TED and “me?”

March 20th, 2009 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been obsessing over TED. If you aren’t sure what TED stands for, it is an abbreviation for (Technology, Entertainment, Design) and TED is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration. It’s in California, of course.

While spending an absolutely delightful weekend a few months ago with several people who were creative, inventive, entrepreneurial, and fun, one of the most highly respected innovators in the world turned to me and said, “You should be on the agenda at TED.” You may wonder what qualifies one to be considered to be one of the most highly respected innovators in the world, but take my word for it, he is. He’s on the faculty of about eight universities, has offices in a couple of dozen countries, and is one of the most sought after creators of innovation anywhere.

Well, little did he know how much that comment meant to me. It shook me up, inspired me, and filled me with excitement. Why? Read that line above again, “an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.” Okay, I’ve been called a futurist, a creative, a right-brained whatever, and several of the things that we’ve done over the years have literally rocked the house (like this blog), but . . . in the world? It always seemed to me that my primary claim to fame was my ability to keep trying when some people not only wanted us to fail, but would probably have like to have seen me personally run over by a cement truck. I was persistent.

I’m not sure where I would fall into that description of the world’s leading anything, but it surely was flattering to have someone of that caliber say that to me. It’s funny, because every time I begin to allow the little ghosts come out of the sewers to pull at my pants cuffs with their negativity, I simply smile and think about our collective accomplishments.

This week alone, our consulting practice has taken me to a publishing company to help their employees begin to create what they would like to have for their future; then to a chain of hotels in New York City where the owner fully comprehends the merits of wellness for his employees; to a biomedical informatics startup company specializing in neuroscience; a nonprofit music group struggling to re-invent itself; and finally to an executive recruitment firm seeking a new business niche.

So, back to TED. If you have ANY interest at all in what goes on there, what gets said there, who speaks there, you probably would be surprised, or not. People like Dr. Dean Ornish, Bono, Bill Gates, Jane Goodal, and former President Bill Clinton have spoken there, but so too has Dr. Alan Russell from the University of Pittsburgh and a hundred other people who have simply made a difference –with extraordinary results. The good news is that, should you have any interest in seeing and hearing any of these speakers, just go to TED Talks on the web, and they’re all there for your inspiration.

For example, in a presentation by Scott McCloud, the cartoonist and comic book artist, we heard: “Learn from everyone. Follow no one. Watch for patterns. And “Work like hell.” Stefen Sagmeister has made his mark by creating public art with sayings displayed in public places like, “Everybody thinks they’re right,” and “Money does not make me happy.” My favorite, however, is “Complaining is silly. Either act or forget it.”

Jill Tarter, astronomer and a world-renowned expert on extraterrestrial life made this comment, “If we are alone, it is an awful waste of space.”

Seriously, take a look at TED and its companion, TEDMED, dedicated exclusively to healthcare innovation. Maybe, in my dreams, I’ll be giving my speech on kindness in the workplace, my 18 minute presentation on life, love, and a kinder more co-operative future.

Hey, we all need a dream. And I, too, have a dream.

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6 comments

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