The Top 10 TED Talks Every Woman Should See

A repost from, an interview by Caitlin Moscatello:

“There are now more than 1,700 TED talks—”ideas worth spreading”—available online, many of them by badass women,” Verghese told Glamour. “I’m honored to make recommendations of just 10 of the many talks, from scientists to artists, writers to leaders, that have made me feel smarter and more prepared to take on the world in just 18 minutes or less.” Watch a few to get through the afternoon slump at work, or take ‘em all in later. We guarantee you’ll be inspired!

Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders
“This is the talk that preceded [Lean In],” says Verghese. “[It's] a great, unconventional, persuasive take on the way that women take themselves out of the running for leadership positions.”

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
“The young Nigerian author gives a beautiful, elegant, and at times hilarious talk about the danger of believing a single, narrow story about anything or anyone,” says Verghese. “My favorite anecdote: When she arrived at college in the U.S., her roommate asked to hear some of her ‘tribal music.’ Chimamanda pulled out a Mariah Carey CD.”

Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
“An essential talk for all young women! Cuddy is a psychologist and Harvard Business School professor who explains how our posture and body language shape not only how others see us but how we see ourselves,” says Verghese.

Leymah Gbowee: Unlock the Intelligence, Passion, Greatness of Girls
“The Nobel Prize winner from Liberia shares powerful stories about the unlocked potential of girls worldwide, who are still far from [being] treated as equal citizens,” says Verghese.

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
“This blockbuster talk came out of one of our TEDx events in Houston,” says Verghese. “Brené’s take on vulnerability—and why it’s essential to our relationships and to our success—has won her millions of fans worldwide.”

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius
“The author of Eat, Pray, Love offers unconventional advice on how to nurture your own creativity,” says Verghese. “Her advice: Take some pressure off yourself, but never stop creating.”

Courtney Martin: Reinventing Feminism
“A beautifully heartfelt talk, she describes the three paradoxes that define her generation’s question to define the term [feminism] for themselves,” says Verghese.

Angela Patton: A Father-Daughter Dance…in Prison
“The is the amazing and moving story of a group of preteen girls who organized a father-daughter dance in the prison where their fathers were incarcerated,” says Verghese. “I wept.”

Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight
“Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroscientist who observed her own stroke as it was happening. This is one of the most popular TED talks of all time,” says Verghese.

Cynthia Breazeal: The Rise of Personal Robots
This MIT professor “talks about her love of robots—which began when she saw Star Wars as a girl (R2D2!)—and new kind of intelligent, personal robots she designs,” says Verghese.

Daughters of the Soil–My New Novel

This gallery contains 46 photos.

Daughters of the Soil Cover is ready(?), but getting there took its sweet time. ISBN is assigned! LCCN is assigned!! Front and back matters are ready! What’s the hold? Editing/revising!!! ======================== Prior to 2013: Toying with the cover: At the time, the title was A Very Smooth Murder.        ================================================== 2013 Cover Progression for Daughters […]

Destiny’s Child Reunites for Michelle Williams’ ‘Say Yes!’ Video

This is not my regular post. I am still too speechless to write my usual fill.

HARO sent me a link about Destiny’s Child reuniting to sing Michelle’s song titled, ‘Say Yes!’

In HARO’s own words: “Destiny’s Child fans rejoice! The trio has reunited on the music
video for Michelle Williams’ latest single as a solo artist.
Based off of a Nigerian gospel song, “Say Yes” will get you
clapping in no time. We might have to steal a few of their dance
moves and outfit ideas for our next girls’ night.”

Did I hear “Nigeria?” Yes, I did.

Well said, HARO! I clapped and danced and sang, carried along by the beauty in the song, the Nigerian song.

Afterwards my lips searched for words, found none, but my heart said all there was. My heart is still singing and beating its own drum.

What an incredible performance by all three extremely talented ladies. Wow! Destiny’s Child is back! (Fingers crossed!)

You have to watch this video!!

Read more:

“If You Get, Give; If You Learn, Teach”

I landed in America in the frozen month of January 1979, landed on the nick of time, landed to find out that Maya Angelou was coming to my university, Middle Tennessee State University, that month. I knew about her and her name, but I did not know exactly how I knew her and her name. I read voraciously, having read more than 130 novels in one year. I knew Maya Angelou. Our paths crossed on a landscape in our literature world.

Of course, whirlwind preceded her into Murfreesboro, a laidback college town. All was abuzz, all was aflutter, and I went about ensuring that I secured my one ticket even if I had to move all the numerous mountains in Tennessee.

For fear of being mugged, I did not tell anyone in my English class that I had secured a ticket for Maya Angelou’s visit to our then small campus. Armed with one of her books and having eaten an early dinner in the cafeteria, I arrived hours early, located the best seat in the theater, and waited.

