Nina’s Favourite TED Talk(s) — Finding ideas with the help of your inner ‘genius’

Ideas visit each and every single one of us. They come to us when we least expect them, like waiting at the train station or while brushing our teeth. All we have to do is listen.

Nina believes that in our complex inter-connected world today, creativity is needed more than ever to find innovative solutions in all areas of life. Struggling to narrow it down to one talk, she instead chose two that she feels are closely connected to the same idea.

Both talks are uplifting and encouraging in a world that is saturated with ideas to the point that one might start to doubt whether originality still exists. Through their own personal quests towards creative fulfilment, these two special talks take us through the process of finding ideas and meeting our inner ‘genius’.


The American Band OK Go, who are renowned for their elaborate music-videos, claim they ‘find’ their ideas. What they do is open the door to these ideas when they come knocking and string them together into a single masterpiece.

“Writing music feels like … you’ve got a bunch of sounds or groove or a chord progression and you’re just looking for that thing on the other side, that little chunk over there, that puzzle piece that clicks right in. And when it does click, it doesn’t feel like you thought up that puzzle piece, it feels like you found it — like it was a set of relationships you unlocked.”


Meanwhile, Eat. Pray. Love. author Elizabeth Gilbert, recounts the relationship our forefathers had with creativity, in order to make sense of her own. She shares the story of American poet Ruth Stone, who would ‘feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape’ while working in rural Virginia. She would then rush to her house, grab a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that she could collect the paper before it escapes to someone else.

“Both talks show a playful way to approach creativity, which makes it more accessible. Personally, I keep trying to bring creativity into all aspects of my life. Professionally, working in product management and for TEDxZurich I have worked to create spaces (sandboxes) for the teams I work with to unfold their creativity,” Nina says.

“Since watching these TED Talks, I have been doodling more. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Appway, where I work, introduced me to doodling. I started shortly before seeing the talk form OK Go from TED 2017 when I was at TEDFest (the conference for TEDx Organisers). I loved Damian Kulash referring to the way he goes through life as doing some visual/life doodling. Doodling helps me to focus, avoid thinking linearly, using a multidimensional space and remembering the stories instead of the bullet points. All of that helps my creativity,” says Nina.

“The lesson I learnt from these TED Talks is that creativity isn’t owned solely by ‘visionaries that know it all.’ We all have space to receive creativity. In product management, we are obsessed with vision and intuition – which isn’t necessarily something that the Steve Jobs and Elon Musks out there possess. Both these talks helped me appreciate it’s the playfulness and humbleness that drives people to relentlessly pursue their creative endeavours.”

Nina is Co-Lead at TEDxZurich events. Her focus, together with Fareena, is to strengthen and grow the community by promoting ideas worth spreading from Zurich, to Zurich, and the world, while creating a great team of volunteers to ensure that TEDxZurich will continue to exist and be part of TEDx for many years to come.

Sarah Ebling

          Sarah Ebling holds a professorship in Accessibility Studies at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and is a senior researcher at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on natural language processing in the context of disabilities and special needs, specifically, sign language technology and automatic text simplification. Her groups’ contributions involve artificial intelligence techniques with a strong emphasis on user involvement. She is involved in various international and national projects and leads a large-scale Swiss innovation initiative entitled „Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies“ (2022-2026;