I’ve been to several TEDx talks in the last few years and was tipped off that Oldham had its own offering a few weeks ago.
Reading through the list of speakers a few life stories spoke to me and I bagged myself a ticket (for what turned out to be a sell-out event).
I can’t do all the speakers justice here so I’m going to pull out a few ideas which grabbed my interest from the content-packed day.
TEDx has superfans…
As I arrived at TEDx Oldham at Oldham Central Library I was delighted to bump into Diane Atkinson, who I know through Manchester Girl Geeks, and her friend Wendy who are both active in the Women’s Institute.
They told me they went to every TEDx they could get to and were particularly impressed with TEDx Bollington in June, where our host for the day Andy Hall had shared his mental health and exercise story.
Andy is bursting with passion for Oldham, introducing the event with the words: “We love this town”.
Joking about his own recent TEDx talk he says that he found himself waking up talking to himself as he rehearsed his talk. He introduced the following two speakers before the main line-up.
“Let’s make Oldham the Shoreditch of the North.”Andy Hall
Ruth is on a mission to clean up rubbish, with the simple message that picking up #1pieceofrubbish is something that everyone can do. She challenged us to do just that over the lunch break (see the picture of Diane doing her bit above).
Samah is Oldham’s current @Youth_Mayor and spoke with passion both about the town she lives in and the potential of everybody to make a difference.
Having “survived” primary breast cancer, Jo went on to be diagnosed with metastatic ‘stage 4’ cancer, which was detected in a number of sites on her body. She was never told the survival statistics but knew she had a median life expectancy of another two to three years.
But Jo had other plans, she wanted to live well for the sake of both her family and herself. She also knew that she wanted to support other women.
She knew that exercise made her feel better and she wanted to raise money for the Christie cancer hospital and loved leading 23 people in a charity cycle ride between Manchester and Blackpool.
“Exercise really is a pill.”Jo Taylor, After Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Jo wanted to help other women living with breast cancer and the harsh treatments associated with it. This led her to set up After Breast Cancer Diagnosis or ABCD as it’s known.
A series of unusual events led Sean to setting up successful tech businesses in the UK in his twenties. He was always one to push himself out of his comfort zone and racked up a series of glamorous jobs in Australia and the Far East which included teaching the owners of yachts to dive.
A chance meeting with actress Kate Hudson made him realise that he could go for what he wanted in life and hoped to become a videographer. On returning to the UK for training he met his girlfriend Hannah and his priorities changed again.
Despite having set up his tech company Mercarto and forming a business partnership with Lawrence Smith CEO of UKFast, Sean says he’s always felt like an imposter and puts his success down to his daring attitude.
Heather, like Samah Khalil, sits on Oldham’s Youth Council. She can see that our climate and environment are in crisis and is passionate and vocal about what needs to be done.
Heather appeals to politicians to stop seeing ‘success’ in terms of money and look how we can preserve our natural resources.
“We can be the solution.”Heather Price
Raam is an engineer with a background in mathematics. He thought maths was difficult and was taken by surprise by the complexity of the English language and culture when he left his home in Bangalore, India to start a masters degree in Sheffield.
He was surprised to face the phenomenon of queuing and illogical pronunciation of words and shared his MUM model for living, ‘Manage, Understand, Master’.
You can hear more from Raam, who is the director of engineering company Equitus on Twitter.
While our bodies and minds benefit from movement and activity, many modern jobs and lifestyles cause us to lead increasingly sedentary lives.
Brisk walking for thirty minutes a day is enough to helps us feel better and Hayley Lever is on a mission to get everyone moving more. This is an inclusive campaign which nudges people towards manageable movement.
“Movement needs to be designed back into life.”Hayley Lever, lead GM Moving
Hayley has written about leading the ‘GM Moving’ campaign and her TEDx presentation and the #activesoles message.
Have a read of her personal blog where Hayley writes with passion about her role and reveals why Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham announced that council staff they could wear trainers to work.
While Rubbi relied on her specialist social media skills to run her businesses, she started to experience negative emotional effects of using social platforms.
Despite her businesses thriving, Rubbi felt anxious and overwhelmed when she felt there were not enough ‘likes’ being added to her pages.
It was only at this point that she began to educate herself on the mechanisms behind social media, the algorithms that were set up to make sure that we always came back for more by delivering a dopamine ‘hit’ each time our posts received a ‘like’ or comment.
Rubbi has a warning and a bit of advice:
1. Set the rules
2. Get as much human interaction as you canRubbi Bhogal-Wood
Henry C Blanchard
Having set up the Uganda Marathon to bring people and money into the country Henry realised that he was not a ‘superhero’.
Despite the millions of pounds he’d raised making a difference to the African nation, he realised he was possibly not the best person to run the project and handed it over to a Uganda colleague, Joshua.
Henry is honest about what he has learned from the experience and the charity he set up now has an all-Ugandan board of trustees. He gives others looking to fundraise or help others the following advice:
1. Ask yourself why you are trying to help these people
2. Ask others what they want
3. Work togetherHenry C. Blanchard
Lisa Marie Gee
Photographer and artist Lisa Marie Gee says her life changed when she had a breakdown 16 years ago, getting involved with the Time To Change who she is now an ambassador for.
In her recovery she picked up a camera and starting taking portraits which conveyed messages about getting better from mental health difficulties. What started with contributions from friends grew through word of mouth and the ‘Open Shutter’s project attracted some high profile subjects.
The first exhibition took place at Gallery Oldham in September 2018 and you can learn more about Lisa’s Open Shutters project on her website.
Having being branded ‘dyslexic’ and then ‘very dyslexic’ in his school career Doddz has succeeded as a commercial street artist in the UK, going on to set up his own fashion brands.
He describes himself as a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and is clearly happy with the place his career has reached. He has some wisdom to impart:
1. Attitude matters – challenge the word ‘impossible’.
2. Self-belief – follow your passion.
3. Surround yourself with people better than you AND
try to be the hardest working person you know.
4. Don’t wait – what’s your goal with your limited time on earth?Doddz
A judge and lawyer, Marzia fled from Afghanistan after being attacked for her political beliefs. She says, as an asylum seeker, she found her home in Oldham – a place she is clearly fond of.
Her career before arriving in the UK had been varied and included setting up a school in Pakistan for Afghan refugees. When she arrived here she had no English and took up classes as Oldham College.
She describes English as her ‘oxygen’ and has always been keen to promote educational opportunities for girls. She is a trustee for the charity City of Sanctuary which works to welcome refugees to the UK>
“Always stand against injustice – if not you, then who will?”Marzia Babakarkhail
What I came away with…
Through all the speakers, regardless or age or background there were two common threads that came through:
- It’s never too late to learn or try something new.
- One small action or one conversation can make a change.
I quite enjoyed TEDx Oldham, there really is something to say for the local. Perhaps next year I’ll be speaking….