A Greek TEDx Talk: Optimism is About Being a Tom Sawyer Looking for a View of the World

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I was asked to give a talk at TEDx Thessaloniki, I had mixed emotions. While I am infinitely curious, and passionately share TED’s “belief in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world,” this time I hesitated.

The city which I left more than thirty years ago rings a special emotional connotation with me – about roots, country, family and heritage and somehow the responsibility loomed even larger. Traveling all over the world, it’s easy to get lost in the anonymity of strangers and crowds but this city is somehow mine. No strangers here – even if I have never seen most of them in the auditorium before in my life. Contradictions, conflicts, regrets, pain of separations, so many farewells and unfulfilled promises of the prodigal daughter return.

And along with the agony and creative struggle of formatting the ideas in my head – came the language dilemma. In my bilingual life, I primarily write in English – as Greek is a luxury language for the non-Greeks. But as a presenter, the speaker’s primary responsibility is to the audience. You honor them; you give the talk for them and not for you. So, it was the shortest lived dilemma to figure out that my talk would be in Greek.

And now that the talk is on YouTube and until and if/when it gets subtitles, so many non-Greek friends cannot watch it. Huge debate about the language of marketing on this one. And is the TEDx talk a marketing and branding exercise? Views and likes and thumbs up/down and all that paraphernalia, it’s all about the audience in the end. And in the end, they, my Thessalonikian audience made my day – and for that I will be forever grateful.

An excerpt below:

How can we be optimistic when everything around us is falling apart? For Leda Karampela, optimism is not about being a Pollyanna overlooking the real facts but, rather, a Tom Sawyer opting for a certain point of view in perceiving the world. To achieve this, she claims, we need to change: reconsider our expectations, set realistic goals, infuse our life with positive feelings, build social networks, be grateful for what we already have and, last but not least, aim not to being good but to becoming better.

Helping sharp, intelligently curious people overcome barriers that may be keeping them from achieving more is what keeps Leda occupied. Having held responsibilities for global projects, traveling and working with both physical and virtual teams in multiple countries for companies such as BP and Microsoft, Leda is using her strategic communication and executive/leadership coaching experience to help organizations maximize their performance. Realizing her passion for people, the ways they click and connect with each other, she is helping clients improve effectiveness and reach. She has also led the corporate relations program at the Stanford Business School and has lived in Boston, San Francisco, London, Athens and Dubai. Inter/intra-cultural communication, expatriation and cross-cultural adjustment issues are among the areas she consults. She is also part of the coaching team at SupporTED program offering her support to the TED Fellows programme designed to bring together young world-changers and trailblazers who have shown unusual accomplishment and exceptional courage.

Leda Karabela
Leda Karabela's career focus has been building alliances with and among institutional stakeholders, which spans 25 years of experience in international management, public affairs, strategic marketing and philanthropy. Her primary focus has been external audiences, such as opinion leaders, media, customers, and donors.

Today, she is bringing her executive experience into the field of coaching, realizing her passion for people, the ways they click and connect with each other, helping clients discover the power within them to improve their performance, effectiveness and reach. Having held responsibilities for global projects and working with virtual teams in multiple countries for Fortune 50 companies such as BP and Microsoft, she has also led the corporate relations program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and has lived in Boston, San Francisco, London, Athens and Dubai.
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