While most people associate the word “salon” with a hair styling establishment or a nail technician, it also has another meaning. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a salon is also an assembly of notable people, i.e., those with special expertise or accomplishments.
I first became acquainted with this alternative definition of salon when it was used by the National Endowment for Financial Education to invite personal finance educators/researchers to convenings related to retirement decumulation, financial education, and other topics.
I recently attended four TEDx salons that discussed a wide range of topics including cultural diversity, solar and nuclear energy, addictions, and the relationship between gratitude and happiness. The participants were all older adults in the Florida community where I live.
TEDx talks are locally organized events that feature short, carefully prepared presentations, typically with curated slides in the background. TEDx talks require licensing from the TED Conference organization that was created in 1984. TEDx salons are events where participants gather to have informal discussions about recorded TEDx talks that they view together.
Below are some Barbservations about the TEDx Ocala salons that I attended:
Enforced Rules- There was a two-minute limit for participant comments and a timekeeper with a cell phone clock to keep track. Participants raised a sign with their name on it to be recognized. Another rule, to refrain from discussing religion or politics, was strictly enforced. Conversation was quickly cut off when the current Florida governor was mentioned and even the seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson (in office 1829-1837) was off limits.
Cordial Discussions- People were respectful of each other’s comments and sometimes “piggybacked” off each other’s ideas. Some shared articles with additional information about discussion topics or described relevant personal experiences (e.g., people with solar panels for discussion about solar energy) and current events (e.g., banned textbooks in Florida).
Noteworthy Insights- I heard the phrase “long termism” for the first time. It means thinking beyond generations you are familiar with (children, grandchildren) to those yet unborn and what you can do today to help them. In addition, I learned that three states (CA, TX, FL) basically decide textbooks for the entire U.S. and that there are few Native American restaurants in the U.S. due to loss of their land and cultural identity starting almost 200 years ago. Another interesting insight was that solar energy takes 450x more land than nuclear to generate power.
Memorable Quotes- These are some quotes from the TEDx talk videos and salon participants:
¨ When people know better, they do better.
¨ If you control your food, you control your destiny.
¨ Science can be factual, but interpretations of it, sometimes not so much.
¨ Generations have different “lenses” on change (older adults: “we won’t be around to see it”).
¨ Nothing records the effects of a sad life than the human body. The body keeps score.”
¨ Suffering makes people seek relief through addictions; find out the source of their pain.
Financial Education Applications- I can easily see the TEDx Salon format adapted to personal finance education. There are a number of excellent TED talks on financial topics that can be viewed in a group setting and then discussed by group members.
This post provides general personal finance or consumer decision-making information and does not address all the variables that apply to an individual’s unique situation. It does not endorse specific products or services and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.