Inspired by… TedXManitoba

By February 12, 2012Blog, Inspired By

This past Thursday, I was one of the lucky audience members chosen to attend the second TedXManitoba event held at MTC Warehouse. It was a day full of learning and inspiration, jam-packed with 15 speakers and an additional six TED Talk videos. After the day came to a close, I realized how hard it was to summarize the experience (there was just so MUCH), but I’m going to do my best here. Warning: this post is a long one.

Before I get into the speakers, I’ll just indulge myself and get my designer note out of the way. From the first, I loved the TedX Manitoba materials. The overall aesthetic made up of the diagram sketch of the lightbulb layered over grid paper carried itself well from piece to piece and the wooden name tags made by AssentWorks quite simply rocked. It seems a shame to use them for only one day so if you see me wearing my name tag out and about, just go with it ok?

The day started off with some peppy music by Jeremy Rusu on guitar and accordian and Patti Lamoureux on violin. I always get kind of happy when I hear fiddle music (brings back memories of playing fiddle contests as a kid), so I was tapping my feet and smiling. If I had one suggestion for the organizing committee, it would have been to keep the music going in between speakers… the emcee’s did their best but if time has to be filled, from my perspective, it would be much better filled by some musical ambiance.

As I mentioned above, there were a lot of speakers. So I’m not going to get into who they are, or even what their talk was about (I’ve included links to their write-ups on the TedX Manitoba site for that kind of info). Mainly I want to share my impressions, what they said that inspired me, that kind of thing.

Speaker 1: Grant Barkman

“Images transcend time and language”.

I’m lucky in that I’ve always been exposed to people who communicate visually. Whether it was my Dad drafting concepts for something that he planned to build, or sitting in brainstorm sessions at the creative firms where I’ve worked, it’s been rare for me to go to a meeting where someone isn’t sketching something on the nearest available surface. I think and communicate concepts best in visual form so what Grant had to say wasn’t a stretch for me. However I did like the reinforcement that images are best for developing a vision and coming to a consensus, while words are the better option to move from consensus to action.

Speaker 2: Linda Cureton

“The little superheroes are going to be walking on the red planet, but right now they’re learning to colour and ride bikes”.

I found myself struggling a bit with the superhero analogy. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good superhero, but it was odd to think of attributing superhero qualities to everyday people. That said, there was a nugget in what Linda said that struck me. She said that “Leadership is all about the release of human possibilities”. I think that’s true. There is such a positive force that can come through good leadership from a peer, manager or boss. There are mentors all around us and their effects can be far-reaching. On the flip side, there’s the equally negative effect that a terrible boss or manager can have. I believe that we all have dual responsibilities — we need to strive to be leaders and mentors for other people (or as Linda says “to breathe life in”), while at the same time, learning from the leaders and mentors in our lives.

Speaker 3: Getty Stewart

“I see fruit growing everywhere”.

This woman is just plain awesome. Check out Fruit Share Manitoba to learn more about how she’s saving and sharing Winnipeg’s formerly unwanted or excess fruit. She definitely got me thinking about what surpluses I might have in my life that can and should be shared.

Speaker 4: David Zinger

“Think differently inside our hives… be social”.

I was really interested to see how interested David, and apparently lots of other people, are about honeybees. I found myself fascinated by random bee facts. I learned that Gaudí was inspired by the architecture of bees and so now I need to look into that. And I was struck by the thought of replacing the business world’s pyramid structure with a hive structure. What would that mean? How for example would that change my workplace? I think I need to go visualize.

Speaker 5: Aisha Alfa

“Take action, fail brilliantly and then learn from it”.

I liked Aisha’s way of introducing failure in the form of Carl (her personification of the word) and her point about removing the negative stigma of failure by getting more comfortable with the idea/experience of it. When I think back, I’ve definitely missed out on what could have been amazing experiences because I was too scared to try. I need to work on that.

Speaker 6: Robert L. Peters

“Live simply, be close to nature, act as a conserver”.

Because we occasionally meet at design events, I have heard Rob mention Solace House before, but it was such a pleasure to learn what led him to build it, as well as get the basics on the structure, layout and essential relationship with the surrounding environment. I would like to live in such a house one day. Just imagine using less than 15% of the energy that a typical Manitoba home does. Imagine if we all did.

Speaker 7: Wilma Derksen

“It is only in hindsight that we can see the path and results of our choices”.

Wilma is one strong, courageous woman; her talk was sincere and my sense is that she touched every single person in the audience with what she had to say. She reinforced for me that while we can’t control the events that happen in our lives, we can control how we choose to deal with them. She feels that forgiveness is about letting go, but we have to know what we’re letting go of. Forgiving or letting go ends up creating a hole that needs to be filled, and it is best filled with love. I was also struck by the fact that our minds can’t hold two things (thoughts, feelings, intentions) of equal value at the same time. We ultimately have to choose what will get the focus at that moment or time in our lives.

Speaker 8: Robert J. Sawyer

“The more seasons we live, the more wisdom and perspective we gain”.

