7 Ted Videos about Cultural Differences

by Wendy Soon on March 22, 2016

A multi-ethnic group of teenage friends outside pointing


With the growing trend of globalization, we are bound to meet with many people of different backgrounds and cultures. Instead of being afraid of these differences, we need to learn to embrace it and appreciate it. Here are some short talks that describe these differences, emphasize the need for these differences, and how we can utilize these differences to our advantage.

1. Michael Gavin – Why Cultural Diversity Matters

Associate Professor of human dimensions of natural resources, Michael Gavin researches biological diversity. In a rather serious talk, he discusses the importance that history, language and tradition have in the preservation of culture. He raises examples from leisure to philosophy to medicine that emphasize the benefits of cultural diversity. He also addresses the question on why we are slowly losing cultural diversity, and what should we do about it.

2. Derek Sivers – Weird, or just Different?

In his short and sweet talk, Derek Sivers convinces us that we need to go to the opposite sides of the world, to realize that the assumptions that we always had, may never be true. The opposite may be true, depending on where you are. Literally, there is a flip side to everything!

3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda of Eastern Nigeria shares a personal story of how we are what we are exposed to. When she started writing at a young age of 7, all she wrote about was what she had read about – the white man’s world, instead of her own African culture. She gives further examples through her life, where her limited exposure to a “single story” led to critical misunderstandings. Our lives and our culture are a result of overlapping stories that we are exposed to throughout our lives. It determines our identity.

4. Helen Turnbull – Inclusion, Exclusion, Illusion and Collusion

CEO of Human Facets, Helen has a 25+ year successful track record in the field of Global Inclusion. In this talk, she shares about what our personal “blind spots” could do to us and others around us. Despite us sharing the same human experience, we are, paradoxically, uniquely different. Yet we are not different in the same ways – we are more alike to some, and more different from others. This inherent affinity leads to the trend of in-groups and out-groups. Helen uses personal stories alongside solid evidences from research that emphasizes the omnipresence of such a biases.

5. Valerie Hoeks – Cultural Difference in Business

A business in one country, can be run completely differently in another. In fact, it usually HAS to be run differently to work. Valerie Hoeks takes the example of China vs Europe, to describe this need. One point she raises is that to the Chinese, because of Confucius’ teachings, warm relationships and sincerity is key to successful business relationships. On the surface, this seems like a given in any partnership, but Valerie describes 3 values that are particularly important to the Chinese – favours, harmony and face.

6. Thandie Newton – Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself

Actress Thandie Newton tells of her discovery of “self”, through how she grew up in two distinct cultures, and later on as she played the roles of different characters in her career. She shares how during this process, how the “self” is not constant, and her feelings towards it can range from exuberance to hate. Through a warm and sincere talk, Thandie tells of how her “self” was defined by her “otherness”, and shared how she finally found peace later on in her life.

7. Pellegrino Riccardi – Cross Cultural Communication

Cross cultural expert Riccardi shares his personal and professional experience about very different cultures can successfully coexist next to each other. Extremely humorous speaker, who tells great stories. Be assured to be captivated and engaged throughout his talk.

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