- I attended the TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, where attendees pay $10,000 to learn the next big ideas.
- The theme this year, "Bigger Than Us," encouraged speakers to present solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.
- After watching more than 100 talks, I’ve landed on 13 key insights that we’ll be mulling over for years to come.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
While attending the TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, I resolved not to skip a single talk for fear that I’d miss out on a golden nugget of wisdom to share with our readers.
After totaling up all the speeches across the five-day conference, I realized I had attended 107 talks. That’s about 30 hours of presentations, all of which I’ve distilled into a few key lessons.
This year’s theme, "Bigger Than Us," encouraged speakers to present solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. A few missed the mark in terms of offering the kind of "tough truths" that participants were promised, but others posited ideas we’ll be mulling over for years to come.
Here are the lessons that have stuck with me the most.
Lack of sleep is killing us, but there are things we can do about it.
Getty Images/Sean Gallup
There was much talk of doom and destruction at this year’s conference — technology will overtake us all, climate change could destroy the planet, and so on — but by far the scariest talk had to do with sleep.
Most of the time, I tune out recommendations to get more sleep, partly because I hear them so often. I may not get a full eight or nine hours, but I’m far better than former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who reportedly sleeps only four hours a night.
One short talk from sleep scientist Matt Walker and I’m going to bed early from now on. Walker taught me that sleeping six hours versus eight hours could be the difference between a healthy immune system and body that’s at risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Research also tells us that lack of sleep can also lead to premature aging, weight gain, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, depression, type 2 diabetes, and reproductive issues. Men who sleep five hours a night even tend to have smaller testicles than those who sleep seven hours or more, Walker said.
Rather than popping a sleeping pill, Walker said, the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Walker also recommended keeping the bedroom temperature at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, or moving to another room if you’re tossing and turning so you don’t associate your bed with wakefulness.
People who are empathetic believe their destiny is intertwined with other people.
At just 28 years old, Mayor Michael Tubbs is piloting the first major basic income program in the US in his home city of Stockton, California.
As someone who grew up poor and was raised by a single mother while his father was in jail, Tubbs is intimately acquainted with Stockton’s inequality.
During his talk, he used the Good Samaritan parable — which tells of a beaten man who is passed by on the street until one kind soul finally stops to help him — to distinguish between those who give to the poor and those who see themselves reflected in the less fortunate. The latter, he said, are helping to create a more just society.
"In our country, we really have to contend with this idea of ‘the other," Tubbs told Business Insider. In order to empathize with someone, he said, we must assume that our fate is tied up with theirs.
Social media platforms are making even big-name celebrities feel insecure.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Joseph Gordon-Levitt knows what it’s like to crave attention. In his TED talk, the actor described comparing his following on Instagram to that of other celebrities. "I see that their number is higher than mine and I feel terrible about myself," he said.
It’s a feeling that should be familiar to most in the social media era, but the fact that even big-name actors are becoming insecure suggests that no one wins on these platforms — except the companies that created them.
Like an addiction, Gordon-Levitt said, Instagram "trains you to want that attention, to crave it, to feel stressed out when you’re not getting enough of it."
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