I met TED in 2009.
It was a particularly vulnerable time in my life. I was in the throes of a job search – something that would result in a career change after nearly two decades – and I was scared of all the unknowns associated with it.
I inadvertently discovered TED while I was learning about this newfangled Twitter thing in an effort to network with PR and communication pros in Lansing.
In the summer of 2009, several people I’d identified as forward-thinking, driven and smart were lighting up about something called TEDxDetroit. Not knowing what it was, I registered for it, took the day off work and headed to Lawrence Tech for a day of speakers and performers sharing their big ideas and creativity.
I was hooked.
TED – which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design – is a conference that originated in California in 1984, shining a spotlight on ideas worth spreading. It’s grown into a global movement, with big-ticket conferences around the world and smaller, more regionally focused “franchises” at the community level, called TEDx events.
Following that 2009 TEDxDetroit, many of us who attended got together and said, “Why not Lansing?”
TEDxLansing was born.
Since our first event in 2010, hundreds of people have attended TEDxLansing’s live events; thousands have viewed the live stream and tens of thousands more have watched the archived videos on YouTube.
It’s been a great way to connect with the TED concept on a grassroots, community level. If you’ve never watched a TED talk, head over to the website and pick one. It’s easy to get hooked, and you’ll likely become fascinated by a topic you never imagined you’d find interesting. With most talks clocking in between five and 18 minutes, it’s a quick way to give your brain a workout. TED talks are insightful, persuasive, fascinating, inspiring, funny – sometimes all at the same time.
Attending a TEDx event in person, though, is a wholly different experience. And not nearly as awkward as that time in college when your BBS chat group thought it would be a good idea to meet in real life for some pizza. No, this is much better. This is a room full of people who are excited about growth and development and what’s new and what’s next. They’re people who want to help move their community forward.
Never been to a TEDx conference? You’re in luck: TEDxLansing is returning on Feb. 28. Come listen to a great bunch of people talk about their big ideas for our region and our state. Meet people who are interested in moving Michigan forward. And, if you’re so inclined, start thinking about your big idea.
While the talks are central to the TED and TEDx experience, it’s often the performances that linger the longest. Let me leave you with two performances that have uplifted and inspired me at Michigan TEDx events over the years.
The first is by D Blair, a poet who left us too soon. There are several versions of his “Detroit (While I Was Away)” floating around online, but this raw, early version I saw at TEDxDetroit in 2009 left me teary and in awe.
The second is by Kinetic Affect, whose “Michigan Poem” has graced a few TEDx stages across the state, including TEDxLansing in 2012.
It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Hope to see you there.