Ideas and Invention: Failed Pitch 2.0

Why does Geshe Michael Roach teach the method that couldn’t get him a TED talk?

Update: In November 2015, Geshe Michael spoke not at TED which he had auditioned for a few years earlier, but at TEDx in the small city of Graz, Austria. As locally and independently organized events, TEDx talks don’t have the selectivity and prestige of TED talks. The following article, which was published before his appearance at TEDx, discusses his failed attempt to get selected for TED.


Having failed at pitching to Oprah in 2010 for a talk show, Geshe Michael Roach made a pitch to speak at the popular TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference which goes by the slogan “Ideas worth spreading.” He stated in his pitch video:

… After some years, I thought I would like to do some kind of project to help Tibetan refugees, and I didn’t know how to raise the money, and then I asked my lamas and they taught me some special principles of karma which I could use to apply in business to help the refugees, so I did start a business which is now earning $250 million in sales a year. I’ve been using that money for 25 years to help the refugees, and I would like to help other NGOs and other charitable organizations to learn these principles that I used to raise money for their projects.

Given that Geshe Michael failed to get selected to speak at TED, it’s questionable whether those “special principles of karma” actually helped make millions for Andin International Inc. — where he was first hired as “an errand boy” by the two Israeli entrepreneurs who founded the company.

It is not clear how Geshe Michael, with degrees from Princeton and Sera Mey, managed to fail when there have been so many TED speakers including at least five Buddhists: Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard was invited to speak in 2008, Buddhist author Robert Thurman — who had reminded Geshe Michael to follow monastic rulesspoke in 2007, Buddhist master Ogyen Trinley Dorje spoke in 2010, Zen teacher Joan Halifax spoke in 2011, and meditation teacher Andy Puddicombe spoke in 2012.

According to the pitch, it was Geshe Michael who came up with the idea of helping Tibetan refugees, but at other times he gave different and contradictory accounts:
– It was his root lama who asked him to help the Tibetans and insisted on the diamond business(!) and he reluctantly agreed to go to work at Andin in 1981.
– It was multiple lamas who requested him to start a diamond business after he had passed the geshe exam in 1995, and he reluctantly complied.
– It was his idea and he willingly and deliberately chose to work at Andin, not necessarily to help the Tibetans, but to be near diamonds and be reminded of the spiritual experience of seeing emptiness (“that’s the only reason that I did it” and “for no other reason”).

It is not clear which version is true or somewhat true, and which invented.


Editor’s note: Geshe Michael’s TED pitch was uploaded to his Youtube channel at least 3 years ago, but was removed probably in the past year. Some of his other videos have also disappeared after his statements were challenged on this blog. If his claims were true, why was it necessary to remove the videos? But as Geshe Michael said back in 1994: "Once it’s on the Internet, how can you stop it?" Some of our readers had the foresight to save the videos and have made them available in accordance with fair dealing and fair use principles. An easy way to download Youtube or videos for safekeeping is to use the site We challenge the Diamond Cutter Institute to not delete the following quotes from their Facebook page.

We are recommending that you use the only approach that offers 100% guarantee of working to solve problems and achieve goals — to understand the seeds that will bring the result, and then systematically plant them.” 4/2015

Let’s stop doing things that don’t work. Let’s focus our time and energy on the one thing that works 100% of the time. In this system, our chance of success is: 100%.” 5/2015

Note: Andy Puddicombe is a former Tibetan monk who created the Headspace app and became a millionaire.

Related posts:
Blatant dishonesty, blind devotion, and breathtaking delusions How did Geshe Michael and his best students make “oxygen money”?
California Dreaming: “The Karma Show”
Self-delusion: a proof of concept
Time after time
Karmic management at work: Epic Fail

One comment

  1. jerry

    Not sure what the deal is but the Chinese mystery man funding Roach World down here in Bowie has come up with even more cash for land.
    The followers and the leader all have one thing in common…they view themselves as exceptional people….not my experience in the real world dealing with a new hoard after a previous bunch get wise and disappear


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