Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TED FAQ II: What was the best part of TED??

The Fellows pose together on the last day of TED (this was after a few people had cried). (photo credit: Tin Ho Chow)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "When ideas fail, words come in very handy." This is not the case at TED. There are so many ideas being passed around, that words fail! Probably hence the 18 minute limit for speakers...

Probably one of the most popular questions I've gotten is:

Q. What was the best part of TED??

There are just too many things that were sooo good that I can't name them all. As I said, in the coming week, I will list some of my favorite moments and why they were so important to me.

Still, I've thought about this one a lot and here's my best answer:

The best part for me was two-fold:

a. the Fellows: Going to TED was awesome. But being there as a Fellow was ten-times better. Why?? Because everything is more fun if you have someone fun to share it with. And the Fellows were a LOT of fun. They are all such smart, young, enthusiastic, accomplished, idealistic visionaries and yet amazingly down-to-earth, lovely human beings. I'll admit that I was very trepidatious about meeting the Fellows. As I said before, everyone was better than me at everything. Yet meeting them quickly assuaged my fears. None of them knew how cool they were and that made everything ok. All of us were equally scared and intimidated and wondering how the heck we had ended up there. That's fodder for instant bonding, if I saw any!

By Day 2 (because of our pre-conference activities, our TED was two days longer than what the others had), we were all a tight bunch. By Day 6, we were crying when we left each other (yes, grown men cried as well!).

Honestly, we livened up TED a lot...atleast I think so. We ran circles around a lot of the attendees until they were dizzy, accosted everyone possible, hugged them, asked dumb questions, danced a conga line at every single party and dragged every innocent bystander in with us, started a lot of after-parties, enjoyed the food better than any other attendees (ever seen poor people around a table with unlimited free food and drink??), and cheered louder and harder than anyone else...

That's youth, enthusiasm, and poverty for you. I can't think of a better group of people to have gone to TED with.

b. Validation: Ever heard the phrase, "tell me your company and I'll tell you who you are??" Well, there's some truth to it. Surround yourself with brilliant people and magic happens. Its a strange feeling when the producer of your favorite Frontline episode, or a genius professor like Hans Rosling, or Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos and his entire family are interested in hearing what you have to say. Its VERY strange in the beginning. But after two days of this, you begin to take yourself seriously. You begin to think you matter, that your ideas matter, and that you aren't that crazy (and the TED people weren't crazy to take you in as a Fellow) anymore. People you respect actually seek you out to talk to you. At the end of four days, you feel validated. You matter. Suddenly ANYTHING is possible. This is why we are all SO energized, and actually believing that we can affect change!

(this is why you should apply to the TED Fellows program!)


zigzackly said...

Dropped by to say thank you for your polite, reasoned comment on my TEDIndia rant. Couldn't find an email address on your profile, so pardon an off-topic comment, please. Yes, I'll check out the link. Thanks. And my email address is this username at gmail.

zigzackly said...

p.s. Your link returned a 404. is the one on the TED site's nav bar.