It's About Time: TEDx ShanghaiWomen
Ideas worth spreading – this is the devotion of TED. I, personally, have been a long time fan of the talks, dreaming to one day be there to watch the speakers live. This time around, in October 2016 the dream has come true. One more item off the bucket list.
TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share the TED-like experience. Followed by TED guidance, self-organized TEDx events are structured just as strong. On the contrary, having local speakers talk about what matters here and now, in particular geographic location and customs, better engages the audience of locals. And the ideas, that are indeed worth spreading, are reached to a far bigger crowd.
TEDxShanghaiWomen was the first TEDx event dedicated to women in mainland China. TEDxShanghaiWomen offers a platform to connect and inspire people seeking a common sense of community: strong, empowered and inspirational. This October TEDxShanghaiWomen coincides with the global TEDWomen event hosted in California each year. This year’s global theme is “It’s about time”.
It is, indeed, about time we start talking about artificial intelligence, investing in female led startups, robots and courage of living fearlessly. The October 2016 session was hosted at the Shanghai Center and had six speakers, each unique in her own way and caring for what matters most to them with utter dedication.
Gwendolyn Cardno, Deputy Consul General at the United States Consulate in Shanghai, kicked off the event with a question we all ask, but never seem to find an answer to: “How About Now?”. Gwendolyn is a seasoned diplomat who has served overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, China and the UK. She has shared the stories of various women she has met around the world and who have been asking themselves the same question, who have been wondering when would be a good time for a change.
What makes them different? They did not wait for the perfect time, prefect opportunity, perfect circumstances to make a change in their lives. Whether it is acting up against the will of the reserved community and pursuing overseas education, or picking up new habits to make every day life of their family slightly better – these women around the globe made a move towards change and better future, and they succeeded.
While some people embrace the change to achieve what is considered normal for most of the people, like clean water and right for education, other people in more developed countries are encouraged to embrace new technologies. Rina Joosten-Rabou is a Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of technology venture Seedlink Tech in China. Her work has been featured on the BBC and in international documentaries, and this time she shared her thoughts with us on “How robots help us find the career we want”. It’s about time we find out.
While one can benefit in career through human interaction and communication, other people are restricted to land their dream job mainly because of bias. There is stress, anxiety, looks the employer might not be willing to accept and common pressure of work interview. Now with the integration of artificial intelligence into HR routine we can get through hiring process painlessly and with high rate of success, that is if you are a good match. While protecting the company employee turnover and work satisfaction rate, the robots also help to find the job that is most suitable for a person, taking into consideration skills, interests, capabilities and leading you to the dream career faster, better and without bias.
Pocket Sun, a driven and inspiring venture capitalist lit the room once she got on stage. As a young and ambitious woman, she has already been selected as one of Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30 Asia in Finance and VC, featured on the cover of Forbes Asia, and was also among LinkedIn’s 2015 Top Voices in VC & Entrepreneurship. Pocket encourages everyone to “Use your difference to make an impact”. Being one of few women on top of venture capitalist industry, Pocket challenges the status quo and succeeds to build her way and empower other entrepreneurial women. She has spent years among startups and couldn’t help but notice that investors just love college drop out kids, looking out for the next Zuckerberg. Inspired by entrepreneurial spirit of startup and discouraged by biased investors, Pocket has made it her priority to build a place where women had the chance to pursue their ideas. She has also shares her three top lessons learned along the way:
- Ideas are worthless, unless you act on it.
- Take baby steps, and learn along the way.
- Understand what legacy do you wish to leave on this world.
“Don’t let anybody stop you”, she said, “use your difference to make an impact”. While we always hear about the importance of embracing your uniqueness, (although don’t act on it), it helps to hear it one more time to give yourself another chance, another push.
A complete new informational discovery fell upon me when May Wang started talking about breast cancer issues in China. May is currently a consultant at SITRI on advanced material/technology for Internet of Things. She talked about saving lives and the use of artificial intelligence in breast cancer early detection. Breast cancer cases and mortality rates are on the rise in China. While the c-word is heavily fought against in the west, China falls behind.
The key to win the fight over breast cancer is early detection. While the United States manages to detect the signs of breast cancer in over 80% of the cases, the number in China falls below 20%. And this is not the end of horrific statistics: new cases of breast cancer in China increase at 5% annually and the chance of recovery when detected at late stage is far less than 50%, while if discovered at early stage chances of recovery go beyond 90%. So, we get it, we need to do detection exams as early as possible, however this is not the end of the story yet. Even if one does want to test for breast cancer, she will have limited access to the needed machines in big cities, not to mention that smaller cities don’t even have these machines. So, what to do, you ask. May’s answer to this is the use of artificial intelligence, an APP that will help to test yourself in the comfort of your home. The app is loaded with data, but it never fails to develop and improved more. We ALL have a very important information hidden in us, and we need to use it to make the AI serve better. If you would like to help with development or share your experience and knowledge or simply do easy tests to help researchers gather more info, email May at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let this be your small change that will lead to better life of many around us.
Up next on stage came Eleanor Moseman, and trust me, she touched my heart. Eleanor is a photographer and solo explorer who documents and shares stories of ancient civilizations and disappearing traditions throughout Asia. China, Mongolia, Tibet, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, South-East Asia, Bangladesh to name the few – she traveled to all these places, focusing her work on women among religious cultures, the working class, and those enslaved to poverty. She gives the voice to many who may never be heard or recognized.
Upon coming up on stage, Eleanor was fearful if she would be able to deliver her speech to her best ability. She is also fearful of a number of other things, but in the end always find the courage in herself to overcome the fears and turn them into her power source. “It’s time to live fearlessly”, she says, and encourages to embrace our fears and make them our power. While sharing beautiful stories of people she has met in her life on the outskirts of Asia, she asked three questions, that we all need to think about and find the answers deep down in our hearts, and eventually overcome the fears we live in:
- What is the fear that’s stopping you from speaking out?
- What is the fear that’s stopping you from being genuine?
- What is the fear that’s stopping you from loving?
While talking about time that never stops and makes us run the race, Valerie Brown concluded the speaking session at TEDxShanghaiWomen affirming us to “Trust the procrastinator”. Valerie is currently the Director of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai. To procrastinate or not to procrastinate…that is the question. While we always hear that procrastination is a bad thing and something we need to fight, Valerie assured us that sometimes procrastination has its benefits and we need to not only trust our inner procrastinator, but let other people around us manage their time the way they feel it.
Procrastination has two faces, and while eating chips on your sofa and watching TV shows when you have to be doing something else is not a good thing, the other face of procrastination lets us discover hidden potential within ourselves. “There are no limits to what you can accomplish when you are supposed to be doing something else” says Valerie, and I can not agree more with her. She tells stories of how went unprepared on the stage for her graduation speech, but then gave out the sincerest speech she could think of, and how she went live on TV without rehearsing, but discovered the potential of improvising and adapting to the situation. The problem with the world today is that everybody wants everything right now. Valerie’s response to this is that we need to find the power within ourselves to trust the procrastinator. They might not get the job done at your time, but will have it done on time. She calls herself a procrastination princess, but you can be sure that the princes in her will get the job done. Procrastinators respect the deadlines, so if you happen to live or work with one of them, set the deadlines, and give them space to manage their time they feel is right for them, not for you. Eventually, once you learn to trust talented procrastinators, you will be amazed of the potential they have within.
TEDxShanghaiWomen was an extraordinary experience for me, and I am happy that such event is brought to the women community here in Shanghai. And while still processing the inspirational talks and discussions shared at the event, I am already looking forward to the next one in 2017.
Here is one for women, empowerment, inspiration…And....That’s it!