Among other things, Robert made the point that as our lifespans get longer, we will have the benefit of more perspective, as well as more time to focus on solving the worlds ‘big’ problems. As we start to live longer and longer, learning to live in peace and harmony will become survival characteristics for the human species. Now I’m intrigued and I want to read his books so that some of these concepts can come to life for me.

Speaker 9: Gem Newman

“Be curious. Question everything. Prize learning over knowing”.

Gem got my interest because he managed to work Battlestar Gallactica into his talk (always a good thing). It was interesting to realize that the belief that science will ultimately lead to mass destruction is pervasive in pop culture. I liked his point that instead, our stories should encourage people to think critically, to support their beliefs by evidence, and to avoid the temptation to look only for evidence that supports what they already believe.

Speaker 10: Matt Henderson

“What if the what we’re teaching kids, and how we’re teaching them, doesn’t result in making the world better?”

This guy sounds like an amazing teacher. His students are lucky to have him, and I think he would say that he’s lucky to have his students. His point that kids need to create their own knowledge (with a teacher there to guide and facilitate) and then go out and practice it immediately (not after they graduate) absolutely resonated with me.

Speaker 11: Kale Bonham

“My people are awake now”.

Kale inspired me… I like what she’s doing in her community, with young people and through art. I like the creative process that she followed in working with a group of kids to design the new banners that are up in the North End. Living in Winnipeg, we hear the negative news about the North End all the time. It’s really good to hear something positive, and Kale is right that what’s most important is how the people living there see themselves. If they can share the love, hope, pride and diversity that is found in that community, then hopefully that positive force will spread outward.

Speaker 12: TJ Dawe

“Every display of altruisum, generosity and cooperation counts”.

TJ Dawe was a great speaker and very comfortable up on stage. I’m planning to spend some time on—a magazine for hungry brains and thirsty souls. I’m intrigued by his question of how much online interaction is actually meaningful; how much is increasing our circle of compassion, our community? I appreciated his approach to combating the internet age which is prompting us towards isolation, distraction and argumentativeness. I’m used to critique, my job demands it, but I appreciated his point to calm down, observe our reaction, learn from it and let it go because the end result is going to be so much better. I was slightly freaked out that the start of his talk very much mirrored a conversation that Ian McCausland and I had during the break. Yes, he was good.

Speaker 13: Hazel Borys

“Neighbourhoods are defined by where you can get to within a 5-minute walk”.

I live in Charleswood, one of the older suburbs in Winnipeg. It has the fantastic qualities of regular deer sightings, the Assiniboine Forest and proximity to Assiniboine Park. It is somewhat walkable (ie. I’m super close to groceries, post office and a school), but it does not in any way compare to the older, more central neighbourhoods. I struggle between my need (yes need) to be able to lose myself in the middle of a forest full of trembling aspen, and my wish to be closer to everything else. I don’t much like having to drive to almost everything I do for entertainment, as well as to work, etc. I crave space yet crave closeness. For these reasons, for me at least, Hazel’s was one of the best of the day. Lots to consider. She suggested checking out Walk Score — I’m sad to say that my house got 53 out of a 100. Boo.

Speaker 14: Michael Redhead Champagne

“I’m proud of where I come from”.

Michael’s talk was filled with strength, hope and vulnerability. He was my absolute favourite of the day, and of all the speakers, his message sticks with me the most. It was powerful and had me crying. I barely wrote anything down because I was too engrossed. It’ll be a few weeks before the committee splits the videos apart and posts them, but if you go here, choose the livestream labeled ‘Afternoon Session 2’ and go to 1:31 in the video, you can see it for yourself. Let me know if it hits you as hard as it hit me.

Speaker 15: Brad Tyler-West

“If you have a recurring issue in your life… it’s about YOU”!

I probably wrote the most notes while listening to Brad. He was such a fun, outgoing presenter and although most of the things he said are really straightforward when someone says them, like most things of this nature, hearing or reading them every once in a while is a good, healthy thing. I most resonated with his ‘power of the pause’ — that sometimes in life you need to step back, rest and reflect in order to keep creating your story.

TED Talk Videos:
My favourite of the six videos chosen to play was this one by Sebastian Wernicke called Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics. [In a brilliantly tongue-in-cheek analysis, Sebastian Wernicke turns the tools of statistical analysis on TEDTalks, to come up with a metric for creating “the optimum TEDTalk” based on user ratings. How do you rate it? “Jaw-dropping”? “Unconvincing”? Or just plain “Funny”?]

Closing thoughts…
I’m happy that I met some new people and had a few great conversations. During breaks though, I found myself gravitating to the outside edges of the lobby, finding a sense of calm and comfort there. That meant I didn’t talk to as many people as I could have. I also chose to miss out on heading to the King’s Head afterwards, and instead, went home to relax. I’ve connected with quite a few folks on Twitter though and hope to keep the conversation going there.

I’m not sure what to do with everything that I heard on TedX day. I’m so very happy that I got to go, and I feel honoured to have been in the audience. I don’t want this spark of inspiration and learning to end. I think though that for a time, I will let things percolate in the back of my mind. There will come a day (or perhaps several) when suddenly I know just how to proceed.

Thank you to the TedX crew. You put on an awesome event.

ps. Ian McCausland and Richard Ray have been posting photos to Flickr. You can view them here and here.

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