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Day Highlights from a Pitch Comp. Winner by Mark Thompson

16 October 2015

A few years ago I started watching TED talks online, and was blown away by the fascinating ideas that were being shared in the TED community. Two weeks ago I got to see these talks for the first time in real life at TEDxQUT, where the ideas were equally fascinating and thought provoking.

All 14 speakers delivered inspiring talks on the theme “Future Thinkers”, ranging in topics from the workplace of the future to bringing dinosaurs back to life. Here’s a summary of three of those talks.

Dr Adam Fraser spoke about achieving work-life balance through ‘The Third Space’. He told us that work-life balance isn’t necessarily about the amount of time you dedicate to the life part of the work-life equation, but the quality of that time. He said we need to use the space between work and life (which he calls the third space) to reflect, rest, and reset, so that we don’t let the stresses of work affect our personal relationships and productivity. Dr Fraser’s talk has encouraged me to keep a reflection journal and I already feel like it’s making a difference.

One of the most hard-hitting talks was given by Jonathon Sri on systemic racism in Australia. As a white, heterosexual, middle-class male I probably live life on the easiest difficulty setting, and it’s all too easy to be oblivious to the challenges and discrimination that a lot of Australians experience. Jonathon challenged us to rethink racism as not just the overtly bigoted passenger on public transport that spouts abuse at foreigners and goes viral on social media, but the underlying and more subtle cultural norms that have much more far-reaching consequences. The normalisation of whiteness is one of these subtle factors and is evident in the overrepresentation of white views in our media and parliament. Jonathon pointed to the overrepresentation of indigenous Australians in our prisons as evidence of systemic racism. This short blog post can’t do Johnathon’s talk or the broader issue justice and you simply must watch the video when it becomes available.

Lastly, Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr Suzie Vaughan enlightened us on how we can approach life as a fashion designer. The most striking tip was to embrace change; the fashion industry doesn’t just thrive on change, it requires it to survive. Suzie told us we need to accept that change will always occur and we need to be willing to adapt (otherwise we’d all still be sporting mullets). We were also reminded to always be curious. A fashion designer needs to be inquisitive and constantly try new things, and so should we. What new things would you see if you took a different route home today? Why not watch a film that you never otherwise would watch?

TEDxQUT was a phenomenal day filled with inspirational people and ideas and I encourage you to watch the videos online once they’re uploaded.

Mark is a QUT electrical engineering student and delivered a three-minute pitch at TEDxQUT on using money as force for good through fossil fuel divestment.