Tag Archives: TEDGlobal


TED Talk Friday: The Puzzle of Motivation

August’s TED Talk featured one of my favorite authors – Daniel Pink – in his 2009 TEDGlobal talk The Power of Motivation.

In this powerful talk, Pink challenges traditional notions of what motivates people. Pink shares ways that typical go-to solutions like bonuses and contingent motivators often don’t work or – in some cases – do harm. 21st century tasks require managers to think and incent differently, and Pink’s talk provides a thoughtful springboard to these important shifts.

What motivates you in your work?


TED Talk Friday: Hearing color, confronting bullying

For Friday’s TED Talk screening, we began with a great talk suggested by one of our designers. In his 2012 talk at TEDGlobal, color blind artist Neil Harbisson introduced the audience to an amazing device that allows him to HEAR color!

In his talk, “I listen to color,” Harbisson encouraged us all to be more like cyborgs, and we were left intrigued to “hear” how our own faces would sound.

We then watched my favorite talk from 2013 – spoken word poet Shane Koyczan’s “To this day,” for the bullied and beautiful.

As I shared in my post-conference review, this particular talk brought the TEDActive audience to tears – and to their feet. It generated some very powerful responses among our ThinkFun group too – from a discussion on cyber bullying to personal reflections on our own childhood to the impact that bullying has not only on the “bully” and the “bullied,” but to bystanders who feel powerless to intervene. Many parents also shared changes they’ve seen in their children’s school experience due to heightened awareness.

I’d love to hear your reactions to either of these talks in the comments below!

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Here, ThinkFun founder Andrea Barthello shares the incredible story of William Kamkwamba. This inspired young man from Malawi truly embodies what it means to be a problem solver. Enjoy!

During the spring of 2007 I received a phone call from my son Sam who was at the time a sophomore at Princeton University.  With some urgency in his voice, Sam asked, “Mom, do you want to go to Africa”.  Without hesitation I said, “Yes when are we going?!”

That was the start of an adventure and an impact on my life that I could never have predicted.  I am grateful for that phone call – I’ll explain why.  In the fall of 2007, having had our shots, purchased our malaria pills and other precaution-oriented pharmacy items – Sam and I were ready for an adventure and off to TEDGlobal in Arusha, Tanzania!

I won’t go into the impact that TED has, as that is another story and continues to evolve to this day.  I will tell you, though, that I value the friendships I made, the country, the villages, the people, the majestic animals in their natural habitat… the opportunity to travel with one of my sons brings tears to my eye to this day – it was a most special trip.

The reason I am writing this now is because this month marks the graduation of William Kamkwamba, a boy from Malawi I met at TEDGlobal in the fall of 2007.

William shares his story at TEDGlobal 2007

When William was 14, his country was suffering from famine and drought, his family was starving and could no longer afford to send him to school.  So what did he do?  Young William built a windmill which ultimately provided electricity for his village. He built it out of scraps from a junkyard, and his source of inspiration was a drawing in a book called Using Energy he found in the library.

Luckily for William, there was a man named Tom Rielly at TED.  Tom became William’s mentor, and has really become William’s “American dad.”  William’s story has evolved and is shared in the book The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer – I promise you will love the story.  Share it with your kids, they will be moved and inspired as countless others have been.

“William Kamkwamba’s achievements with wind energy should serve as a model of what one person, with an inspired idea, can do to tackle the crisis we face. ” -Al Gore, former Vice President & Nobel Laureate

When Tom Rielly asked me/ThinkFun to help support William’s return to school to finish his education, I had no hesitation – William is the perfect example of a “problem solver in action,” and our products help kids learn how to problem solve – so of course the answer was yes, we would help.

Since that first meeting in 2007, William has returned to school, brought electricity to his village, dug a well for his village, started a school in his village, co-authored a book, been the focus of a Documentary film that is in the works, traveled across the US on a book tour, and now he will graduate from the African Leadership Academy – WOW!

William and co-author Bryan Mealer in my kitchen during his recent US book tour!

But wait, the story does continue.  This fall, William will return to the US and head to Dartmouth College, where he is going to continue his education with a focus on engineering.  Stay tuned more updates and photos, and please visit www.WilliamKamkwamba.com to learn more about William and get involved.