Breaking away from TED

I still have a lot of session summaries to write up (or perhaps I won’t as it’s pretty easy to find great alternatives to me, such as my new friend, Chel O’Reilly).

But what I will do is try to summarize what this ride has been like.

I first became aware of TED around 5 years ago, a little before they began publishing the TED Talks videos. I’m a big believer in the power of big thinking – whether it’s a desire to change the world, or advance medicine, or solve issues of urban renewal, or rebuild natural environments, or to give great art a place outside the established museums and galleries and concert halls.

Indeed, seeking a place where big, brave thinking – a place of possibility, a place where “no” isn’t an option – has been a significant part of what took me to start acidlabs two years ago this month. For too long I worked at places bound in bureaucracy, in “dumbplexity”, in a mindset where policy and procedure are the only possibility.

I’m just not wired like that. And so it seems, this new family of mine, the TEDsters (or, as was proposed this week, TEDizens) aren’t wired that way either.

This week has been a wild ride. From the lowest lows of the horrors of the war in Afghanistan, the disaster that is the global economy (obviously they didn’t listen to Nassim Nicholas Taleb last year) to the highest, ecstatic heights of hearing Jose Antonio Abreu‘s amazing orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and singing along to Jamie Cullum playing John Lennon’s Imagine with 1900 others as TED closed.

Back in March, my friend, Stephen Dann wrote of attending his first BarCamp that it was:

“…like coming home to old friends I’ve never met.”

And thus was TED for me.

Matthias, Morgan, Me and Jose
Image by trib via Flickr

I met doctors, lawyers, philanthropists, marketers, designers, musicians, artists, baristas (I taught them to make a decent long black), serious hacker geeks (hey, Chris!) and more, all with a common purpose. To think beyond the now, to dream of possibility and reject anger and resignation and to act as individuals and communities in order to make a better world.

There’s a point at the end of TED, where everyone knows it’s over but nobody wants to leave. Many of us simply hung around in the hotel gardens yesterday, continuing our discussions, affirming each others plans and ideas, and sometimes sharing astoundingly intimate details of our personal lives and the things that brought us to TED. Around us, the hotel staff continued to pack down the convention center. You reach a point where you know you have to go back and just breathe out as you enter your room, as we all did (and then we cheated and had dinner together to reignite the buzz).

The infamous post-TED slump is something I will strive to avoid. I will be very deliberate in maintaining contact with some of the new friends I’ve made. I have a swirling mix of vague and crystal clear thoughts about what I need to do when I return home – both in terms of acidlabs and in my life (and there will be changes in both).

I want so much to share this experience with my friends back home, and so I will – over coffee, or dinner or a call. And just maybe, we can have more than 15 Aussies at TED Palm Springs next time.

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4 Replies to “Breaking away from TED”

  1. I concur with your assessment of the post-TED mood—one of the hardest places I have ever tried to leave… in a good way.

    I’d be very interested in hearing what some of those concrete ideas are for your business and everyday life.

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