On February 4th, 2010, I had the opportunity to attend the TEDxBigApple event in Manhattan. As expected, the all day event was truly inspirational and seemed to have an energy about it. In order to attend, each person was required to submit an application and I was lucky enough to be invited to attend. A major result of this process was that it wasn’t just the speakers who were extremely interesting to hear, but the finely curated audience also brought their own stories and life experiences to learn from.
I got a chance to meet a father and son – the latter of which had just gained acceptance to Columbia University – combo, a news junkie that was probably the most well informed person I had ever met (and was proud to show it off by brandishing her iPhone at the mere thought of an anecdotal story), artists, designers, financiers, and entrepreneurs, all over the course of a single day’s events. The dialogue was open and free-flowing, everyone willing to share their experiences and looking to learn from others. To some it may have seemed like a self-serving networking orgy, but to me it was just a really great way to meet some new faces.
The talks themselves were fascinating as well. After all… it was the main event! Rather than taking notes on every word that came out of every speaker’s mouth – I am admittedly an awful note taker – I decided to judge each speaker on a scale from 1 to 10 on two categories: presentation skills and content. Based on my scale the most interesting ones were (in order of presentation):
Vijay Govindarajan: Reverse Innovation – How creating technology for the worlds poorest nations can be the catalyst for disruptive innovation in the developed world
Kavita Parmar: Turning Supply Chains Into Prosperity Chains – How to turn the concept of the modern day supply chain on its head and connect the artisan with the consumer (I loved her visualization)
Joanna Aizenberg: Extreme Biomimetics – Using bio-mimicry to improve existing technologies
Chris Downey: New Vision In Architecture – An amazing look in to how a newly-blind architect views the world and “sees” the world
Mark Stewart: A Private Duet, 350 Strong – This was one of my favorite presentations of the day. His passion for making sound is astonishing and the experience of seeing him live truly does not transfer well over to web video, but I’ve included his video anyway.
Bryan Roberts: Innovation Revolutionizing Healthcare – This presentation was like reading Freakonomics, but talking about Healthcare. Really fascinating, really informative, and really entertaining!
Robert Langer: Biomaterials for the 21st Century – This man is a genius and an amazing, amazing speaker. As an engineer, this is the kind of work that I would have loved to be doing straight out of college, but these opportunities are very rare. Robert Langer has the capability, the knowledge and took advantage of the opportunities presented to him.