The beams from her perfectly formed white teeth were enough to illuminate the entire auditorium. She smiled into every soul. I still remember those smiles and how she waited patiently to sign everyone’s book despite the lateness of the hour long after her serenade.

From that smile onward, I knew her, read her, tuned in to hear wisdom, to catch sunlight, to feel phenomenal, and to let her aura lift my hand so I could emulate her magic on paper. I sat spellbound at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration as Maya Angelou welcomed the entire earth, rejoiced as she and Oprah bonded, and mimicked several of her poems in my collection.  

Fast forward to decades later when my daughter bought and consumed several of Maya Angelou’s works on her own, boundaries could not contain my joy. When I found out Maya Angelou was only three years older than my mother, Virginia Ohanenye, who passed away in 1990, tenderness wound itself completely around my heart. When she wrote the poem in memory of my Michael, fondness for her deepened. When she paid a powerful tribute to President Nelson Mandela on behalf of America, speech left me.

Always trying to make the world better than she found it, Maya Angelou reminded us frequently: “When you get, give; when you learn, teach.” I want to believe that I have paid forward the numerous benefits I received. I want to believe that I have taught my thousands of students and others the immeasurable insights I have learned.

Maya Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014.That focused, high-powered smile from January 1979 still transcends my literary and physical worlds. I hope she becomes a sister-friend to my mother who gave so much and taught so many. 

How Costly Should Branding and Packaging Be?

Today, the 4th of July, marks the anniversary of our inherited freedom. Today marks the display of many symbols of that most cherished civil liberty, products displayed in our three national colors of red, white, and blue, a variation of the three, or others.

Investopedia wrote a detailed article on what branding entails. Companies spend millions to brand and package themselves and their products uniquely in attempts to vie for consumers’ money, affection, and trust. They ensure that the exterior of their products will drag buyers who are disinclined to spend belabored income.

A perfect scenario occurred this morning as I brewed my usual morning hot beverage. The same size of rectangular bags housed all tea leaves in my cabinet regardless of the manufacturer. I yawned at the colorful boxes staring back at me because, despite the colorful containers, the predictable interiors could not fool me.

I confess to buying the products, but the containers, that is, the book covers, misled me. Many rectangular bags dangled from strings, and I felt like a puppeteer. I yawned again. Oh, help!Image A sachet in a plain but unusual attire winked at me with confidence. It had no string and was not rectangular. It wore an unpretentious circular outfit. Talk about effortless packaging! How ingenious and distinctive can a circle be? The packaging was simple sophistication. Like our patriotic colors, it had its own unique three colors on the box: orange, white, and black.

The simple ingenuity of what I now call “tea discs” had my brain popping. Branding does not have to cost a fortune! The other manufacturers must have spent mined treasures on threads, colorful paper folded many times over to cradle each bag, words printed in color, foil caches, and other exorbitant branding expenses. (Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my tea ceremony.)

When I untied the strings and removed the colorful papers with the brand names imprinted on them, I could not distinguish one company’s tea from the other. Imagine the resources wasted in an attempt to look different only to end up losing the exclusiveness they sought.

The round bags stood unencumbered, proud, unique, and, might I add, FREE! The box that contained them displayed an artist’s light strokes of scenic London and her busy inhabitants. The container must not have cost that much to create.

Does packaging reputation and image have to run one into a poor house? Should reputation and image speak for themselves so they are not packaged? (Public relations executives are having seizures at the thought of images and reputation left to run rampant without proper supervision and channeling.)

Consumers2013-07-01 19.21.47_compressed judge a product by its packaging first. Readers judge a book by its cover first. How does a writer set himself or herself apart from the millions of past, present, and future writers? The competition is cut-throat even from babies in the womb who already know they are born writers. (Isn’t that what we say? “From birth…”)

How much money and effort should a writer expend on branding himself/herself? On packaging a book? The book should come first and should brand the author (as I wrote previously) and his/her reputation and image. Should a writer pour every available funds into the design of a cover?

What about the interior, the story? What if it sounds like every other story? What if the characters are as unmemorable as a bore’s equally mind-numbing routine? What if the peak rises no higher than balled dough without yeast? Therein lies the problem. Like movies, no one can guarantee success or failure of a literary piece until after its release. 2013-07-03 10.33.14_compressed

I would like to think that the story, the interior, captivates than the cover, which makes me an oddball. One should judge a book by its interior first. After readers sacrifice sleep to devour the interior of a book, that is truly when branding and judging should begin.

Like an impatient reader, I just want to get to the story/tea quickly and dispense with the frustrations of threads and unwrapping. The brew in the circular bag titillated my senses. Like the exceptionally suspenseful story it held inside the Camellia sinensis, I gulped every drop and wanted a second London cuppa! (This is not a paid endorsement or advertising.)