Celeste Headlee is the host of "On Second Thought" at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta and has anchoring at NPR includes “The Takeaway," as well as "Tell Me More," "Talk of the Nation," and “Weekend Edition.” Following her TedxCreativeCoast talk in 2015, ted.com featured her presentation, “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” which has been viewed more than 11 million times. CNBC voted Celeste as having one of the most watched TED talks in 2016 and Glassdoor named Celeste as having the #1 must-watch TED talk for every recruiter and hiring manager. Now, Headlee speaks to groups across the globe about the art of conversation and focused listening. Her first book, Heard Mentality, was released in May 2016. Her second book, We Need To Talk - How To Have Conversation That Matter is a practical guide to the lost art of conversation and will be released by Harper Wave on September 19, 2017.
What do I do best?
I'm quite good at taking complicated data or information and boiling it down to a message that can be understood. Expressing things in a simple, clear manner is a special gift and not one that I worked on or specifically studied. In the same vein, I'm good at making connections between concepts or information that others might not make.
What makes the best version of myself?
The best version of myself is aware of my strengths and weaknesses, is always working to improve, but is compassionate about my flaws and mistakes. You can't truly have compassion for others until you learn to have compassion for yourself. That doesn't mean you make excuses for yourself, but you can continue to push yourself without punishing yourself for every goof.
What are my aspirations?
Personal aspiration: To buy a house and transform it into a restful sanctuary, both for myself and for friends who visit.
Business aspiration: To become a trusted expert in the area of authentic communication and to create a training program to help others learn how to have better conversations both at home and at work.
My Biggest Success?
My biggest success was my second TEDx talk, the one I gave in Savannah about conversation. That talk has more than 11 million views on various platforms and helped me get a book contract. The irony is that I had no idea that talk would resonate as it did. Since my talk wasn't about music or ground-breaking cancer research or the discovery of a planet, I thought most people would find the subject of conversation to be mundane. I was very wrong about that.
My Most challenging moment?
That occurred in 1998 when my son was born. My fiance had been deployed to Bosnia just weeks before our planned wedding. I was alone when our child was born and ended up as a single parent for most of my adult life. Single parenthood is incredibly challenging. My son is now 19 and goes to school at Georgia State University. Raising him successfully has been the biggest triumph of my life.
It's a quote from the Dalai Lama: "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
My favorite people/role model?
My first is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is so smart and so confident in her abilities. She was rising through the ranks of law school and legal profession when she was still an anomaly, as a woman, but she never doubted her abilities or the power of her own mind. She's worked incredibly hard and achieved the highest position in her profession. And she continues to stand on principle and give all she has to the work she loves.
My second is JK Rowling. I feel a small affinity with Rowling, as we were both struggling, broke, single mothers in our younger days. She never compromised her family and her work ethic is admirable. What's more, even though she was writing for young people, she never condescended in the Potter novels or wrote with anything less than passion and skill. She's also the first person to drop out of the billionaires club because of the amount she gave to charity. Despite her success and wealth, she has not lost her empathy for those less fortunate.
My favorite places/destinations?
Detroit is my favorite city in the world. I will travel there any time and enjoy myself at a music concert or art museum or the zoo or the River Walk.
I also love Banff, Canada. It's gorgeous, of course, but you can lose yourself in nature and quiet there without traveling too far out of the city. Trails and waterways for paddling and good food when you get home at night.
My favorite products/objects?
One of my favorite things are my Bose Quiet Comfort headphones. The sound is crisp and clean and they feel like butter on my ears. I take them everywhere.
I also love my Surface tablet. I gave up my iPad a couple years ago and haven't regretted it for a moment. And I also own a Chevy Volt and it's the first car I've ever owned that I've truly loved.
My current passion?
Southern novels. Since I moved to Georgia in 2014, I've read a lot of books by Southern authors and I really enjoy the heat and the passion and the storytelling. For the most part, Southern authors dive in with complete commitment; there's no ironic distance or dispassionate sarcasm. It's full-bodied writing and I love it.