Tag Archives: TED

Bill Ford: A future beyond traffic gridlock

Bill Ford is a car guy — his great-grandfather was Henry Ford, and he grew up inside the massive Ford Motor Co. So when he worries about cars’ impact on the environment, and about our growing global gridlock problem, it’s worth a listen. His vision for the future of mobility includes "smart roads," even smarter public transport and going green like never before.

Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness — from the inside

"Is it okay if I totally trash your office?" It’s a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke. A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

Geoffrey West: The surprising math of cities and corporations

Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city’s population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.

Natalie Warne – Anonymous Extraordinaries

Amazing video from TEDxYouth about the potential of young activists to change the world.

Born in an underserved part of downtown Chicago, Natalie and her five siblings had to survive on her mother’s humble teacher salary, moving from city to city to find work. No stranger to adversity, Natalie was determined to make something great out of her life.

At 17, Natalie saw the documentary Invisible Children: The Rough Cut, a film exposing Africa’s longest running war. Compelled by this story, she applied to be a volunteer or "roadie" for Invisible Children, using her voice to help end this war.

She quickly stood out among the other interns, and was quickly given responsibility to help lead Invisible Children’s largest project to date; an event in 100 cities worldwide called "The Rescue." Through her determination, tens of thousands of people came out to the event, sleeping in the streets for up to six days in order to raise the profile of this war.

Her efforts paid off when Oprah Winfrey invited Invisible Children, and Natalie, onto her show to add her voice to the numbers. The event was then highlighted on Larry King Live, CNN, and countless other news outlets. Natalie has natural charisma, astounding leadership qualities, and is now working in Los Angeles as a film editor, to continue to share stories of injustices.

When the church runs out of ideas.

Aha! We are fresh out of ideas

How many times have we seen this format in the last couple of months.  TED, Christianity 21, the Nines, a couple other copycat conferences that have numbers in them, now this.  A copycat conference with the same speakers, peddling their wares in a fixed format.  Tell me again where the fresh idea is?  C’mon.  There are better options out there than following the latest trend.  It gets embarrassing again.  Especially when it comes from an organization called “Leadership Network”.

I am waiting for a conference on helping evangelical clergy deal with their addiction to conferences.  That is one I would go to.


Last week Nathan Coloquhoun wrote this on conferences.

I’m tired of big monster churches, leaders and organizations not caring about the small and insignificant.

It’s everywhere. This conference has been going on in the States for the last few years. It’s called Q. It’s a play off the TED conferences, and generally I think it’s a good idea (we may or may not have something up our sleeve that is in similar taste). Except, I’m annoyed because it is invite only. I’m annoyed because from what I can tell it costs $625 to attend (Last year was $825 after early bird deadline). I’m annoyed because only the “remarkable leaders” will be there. There is so many things that annoy me about this type of idea that I want to get out of conference organizing all together.

I was going to reply but I didn’t have the time yet.  I was on FriendFeed today and I saw this post by Fred Wilson and he did a really good job of articulating what I was thinking.

I don’t go to TED and never have and don’t think I ever will. I don’t go to Demo or Techcrunch 50 or any of those kinds of events either.

I spent the weekend in Vegas with a bunch of people who go to the Lobby conference every year, including its organizer David Hornik. David was trying to convince me to come this year, but I told him the idea of a ten hour flight to Hawaii was not attractive to me. I suggested to David if he did it in a place where us east coasters could get to a bit easier, I might consider it.

Travel is a hassle. Its time consuming and gets in the way of doing other more productive things. I’ll gladly travel to the west coast or europe to visit our portfolio companies and meet with new investment opportunities.

But the idea of travel to get together with the same old group, the tech biz insider club, doesn’t appeal to me at all.

I do like attending events that happen in NYC, like I am doing tomorrow morning. I am speaking at Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit. I’ll spend the morning there, get some networking in, and be back in my office for our monday meeting in the afternoon. That’s how I like to do conferences, short, sweet, and easy. I think our industry places too much emphasis on conferences in an era where there are amazing tools to congregate online and find like minded people. I am not suggesting that face to face meetings aren’t important, they are critical. But schmoozefests at fancy resorts aren’t the kinds of face to face meetings I want to do.

And ‘by invitation only’ or high priced events are particularly bad in my mind. The most interesting people you can meet are the outsiders, the up and comers, and the hackers who can’t afford to lay out $4000 to attend an event and are never going to get an invite to an event where you have to know somebody or "be somebody" to get in. So I avoid those most of all.

Back in the 90s, I was unknown to the powers that be and could not get into TED. I don’t forget that and that’s why I’ll never go to it. I don’t want to play that game. If I ever got an invite to Davos or Sun Valley, I’d have a really hard time saying yes. These power parties are not for me.

Update: Bill Kinnon ripped into Q back in 2007

My thoughts are similar to Fred Wilson’s.  I am not a big fan of most conferences.  The travel is a pain when you live in Saskatoon (Saskatoon –> Winnipeg –> Toronto or even worse Saskatoon –> Calgary –> Winnipeg –> Toronto) and want to head east.  It can be a pain in the butt and is a big chunk away from family that isn’t always necessary.  Wendy gave me tickets to Jared Diamond last year in Saskatoon.  It was a fun evening but all he did was talk about Collapse which I guarantee you about 90% of the 1500 people in attendance had already read.  While it was a fun escape and evening, I wouldn’t have driven to hear that talk but in the past that is what I have gotten.  20 minute commercials for a recent book.   I don’t see Q as that much different and on top of that, whoever is behind it should be ashamed of ripping off TED that blatantly. 

If you want me to come to your conference: give me speakers who aren’t out to sell something, give me an affordable venue, make sure some friends are going to be there, and don’t price it as a for profit event.  If you have to pay people $20,000 to speak, I don’t want to hear them.  Give me Soularize, give me Cultivate Gathering, give me Evolving Church.  Don’t give me Q.  I’ve already read the book and downloaded the videos off of the TED website.