wear shoes. So I decided to wear the tiny something else that they’re wearing – called a koteka. ( you can understand I had to blur the picture 🙂

I’m not sure I can find a clear sentence to define this new TED rule. Any idea?


TED rule 10

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Since last week in Bengkulu, I drove the crazy roads of Sumatra to finally reach Java and Jakarta after 4 days. But I arrived too late to extend my visa so I had to leave the country and flight to Kuala Lumpur. But good news, I have good access to internet and a bit of time to work on all the things I wanted to do. You can already see some pictures and even sounds on Mister Jo’s Facebook, and I started to work on the blog I promised you last week – does Mister Jo’s mysterious quest sounds like a good name for it? Do you have better ideas?

You’re also going to see some changes on the design of this blog, based on the recommendations you sent me (and thank you for that!). Of course I’m still following the previous TED rules, and I’m thinking about the best way to use them on my different projects. I’m talking especially about the rule 7 and its 5 secrets to happiness:  Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give, and the last TED rule on how story telling can change the world.

So I was thinking about that when I watched the last talk from Chris Anderson, the curator of TED:

Why do people like watching TED talks? All those ideas are already out there in print, it’s actually faster to read than to view, why would someone bother? Well it’s showing instead of telling. But even leaving the screen out of it, there’s still a lot more being transferred than just words. It’s in that non verbal portion, that’s some serious magic.[…] Face to face communication has been fine tuned by millions of years of evolution, that’s what made it into this mysterious powerful it is. Someone speaks, there’s resonance in all these receiving brains, the whole group acts together, I mean this is the communicating tissue of the human superorganism, it has probably driven our culture for millenia. […] It’s not too much to say that what Gutenberg did on writing, online video can now do for face to face communication. So that primal medium which your brain is exquisitely wired for, that just went global. Now this is big!

So yes, online videos are a better way to learn and connect. And if I create and upload videos myself I have to take notice (while filming), be active and give (share), while telling stories. All those rules at once! Happiness coming!

What I’m excited about, or what I think is underreported is the significance of the rise of online video. This is the technology that’s going to allow the rest of the world’s talents to be shared digitally, thereby launching a whole new cycle of crowd accelerated innovation

This is my 10th TED rule: I will film, edit and upload videos. More specifically, I want to share some of the small practical things I learn during my journey: I’m starting a series of short How To videos on my brand new youtube account.

Here is the first one from Mentawai: How To put loincloth. I’m starting in the world of video making so please give me advice and feedback!

TED rule 9

Bengkulu, West Sumatra, Indonesia

One year ago, while I was looking online for tutorials on photography, I stumbled upon a video from the young talented photographer Joey L. He had spent 3 weeks in a remote island close to Sumatra, shooting tribes. The pictures were great, landscapes wild, but what touched me was at the end. The shamans were inviting people from all over the world to come to the island and discover their culture. They were saying that their culture will die with them, the young generations being more interested by the “modern” way of life. I decided I will go there. And I’m just coming back from a week with the exact same people.

The island is Siberut, part of the Mentawai island. It’s a 8 hour boat trip from Padang, sumatra. At first I went there with no real plan, but I met other people going for a trek to meet the tribes. I joined them, and we went on a 3 hour canoe trip, plus 3 hour walk in the muddy jungle, to finally arrive to the Uma (traditional shaman house). We lived with the Mentawai people 3 days, then went to an other Uma, our guide father’s.

Mentawai people are amazing, friendly, with a great humour, speaking a little english from the travelers coming there. They live in harmony with the jungle, respecting each animal they hunt, talking to the spirits, healing with ancestral shamanist knowledge of plants and songs. And it’s true, it seems that their beautiful culture is dying. From the Indonesian government with police pressure and official schools, to the Indonesian culture spreading to the young Mentawai with muslim missionaries, fashion and music.

What to do? Find the right TED talk. From Wade Davis, anthropologist from national geographic. What he says in his last TED talk

We’re living through a time when virtually half of humanity’s intellectual, social and spiritual legacy is being allowed to sleep away. This does not have to happen. These people are not failed attempts of being modern […] and destined to fade away by natural law.

In every case these are dynamic living people being driven out of existence by identifiable forces. That’s actually an optimistic observation because it suggests that if human beings are the agent of cultural destructions, we can also be, and must be, the facilitator of cultural survival.

I chose to show you his first talk, much more dense and powerful.

I could quote most of his talk, but I decided to keep the militant part of it:

We believe that politicians will never accomplish anything, we think that polemics are not persuasive but we think that story telling can change the world.

So for this TED rule: I’ll create an other blog sharing stories, pictures and videos of the people I meet during my trip.

I haven’t much time ( they are closing the internet cafe I’m in), but please watch this other video about a project to keep and finish Mentawai tattoos: Mentawai Tattoo revival. I’ll post more info on Mister Jo’s facebook and Twitter.


TED rule 8

Siberut, Mentawai islands, West Sumatra

I’m on a remote island, 10 hours boat from the world. It’s beautiful, or at least I imagine. And I don’t have access to internet. Well, to be honest I’m not sure… So I’m writing this short 8th TED rule from Padang on Thursday, just before taking the boat. And hopefully it will be published on Monday, as usual.

Today, it’s time for a wow talk recommended by my friend Lucy. Not much to say to introduce Caroline Casey, just watch her:

C’est ici pour la version francaise

I have learn cars and motorbike and elephants, that’s not freedom. Beeing absolutely totally yourself is freedom. I never needed eyes to see. I simply needed vision and belief. And if you truly believe, and I mean believe from the bottom of your heart, you could make change happen. And we need to make it happen.

I don’t ride elephant but a motorbike. I’m not either an Irish woman, and I’m not blind. But I hope I will reach the same conclusion as her. This TED rule is simple: I’ll use this TED talk again at the end of my trip.


TED rule 7

Panyabunggan, Indonesia,

This week has been full of adventures. It started with me getting a new motorbike in Medan, then riding and boating to the beautiful Samosir island in the middle of Sumatra, spending some time with the Batak people, and riding again on the crazy mountain roads (200km in 8 hours…), and I finally met my friend Jacques in Panyabunggan. If you’re lost and would like to follow me, I just started to map everything on a google map, you can find it in the “about me” section at the top. I’m also thinking about the not-so-fluent-in-english readers so I added links to google translate the blog in french, spanish or bahasa Indonesia. It’s there on the right ->

One of the things that impress me the most is how friendly the people are. It’s not because I high-five the kids on the road, or because I’m often asked to be taken in pictures (when it should be the contrary!), it’s rather their pure smiles that appear from their astonished eyes when I just say hello. Or how often I’ve been asked if I needed anything. And even in the small houses without electricity – and obviously no washing machine – they look really happy. So happy that I started to search about happiness. On TED.

And there is many TED talks about “perhaps the most universal human yearning: to be happy. But this simplest of goals so often eludes us. We’re not terribly good, we humans, at knowing what we want.” I finally chose Nic Marks, as he shares with us different ways to change our life quality, from measuring happiness, computing the effectiveness of our society to convert natural resources into well being – and using it as a political tool, – to giving 5 simple advises on how to be happy.

“The ultimate outcome of a nation is how successful is it at creating happy and healthy lives for its citizens. That should be the goal of every nation of the planet. But we have to remember that there is a fundamental input for that and that is how many of the planet resources we use.”

Nic Marks is a happiness researcher and the founder of the London Centre for Wellbeing.

And here are the links to get the subtitles: sous titre francaissubtitulo en espanol

The first part of the talk is not so new : Bhutan has been known to base their development goals not on the GNP (Gross National Product) but on a similar Gross National Happiness. What is new is that western countries start to be interested in similar concept, and France (and Sarkozy) is one of the first to effectively measure an happiness index. On his side, Nic has been working with the new economic foundation (nef)  on a european survey to measure well being, and later coupled it with the environmental efficiency to create the Happy Planet Index.

You can measure your own well-being, and compare your results to countries across Europe, on the nationalaccountsofwellbeing.org page, as I did, and here are my results in green (pink is France average):

I must say that I am in special conditions, traveling on my motorbike, which can explain the strange shape of the diagram. I’m not even sure the questions or the survey is relevant for me… Well you can do it and share your results in the comments!

The most important is that I don’t have a 10 in all categories, so I can improve my happiness! And this is where I call Nik again and his 5 “secrets to happiness”:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

And this will be my TED rule 7: I have to more connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.


