The TEDMED Experience: When Chaos Brings Clarity

By Lyn Falconio, Chief Marketing Officer, Publicis Health

Each year I commit to a variety of very different professional conferences and development experiences. This year, I attended TEDMED for the first time. While I expected TEDMED to be different, I did not expect the impact the stories would have on opening my thinking, or how they made me feel. Over two days, I heard from individuals genuinely dedicated to creating better lives for people across the globe; people who have made it their life’s mission to impact others, for good.

The 2018 theme was Chaos + Clarity and TEDMED could not have chosen a more appropriate theme for this year. Healthcare is changing fast, and “Chaos + Clarity” — this idea that it often takes a significant disruption, a catastrophic event, or a period of hair-pulling uncertainty before the next great thing can surface clearly — is one we can link to what drives us personally, our businesses, teams, and innovation forward.

Clarity Through Storytelling

As a marketer, engaging through storytelling put me right in my element. In less than twenty minutes, each storyteller succinctly communicated complex subject matter center stage, in front of hundreds, without a single note or teleprompter; I was impressed beyond belief! More than just mastering the subject at hand, I was reminded whether I’m leading a meeting, on stage at a conference, or at a big pitch, knowing your material and being prepared matters.

I also experienced that I was not just listening, I was learning. Fully engaged, I was able to effortlessly retell their great stories to my teams and colleagues: stories about great scientific discoveries that came from the chaos of unexplained deaths, illness or diseases; stories of personal triumphs and new purpose that surfaced from the chaos of deep despair or personal tragedy; stories about new businesses that forever changed how we do things; all because someone decided to embrace the chaos as an opportunity instead of running from it. And I’m telling those stories still. Stories have staying power.

Clarity Through Leadership

Beyond engaging and connecting in the moment with the storyteller on stage, I think what the experience was supposed to do was to get you to think about how this theme impacts you, how you respond in moments of chaos, and how you influence others when periods of uncertainty rule the day.

As a leader I’ve learned that navigating through ambiguity is one of the most important skills you can give yourself, your teams and your organization. We hold the compass to where that ambiguity directs our people. It can take us down the road of more chaos and unproductive disruption, or it can lead us to a new, unexplored path that ultimately takes us to a better place. It’s our job as leaders to lean into ambiguity, not shy away from it.

Clarity Through Mission

We are in the midst of one of the most chaotic moments in the healthcare industry. There are lots of unanswered questions: what will ultimately shape the new business model? How will care be delivered? Where will the power of the data take us? Where and how will we access our care and which new players will join the market?

From this chaos, there is such promising clarity ahead. This change and all it empowers, if done right, and if we stay true to our mission, will lead us to a far better place…a world of healthier people.


Lyn Falconio is Chief Marketing Officer at Publicis Health. Connect with her via LinkedIn.