Tag Archives: TED

All-Terrain Wheelchair


There are an estimated 40 million people in developing countries who need wheelchairs to get around for work and home. However, many of these people live in rural areas with rough terrain and have a low income. Standard wheelchairs are expensive and are not designed for rough terrain.

In a great case of innovation and design, engineers at MIT took on the problem of mobility by reworking a wheelchair design that had not been changed in more than 100 years. With the customer at the center of the design, the product requirements included a chair that cost less than $200, could navigate 5 kilometers/day of varied terrain, be usable indoors, and be repairable locally with standard bike parts. The result – a combination wheelchair and all-terrain trike. The product, Leveraged Freedom Chair, has a drivetrain made of inexpensive bike parts that are available even in remote rural areas.

View the video at TED Talks to learn how this revolutionary chair was designed and produced.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the process of innovation.
  2. Show the TED Talks video: https://www.ted.com/talks/amos_winter_the_cheap_all_terrain_wheelchair/transcript?language=en#t-588285
  3. View the company’s Web site: http://gogrit.org/
  4. Divide students into teams and have each team map the innovation process against the process used by the company.
  5. Have each team brainstorm on other products that could be reimagined and reengineered to meet social needs for people with disabilities.

Source: TED, National Geographic

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The question: “Why?”


What makes a company great? It isn’t just profitability or growth. There are many companies that achieve both of those, yet still remain mired in negativity or conflict. And, what makes a great leader? It isn’t just managerial skills, it’s something that goes beyond, something that inspires and resonates with people – especially customers.

In this TED Talk, Simon Sinek attempts to answer the question of ‘why’ and explain how great leaders inspire action. His concept: the golden circle. At the center of the golden circle is the answer to the ‘why’ question.

Every organization knows ‘what’ it does, but very few know ‘why’. Making a profit isn’t enough to answer ‘why’ – profit is a result, not a purpose. The ‘why’ needs to focus on the purpose, the cause, and the beliefs. It should be why we get out of bed in the morning and attempt to make a difference in the world. People don’t necessarily buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by asking students to define what makes a company great. Ask students if there are companies that they will not shop at – and ask why. On the other side, ask if there are companies that they will shop at – and ask why. What makes these companies different?
  2. Discuss the importance of leadership in organizations and how having a clear mission, vision, and values impacts organizations.
  3. Show the video: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action
  4. Following the video, divide students into teams. Have each team review the mission/vision/values of an organization of their choosing. (Good companies for this are Tom’s Shoes, Warby Parker, and Quirky.)
  5. Next, have the teams write mission/vision/values for a new company.
  6. Write the statements on the board and discuss the implications to the organization and to its customers.

Source: Ted.com

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Strike a Power Pose


In marketing, we know that perception is reality, and that appearance does matter. Marketers pay a great deal of attention to this in regards to product packaging and advertising. But, how many of us pay attention to our personal marketing? Our body language conveys an impression of us – our strengths, weaknesses, confidence, and power. Body language not only affects how others see us, but perhaps more importantly, it affects how we present ourselves to others.

Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, has researched how “power posing” such as standing confidently (even when we don’t feel confident) can affect our brains, and can impact our chances for success in the workplace. In one of the most popular TED talks (more than 20 million views), Cuddy explains the science behind positive body language and how it impacts how we are perceived, and more importantly, how we perceive ourselves. Our bodies can change our minds.

In Cuddy’s words, “fake it ’til you become it.”

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of personal marketing as students begin to look for jobs.
  2. What are some of their concerns in the job search and interview process?
  3. Show the TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are (Note: this is a 20 minute video, but well worth the time investment.)
  4. Pair students. Have one person in each pair take a “power pose.” What happens?
  5. Now, one person take a “lower power pose.” What happens?
  6. How can these poses be used in work and interviews?

Source: New York Times, TED.com

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