Tag Archives: TEDtalks

Who will define your balance?

It is a harsh reality, but in the end we are responsible for finding our own work life balance. Bad news and good news. Good news bad newsToday as I scramble to finish five urgent projects I am reminded that no company policies will find more time in my day for balance. On the other hand, a TEDtalk I heard a few years ago helped me better understand what I need to feel more in balance and steps I could take to be my own pilot.

To finish up our month of conversation on work life balance I am sharing a 10 minute TEDtalk by Nigel Marsh that is humorous, harsh and helpful. Nigel paints a realistic picture of the challenges each of us face in the world of work and then pointedly puts the responsibility for taking action on you! The points that resonate with me include:

  • Define what work life balance means to you
  • Expand your time horizon for your work life balance
  • Look for small actions that can make a big difference

I hope you find his talk as valuable as I did, here is the link – Nigel Marsh TEDtalk 

See you next month.

Todd Thorsgaard


Leading when things are hard

This is the second time since we started this blog last November that I’ve been staring at a blank screen and trying to figure out what to say about leadership when the world is a hard place.  By the time you read this we’ll know more, but right now all I know is that someone in Boston, for whatever reason, decided to cause tragedy in the midst of a celebration.

I don’t even know what to think about it.  Frankly, my mind is just tired.  This could be because we in Minnesota are in the midst of the-spring-that-wouldn’t-come and were already feeling grumpy about life in general.  But it’s also because I’m just sad.  My college-age daughter asked me after hearing about the marathon bombings if the world was getting worse, or if she was just getting older and noticing more.  I didn’t have an answer.

Then I remembered a TED talk by Harvard’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter in which she talked about leadership skills for making the world a better place.  Listening to her advice helped.  She proposed six leadership actions that we can all take to keep things moving in a positive direction.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s Six Leadership Skills

Show up: be present and engaged
– How can you make a difference?

Speak up: use the power of voice
– What is the problem and how can you help shape the agenda?

Look up: focus on vision and values
– What bigger issues do you stand for?

Team up: create partnerships
– How can we align our mutual efforts?

Never give up: everything can look like a failure in the middle
– How can you create success, even if it wasn’t the one you were looking for?

Life others up: share success and give back
– How can you help other people feel elevated?

Instead of sitting around and being sad, I’m going to pick one of these actions and do something useful.  Maybe you can do the same.

Dee Anne Bonebright

Get on with it

One of the best parts of working and leading in higher education, for me, is the ability to make a difference. Whatever role any of us have, whatever division or department we work in, each one of us has the opportunity to make a difference in our student’s lives. In fact, I believe our integrity depends on being able to look ourselves in the mirror each day and answer yes to this question. ”Did my work today contribute to education?”

Many days our normal work allows us to say yes and demonstrate our commitment to our values by making a difference. Other times, as leaders, it is our responsibility to challenge both ourselves and the people on our teams to look at our work differently.

In that spirit I want to share with you a challenge from educational researcher Sugata Mitra.  He was the winner of the 2013 TED Prize at the 2013 TED conference. Sugata pushes us to consider a huge transformation in our educational system:  Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) that do not include teaching.  Like many TED Talks, I found this to be a fantastic source of inspiration and challenge.


What is your reaction to his idea? As a leader, I sometimes struggle with ideas that feel extreme to me. I worry about the logistics of implementation or how others might react. Yet, demonstrating integrity can mean moving ahead in spite of questions or difficulties. If I act in accordance with my values and look for a contribution to education, I am able to “get on with it.”

Todd Thorsgaard