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Three of My Favorite TED Talks

After attending TED, my mind was blown by how smart the people were who were at the conference and giving talks. After preparing a seven-minute talk myself for more than five months, I developed a greater sense of appreciation for how much knowledge someone is able to pack in such a short amount of time. Here are three that I’ve watched time and time again that have continued to push my thinking and nourish my soul.

1.     How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek

This talk reminds you to focus on what drives you. Are you clear about why are you making the sacrifices you’re making every single day? Do the people on your team have a clear sense of their why? When things get tough, purpose is our greatest lever to keep going.

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership -- starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.

2.     Every kid needs a champion by Rita Pierson

I’ve always known that I’ve had mentors and coaches, but Rita’s talk reminded me how many champions I also had. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of your job and forget about developing yourself and those around you. Who are your champions? Who are you championing?

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don't like.'" A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

3.     How to start a movement by Derek Sivers

I saw Derek’s talk for the first time in college and it taught me a very important lesson in leadership. It truly resonated with my style of servant leadership.

With help from some surprising footage, Derek Sivers explains how movements really get started. (Hint: it takes two.)

4.     Bonus Talk: A summer school kids actually want to attend by Karim Abouelnaga

I gave this talk in April 2017 and I’m incredibly proud of the way it came out. The lessons extend far beyond summer school and the work we’re doing. I talk about the importance of asking for help and the nature of how so many kids growing up like me think about the short-term and long-term tradeoffs of summer.

In the US, most kids have a very long summer break, during which they forget an awful lot of what they learned during the school year. This "summer slump" affects kids from low-income neighborhoods most, setting them back almost three months. TED Fellow Karim Abouelnaga has a plan to reverse this learning loss. Learn how he's helping kids improve their chances for a brighter future.