What it was like going to Ted 2011
Sometimes I go to the pet store and pick a feeder fish out of the tank and bring it home for my small back yard pond. This past week, I was one of those feeder fish, having been plucked from the web and given the opportunity to attend Ted.
In December I spent about a half hour online filling out the Kaufman Foundation Women in Science Business Idea competition while my son ran wild through the house with his friends. I was stunned to later see a “Congratulations you won” email and had to look online to find out the prize --- a trip to Ted 2011.
Later I the login for who would be attending arrived and felt it was clear - Ted is about brilliant people, people with money, and brilliant people with money. I didn’t belong there. Briefly I contemplated selling my ticket and using the money to help fund my startup. Then I decided to not subvert the plans of my benefactors (Kaufman Foundation and Astia) and just go.
My original plan was study the attendees list (so that I wouldn’t walk up to a famous VC and ask them where the restroom was). I never had time to study the list. That was mistake #1. Mistake #2 was packing innocent clothes. At Ted – almost everyone wears very dark blue jeans and I just brought one pair. Mistake #3 was asking for a regular cup of coffee in the hopes I’d get a cup sooner. To get a cup of coffee at Ted you have to first listen to the beans life story (the full life story if you ask for a regular cup of coffee). Mistake #4 was not meeting nearly enough of the people there. Actually, I made many mistakes at Ted as evidenced in my ability to wander around billions of dollars for five days and managed to go home without seed funding. So I missed the money….big deal. I didn’t miss the brilliance.
Being at Ted was like sitting on the edge of the coast and out of nowhere – a whale jumps out of the water right in front of you. The encounter takes your breath away. Everything about that animal is magnificent. And then two minutes later a hawk flies close enough that you hear it wings flap and then a pack of pelicans and life just keeps happening - one breathtaking sight, sound, movement and essence after another.
Ted will upload the talks soon http://www.ted.com – but be sure to look for a fireman, electrical play dough, t-rex chicken, sexy apes, virtual choirs, silk, search becoming narrow, Johnny Cash, Khan education, wearable electronics, art from nets, paper and a person(s) who ate squirrel brains, organs to order, great standup comedy from a columnist and more.
The encounters at Ted were like seeing human beings at their most beautiful and free. I’m not a jaded person. The experience of being there went in deep. Their eye contact, thoughts and presence forced growth in me and like much growth – it was painful.
My heart, my lungs, my eyes, my ears and even the inside of my head felt swollen and tender. At the end of five days I was demolished. I also realized there are lots of brilliant people everywhere.