TED2015 Skype in the Classroom with Dan Pallotta

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One major theme emerging at TED2015 is the power of connection to create a true and daring future. Whether it’s the link between Mars exploration and microbes, or the launch of a new StoryCorps app (illustrated by TED-Ed animators), this year’s TED conference highlights the many ways that human beings can inspire one another to greater feats — just by talking. While at TED2015, AIDS Ride founder Dan Pallotta (TED Talk: The way we think about charity is dead wrong) talked with students in the UCLA TOMS club during one of several Skype in the Classroom conversations worth sharing. [Click here to watch the TED2015 Skype in the Classroom conversations.] Pallotta connected with the next generation of philanthropists to discuss inspiration, ideas — and why it’s important to take one day at a time. Below, read his life advice to students.

Here’s the thing: You can’t plan your life in a vacuum.

“We put so much stress on young people when we ask, ‘What are you going to do with your life?’” says Pallotta. “When I was 15 years old and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, there’s no way I could have known that the AIDS epidemic was going to come along and that I was going to lose all these friends.”

The tragedy of the AIDS epidemic inspired Pallotta to do something he never could have anticipated: create the AIDS Ride — and then go on to transform charity in other ways.

Pallotta’s advice to students?

Figure out what it is that you’re really passionate about and what it is that you’re good at — and then find the intersection of those two things. Also crucial: work hard, stay passionate — and don’t be too hard on yourself. “We all have these voices in our heads that are by far our worst enemy,” says Pallotta. To deal with them, he looks first to his heroes and icons for inspiration. But if all else fails? “Sometimes, you just gotta go get an ice cream.”

For 2nd year UCLA student Miranda Lopez, the most meaningful part of her club’s Skype conversation with Pallotta was his advice on how to create more awareness on campus around social good. “First I watched his talk,” says Lopez. “To be able to then ask him followup questions about some of his ideas — that was really inspiring to me.”

Inspired to learn more? Sign up here to have a speaker connect with your students via Skype in the Classroom.

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