Speaker Interviews

The team here at TEDxUniversityofGlasgow is getting ready for this year’s upcoming Main Conference. There’s only a week to go!

This past Thursday I had the privilege of spending a couple hours with three of the speakers who will be illuminating our stage this year. Kay Davidson, Dr Jessica Argo, and Hussein El-Ajouz gave a sneak peak of their upcoming talks. They even offered some ideas on how to ‘Press Pause to Begin.’

When I caught up with the speakers, Style Director and Founder of ASKAY, Kay Davidson was delivering a thought provoking, laughter inducing talk on the dynamic importance of clothing. Davidson’s talk balances jaw dropping facts about the ecological impact of clothing production with an exploration of the very personal relationship we as consumers share with our favourite pair of blue jeans. Davidson explains how clothing can be “hope on a hanger”. Her explanation and delivery is captivating; and on March 3rd, she will keep us all on the hook.

I was very excited to spend some time with Davidson after hearing her talk. I wanted to ask her about how she presses pause to begin. When I inquired as to how she rejuvenates her passion and creativity, Davidson gave a delighted laugh. “I like playing loud music”. She added that she loves “dancing crazy” to the sound of Cold Play and Ministry of Sound. This method of rejuvenation must work wonders as Davidson’s positive energy overwhelms the stage. Her talk is not one to miss!

After speaking with Davidson, Dr Argo took front and centre to deliver her astounding discoveries involving anxiety and sound. Her incredible passion for her work is almost tangible. Dr Argo walked us through how she uses her sound lab to explore people’s emotional reactions to certain compositions of familiar sounds. Dr Argo played us a clip of one of her soundscapes. Undoubtedly, the way Dr Argo can weave everyday sounds into a symphony of familiar curiosity is breath-taking, even haunting. When I asked what she wanted her upcoming conference listeners to take away from her talk, she told me something quite amazing. Dr Argo replied that “rather than being scared by anxiety, we should cherish it”.

After her talk, Dr Argo spoke with me about the ways in which she presses pause. She emphasised the importance of taking a day off – even a week – so that the body can rejuvenate itself. Smiling, she added how much she loves to take time to travel with her sound recorder. It is in these moments that she can engage with, and capture, the world around her.

Lastly, Hussein El-Ajouz delivered his talk on the addicting effects of social media. El-Ajouz discusses the “ingredients for [this] obsessive lifestyle and how to escape [it]”. Nevertheless, El-Ajouz manages to thread the serious issues surrounding social media with the relief of light hearted humour and humility. As an audience member, I was captivated by El-Ajouz’s magnetic presence on stage. He is a natural story teller, and his stories makes us reconsider that addicting, rectangular object that seems glued to our hands, the mobile phone.

When I caught up with El-Ajouz, his positive energy was contagious. I asked him how he pressed pause in order to maintain such a presence. El-Ajouz told me that his secret was … a warm steaming bowl of porridge. El-Ajouz related to me that breakfast is his favourite time of the day. “It’s just me, myself, and I”, no phone, no social media. El-Ajouz emphasises the importance of personal time – a lesson many of us overlook. When I asked what he liked best on his porridge, El-Ajouz informed me that banana and “definitely honey” is the way to go!

I had loads of fun meeting up with a few of this year’s upcoming speakers, hearing their stories, and listening to their passions. TEDxUniversityofGlasgow’s conference promises to hold a day bursting with ideas and brilliance.


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