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TEDxBangkok 2023: Unexpectedly fruitful experience

Pre-COVID era, TEDxBangkok has been an event that I was pretty much looking forward to attending every year. The event is filled to the brim with inspiration and fun conversations with interesting people. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that this is also a reunion event for me and my university friends.

However, after COVID, the event has been on hold for two years. Plus, I have also missed one due to my MBA study. Yet, I was very pleased that the event was back this year finally!

TEDxBangkok 2023 was a bit different from its predecessors. The theme this year was mostly on environment rather than the usual economics, sciences, and social issues. Additionally, to my displeasure and skepticism, the speaker list was announced only after registration rather than earlier. This was a major drawback for me because the event also clashed with the Standard Economics Forum. Though I have been so annoyed by the Standard recently that I stopped consuming its media, I must say that I also questioned the ability of TEDx to draw interesting speaker to this event versus the more up-and-coming media.

Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised and fulfilled by the experienced.

Rather than going talk-by-talk, I rather want to jot down a few learnings that touched me quite deeply from this event.



Finding your rose quartz: Toey Jarinporn, a famous actress in Thailand, gave a touching talk about her journey in environment conservation. The main part of her talk was about finding her rose quartz, a symbolic representation of her passion and “what brings her happiness”. She emphasized the importance of finding what makes you happy and fulfilled. We all can feel inadequate from time to time, but we need to feel adequate or at least remind ourselves to be so.

Our happiness & giving: Toey also reminded us that human is part of the environment, and it is equally importance to make us feel happy and adequate in order to create a good environment – perhaps, I would rephrase it as “you can’t really be a giver when you have nothing to give”. However, it is also important to realize that a giver may ended up receiving something or even become a receiver of happiness in the end.

Fear: Suntur was amongst the last set of speakers in this even – though I would say one of the stars. His speech was an ironically funny speech about fear. The main takeaway was that fear can exist even in the seemingly successful person, but you can use your fear as driving force to make you accomplish impressive feats.

End of life decision: Dr It, an pediatrician specialized in pediatric oncology, came to talk about his experience caring for cancer patients who had very slim chance to be cured. There were two choices that we can consider: a) continuing the treatment despite the slim chance, b) continue living the current life and accept peaceful death through palliative care. This reminded me of my mother’s decision not to go through the chemotherapy, and also a reflection of what choice would I choose if I were to be a cancer patient – I would likely go with b) I think…



Primitive sensory: Our sensory, since primitive time, has been built to sense more than just human vocal. Hence, there is a calming sensation that we can feel when we hear nature’s sounds – though these calming sounds are slowly eroding from our own actions.

Animal cannot call for help: Mor Fah, a renown veterinarian, gave a touching talk about her experience caring for sea animals. The key message is that sea animals, or any animal for that matter, cannot call for help. If we truly love and care for them, we, as human, will need to voice our concerns and start acting to help our beloved creatures.

Right to live is right to clean air: Prof Noi, a professor from my home university – Chulalongkorn, gave a humorous talk about the Clean Air Act, that she was pushing. I have learned a very interesting fact that we all have right to live, which is interpreted as the right to not die of undue causes. Hence, we should have right to breathe clean air – not the air that would have caused us lung cancer.



Non-verbal languages: There were two talks about the importance of non-verbal languages. The first was a hilarious presentation by Khun Mind, a sign language coach, who talked about the not-so-different mindset and feeling between the deaf and the normal-hearing people. The other was by Ingo Puhl, founder of South Pole, a consulting firm focusing on carbon finance. Both gave me an impression about the importance of non-verbal language through the lens of people who don’t communicate verbally and those who are less familiar with the local languages and cultures.

Creating big change in public space: Dr Wasan, the creator of Traffy Fondue, a platform connecting citizen wanting to reports public issue to government officers, shared his experience about the uptake of his platform. He synthesized the experience into 4 key success factors of creating this change: 1) Committing leaders who want to create change, 2) Platform or mean to connect demand to supply, 3) Aligned incentives (both financial and non-financial), and 4) Active participants in the system.



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