I wanted to attend a TED event ever since I stumbled across their YouTube channel years ago, so when I happened to see an ad for TEDxToronto, I knew I had to apply for tickets.
I also realised I need to re-evaluate my stance that advertising is dead. But that’s another blog post.
After my application had been submitted and I’d been offered the chance to buy tickets, I realised I didn’t even know who was speaking, such was my crazed and desperate need to attend.
Turns out not knowing who’s speaking is no impediment to having an incredible TEDx experience. I arrived at the Royal Conservatory of Music in my Stella McCartney boots (surely TED talk of any fashion-conscious girl, no?) and ready to drink the Kool-Aid.
TEDxToronto has grown from 100 participants to over 1,500 and has become one of the biggest independent TED conferences in the world. But, you’d expect nothing less from The Six.
Here are our top 5 take aways:
- It was like having pop rocks poured on your brain Remember that popping candy that you’d pour on your tongue and it would explode in your mouth? TEDx is that for your brain. The venue is incredible, the speakers are amazing, the arts performances are staggering, the people you meet are fascinating…
- It’s a masterclass in presenting Stand. Be fully present. Know your content. Make it memorable. Craft a narrative and ditch anything that doesn’t fit.
- It’s an invitation to kill your darlings It wouldn’t be TED-ish if it didn’t but that doesn’t matter. Right from the introduction from our host, Drew Dudley, beseeched us to ‘fess about where in our lives we were settling. Andrew Peek’s war cry demanded that we refuse to marry our own mythology (that’s a tweetable right there). Finally, Jordan Axani, a former ClutchPR client and all round great human, re-positioned “finding your purpose” as a modern day crisis instead of the must-do, tick-box exercise it has become. He asked all of us to consider that maybe our purpose is not to have one.
- It gets you thinking about stuff you’d never normally be interested in I didn’t know what a “city builder” really was and now I want to be one. Did you know there’s a Toronto-based hardware company that’s reshaping the urban commute, and they’re doing it using bikes? Personal flight could be a thing, soon. There’s a bad ass engineer at U of T and she’s changing the face of personalised and regenerative medicine. I didn’t know about any of these things while I was getting coffee at Balzacs.
- The attendees you meet are as fascinating as the speakers I met a gentleman who emigrated from Ukraine with his wife and children speaking no English. I asked him about it, thinking how hard that must have been to move somewhere where you can’t communicate. He told me that after his wife and daughter were kidnapped and held at gunpoint for 20 hours, moving countries and learning a new language seemed like the easier option. I met a woman who used to escort extradited prisoners back to their home countries to stand trial. Not surprisingly, doing that kind of work gave rise to PTSD and she quit. She’s sold the book and TV rights to her story and is now an artist. Mind = blown
Finally, a word of warning – you will meet people who are doing inspiring, world-changing things and you will leave asking yourself what the hell you’re doing with your life.
And that is a great question, what are you doing with your life?