Yesterday, I attended the all-day 2015 TEDxNavesink Accelerators event held at Monmouth University. I have to say: it was a rather well-organized! Great speakers, accessible topics, and good facilities.
However, it was also a lot. To be specific:
- 4 Themes: Heal, Invent, Prosper, and Reframe
- 3 Entertainers: Bora Yoon, Vinnie Brand, and Joe Iconis (and Friends)
- 22 talks on topics that ranged across psychology, business, physics, education, cities, politics, and culture
Starting at 9 AM and ending just around 5 PM, it was is a full day. By the end my head was spinning.
That said, a short recap is due. While I cannot share every single thing I heard and took notes on, I will give you the my highlights: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And once these videos become available online, I will come back and update with the appropriate links.
The Good (and by good, I mean great)
The talks I found memorable were:
- Sanctioned Addiction by Mitchell Delmar
“Reduce supply… Attacked demand… Treat addiction better.”
- Finding the “Fourth Option” by Kaihan Krippendorff
“Move early to the next battlefield. Coordinate the uncoordinated. Be good.”
- To Hold On, Let Go by Nadya Zhexembayeva
“People are refusing to let go… Businesses are committing suicide… The average business cycle [has gone from] 75 years [to] 7 years.”
- To be AND not to be: Quantum Intelligence by Chris Welty and Dr. Lora Aroyo
“[Instead of] probability theory for cognitive digital assistants [we should be using] quantum math.”
- The Real Reason Simple is Smart by David B. Srere
“If you took all recorded time [and compared the average life span of 77 years], it would be less than 0.01 seconds—faster than the blink of an eye.”
Also, an honorable mention to the most entertaining talk that also closed the event: The Power of Impatience by Ted Coiné. How fitting that a TED event be ended by a Ted!
The Bad (and by bad, I mean either something was missing or I simply missed it)
Sometimes we can occasionally oversell something in our heads: TEDx events are amazing and that means every talk is amazing, too.
That, of course, is not the case. And here, I won’t say that these were bad, but I found myself struggling to either pay attention, understand the broader message, or figure out the real takeaway:
- Radio For an Empowered Generation by Annika Lorienne & Ravind Kumar
- A New Start for New Jersey by Philip Murphy
Critical statements without explanation are always unfair and I will not do that here.
I found Radio For an Empowered Generation to be rather ‘pitch’-heavy. I recognize that many of the speakers for TEDx events are accomplished entrepreneurs and voices in their areas of expertise and so at the end of more than a few talks we saw specific websites and organizations being highlighted (e.g. Wellville, Bridge of Books, etc.). However, the majority of the those other talks engaged the audience a broader fashion than just the specific company or website. This one did not and it fell, unfortunately, rather flat.
Regarding A New Start for New Jersey – and I acknowledge a particular sensitivity to politics – it felt like being at campaign fundraiser. Again, there were other talks that, of course, crossed into that arena. One that specifically comes to mind was Don Katz’s talk Early-stage Tech and Urban Renaissance which was centered on the work he had done and continues to do in helping ‘accelerate’ Newark. Still, in New Start, there was this edge of insular stridency that thoroughly disengaged me. I can admit to having certain fundamental disagreements on some statements, but that rarely prevents me still being able to enjoy something. I struggled mightily on this one.
Finally, the Ugly
Well, I do not have anything to add to this section. Why not? Because, even if:
- I did not connect to a particular talk
- I did not like the message in a particular talk
- I did not enjoy a particular talk
I find every single speaker, more experienced or completely new to this, brave and admirable. It is hard to get up on a stage in front of filled auditorium with all the lights, cameras, and action. It is hard to be faced with that many eyes looking at you for some sort of knowledge, enlightenment, or even pure entertainment.
Every single speaker, every entertainer, and every host stood up and delivered. It was the exact opposite of Ugly; it was a radiantly wonderful gift and I am happy that I the opportunity to attend.
Do you TED(x)?
If you have the opportunity to attend a TEDx event, do so. Make the time. Sure, you could be giving up an evening or even a weekend. You may have to travel, and lose that extra hour or two of sleep.
But, similar to the reason I did my TED 30×30 challenge this year, there is so much you can get out of attending:
- You can engage with new thoughts and ideas (what in the world is “quantum intelligence” and why should it matter to us?)
- You can link those new thoughts and ideas to your current circumstances (can you simplify your life?)
- It can trigger creativity and energy within you (go home and volunteer in your community to build something new)
It is easy to get lulled into the day-to-day of living. Happens to us all and there is no shame in that.
But wouldn’t it be great to learn something new? Wouldn’t it be great to just take one idea away that could help change your life in some way, big or small, or someone else’s life? Wouldn’t it be great to get TED(x)ed?
Go find a TEDx event in your neighborhood (or find one far away and make a trip out of it). Go.
Go and get TED(x)ed.