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After reading Karthik Rajan’s post about Airbnb co-founder TEDx talk, I was inspired to visit the TED website for more!


Shonda Rhimes needs no introduction to people who watch American Television. I saw a TED video of hers, with an interesting title: “A year of saying yes to everything”. She had recently made a vow to herself that she would put herself in positions that make her uncomfortable and say “yes”.


“The ability to say No” has almost become a desirable skill in today’s job market. So, I was curious to find what does Shonda say about “saying yes”!


For about the first 5 minutes of the video, I was wondering what Shonda was upto. She IS the titan who creates about 70 hours of prime TV, each budgeted at 10s of millions of dollars; and the lady who has america glued to the couch.


Then she starts talking about the hum. The hum is when she is her “zone” of absolute creativity, productivity, enjoying every bit of her work, putting in 15-16 hour days. At one point, she says:

I am that hum. Am I nothing but that hum?

After some time, the hum stopped for the overworked Shonda. She does not know what to do, when the work she loves so much starts to taste like dust! She is lost without the hum.


And one day, her 1 year old daughter asks her: “Mama, do you want to play?”


Shonda the titan who holds the reins to the 70 hour of prime TV, wants to say “no”, but then her vow to say “yes”, makes her spend the next 15 minutes with her daughter.


She starts spending small amounts of dedicated time with her children, and she notices something about herself.

The hum is back, it’s not a roar, it’s a trickle, but it’s there.

But this hum is different from her original hum.


The hum is not power and the hum is not work-specific. The hum is joy-specific. The real hum is love-specific. The hum is the electricity that comes from being excited by life. The real hum is confidence and peace.


Finally Shonda Rhimes brings it all together like the television drama she creates. She finds her identity outside of work, as a mom. She recognizes the need to take meaningful breaks from her work to do real work. She realizes that

The more she plays, the freer her mind becomes. The more she plays, the better she works. What did I learn from this particular video?

Each person needs to find their own happy place, find their own anchor, and keep “the happy hum” going! This is secret to keep the titan in them going.


As a working parent myself, I get deep into the work world. With laptops and flexible work options, the boundaries between work and home are becoming thinner and thinner.


There are times, when the children just want to play, to dance and make silly conversations, just to make a connection. Just like Shonda, this is the happy place, my family, my anchor, my hum.


It is important to utilize these moments of connections that the little human beings are trying to make, for that’s what keeps the hum at work meaningful.

That is what keeps the life meaningful!

Also, published in Linked In : “All work and no play makes the “hum” go away”