Value of human connection in a high tech world: Michelle Bazargan at TEDxBocaRaton

Value of human connection in a high tech world: Michelle Bazargan at TEDxBocaRaton

Translator: Nadine Schreiner
Reviewer: Michael Orlov So, I’d like to take you back to when you were a child
and you first learned to ride a bicycle. It was really your first test of courage. You’d get on the bike,
it sways, it wobbles, you fall… Your parents tell you to get back on, you start to paddle again,
you gain momentum and then suddenly, you take flight! Remember that amazing
feeling of success that sets in? That’s because learning to ride a bicycle
is not just to learn a skill. It’s a deeper, human,
emotional connection. That’s why the bike is a great example
of how simple technology, if used correctly,
can bring out deep human emotions and spin off a cycle
of creativity and innovation. The challenge we have today,
is here’s what we’ve done to technology. I call this the “iBike”. We’ve taken it to such an extreme,
that we’re starting to disconnect. Disconnect from the very thing
that created technology. The cycle of innovation. You might think creating technology
is actually complicated, but it’s really quite simple. See, you take very passionate people, you connect them together, you inspire them, they get very creative, they fail a couple times, and they reinvent. It’s really quite that simple. The challenge is,
are we hitting the very thing which is connecting the passionate people and starting to disconnect? What’s going to happen
to all the creativity? So, I’d like to tell you
a little bit about my childhood. My family and I actually emigrated
here from Iran during the war. My memories overnight went
from learning how to ride a bicycle in the hillsides of a beautiful country, to sitting in a dark basement
as bombs went off around us. My fear quickly shifted to worrying
about falling off of a bicycle, to looking into my mother’s eyes,
as she tried to figure out what she was going to do with her family. My grandfather actually pleading with her not to leave in the middle
of the war with a small child. He thought we were nuts. We did it anyway, and we emigrated
here to the United States. So, growing up here,
my father was heavily into technology, so I naturally fell into it. I had a quite nerdy childhood. See, he actually made me program
for hours on an old commodore 64. Some people in this room
have probably never even seen this. Before I was allowed
to go out and play with the normal kids. My math flashcards,
they looked a little something like this. The old computer punch cards. He used to make me
build computer systems, too. I can’t tell you how many mather boards
I fried until I figured out
and was successful at it. So naturally, with that background,
technology kind of became my universe. So I thought when I come here today, I definitely needed
to cover all the topics of mobile, social, big data,
who could leave out the cloud. All the things that have completely
changed our lives. And the way that we communicate,
and the way that we connect. Or is it really the way
that we disconnect? It’s funny how our world has shifted
to “Eat Pray Technology”. The love and high touch part
is now all high tech. It’s almost feeling like
it’s more important than food and shelter. We all know that sinking feeling when
you think you forgot your mobile device. You’ve got to run back home,
because there’s no way you’re going to function without it. I had a dinner party a few weeks ago,
and I was running around, and I had no idea
if people actually enjoyed themselves, or if the food was any good,
until the next morning, I had to check my Facebook, and of course my foody friends
had pictures of all the plates and things,
and that’s how I figured out that everybody had a good time
and the food was great. It’s nuts!
This is the way we communicate?! These devices
have completely taken over our lives. So, a recent study of our new generation showed that they actually have
a love-hate relationship with technology. They feel extremely connected, but yet so disconnected. They have hundreds and thousands
of Facebook friends and followers, but feel really isolated. They want technology to give them
a more human, personalized experience. They want the “why”. So this got me to think, is technology just an enabler? Is it just a tool? It’s how we do what we do,
it’s not the “why” or the true meaning of innovation and creativity. The successful innovators
already know this. Tony Hsieh. He reinvented the way
that we purchase shoes, because he had a passion
for delivering happiness. Shoes just happened to be in the mix. His team created Zappos. And they’ve changed
the personalized experience that we have now,
when we purchase those shoes. What did you dream of as a kid? Fast cars and rocket ships? And bikes? I know I did. But few actually grew up
to create them, like Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX. There’s actually a couple Tesla’s outside,
and I swear I didn’t coordinate that, it’s just by design. Why did he do all that?
For money? For profits? No, he had already made millions
and lost it. He did it for Mars. He wanted to send humanity there. With his electric cars,
he wanted to save the environment and create a planet
that our children could live on. Kevin Plank. He was the self-proclaimed,
sweatiest guy on the football field. Through his grassroots business approach,
he created Under Armour. Why? He wanted to improve
athletes’ performance. The “how” was the innovative technology,
the fabric that he brought to the market that actually
cooled athletes’ bodies off sooner. Today, Under Armour
still has that same philosophy, they want to improve
athletes’ performance, it’s just changed. There’s now wearable technology
and devices out on the market. These devices
are what we call “the Internet of things”. If you look at the health
and fitness industry, we’re a nation that’s obsessed
with FitBits and Nike FuelBands and Garmin GPS devices. Obsessed cyclists actually use an app
called Strava to connect to one another, and ironically it actually means strive. So why do we do all that? Because we want to be motivated. We want to be inspired, we want to connect
with people all around the world, that can bring that to life for us. The bike. This technology has been reinvented
dating back to the 1700s. It went from a wooden scooter
to steel and aluminium, to carbon fibre,
featherlike technology that you see here. With electronic shifting,
I can even plug my mobile device and update the firmwear. Crazy! Cyclists pay the price
of a modern day vehicle to own this thing. It’s pretty nuts. Why? Because we want to have
that feeling that we once did. When we were a child. That feeling of freedom. In corporate America,
we get so fixated on the profits on the bureaucracy, on the red tape. We have countless meetings –
I know I sit in a ton of them – trying to figure out what
this technology shift means to all of us, and to our business and making sure
the profits are not impacted. We’re forgetting the very essence, of what creates a successful business. It’s people. It’s emotions. It’s connecting to them. It’s bringing those to life. It’s so simple. Inspire your employees,
to create amazing products and services that in turn inspire consumers to purchase them. It’s really quite that simple. Imagine if we teach our children that technology is just a tool. It’s just an enabler. It’s how we do what we do. It’s not the “why” We don’t want the very cycle of what created technology,
the creativity, to kill it, to stifle our innovation. See, the simple notion could actually
change the world to become 80% innovators and 20% laggers,
versus the other way around. Because possibly, if we continue down
this spiral that we’re going down today, we’re at risk of losing all the creativity and the very thing
that created technology. What if my family and I
didn’t face our fears and take some risks,
and come to the United States? What if this bike
wasn’t reinvented over the years by very passionate people? What if Zappos didn’t deliver
amazing shoes to our footsteps? Well, I definitely would not be here. Standing in my heels
with my super fancy bicycle, telling you
that technology is just a tool. and we cannot disconnect
from one another. and disconnect from the true feelings
of what brings things to life. Because we’re at risk of losing all
of our creativity, and becoming robots. And if we lose that,
what do we really have? (Applause)

3 comments on “Value of human connection in a high tech world: Michelle Bazargan at TEDxBocaRaton

  1. Mace Horoff Post author

    Excellent talk that discusses how we see technology and how it relates to our creativity. The bike the speaker talks about is a great example.

  2. Margaret Blume Post author

    Michelle, great that you addressed this important topic so comprehensively. Excellent composure and delivery!


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