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My First TED

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Whenever a new TED video comes out I always get energized by the brilliance of the ideas and the passion of the speakers. So when TEDx Baltimore went live on Jan 31 I thought it would be a great way to rub shoulders with the people that are changing the world. I wasn’t disappointed, and I learned some valuable lessons about the world-changing business.

First off, kudos and thanks to Sarge Salman, Curator. The venue, speakers, and infrastructure were first rate, and the whole set-up promoted maximum interaction between speakers and attendees. Wow!

Here’s some memorable take-aways from my first TED.

  • Chess Champ Jennifer Shahade told us the decision trees for chess get so complicated so fast that the real cognitive discipline is recognizing when to analyze and when to work from experience and intuition. This has big implications for anybody whose job description includes decision making.
  • Civil rights advocate Haben Girma explained how persons that have lived with challenges are uniquely qualified to advocate. Without a shred of self-pity Haben explained that because she could neither see nor hear, until she was able to advocate for herself she was excluded from being able to choose. “Think of all the chocolate cake I missed”.
  • Social services iconoclast Molly McGrath Tierney  challenged her own industry by explaining that all well run industries are self-protecting machines, and true innovation and progress sometimes requires a complete dismantling of the old system.
  • Nick Cienski shared his call to raise awareness and fight human trafficking armed only with mountaineering skills. His message: use the tools you’ve been given, and figure it out.
  • “American Made” manufacturing guru Jennifer Guarino crushed five bad assumptions about manufacturing. This talk covered so much important ground so quickly it really deserves a whole separate post. Trust me; there is a nascent renaissance in American Manufacturing.

Nineteen speakers covering a huge range of topics, and yet six common themes emerged:

  1. It’s not about you. It’s about the idea, what the idea did to you, and what you’re doing with the idea.
  2. Anyone can change the world, but nobody starts from that point. Everyone starts alone and from zero.
  3. Changing the world always starts with changing yourself.
  4. Nobody thinks they have the tools, but they eventually realize that they actually do.
  5. Everyone feels a call to action.
  6. Once you act on that call; once you take action, providence provides.

So if TED is all about “Ideas worth sharing”, this is my TED to you. Do it.

  1. February 19, 2014 at 8:44 am

    The best part, I think, is that one will experience people from different walks of life sharing their astonishing thoughts under one roof. Wow!

    Technology, Entertainment, Design a.k.a. TED, the conference with slogan.’Ideas worth spreading’.


    • Alex McClung
      February 20, 2014 at 5:25 pm


      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment. What’s really neat is that the participants (700+) are as interesting as the speakers. Too bad there isn’t enough time to engage with everyone.

  1. March 18, 2014 at 10:23 am

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