Do you have a TED-worthy idea? Here’s how to make it real.
Beautiful ideas from TEDWomen 2015.
i’ve just spent the day listening to 27 talks at the TEDWomen 2015 conference in Monterey, Calif., and I’m feeling both inspired and a little sheepish: I haven’t created a robot that helps out during disasters or a computer program that can read emotions. And I haven’t studied how the genomes of microbes could be used to eradicate the Ebola virus. It turns out I’m not the only one feeling this way. “After a day like this, it makes me think ‘What am I doing with my life, and what more can I do?’” says Melissa Knapp, senior vice-president, global creative, for Clinique. I’ve joined Knapp and Jane Lauder, the company’s global brand president, at a dinner party to celebrate this year’s conference. We’re also here to mark the launch of the Clinique Smart Ideas contest, which is being held in partnership with TED.
“Smart ideas come from everywhere,” explains Lauder. “The ideas we’re interested in don’t have to be beauty related; we’re looking for projects that can help women around the globe—like the one we heard from Achenyo Idachaba.” The Nigerian-based entrepreneur (and the first speaker at the conference) started a company to create household goods, like lampshades and baskets, from aquatic weeds that have infested the region. “She created a sustainable craft out of necessity,” says Lauder. “So many of the TED speakers came up with really great ideas that stemmed from some sort of need. And that’s how Clinique was born, in a way,” she says, referring to the brand’s origin story. In 1967, beauty editor Carol Phillips published a magazine article called “Can Great Skin Be Created?” where she interviewed dermatologist Norman Orentreich about how to treat various skin issues and the power a skincare routine can play in that process. Estée Lauder’s Leonard Lauder saw the story and challenged the editor and the doctor to create a skincare line that was dermatologist backed, allergy tested, fragrance-free—and customizable for different skin types. When I speak with Knapp again a few weeks after the conference, she has refined her own TED takeaway about how to “do more,” thanks to advice from TEDWomen 2015 speaker and management consultant Margaret Heffernan. “She said that it’s not just about what you can do; it’s about what we are doing collectively to make incredible things and to make a difference,” says Knapp. “In the end, I came away super-inspired and knowing that I just need to keep doing what I’m doing—because what I’m doing is pretty awesome, and I’m surrounded by other amazing women who are helping me do it as well.”