Has a TED talk ever made you want to know more about the speaker who is giving it? Given that this year’s TEDxGhent speakers are an impressive bunch of people, we thought we’d do you a favor and ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask before you even see them on stage!
Jean-Luc Doumont is the right person to talk to if you’re wondering how to live your life more efficiently in the fast paced world we live in today. This is what he’ll gladly give us advice on during his talk – despite being an introvert, as he says! But why is he passionate about dedicating himself to efficiency in everyday life?‘For as long as I can remember, I have been saddened by waste – waste of food and other resources, waste of time and effort, even waste of feelings. I witness so many people who try hard and mean well, but waste their time (and everyone else’s, too), because of misconceptions about what works and what does not. As a result, I devote my life to challenging deeply rooted yet ineffective practices and to helping people reach their goals more effectively. My passion is fueled by the feedback I receive: these people tell me how much I impacted their life, how grateful they are, and how they want more of it.
And how about Bart Van der Roost, music and information technology aficionado turned entrepreneur? What drives him in his musically-inspired entrepreneurial endeavors?‘Music is like a lifelong disease: once you’ve been bitten, there is no way to get rid of it.Not that I mind – it’s addictive and I never want to go cold turkey! I work to make a living, but I live for artists and music.’
And have you wondered what fascinates him most? ‘Everyday people are finding ways to express their voice: as composers, performers, music educators. Regardless of style or level, it still amazes me that there are new sounds born every day.’
Katrien Herdewyn, the young shoe designer and engineer, has already managed to win us over with her enthusiasm. ‘I consider it a luxury to know what you want to be or do with your life at the age of 4. I like what I do, I like science, I like shoes, and the combination of those makes it even better. It is scary to leave your comfort zone and pursue something risky and new. But learning new things and pushing boundaries, to me, is rewarding. I love challenges and I want to create.’ She thinks, however, that 3D printing will have to wait a while longer before entering the world of designer shoes, as it cannot offer the comfort of traditionally made shoes just yet. Wait, did she say she was passionate about shoes? Well, we’re sure you wonder how many she has in her collection! ‘I don’t know exactly how many pairs of shoes I own, but I know where I got each and every pair. I haven’t thrown a pair of shoes away in the past 10 years. I don’t want to count them, because I like numbers and numerical order and knowing the number would create the urge to buy extra shoes or throw pairs away to own a ‘beautiful’ amount of shoes.’
By the end of Ellen de Bruin’s talk you will know that business meetings represent an attack on freedom, creativity and joy of life, and you should not be attending them. But here’s something you will not have discovered while this science reporter is on stage – Ellen is an origami fan! ‘I can fold several types of origami dinosaurs, but I’ll have to look at the diagrams. I can fold you a cute inflatable frog by heart though.’ Her first passion, however, remains writing. ‘I love the way words can create and change worlds in people’s minds, in big ways and in small ways. I love manipulating words to ensure that effect and I love to make people smile.’ And she appreciates deeply that she can write wherever she wants. In her field of work, this is what she considers the biggest breakthrough: ‘It’s Evernote: being able to take notes on my phone wherever I am and then finding them on my computer at home.’
Joao Pedro de Magelhaes, our ageing expert, did not hide where his passion and benevolence stem from. ‘The key driver of my work is the fact that aging is the major cause of death, disease and suffering in modern societies. Besides, most likely I and the ones I love will die from old age, and I’m terrified by the idea of eternal oblivion. So I will not stop trying to discover the secrets of aging.’ But as dedicated and serious he is about issues that worry the humanity, he had a peculiar secret to share! ‘I used to do stand-up comedy, and actually started performing right here in Ghent!’
Now, this promises some inspiring talks – looking forward to meeting you all at the TEDxGhent Celebration!