In Conversation TED Institute

Make kindness and empathy your priorities: 4 questions with Gingger Shankar

Cartier and TED believe in the power of bold ideas to empower local initiatives to have global impact. To celebrate Cartier’s dedication to launching the ideas of female entrepreneurs into concrete change, TED has curated a special session of talks around the theme “Bold Alchemy” for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, featuring a selection of favorite TED speakers.

Leading up to the session, TED talked with artist and musician Gingger Shankar.

TED: Tell us who you are.
Gingger Shankar: I am still trying to figure this question out! A few years ago, it would have been an easy question: I am an artist and musician. I think as the world has changed, I have become more of an artist who uses my platform to tell stories that are important and personal to me. Stories that haven’t been told about communities and people who aren’t always represented. This has brought me into the world of filmmaking, and it feels like such a natural extension of my art.

TED: What’s a bold move you’ve made in your career?
GS: My motto in life and work has always been to choose the thing that scares me the most, and I’ve found that to be extremely rewarding. Those projects have always taught me the most, freed me artistically and made me grow as an artist. The biggest challenges to date were starting my own music production company and becoming a film producer.

TED: Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
GS: My mother has always been my biggest inspiration. She was an incredible artist, raised four children and made me the woman I am today. She was beautiful, talented and absolutely invincible in my eyes, but the thing that has always stayed with me about her was her kindness and her empathy. She would go out of her way to help anyone. Always. I find that those traits aren’t as valued as they should be. We value power, money, ambition — somehow, kindness and empathy are never high on our list. If we made those priorities, we would all be much happier people!

TED: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
GS: Ha! Not to take myself so seriously! And I would tell my 18-year-old self to enjoy every single moment. I grew up with such strong women who worked all the time, and I ended up being the same way. It was so easy to get caught up in the stress and to always ask: “What’s next?” So I spent most of my teens and twenties working so hard and never looking at what was around me. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to slow down and enjoy what was around me at every moment.

The private TED session at Cartier takes place April 26 in Singapore. It will feature talks from a diverse range of global leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers, exploring topics ranging from the changing global workforce to maternal health to data literacy, and it will include a performance from the only female double violinist in the world.