TedxLeiden 2013 - Circles of Life

These are the speakers that will participate in TEDxLeiden

Marianne van Dijk

Marianne was educated as a philosopher, which helped her question our current way of thinking. After ten years, however, she grew weary of thinking about people who think about other thinkers. She felt like she wanted to actually do something, instead of just thinking about it. 
Since trying a primal diet, which benefitted her health greatly, Marianne decided she wanted to find out about any other possible benefits to the way our early ancestors lived. Contrary to most established philosophers, who seem to need theory upon theory about ideas such as this, Marianne is different from others: It's like she has a switch in her head that temporarily allows her to be unburdened by conventional social and academic constructs. 
Her idea is radical: to live like a cavewoman, not for a week, but for a whole year. Not in some forest, but in the middle of Amsterdam. Marianne managed to start her experiment this October, and blogs about her experiences so others can give advice or learn from her successes and mistakes. 
Marianne will consider this experiment a success if others, from all over the world, join the experiment in their own ways, and help (re)discover Paleolithic habits that may benefit our current world.

Roger Cox

Roger Cox is an attorney and pragmatic visionary. In his compelling and illuminating book “Revolution Justified – why only the law can save us now” he calls for judicial intervention to save the planet and humanity. In this book he discusses the dangers of peak oil and climate change as well as the failure of democracy and the market to address these issues.

According to Roger the law is our only hope of breaking the status quo and of achieving the much needed change to clean energy. His book explains how, states can be forced by citizens and NGO’s to reduce carbon emissions through the use of the judicial system.

His book is promoted by international and national leaders in sustainability as an essential read. In cooperation with the Dutch NGO Urgenda, Roger is materializing his idea of suing the Dutch government for it’s inadequate climate policies. He is also setting up a network of plaintiffs for similar proceedings in other European countries.


Maria Scordialos

Maria characterizes herself in almost opposite ways; from activist to systems practitioner and pattern recogniser. In all her roles she leads groups of people to design, co-create and host engagements for systemic change. Maria is co-founder of the Living Wholeness Institute, based at Axladitsa Avatakia, a farm that cultivates new cultures of living and immersive learning in Pelion, Greece.

Maria is also a co-initiator of the Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations, a practice that invites people to create new collective intelligence through generative dialogue. She is passionate about citizen led democracy and politics, where people can be part of crafting their own lives by living their soul’s purpose. Living in Greece, Maria has first hand experience of the disintegrating current systems and the social innovation that is being birthed through this.

David van Bodegom

David van Bodegom works as an assistant professor of Medicine at the Leyden Academy on Vitality & Ageing, a knowledge centre in the field of vitality and ageing, and teaches at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). During his PhD research on ageing in Ghana, Africa, he became intrigued by the variety and flexibility of aging.

Elderly Ghanaians enjoy a high social status and are actively involved in their community. Age-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are practically non-existent. They have blood sugar and cholesterol levels of 18-year-olds, and a BMI of 18.5.

David decided to devote himself to research on ageing, radically changing his career as a physician; ‘I always had the idea that patients came too late’. He is fascinated by the idea that on the one hand healthy aging is as simple as ‘eat less and sit less' and that on the other hand behavioral change proves to be so difficult. Billions are invested in operations, procedures and drugs tot treat cardiovascular disease or diabetes, while in principle we know how everyone can reach the age of 85 in good health.

He does not believe in doctors or governments that prohibit ‘unhealthy behaviors’. He believes people themselves can choose their aging process by shaping their environment in such a way that they healthier choices are made easier or even unconscious. In a healthy environment, healthy aging is not only easy, it can be fun too! If your everyday routine is good, there is also room for the occasional indulgence and pleasure. 

Jakob van Wielink

After an academic career as an attorney and lecturer international law at Amsterdam University, Jakob van Wielinks’ daily practices have shifted to leadership development. He is fascinated by major changes in life and helps organisations and individuals in dealing with fundamental issues of finality.

Using the ‘Circle of Transition’ as a metaphor, he shows that our difficulties in dealing with loss and mourning lay deeply rooted at the heart of conflicts. Not being able or used to ‘let go’ may result in failing reorganisations and often frustrates the setup of stable and joyful workplaces.

