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TED Talk of the week: Benjamin Zander on 'shining eyes'

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JUNE 14, 2013

Benjamin Zander’s TED Talk might be the best speech you’ve never heard of. Seriously, it’s amazing. In it, the American conductor uses classical music (that’s right) to humor, manipulate and inspire members of his audience to their feet — even bringing some to tears, and it’s not hard to see why. This speech was emotional and exhilarating, making it one of the best we at the Clog have seen in a while. So before you start your day (or maybe when you get a break from it), do yourself a favor and watch the video here. But in case you don’t have the 18 minutes to spare (and you promise to watch it later), here are the key points to take away from the talk:

Be a ‘one-buttock’ player. That’s Zander’s descriptive term for the exact number of buttocks you should be sitting on (literally or figuratively) while playing the piano. Strange term, huh? Perhaps, but consider this explanation: Great pianists are moved by the music they play, so whether you are studying Bach or biochemistry, let your passions move you. That’s something that every Cal student should remember.

A great leader doesn’t doubt the capacity of the people he or she is leading. Zander is a conductor, so his power lies in the ability to awaken possibility in other people. Thus, it is imperative for Zander to have confidence and trust in the people that he conducts, which is why he believes that a truly great leader empowers others.

Success is how many shining eyes you have around you. Shining eyes are the looks of inspiration, respect and passion that surround a great leader. At the end of his talk, Zander asks, “Who am I being that my children’s eyes are not shining.” In other words, how can we improve ourselves so that we inspire the people around us? It’s definitely something to think about.

Whether you’ve just finished your senior year or have just submitted your SIR, Zander offers extremely insightful lessons that any and all Cal students can use. His remarkable ability to communicate valuable lessons and profound emotions is what separates this speech from so many others.

Image source: World Economic Forum under Creative Commons

Contact Griffin Mori-Tornheim at [email protected].

JUNE 13, 2013

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