Tomorrow I’m spending the morning at TEDx Raleigh, an independently organized TED event. TED’s annual conferences in California and Oxford UK are “riveting talks by remarkable people” with “ideas worth spreading.” TEDx Raleigh runs all day but I’m leaving at lunch to go camping at the beach – unfortunate timing but it’s no fun to set up camp in the dark.

Last spring I attended TEDxRTP. I was intellectually stimulated all day long and left with lots of ideas — some found their way into blog posts and presentations, some are still simmering away in my brain. It was a fantastic experience so I look forward to tomorrow.

I’m tempted to compare TEDx to a French 17th century salon but I bet TEDx is better. In Mme. de Rambouillet’s salon, you would be surrounded by other rich coddled sophisticates with perhaps a struggling handsome young poet thrown in for exotic appeal. At TEDx you hear from people outside your normal bubble about ideas and projects you might not normally read or think about. Diversity in thought and perspective is such a rich valuable experience, yet we don’t often have a chance to enjoy it up close and personal, except on Twitter of course.

I was looking through my notes from the TEDxRTP and found some that still tickle my brain.

Tribes & organizations

The future is malleable. Think about what the future should look like and draw up a plan to make it a reality — a good board exercise.

Tribes can change our world. Find something worth changing and assemble your tribe.

Transformational organizations are those with high over-arching missions that promote and inspire selfless service. They have the methodology to give people what they want – transformation. Trappist monasteries, the Marines and Alcoholics Anonymous are examples of transformational organizations. Associations can be a vehicle for transformation, giving members the opportunity to grow, get passionate, learn and contribute.

The building of Europe’s great cathedrals required centuries of sustained civic and spiritual determination. Innovative engineering, architectural and construction techniques — like pointed arches, ribbed vaulting and flying buttresses (ah, memories of art history!) — were used. The cathedrals inspired civic pride and transmitted a legacy of spiritual knowledge. Except for the master architect, we don’t know the names of the men who helped build them, but we marvel at what they accomplished. At a time when famine and disease were rampant, these impoverished people committed to building something they would never see completed in their lifetime. In an attention-deficit I-want-it-now culture with an eye on the next quarterly report, are we still capable of achievements like that?

Personal growth

We should all have a personal board of directors that acts as a trusted support system, providing different perspectives and truthful feedback. It’s unfortunate that many real boards don’t offer that to their organizations.

Jot down your ideas all the time. Carry a notebook. Keep one by the bed on your desk and in your car. Pay attention to your ideas; write them all down, even the wacky ones. Creativity is like a muscle that needs exercising or it will atrophy. If you don’t capture your ideas, you’ll stop recognizing the good ones. I made a note to start mind-mapping, but I must confess that I haven’t yet.

Shift your fear of failure to fear of regret. That’s one to live by.

What’s appealing about many movies? They’re a story of someone’s transformation. We watch vicariously; we want the transformational experience.

Make a daily habit of being still; renewing yourself. I’ve written about meditation on my other blog. It amazes me how five minutes of being still and present can make a positive difference in my day.


Outside my bubble

Online games can be incubators of collaboration and leadership as players practice real life skills.

Do you know about the astronaut overview effect? I didn’t and it blew my mind. Apparently the Earth doesn’t look like the photos that are sent from space. When astronauts see the Earth from space, the experience has a huge lasting emotional effect, one that is studied by NASA and others. It’s not space euphoria, but a shift in perspective. The astronauts believe that if everyone had the opportunity to see Earth as they have — a whole planet — it would give us a more unified global perspective.

We also heard about Indian healthcare, real food, homelessness and relationships, missing fathers, benefit corporations and more.

Have you ever done the wave at a conference? We did. How about watching an improv performance or hearing a classically trained new music trio? We did. If TEDx comes to a town near you, take a day off and go.

Have you been to TED or a TEDx event? I’d love to hear about your experience.