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Home » The Value of Unhappiness: Tate Linden at TEDxHerndon (Full Transcript)

The Value of Unhappiness: Tate Linden at TEDxHerndon (Full Transcript)

Tate Linden – Brand strategist at Stokefire

Last week I heard, for the first time, an interview my grandpa gave 15 years ago about growing up near San Francisco before the Golden Gate Bridge existed. Well, it was supposed to be about that, but for three minutes, right in the middle, it was entirely about me.

Now, this wasn’t random. He was trying to share something that he believed was important. He wanted to let the interviewer know how he felt about the fact that I, his grandson, am not a singer. I know that seems a little weird. It doesn’t seem worthy of mention, but maybe it was.

It feels really strange to say this, but the fact that I don’t sing has made me unhappy for about half my life because 20 years ago, I was a singer, and I was a good one. I was that annoying kid in school who got all the solos and leads. I did this mean imitation of Pavarotti, and doing that on stage in a production of South Pacific in high school got me a scholarship to UCLA, where I kicked ass as a performer and then had my ass kicked by music theory. My last public performance was at my graduation. I sang The Star Spangled Banner, Alma Mater, and I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.

But I wasn’t done with music yet. I auditioned for the top music schools in the country, at graduate programs coast-to-coast, and the acceptance letters started pouring in. But I turned them all down. Two reasons for that. First, I was offered a job where I could put my philosophical morals and ethics training to good use, working in tech support for a cigarette company. And then… And second – it was a paying job, and I had a philosophy degree, don’t hate, okay. And second, I didn’t get into Juilliard.

If you don’t know what Juilliard is, it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but it turns out world-class performers instead of chocolate I got in everywhere else, but I wasn’t holding that one golden ticket. And I believed that going anywhere else would be telling the world that I wasn’t good enough. And I thought that would be too painful to admit. I rejected those great schools because I wanted to avoid that pain.

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