October 2, 2010


TEDx started in Toronto last year. Only 100 could attend and my application got rejected. I left work early and watched some of the live streaming. The speakers were thought-provoking and diverse.

This year, I applied again and got accepted! On September 30, TEDxToronto took place at the intimate Glenn Gould Studio, which seats 341.

Here's the video that started the day.
Thanks to generous sponsors (called "partners"), the entire event was free, including refreshments and lunch. This is a wonderful way for a brand to show it cares. Many sponsors were local, which was fitting.


So much happened during the day. Here's are snippets to give you a taste.

Poet Boonaa Mohammed kick-started the day with meaning, emotion and humour. 

Bruce Boon Tip said that in 2009, there were 0.9 billion tourists with 1.6 billion expected in 2020. What will happen to the environment? Developing countries receive about 5% of the money spent. How can they benefit more? When you're on vacation, you want to have a good time without thinking about the environment and local residents. Yet there are externalities, as there were from this year's Canadian Open at St. George's Golf Club.

Graham Hill made a compelling argument for a contentious position in four minutes. Regardless of your view, watch this video to see how he makes his points. You may spot ways to make your own arguments more convincing (regardless of topic)

Drew Dudley, my favourite presenter, told how his gift of a free lollipop changed two lives forever. He didn't know this until four years later. The message? Thank people who made a difference in your life. They rarely know. If you don't already do this, please start. I did years ago. Maybe you were helped by people you’ve never met. Why not tell them too? You can reach almost anyone these days. For example, Seth Godin's writing helped refocus my life but how would he know? So I wrote a blog post and he commented. Now we're even!

Broadway Sleep performed four songs. They also uttered the "how's everyone doing?" cliché but they're forgiven. They gave us a copy of their CD.

Dr. Catherine Zahn shared a lesson she learned in childhood. Some people reap a sad harvest. We who are more fortunate owe them and must pay them back. There's such little difference between us and them. It's easy to turn away but that doesn't help the afflicted.

Neil Hetherington advised us to support existing nonprofits rather than creating our own. In my own "angry young man" phase, I wanted to tear things down and rebuild them. That's the easy answer. Working within existing structures is tougher but leads to better, faster results. You acquire valuable skills. Children and pets teach us this too.
I think I can. I think I can.
— The Little Engine That Could
Kiran Bir Sethi explained how the "I can" bug became contagious in her school and spread beyond. Oh the magic when a child (or an adult) switches from asking "can I?" to saying "I CAN". The tale feels like Slumdog Millionaire but is real. 
Jennifer Luis informed us of a worldwide Design For Change contest in which a child picks one idea and has one week to change lives. There are 50,000 schools participating in 24 countries in 14 languages (including Braille). There's even a theme song by Raffi (listen or read the lyrics).

Sol Guy said that being apathetic is pathetic. These days abundance comes from giving, not gathering. Corporations can use their global reach to help. Imagine if Coca Cola used their logistics and infrastructure to deliver medicine along with their beverages.

Amanda Sussman explained the importance of understanding how the political system works and making change from within. The radicals outnumber the reformers. She pointed out that new doesn't mean better and the process is slow at getting results.

Tonya Surman ditched her prepared presentation two weeks ago to talk instead about a passion that enrages her: the lack of collaboration. That's the DNA of innovation but self-interest intrudes. Ideas also need capital, which can be raised locally through Community Bonds. This innovative approach gives investors social returns in addition to financial returns. Other nonprofits may want to create their own. Her presentation is now on her blog.

Emmanuel Jal was a war child without a future until he got rescued. He now tells his story with words and music.

trey anthony encouraged us to answer our personal calls to action. We each get a call but do we answer? Do we make the world better than we found it?

Dave Meslin explained how the world discourages our involvement through intentional exclusion. Reviews of movies and restaurants give addresses, prices, hours, phone numbers and websites. In contrast, political issues have much more impact over our lives but articles lack contact details. We're treated as spectators but can participate if we choose. 

Robert Bolton, Eric Chan and Andrew Zealley melded words, music and visuals to perform an updated version of Orpheus, covering the years 1986-2019. Experience can't be downloaded and the effect can't be easily described.

George Kourounis explores the extremes of nature. He seeks what others flee. We've only explored 3% of the oceans' depths, which means we know more about the moon. We don't know much about caves either. George said that if he's alive, that's a good day. Don't you feel the same?

Neil Pasricha explained the inspiration behind the 1000 Awesome Things blog and the pleasant consequences. We have so little time to enjoy the special moments. Why not start now?

So ended the talks. What do you think? If you're intrigued, you'll probably find a TEDx event near you or you can launch your own.

Call To Action

Ideas change us but ideas are wasted unless we act on them or share them. Discussions help and we had plenty of time for them at TEDxToronto. Our day started at 9 AM and ran until 4:30 PM. That's 7.5 hours but we got 3 hours of breaks: 45 minutes in the morning, 90 minutes for lunch and 45 minutes in the afternoon.

If you're there, you've got the opportunity to talk to fellow TEDsters. They're open-minded. They have their own perspectives. They're articulate. They're willing to share. And if they're not, just talk to someone else. I only excused myself twice: one person was self-absorbed and the other looked down on those without university degrees.

If you can't attend the live event, the second best choice is a satellite location because you'll be able to talk to other attendees. The last choice is watch from your own computer.

Video for 2010 will be posted on TEDxToronto.com and the TEDxTO channel on YouTube.

I'm looking forward to 2011 and hope I'll get accepted.


Podcast Episode 86 (9:09)

direct download | Internet Archive page


@AndrewFStewart said...

Thanks for the link friend. Such a great day! I can't wait for next years.

Andrew F Stewart

Promod said...

My pleasure, Andrew. Hope to see you next year!