Life Lessons from the Women of TEDxJohannesburg - Ingrid Martens

August is Women’s Month in South Africa. To celebrate, we’re conducting long-form interviews with 20 women who have spoken at TEDxJohannesburg. Inspired by Huffington Post’s Sophia project, we’re asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life.

In her TEDxJohannesburg 2014 talk, Ingrid Martens skilfully uses a series of video clips to make the point that we all have the power to lift ourselves if we zoom into the close-ups and step over the wide angles that divide us.

What is a recent realisation you have had about living a more rewarding/fulfilling life?

Always focus on creatively building towards being able to only do the work you love to do. Then have the courage to let go all of those spaces and opportunities that no longer match what you value. After that, amazing things start to happen.

Tell us something about an area of your expertise that took you years to learn.

As someone that gets completely absorbed, lost and then found, in what I do, each project takes me on a journey and beckons me to become an ‘expert’ in a particular area. Having done this for some time, and in so many areas of media content, strategy and training, it gets more and more rewarding. I believe it is the frameworks and approaches you develop that allows you to keep adding new layers of depth, meaning and relevance to what you love doing.

What do you feel is the most helpful thing your parents did for you that many parents don’t do?

My mom had no ‘big’ expectations of my brother and I. So for example, when we went on to be the first in our family to attain university degrees, like all our milestones, she was surprised and celebrated our achievements.

It is an great life philosophy, away from all the serious endless stress that is placed on young people. Great things can happen without all that pressure.

Tell us about a book (or books) that had a significant impact on you.

“Business Model Generation” that was written by 470 people from 45 countries. Invaluable content and tools, as well as a book that delivers the innovation and the collaboration it is sharing.

What is something small or seemingly insignificant that contributes greatly to your happiness?

Wake up and call a travel agent, and say “who can get me to an island tomorrow morning?”. Or if the budget is limited, just jump into your car and drive for a few days with no destination. Solo travel is an incredible way to reconnect with yourself, the beauty around you and the immense opportunities.

Tell us about a memorable gift you’ve given or received.

The most recent one was “The Mindfulness Colouring Book”. Yes, a coloring book for adults. What fun and meditative.

What is a regret you have that others could learn from?

I do not believe in regrets. However, when I started my career there was no such thing, where I worked, as having a mentor. I believe that we should all offer to be a mentor to at least one young person at the start of their careers.

With the right guidance, support and longer term insights it will not only enrich their journey but also potentially rocket their professional lives.

Tell us about a travel experience or destination that you would recommend to others.

So many … If you ever have the opportunity, attend a New Year’s festival in Togo or Benin and find out, from the stone found in the forest, what the year holds. Or visit, until recently the car-less island, my favourite, La Digue in Seychelles and sit on the shores and lap up the wonders. Or if it is local, drive through the sacred rolling hills of the Drakensberg or the Transkei.

What habits/routines do you keep that are especially unique or beneficial?

A weekly me-time ritual where I reconnect with myself, it is always a new invention, but it allows me to take a step back so I can happily take the next step forward.

What apps (or other technologies) have the greatest impact on your happiness/personal fulfillment?

As a creative both in my professional and personal, number one is my mac, and then my favourite apps are Prezi, Final Cut Pro, Wunderlist, Day One, iBooks and many meditative apps.

How would you have handled your own education differently?

I have loved my lifelong educational journey and would do it all over again. What I can share is just how important it is to keep finding new things to learn, forever. I am always on the look out for these new opportunities, just recently I was selected to be on the first group of African Media Fellows, what a new and exciting learning curve. The most important part is to dig in and then, even more importantly, to integrate.

What do you know now about living a satisfying life that you didn’t know when you were twenty?

Always trust in your instincts and that you are in exactly the right place, at the right time.

What do you think about when you think about death?

It is a tough journey to loose those you love. In terms of my own death, few books could explain in better thann a travel guide called “The World’s Most Dangerous Places”. It explains, in a very funny way, how statistically we are more likely to die on a road near our homes than in a war zone. So I believe at our best we should never be limited by our fear of anything, including our own death. Of course, it is easier said than lived.

Watch Ingrid Marten’s TEDxJohannesburg talk: There’s a wide angle and a close-up to every story

Visit for more.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts