I was on my way to the heart of Bethnal Green, in East London, via the Central line Underground. Pleasantly, I overheard a couple next to me discussing why they were heading to TEDx East End, which happened to be where I was headed. They said how they "needed some inspiration...some exposure to creative minds...and to be inspired." I felt the same, and knew I was in for a fruitful afternoon of well planed talks from people who loved what they were doing. This variety is what I love about TED talks, and why I was headed to the mixed art and events venue Oval Space this afternoon. Being from out of town, it was a bit hard for me to find, but once I got there, it's multiple levels, outdoor decks, and indoor spaces made up for that.
The basis of TED is to bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). TEDx events, like this one, were created in the spirit of the main TED events celebrated format and are independently organized, and usually a bit smaller. What you will always find at any TED event, independent or not, are speakers who are passionate, and knowledgeable about their topic, and a whole lot of people who are ready to network and talk about ideas. Also, TEDx events always lack any commercial, religious or political agenda. The basis of the whole thing is summarized in TED's signature tag line, "ideas worth spreading". Introverted or extroverted, these are always events not to miss as there is something for everyone whether you want to just listen, or say hello to every passerby.
The central theme of this event was Society Without Borders, encouraging the idea that we are all living together on this planet, and can benefit from learning to work together, with each other, and for each other. The idea that curiosity and education can and will change the world is a driving force behind all TED events. This was this this TEDx's third year, and pioneered here by Maryam Pasha, Network and Innovation Manager at Migrant Rights Network. As she spoke between each presenter, it was clear that she shared the passion for each of the topics that her presenters spoke on.
Instead of spotlighting any one speaker, because they were all great, I can just say that the curation of speakers was carefully planned, and next years event should be well worth the entry fee. Topics ranged from tools to give women a voice in a male dominated society, to helping young entrepreneurs understand how to build business models that help ensure a lasting future, to scientists describing how to program spacecraft, to the importance of staying curious whether young or old. Speakers were retired primary school teachers, veteran BBC reporters, master spoken word artists, PHD's and poets, and global rights activists from around the world. The line up was impressive and diverse, especially because it was all happening in this little corner of London. Yes, London is an international hub so diversity is no surprise, but for a TEDx event, the breath of the knowledge on stage was truly a society without borders.
As an entrepreneur myself, I found it inspiring and even a little intimidating! These people really are good at what they do, and seem to have it all figured out I thought. But that's just it, they don't, they are just on their way, and sharing as they go. They are here to interact, to listen, and learn themselves. That's what makes these events so magical, it's a place where people truly are ready to and want to learn from each other. After all, the greatest thinkers never want to stop learning, and events like these help ensure that doesn't happen.
Hats off to the sixteen team members of this independent TED event, and the large group of volunteers, for pulling off a very modern, well planned, and comprehensive event worthy of the ticket cost and certainly a day well spent. To make sure you make it to see next years lineup, visit their site to get updates, and see video from this year.