Following my post yesterday on great quotes from TEDx
, I wanted to share some takeways from the event.
I was fortunate to attend the fourth TEDx Atlanta
last Tuesday. It was the third TEDx Atlanta that I have been lucky enough to both attend and help organize (as well as the second TEDx Atlanta sponsored by Definition 6). As expected from any product or event associated with TED, the speakers were all great and the content was interesting and insightful.
Having had a few days to let the content percolate, a few patterns have emerged:
The first is the importance, not of dropping out of college to change the world (we’ve all heard enough from geniuses who skipped school to accomplish great things), but of looking in perhaps unexpected places and connecting perhaps unlikely dots to do your best work.
Having the ability to see opportunity when others don’t, while obvious in its own right, was pervasive all day long. A few years back, a book called The Medici Effect
showcased how successful people all through history have repeatedly had this skill. Being able to sit in a conference and have what Stanley and Danko
might call “the geniuses next door” demonstrate this aptitude was enlightening.
Ranging from Farmer D
, who one day while stoned and skipping class in college, asked his Turkey sandwich “where did you come from?” to Mills Snowden
, whose thinking about building a more efficient home randomly led him to being a contender for the X Prize
Perhaps Coca-Cola’s VP of Global Design, David Butler, summed it up best when he said: “We can’t think in silos anymore. We have to think horizontally. We have to think hollistically.”
While the only group to take the stage was the band Modern Skirts
, the pattern from the day involves the importance of collaboration and sharing in accomplishing great things.
Presenter Logan Smalley, maker of the award winning movie, “Darius Goes West
” was a prime example of this. He started making the film with a Google search asking how to make a documentary film. By collaborating with people online, he eventually got passed his frustrations of not being able to afford the equipment when somebody told him that it doesn’t matter what he shoots the movie with – if he has a story to tell, people will listen. Had he not pursued collaborating with other film makers as strongly as he did, there’s a good chance the movie would have never happened.
Likewise, by working with a close group of friends (all of which knew nothing about movie making) he was able to build the alliance and gain the support he needed to accomplish his goal of making a movie to raise awareness of the disease that his friend was suffering from all while giving his friend the experience of a lifetime. He additionally said, “The modern approach to movie making is one of mankind’s most incredible and perhaps most underutilized tools for collaborative problem solving.” Today, everything is about collaboration.
This leads to what was probably the most prevailant pattern of the day: As David Butler
coined it: “Learn by doing.” Logan Smalley’s Google search is an example of this, as is Mills Snowden’s work on creating a car that can achieve 100 miles per gallon (like Logan, Mills had zero category experience prior to his effort). On this subject, Mills said, “The most important part of developing your idea is that you have to start.” Farmer D (Daron Joffe) is a self-taught organic farmer. Even the band’s opening set which utilized various furniture to make noise exemplified this notion.
When asked by an audience member how to move beyond the brainstorming stage, a panel of the first five speakers responded:
- You need to enroll people in your idea... You’re very limited if you’re the only one doing it.
- Be sure you’re prepared to know what you’re talking about before you get people involved.
- Use the language of the people you’re talking to... Don’t get lost in your own language.