Whilst his professional focus lays with leadership and organisational development at the Alba-academie, he also lectures in ‘dealing with loss and mourning’ at the Christelijke Hogeschool Ede. Jakob is co-author of various successful books about loss and emotion in transition processes at work, he advises and writes for various coaching magazines. As a singer, he is addicted to classical music, with a special emphasis on Slavonic-Byzantine music.

Ronald Meester

Ronald Meester is a professor in Mathematics at the VU University in Amsterdam, with a chair in probability theory. He is highly interested in abstract mathematics as well as in the possible applications of math.
People tend to abuse mathematics for a variety of reasons, and it is often used to pretend that we know more than we actually do. Probability is used to decide about the heights of the Dutch dykes, but also to make statements about the (non-) existence of God. You may find it surprising that a professor in mathematics addresses the limitations of the use of it. But it is precisely these limitations that make mathematics and natural science so powerful.
He has published various books and articles on this topic. A new book, "Arrogance", will appear in january of 2014. This book deals with the arrogance of the scientific establishment. This arrogance actually harms science, and tends to lead to a somewhat distorted view of reality. We need to return to a more realistic view of science, which will benefit everyone: not in the least science and scientists themselves. 
Ronald is married, and has four daughters. He likes to spend his spare time playing classical piano player, regularly playing at recitals with many other musicians.

Tom Cummings

Tom Cummings has held senior executive roles in Shell International, ABN AMRO Bank and Unilever NV. In this capacity, he worked on long term planning, developing sustainable business practices though the development of human capital. These days, Tom acts as an advisor to functionaries in Executive Boards and senior management.

He is also a creative partner, designer and process facilitator for strategic visioning, business performance and leadership development programs. He works both independently and in collaboration with faculty from leading business schools and consulting firms.

Tom is known for his ability to bring new insights, sharp contrasts and fresh perspectives to his client engagements. His methods are client-centric, and he draws on 25 years of experience with leaders and teams across a range of academic disciplines, industries and types of engagements. Based on all this, Tom focuses on how to remove barriers to make room for new ideas.

Yolanda Eijgenstein

To acquire knowledge, one must study

but to acquire wisdom, one must observe

Yolanda Eijgenstein knows how difficult it is to apply this; she learned things the hard way. When she was eight years old she started her first business: selling her masterpieces: self-made drawings and cookies. She never stopped selling nor did she stop observing: from advertising to organizational development at her own Why Company; people became her knowledge and were treated and deployed wisely. Focus first on the ‘why’ then on the ‘how’ and  the ‘what’. Because if you know the 'why' you can bear almost any how.

Study and observe, she knows how effective it is when put into practice successfully, because it always comes down to people, they really matter. She wrote a book about it: ‘The happy worker’. After more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, even crowned as businesswomen of the year, she knows a few things for sure: be authentic, do dare to take risks and be open to learn from one another.

Enthusiasm and joy still are her core themes.This natural-born entrepreneur sold her first company and now runs two businesses and is involved in a variety of projects, boards and challenges that make her life gratifying. She works with milestones to make things happen and to make meaningful projects visible in the world.  Think big! But make sure you have attention for all the little steps needed to realize the change… 


Joe Zammit-Lucia

What will it take to be successful in our unpredictable, chaotic and rapidly changing societies? This is the question I explore.

I am a compulsive contrarian and take seriously Lyotard’s idea of resisting the complacent certainties of the expert.

Previously a practicing physician, business adviser and entrepreneur, Joe is now engaged as a leadership advisor, artist, author and commentator. An observer of life and culture, he has explored multiple careers and has lived in the UK, the US, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Malta. His interest is in exploring the relationship between business, institutions, culture and society in our chaotic post-modern world.

Anne Schulp

Paleontologist Anne Schulp is a researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. His main research interest is on the paleo-biology of dinosaurs and mosasaurs. He has a special interest in the study of dinosaur track ways, which involved fieldwork projects in Yemen, Spain and Bolivia. His PhD research focused on mosasaurs, giant marine reptiles from Maastricht in the Netherlands and Angola.

