Watching Hans play

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What’s happening in this picture above? Ask Mohammed Abu Zeinab, a TEDx speaker and member of the onsite documentary crew WTYSL:

As I walked in, I saw a crowd had gathered, with Lara, our own TEDx Director, even standing on a coffee table to see the center of everyone’s attention, the real show.

I knew what it was. It was Hans. I swerved from the outside of the crowd to get a closer look. There I saw him first, on the edge of his seat, looking straight into the face of his interviewer, speaking animatedly about something. That drew my attention to the crowd surrounding him, and I noticed everyone taking pictures and recording this moment, as rare as it was. I could not help but think “Are these people even hearing what this man has to say about whatever it is he was saying?” (I was clearly one of them.)

Hans helped ease the unsettling but mild frustration people were having as they tried to understand what he was talking about with his presentation methods — using inanimate objects to display stats, figures, messages and information about the world … “one billion, two billion, this billion, that billion, those billion people.”

This man captivated an audience and won them before the battle was over, before the message was delivered, before the story was finished. They all had a preparedness to laugh, to react, to be mesmerized! How could they not? Hans is a great presenter. And that was simply it. His charisma shown bright through his tone, his energy, great from his movement, his passion clear from his hands and eyes. The man was driven. And that was enough for me to like him, and yes, everything that came out of his mouth.

How can a man this unshaken, this bubbly, this clear be wrong? He could not have been. His determination and confidence wouldn’t allow it. This man did his homework. And you didn’t need to check. You knew it and you felt it. And you knew he did too. Those measures of confidence are what we aspire to and why we choose to listen to it.

We project ourselves through such examples as Hans and find all sorts of ways to relate ourselves to them. Whether it’s coming from the same country, to being in the same field, sharing the same thoughts or liking the same dessert. We like not only him but every bit of ourselves in Hans, or our “better” selves in Hans. The man is a Genius. And in the words of Paul Arden, it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.

That is what it meant for me to be around people like Hans Rosling. And I hope that not only do I meet people like him, but people who WANT to be like him, like me.

— Mohammed Abu Zeinab
Photo: Kris Krüg