The universe, reimagined.

What will you unearth this year?

How’s it going? Are you keeping your head up? Great. Here are a few voices from our stage over the years that may help you look at 2021 in a new way.

Simon Reinhard: Memory techniques – your secret weapon in the information age

As you get older, do you find yourself doing mental gymnastics to remember…just about everything? In the age of smartphones remembering everything for us, Simon Reinhard has a unique trick to keep his memory ultra-sharp. 

As he explains in his 2016 talk at TEDxTUM, our brains are best-suited to retain information when it’s strapped to a memory of a place. As a record-holding memorization champion, Simon developed a method to memorize just about anything—from keywords in a boring press release to random digits on a screen, or even points to make in an argument—with structured finesse.

“And if people still think that it’s strange and that the method is weird…I mean, progress has always been made by the unconventional thinkers. And the main thing is it works. That’s the ultimate litmus test.”

– Simon Reinhard

As Simon unpacks his method during his talk, it seems nearly impossibly simple. And yet, after utilizing the steps of his memorization technique a few times, one may feel mentally sore in muscles they didn’t know they had.

Simon James: Create a universe out of a single line

When Simon James walked into an art store to learn more about gesso, he was told that it was primarily just used as a recipe in painting. Simon, who had already been working with gesso as a main ingredient for his artwork, realized he was on his own. 

Simon explains at TEDxTUM in 2016 that gesso is a paste made from glue and chalk used for centuries to add texture to a piece of art. Typically, Simon tells the audience, it’s only used as a primer. It thickens and firms up as it dries, but typically, gesso only adds support to a painting rather than steals the spotlight. But one day in Simon’s Munich studio, somewhere between where black meets white…curiosity took hold and he tried something new.

“When I was sanding it down, this line between the white and the black became fragmented. And this is the start of everything that I’ve done subsequently.”

– Simon James

As Simon reveals in his talk, working with gesso unleashed an entirely new side of his imagination—allowing him to create in a way that had never been done before. By building “two-dimensional sculptures” with gesso and paint, Simon was able to uncover color like no one else, with layers and bursts that bore deep into the canvas.

And to think, this all came from a simple “support” ingredient…and one solitary line.

Valentina Cafolla: My journey to the World Record in freediving under ice

Think of the thing in life that you’re most proud to have accomplished. Take a look at your achievement—whatever it is—and breathe in the joy of your efforts right now. 

On the contrary, maybe you’re still climbing the hill toward your new personal record. Maybe you’ve got your head down and your fists clenched, fully engaged. Maybe you’re almost there. Maybe you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Now, imagine that someone has told you that all your strenuous work will go unrecognized.

“I trained so much for that. I suffered. I sweat. I froze in the cold water. So even though I was disappointed, I decided to do it anyway.”

– Valentina Cafolla

Valentina Cafolla is the second strongest woman in Croatia’s finswimming category, and as she tells her audience during her 2019 TEDxTUM talk, her strength is on full display. She’s broken the Female World Record for Dynamic Freediving under ice…not just once, but two times. At 19 years old. 

As Valentina tells the remarkable story of her record-breaking dives, her stories of strength take two forms: the obvious physical toll on her body, and the more nuanced (yet paramount) aura of mental toughness. 

As Valentina tells it: from a passion came a goal. From that goal came disappointment. From disappointment came triumph. Twice.