Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Favourite Quotes from TEDxUTSC

While there's no replacing watching the actual thing, it's seven hours long. We have it hard enough staying focused on half an hour of chemistry homework. Therefore, I thought I'd cherry-pick the best easily-digestible moments of TEDxUTSC, pithy kernels of undeniable truth. I hope you'll gain a thing or two from the great, smart people who took the stage at UTSC this Saturday.

About the question What are you good at?:
 “Unfortunately, in therapy we don’t ask this question because for more than a century therapy has been a place where clients go and discuss their troubles, their deficits, their disorders, their syndromes, their symptoms…. And we stop therapy when symptoms remit. And what we’re left with, I can tell you, we’re left with empty clients…. We treat strengths as inauthentic.” -Tayyab Rashid

"What makes your life worth living?"

“What makes your life worth living? My data, and also confirmed by some colleagues of mine, have robustly shown that it is your capacity to love; hope and optimism; your curiosity, the sense of wonder; your zest and vitality; and finally, your gratitude.” -Tayyab Rashid

“Ninety-nine percent of people will tell you that university and college was the best time of our lives. So you have to wonder why that was. It’s because you meet amazing people, and dive into deeper connections, and have the most incredible conversations, and explore the most incredible aspects of living.” -Bobby Umar

“[My parents] didn’t get me. And it’s understandable because from the age of 17 to 23, you go through an incredible fundamental shift of who you are, what you believe in, and what you stand for.” -Bobby Umar

“Of course university is a great experience. But in order to fly you also have to go through the crap. And my fourth year was, you know, very depressing, I had times where I was crying, I was crying, I felt lost, I felt like no one cared, I felt like I couldn’t do what I wanted to do because I was forced into some definition of success, or some path that wasn’t me. And that happens a lot. But you have to be willing to understand who you are and fight for it.” -Bobby Umar

“For me [when I was growing up], freedom, independence, and self-expression came when you bought a car… Now you guys are born connected. The ability to do that is a switch that’s turned on but we don’t know how to turn it off.” -David Shing

“Personal expression is the new form of entertainment.” -David Shing

“Don’t worry about online and offline; we’re going to talk about it as awake and asleep… And by the way, don’t worry about social as a place you go; it’s a thing you do. In the future it’s just going to be like water and electricity; it’s a utility.” -David Shing

"I've never ever ever felt so alone."

“This is the world we’re moving into…as much as we’ve got all these devices, I’ve never ever ever felt so alone. So as much as I’d say we are the connected generation, my friends, I think the next step we need to move into is the connection generation.” -David Shing

“When you care about humans you kind of end up caring about anything, so being a humanist activist kind of means you end up being a feminist activist, an animal rights activist, an environmentalist.” -Jesse D’Andrade

“We kind of want to tell our stories in black and white—either I can save the world, or I can do nothing, but it’s not like that…. We can only ever do our best…. We can’t ask to be the most thoughtful or the most caring or the most disciplined, but we can always try be a little more than we are.” -Jesse D’Andrade

“Climate coverage in this last year with all this happening got a total of eight minutes on the Sunday news channels in the U.S.; not much better in Canada. Meanwhile a viral media YouTube sensation got 1.2 billion views, and yes that’s ‘Gangnam Style’…. We’re getting engaged with stuff that’s funny, that’s exciting, things you want to be a part of. And we need that now for a movement. We need virality in activism…. Traditional activism needs to be shaken up.” -Emily Hunter

“When it comes to personal finance, I’m a firm believer that it’s 90% psychology and 8% math, and usually people say ‘well what’s the last 2%?’ The last 2% is a testament to how unimportant the math is, because it doesn’t add up to 100%.” -Preet Banerjee

"We need to start hating debt again."

“Debt used to be a four-letter word. Technically it’s still a four-letter word, but I mean, it used to be a four-letter word. You go back far enough in history, and if you borrowed money to buy something that depreciated, that went down in value, people would look at you funny. Today, debt is everywhere. It’s so normal that if you told people you don’t carry a balance on your credit card, you’re the weird one. We need to start hating debt again.” -Preet Banerjee

“Think of borrowing money today as negotiating a pay cut with your future self. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing. Except your future self doesn’t really have a say in the matter, do they. Imagine telling your future self ‘you need to work an extra eight years [due to interest build-up] because I want to shift my income forward a little bit’. Eventually you’re going to become your future self and you’re not going to be very happy.” -Preet Banerjee

“Now we have all this media, and are we transforming education and research and dissemination of research in any significant way? To a large extent I would say no… In order to get your work read and recognized and promoted by your institution, you need to publish in recognized academic journals.… Much of the practices of how academic journals are shared still remain in the mold of the 17th century.” -Leslie Chan

“[Aaron Swartz] felt that a private company taking control over public resources and putting locks on them…and putting unfair terms on their use really is a form of social injustice…. His act [hacking into MIT and downloading journal articles] was really a demonstration to show how ridiculous the system is and how much that system needs to be challenged.” -Leslie Chan

“A lot of people make a lot of decisions in our lives. A lot of people make decisions for us. When it comes to the question of ‘What are you going to study? What are you going to do as your career?’ people make the choice to take the safe option, or they go for the lucrative option, as opposed to pursuing their passions.” -Karthik Kanagasabapathy

“Consider this. You are almost always going to be better off being in the top 1% of a field that may not be considered lucrative as opposed to being average in the lucrative field. And if you’re not enthusiastic about something, you’re destined to be average or you’re destined to be bad at it. While if you’re enthusiastic, you have a shot to be the best…. Life is too short to spend 40 hours a week on something you’re not enthusiastic about.” -Karthik Kanagasabapathy

“I feel like I should probably apologize for what I’m about to do to you, before I do it. But I won’t, because it’ll be great.” -Steve Joordens, before cover of “We Don’t Need No Education”

"Something about the way we educate students can kind of suck the fun out of learning."

“Sometimes, something about the way we educate students, can kind of suck the fun out of learning. I went to school, as we all did, and I learned. But I went to school primarily for two reasons. One, my friends were there, and two, my dad would kick my ass if I didn’t….
          “The learning I would almost describe as uphill learning. I kind of learned despite the system. It wasn’t that I was eating every new piece of information up; I was kind of digesting them somehow intravenously through a drip that the system had put into my arm. Which is fine. But if we could ever capture that really excited learning, the kind of learning that the student embraces, then that would be great.” -Steve Joordens

“We ask to students to create an essay, or to work through some problem set, or to do a case in a business course, and do all this stuff, but ultimately every student knows that all of their work is not going anywhere. It’s just a hoop they’re being asked to jump through so that they can be marked and that’s it. And then we as educators are sometimes depressed because the students aren’t into it…. They’re not engaged. And engagement is the front door to learning.” -Steve Joordens


  1. Fantastic choice on favourtite quotations. Glad you loved the conference. - girl who greeted her grandma.

  2. Thanks for compiling this excellent list. You know, looking back at it, I've never seen so many people all excited for the same thing at the same time at UTSC. As Dr. Leslie put it in this article [], "If some of this energy spills over to the day-to-day campus life, we would all be richer for it".

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