The natural history collection of Naturalis is extensive, but one kind of dinosaur was conspicuously absent: a large carnivore. This changed recently, when Anne helped excavating a Tyrannosaurus fossil in Montana, USA. This dinosaur, he hopes, will feature prominently in the new dinosaur hall at Naturalis, due to be opened in 2017.

Dick de Groot

.For many years active in the field of education, from teacher to president of the board and from trainer to senior advisor of governments e.g. of South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda, he is an experienced advisor in education policy, change management and leadership development.

He has trained school leaders in Rwanda after the genocide, in South Africa after ‘apartheid’, in Palestine under circumstances of occupation, in Kenya and Uganda in situations of deprivation. Inspired by the Ubuntu philosophy “I am because we are” he is promoting moral leadership as a reversal of the predominant individualistic perspective of our time.

Elke Miedema

Elke Miedema is an ambitious and passionate architect who has been researching for the last seven years how our built environment relates to well-being. She is part of a team of multi-disciplinary experts at Except Integrated Sustainability that transform cities and neighbourhoods into resilient and socially thriving urban environments using cutting-edge insights into new business models, planning strategies, and socio-economic mechanisms.

She works with a team of 30 scientists, designers, and economists on the foundations for a sustainable future. They recently launched a unique programme, called Urban Renaissance (UR). UR redevelops urban areas into self-sustaining, strong, and flourishing areas, using existing strengths to drive transformation. Part of the approach is to analyse and visualize local systems, such as water, energy, waste, finance, and culture, looking for ‘loose ends’. By connecting these loose connections in new ways, they establish new value from what already exists, create circular economies, and maximize urban development value, for minimal investment. Based on this,10 to 30 year roadmaps are rolled out to convert even the worst urban areas into thriving neighbourhoods and communities, worldwide.

Within Urban Renaissance Elke works to increase the value of urban environments through social interaction, coupling necessity and desire, and reducing stress and suffering. She expands from architecture into environmental psychology, evidence based design, and healing environments, for example by designing care homes for the elderly or psychiatric patients.

Elke has a Bachelor in Construction and Building Engineering from the Avans Hogeschool in Tilburg and a Master Degree in Architecture from the TU Delft and works at Except since April 2013.

Jessica Hammarlund Bergmann

Jessica Hammarlund Bergmann is an urban planner. She was born in Sweden, educated in Denmark, and lives in The Netherlands. She now co-owns an office for urban planning and landscape architecture, in Amsterdam.

After the excessive VINEX building period, she became interested in non-physical components of urban development: soft data, informal networks, and civic initiatives. In a time when urban development is no longer synonymous with growth, other methods and processes must be investigated.

In 2010, she co-founded Pink Pony Express, a four person interdisciplinary collective that works in areas characterized by extreme conditions. These conditions are often the result of economic or political instability - and manifest themselves in friction between citizens and the local government. The basic strategy of the Ponies is ‘research through making’. They embed themselves in the local context and work like journalists. But instead of publishing words, they make images. These public installations are always realized on location and in direct relation to the community where the project originates.

Pink Pony Express has worked in Detroit (2010), Heerlen, NL (2011), Amsterdam, NL (2012-13), St. Eustatius, NL (2012) and St. Petersburg (2013).

Michel Scholte

Michel Scholte is co-founder of True Price, a social enterprise that calculates and improves the true price of products. The True Price of a product includes the net social and environmental costs incurred in production, distribution, selling and consumption. Similarly, the True Profit of companies and True Returns of investments include these same costs. True Price works with companies like AkzoNobel or Tony's Chocolonely. 
In addition, he is member of the Global Shapers – a World Economic Forum community – and member of think tank Worldconnectors. Before True Price he co-founded NewSilkRoads, a company that initiated one of the first co-working enterprises in Cairo, setting a trend in Egypt. In 2011, he worked as coordinator of social entrepreneurs at SOCAP EUROPE 2011, the largest international platform for social entrepreneurs and impact investors.
Michel studied sociology (cum laude) at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam. As a student, he was recognized as one of the best three students at the VU and received a Talent of the Future award from ASN Bank. He founded the Need for the Needy Grassroots Organisation to provide water access in Ghana when he was 18. He initiated the Studentenhaver Festivals 2008 and 2009 with amongst others the Red Cross to involve students in societal issues.