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Published Neuroanatomist and stroke survivor; a story that she is famous for sharing in the second most viewed TED TalkRequest for fees and availability
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A Stroke of Insight
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a trained and published neuroanatomist. Her specialty was in the postmortem investigation of the human brain as it relates to schizophrenia and the severe mental illnesses. Because she has a brother who has been diagnosed with the brain disorder schizophrenia, Dr. Taylor served for three years on the Board of Directors of National NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) between 1994-1997. (Currently she serves as President of the Greater Bloomington Affiliate of NAMI in Bloomington, Indiana.)
Because there is a long term shortage of brain tissue donated for postmortem research by individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, Dr. Taylor travels as the National Spokesperson for the Mentally Ill for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (Harvard Brain Bank) located at McLean Hospital. As the Singin’ Scientist, Dr. Taylor delivers a very popular keynote address titled “How To Get Your Brain To Do What You Want It To Do.”
But as irony would have it, on December 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor woke up to discover that she was experiencing a rare form of stroke, an arterio-venous malformation (AVM). Two and a half weeks later, on December 27, 1996, she underwent major brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to remove a golf ball size blood clot that was placing pressure on the language centers in the left hemisphere of her brain.
It took eight years for Dr. Taylor to successfully rebuild her brain – from the inside out. In response to the swelling and trauma of the stroke, which placed pressure on her dominant left hemisphere, the functions of her right hemisphere blossomed. Among other things, she now creates and sells unique stained glass brains when commissioned to do so. In addition, she published a book about her recovery from stroke and the insights she gained into the workings of her brain. The New York Times bestselling memoir is titled My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.
In February 2008, Dr. Taylor gave a presentation at the prestigious TED Conference. A video of that presentation was posted on the TED website which was immediately viewed by millions of people around the world. The response to the video launched Dr. Taylor into becoming a highly sought-after public speaker. She was chosen by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008 and was the premiere guest on Oprah’s Soul Series web-cast. In addition, she was interviewed by Oprah and Dr. Mehmet Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show in October, 2008.
Dr. Taylor now serves as the CEO of My Stroke of Insight, Inc. and as the Chairman of the Board of the not-for-profit Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS, Inc. She is working on the creation of a Serious Game for Health for neurological recovery as she feels passionate about helping others find their way back from neurological trauma. In addition, she is working on her next book and is excited about the upcoming feature film of her life. She has just created Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational services and promoting programs related to the advancement of brain awareness, appreciation, exploration, education, injury prevention, neurological recovery, and the value of movement on mental and physical health, as well as other activities that support this purpose. She travels extensively as a keynoter at conferences around the world and is having a wonderful time helping others learn more about their own brains and how to realize that peace really is just a thought away.See keynotes with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Popular keynotes by Speaker Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Other type of keynotes by Speaker Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
In addition to these subjects of discussion, Dr. Jill is happy to create an original topic in order to cater her presentation to an organization’s specific needs. Everyone has a brain and we are at a time when people really want to understand who we are and how does our brain do what it does. Dr. Jill helps bridge the gap between what we know and what we need to know in order to take the next steps forward as a humane species in relation to our planet.
Watch the TEDx Talk by speaker Jill Bolte Taylor
What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations?
We are each the life force power of the universe made up of some 50 trillion beautiful cells. We each have the power to chose moment by moment who and how we want to be in the world. Our left and right brains process different kinds of information in different ways and peace, joy, and love are circuitry we can choose to run at any time. I encourage people to pay very close attention to what they are doing with their personal power.
How do audiences usually react to your presentations?
They sit riveted on the edge of their seats for over an hour and walk away with a completely transformed perspective about who they are and what circuitry they have been running to create their lives. I always have a flock of folks rush the stage and I’ve had book signings that have lasted over three hours!
How do you prepare for speaking engagements?
I always travel the day before a presentation because I don’t like the way stress feels inside my body, this also helps minimize the stress of my host. I am a big energy speaker and consciously choose to isolate before I get on stage. Every audience is different and since my presentation is all about their brains then I personalize my remarks to that groups particular interests. But overall, it’s about empowering people to recognize the gift of what we are.
What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?
I almost died on the morning of the stroke and I live my life with incredible gratitude for the time I have here. I chose to recover to be able to share what I learned about our brains and how we have the ability to choose which circuitry we want to run. I love people and I love helping people figure out how to own their power and manifest the lives they want to live. My presentations are both very smart and very loving.
How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?
My presentations are stippled with appropriate humor. Who knew a presentation by a trained scientist about the brain could be so interesting and entertaining! My audience will laugh, they will cry and they will walk away with a new and profound understanding about who they are and what they are doing here. It’s a beautiful experience for everyone.
What are some of the most interesting discoveries you have made?
How are your keynote presentations unique?
I speak the language of both the left brain scientific/medical community as well as the language of the right brain compassionate/ artistic community. I am a sought after speaker in both worlds.
Do you have any unique memorable moments in your speaking career?
I love it when something happens on stage – a mic goes out or I forget the words to the Brain Bank Jingle. When these sort of ‘mess ups’ happen it is a lovely opportunity for me to “practice what I preach”. I could choose to let my left brain be embarrassed and freak out but I choose to make an example out of myself and just crack up with humor. Life’s a journey, a wonderful memorable journey and these sorts of opportunities are precious.
How can we control and train the brain in order to be happier individuals?
First we have to be willing to pay attention to what we are thinking and feeling and realize that we have other options. Second, we need to be willing to stop the old negative circuits and run the ones that bring us into the present moment experience.
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