This is my TED2009 story [TED = technology, entertainment and design]. It aims to give you a sense of what it feels like to be there. Some of this may seem like an insider’s story and I apologise for that.
For 3.5 days we watched, heard, tasted [those who got the bread in Long Beach and all of us with the Vosges chocolates] as well as felt many wonderful performances. That chocolate with beer was such a novel taste!
As is now becoming a tradition @TED satellite event we started, carried on and finished on a funny note – thanks to Rives and Kelly and a team of comedians. TEDsters – us community members in attendance – were invited in the beginning to get on stage to get the interactive thing happening. The deal was that we had 30 seconds to tell the audience a story around “Once I got caught….”. (more…)
CONSULT UNUSUAL SOURCES, PEOPLE, AND PLACES–INCLUDING OUTLIERS, COMPLAINERS, AND TROUBLEMAKERS
One important function of strategic foresight is the opening of the future. The inclusion of different perspectives is one way to assure this opening. Analysts should look for competent people inside and outside who bring a different way of thinking to the table.
The selection of these participants should be done with care. Not every unusual or non-obvious individual qualifies. In the first place, they should be selected based on their authority in a particular domain. They should not bring “just another perspective,” but a well-studied and well-articulated different view. The other participants should feel challenged by the ideas they bring in. This sense of challenge can result either from a deeper view of closely related subjects or from a subject that functions by analogy.
The world of business and decision-making favors the rational and bottom-line approach to gathering information. Prusak ( 1998 ) suggests that the higher up in the organization a presentation goes, the blander it becomes. Consulting unusual sources is a way to refresh the information flow by tapping into edgy or offbeat sources that challenge prevailing norms. In fact, many of today’s norms were yesterday’s novel and unusual ideas. The kinds of sources and approaches to look for and identify include:
• Sources at the edge of the organization–Find those in the organization who may be cynical or complaining, but have tried something different, and talk to them to see what they are thinking, reading, and doing.
• Sources outside the organization–Interview young people. Meet with teachers, designers, artists, economists, movers and shakers of the broader society. For example, observing and interviewing tribal elders has been used as a means of raising public interest in traditional storytelling.
• Sources inside and outside the industry–Interview leaders, regulators, politicians, activists, etc., and understand their motivations. Ask them who is doing the thinking at the leading edge.
What is it when your mind is whirling with ideas from many gorgeous passionate performances on stage, you meet wonderful people at every turn, you are in a beautiful location, the sun is shining and your heart says thank you – It’s TED in Aspen Colorado, end of February early March 2008.
As you see it has taken me a while to write about my experience and my take aways. There are many reasons for that, some rather mundane and others emotional and then just that nagging feeling that I would not do it justice unless I processed it a bit. I am not sure I can anyway cause hey these are just flat language signs and what we experienced was a multi-sensory fiesta. This is an account of how I felt, things I knew would fit in my world mental models and conceptual mapping of what goes on, hence enabling me to add my extensions and experiences from other areas of my life. The piece is long!
First I’d like to say thank you Chris [ Anderson , curator of TED]. I found your approach on stage a key to the tone of the conference. Everything came across as a ‘as I feel right now’ and ‘if I can find the right words great’, heartfelt and honest, and yet clearly deeply woven into the lives and pursuits of those on the stage.
You told us that the gang over in Aspen was strangely good looking. We thank you for that too, we think . For those who weren’t there. There were 300 people in Aspen sharing the Monterey conference as it was happening. We got to sleep a bit longer, thank goodness. It was rather amusing as we clapped, cheered, gave standing ovations, sang ‘Ode to Joy’ from the top of our lungs all that to the large number of screens surrounding us at the home of the Aspen Institute, the Doerr-Hosier Center. Of course we were getting each other into a mood of sharing our views by doing that. Imagine 300 people not reacting in any way for 3.5 days. That would have been really strange. We did have the pleasure of having our ‘host’ Walter Isaacson and some of the key artists, sharing their views on the trials and tribulations of humanity on stage in Aspen, like for example the Raspyni brothers, one of whom was not shy with language and the other was not shy about the bare human, thanks guys I finally know what it was….
The stage darkened….a severe man appeared….and gently reminded us of the mortal coil.
….and we were rolling. Not down the inviting powdery hills of Aspen but up and down our own emotions. Awe, fear, disgust, horror, love, romance, passion, joy, sadness, compassion, care, delight, wonder…… (more…)
The joy of being able to point to, easily, one’s life work
There was no hesitation at the Sydney Concert Hall to give Burt Bacharach a standing ovation at the end of the concert on Friday. Thank you Burt for letting us sing along too. That was the hardest thing, staying mum when one knew the songs so well.
Burt’s music has been with me since I was a kid. There was no other way but to listen to it, and get very familiar with it, on our long drives to Lapland to go skiing. Burt and Santana remain in my memory. Oh yes and my father liked Abba too, they’re not so bad either. Many Australians seem to think so. Thankfully as my mum sang professionally her taste and understanding of music was good so we did not have to listen to Finnish ‘humppa’ and other ‘delightful’ outputs of the Finnish music scene at the time.
This concert and the Edith Piaf movie [La Vie en Rose] generated conversations among friends and family about the meaning of life. When one has a passion and it creates a clear and public output it must be wonderful to know that there it is; clear, simple, appreciated.
What is it that we’re really here for? What am I going to leave behind? What is it that someone, anyone , might remember me for? My salmon pasta? My co-authored books? My consumer foresight at Nokia? My overall contribution to the mobile markets? My role as a mother? My role as a daughter? Hmm not sure.
I’ve been questioning the degree of passion expressed in my life at the moment, leading a life of passion, being in the flow – I’ve been there and it feels great but it is also slightly scary. A person who is passionate about one thing, is good at it [since birth or through hard work], and the output is his own, often a creative output, has many advantages. One is that he/she does not do things because he/she has to for livelihood [although it often results in a livelihood too] but because he is pulled or driven to do it and loves doing it.
I had a chat about this with a friend who has done a number of things [world class in tennis, IT security] but one creative outlet has been his forte for a long time. Since a few years ago he took the plunge and makes a living out of his creative passion. He believes that often what holds us back is fear. We get scared of our potential output, partly maybe as the creative outputs reveal so much of our own soul. During a chat with my good friend we also identified some other reasons like being afraid of how it will consume, take us into a world from which it is hard to come out to breathe.
There are so many stories of people shifting gears later in life to do something they really did not even know they were so good at but for years said they’d love to try.
Would we all be much happier people if we were encouraged to have at least one creative activity going at any point in time? Something to be passionate about. I think so.
Fascinated by paradoxes
Of late I have read a few books touching on creativity and on spirituality. The latest two are by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Creativity” and Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”.
The former talks about creativity as something that emerges when critical conditions have been met. The three key ones are a/ knowledge of a domain or a narrower field b/ the system or network of the ‘decision’ makers within that domain and c/ the person pursuing something within the field in a focused manner.
The latter speaks about the means we all have in our hands to fulfil our life’s purpose by three critical ways to deal with what comes our way a/ acceptance, if you cannot do anything about it why run the incessant mind/thought tapes about it and cause oneself grief b/ enjoy what you do and hence bring value to those around that endeavor c/ enthusiasm for something that you enjoy and where you also have a longer term purpose, a vision of what you try to do.
Interestingly the latter is a broader means for everyone to feel like that we can be creative for own good. And this to me seems to be the message in the interviews in the creativity book too. However the author has in my opinion translated the output towards a stricter procedural view than need be on how possible creative outputs come about…. But if we all could be creative in our own way, would we all be happier people?
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