TED rule 6

Medan, Indonesia

I finally managed to escape Kuala Lumpur and its physically exhausting nightlife, I left my great friends, my beautiful motorbike – still for sale! – and flied to Medan, Indonesia. I then looked around to buy a motorbike, not so easy when you’re not Indonesia resident, and rested, waiting for the week-end to end and the shops to open again. Hopefully by the time you read this post I’m riding to Toba Lake and new adventures!
In Medan, I’m learning to respond to all the friendly “Hey Mister!” coming every 10 minutes from smiling kids, taxi drivers or any people in the street. In 3 days I haven’t seen any foreigner, which can explain also all the astonished looks I get, but hey, I feel like a star! Many come spontaneously to help me translate to Indonesian, to give directions or just to talk a little bit in English, when they can. And to really feel this country I decided I really need to speak the Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia), and quickly. I have an assimil method, I also use free software to remember the words, but that’s not fast enough, and that’s not fitting my way of learning. Then I remembered Tim Ferriss, an impressive guy who, you can imagine, gave a TED talk.
Tim Ferriss was born in 1977, in 2001 he founded a sport nutrition supplement company, brain QUICKEN, sold it in 2009, and he is now an angel investor for companies like twitter or stumbleupon. He also gained a Guiness record for the most consecutive tango spins in 1 minute, he became national champion of Sanshou (chinese kick boxing), wrote 2 best sellers (“the 4 hour workweek” and “the 4 hour body”), had a show on history channel, and, that’s the worst, he is quite good looking.
I first stumbled upon Tim after the publication of his first book: “The 4-hour workweek, escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich”, in a google video. It was the first time I was watching a video about productivity by someone else than an old teacher, and I was impressed. So there were methods to learn and work more effectively? He got me and I started to follow blogs and videos about the subject. And 4 years after, I can tell  it worked!
As you’re going to see in the TED talk, Tim applies 2 main ideas:

  • The Pareto Principle: “For many events, 80% of the effect come from 20% of the cause”, and  “focus one’s attention on those 20% that contribute to 80% of the income”
  • The Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” or how Tim turns it: “The perceived complexity of a task will expand to fill the time you allowed for it”

So when you have a task to complete – or something new to learn, deconstruct it, look at the 20% you have to do and allow you only a short deadline. Then you’ll be effective.

You now understand, I’m interested in the 2nd part of his talk. And here is my TED rule 6: I’ll learn bahasa Indonesia, and maybe the other languages I’m going to need (Taralog for Philipinnes, Mandarin for China…)
Now you can stop reading, or if you’re interested by Tim’s method to learn effectively a new language you can continue after the jump, I’m going to summarize it. If you’re really interested I recommend switching directly to his blog Here or Here.

Read the rest of this entry »

TED rule 5

Still in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Fifth week on my TED rules project, I discover that following the TED rules is not difficult if you don’t forget the details. I’m talking especially of Stefan Sagmeister in my TED rule 2. His vision of taking a sabbatical is clearly an excellent idea, but I neglected his advice on having a school-like agenda during the year. So I spent the full week partying with good friends in Kuala Lumpur… too bad! Of course I still follow all the TED rules, creating one new rule every week, keeping track of my time and expenses (you can even check how the spreadsheet evolved in a party sheet) and eating no junk, less meat and more vegetables. But now it’s time for me to go on, and I’ll be continuing my Asia motorbike tour this week. Bybye friends and tigers, next step is Medan, Indonesia!
For this week rule I wanted to call the great Hans Rosling, a Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician and an excellent public speaker. With 8 TED talks he is one of the pillars of TED. His presentations are not only fun to watch, but based on strong science and data and coupled with innovative technology (Gapminder, go and try it!) they changed my vision of the world. Or as he says himself in a TED Talk:

Once upon a time (…) I was a student at saint john’s general hospital in Bangalore. I was a guest student during 1 month of a public health course. And that changed my mindset forever. The course was good, but it wasn’t the course content in itself that changed the mindset. it was the brutal realization the first morning that the indian students were better than me. (…) That personal experience was the first time in my life that the mindset I was living with was changed. And I realized that perhaps the western world will not continue to dominate the world forever. And I think many of you have the same sort of personal experience.

I must say I had the same kind of experience, and his first TED talk helped me figure out how the vision of the world I learnt at school is outdated… Anyway today let’s look at his last published TED talk about washing machine:

No, for this week TED rule I’m not going to attach a washing machine to my motorbike and provide free laundry services in the remote places I’m going to (even if I though about it). Ironically I’m following an advice from an other of his talk:

It’s that realization of someone you meet that really meant to change the idea about the world, it’s not the statistics.

I have the opportunity to travel and meet a lot of people during this year, and I can share it with you. And one of the best (and less boring – for you) way I know is to take pictures. I enjoy shooting face portraits, because a glance is easily powerful, and focusing on face is a good way to start learning about photography. For this week rule I decided to take one step behind – and switch to wide-angle lens – to show not only the people I meet, but also the way they live. I’ll  try to take pictures as representative as possible of what I see during my trip. I already started, although I’m not so happy with the first shots, not so easy to switch to wide-angle! You can see the result on the “one step behind” set on flickr, I’ll update it and post more and more pictures. Next ones will be from Sumatra!

Have a good week.