Open you eyes, ears and minds for TEDxAuckland

I thought I knew what to expect at TEDxAuckland last Sunday –  interesting talks, great subjects and great people.

Well, as both a speaker and an audience member, I got more than I could have ever imagined.

The speakers enlightened us on complex subjects, worthwhile causes and even just how we should grasp our youthful nature. The overwhelming concept of the day was that, whether as an adult, a child, or somewhere in between, we should take a hold of our creativity – our youthfulness – push ourselves to the limit and help each other out.

To solve the problems in the world, we need complex, creative and innovative thinking – things which most often come from a younger mind. That is not to say you can’t be innovative as you get older, but rather, as you get older you must make more of an effort to retain your youthful attitude. Don’t get stuck on your experience and remain comfortable in your knowledge.

During each break, after the event and then at Sale St for the after party, we got to meet and mingle with a whole bunch of amazing people – change-makers.

TED is an event renowned for attracting people who want to be inspired, who want to make a difference and people who actively make a difference.

Conversations were many, and topical. Could we have asked for a better day in our lives? I think not, my mind is still spinning. Not only did I get to meet and talk to these amazing members of the TED community, but now many of them form part of my social community. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are all playing a role in keeping me connected to these great minds.

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at the power of networks, and that of social media at the event. Starting the day, we had no after-party planned and no way to mingle after the event. Richard Hollinghum, the event organiser, asked the audience to reach out to their networks and see what they can do. “I know we have the most connected people in this room, so let’s see if we can organise this by tea time” he said. And what do you know, by tea time, we had Sale St Bar lined up and ready to go. Thanks for organising that and thanks to Sale St for taking us in at the last minute.

So what did I take from the event? Firstly, a brain full of new knowledge and a variety of stimulating conversations with amazing people. Secondly, building stronger relationships with change-makers, connectors and leaders of New Zealand. I suppose that is the essence of TED – sharing ideas, meeting change-makers. TEDxAuckland 2010 was a success, and a memory that will remain in my mind and the minds of many for the remainder of my life.

Summary of TEDxAuckland 2010

Cindy Gallop started off the event talking to us about her dream for IfWeRanTheWorld. She says she wants to capture the micro-actions and ideas of people as they occur. She puts forward the example of reading a newspaper, where you can read an article about the floods in Pakistan and really want to do something about it, but as soon as you turn the page, that “want” is gone. She wants to capture those micro actions that we say we do. That is what IfWeRanTheWorld aims to achieve.

Following Cindy we had speaker, Richard Loseby, talk to us about his journeys round the world. Walking through Afghanistan, he learned a lot about the people and about a completely foreign way of life – and one that we perceive so wrongly. A great story teller and writer – for more check out his book, Looking for the Afghan.

Following suit, Team One Beep’s solution to the MDG universal education: The One Laptop Per Child program. Access to computers they see as the solution to poverty, but it has one problem – laptops are not connected to the world and cannot have up to date information. They show us how they can connect these laptops through simple radio wave transmission, allowing children around the world to get new educational material and other resources just by connecting their laptops to an ordinary AM/FM radio.

Justin Scott then took us through the story of the Tabaka community in Kenya, how the introduction of Fair Trade in their community has changed their lives. How it has created jobs, a thriving business and has brought the community together.

Bringing gaming to our attention was Steven Knightly. Showing us real life examples of how games can be fun and educational. These games engage our kids, teaching them key skills and attitudes. These modern games have changed people’s attitudes for the better; Farmville on Facebook for example, encourages and rewards generosity. You can follow Steven and his  “serious” games on the Auckland Game Works Blog.

After lunch, we returned to the sound of the Westlake Boys High School Jazz Band and a couple of their budding soloists.

Dr. Divya Dhar really got us thinking about how we can improve the world by harnessing the power of a young mindset: taking risks, learning new things and meeting new people. There are complex problems in the world – poverty just one of them – that can only be solved by creating new, innovative solutions.

StarJam founder Julie Bartlett shared her vision of a world where our disabled youth are considered as leaders. She hopes that one day, pictures of these true leaders will grace the cover of our magazines. StarJam is one way of giving disabled children the opportunity to perform to audiences, and be the STAR for a change.

Jonathan Milne wants us to think creatively, harness the power of our minds and make a difference. He takes us through his life and how teachers made his first interest, science, boring, at which stage he started art and was amazed to see that too can be made boring by the teacher. But, he tells us that if we can use our creativity we can solve any problem, art is just one outlet for that.

A truly eye-opening talk by Kate Smith of Eat Big Fish, showed us how thinking small, being dynamic and having limited resources can be a big advantage when taking on the market leaders. She spoke of New Zealanders being perfectly placed to do this, how we have been “primed” to think this way, which is why we can compete on a global level. We are a community of challengers.

Following afternoon tea, the  StarJammers took to the stage with enthusiasm and beautiful voices.

Ken Ring came out with all guns blazing, challenging us to ask questions about climate change – making his point with the use of “magic”. He talked about his ability to predict the weather – and earthquakes – using the moon. He spoke about how global change doesn’t make sense, time to ask our experts some hard-to-answer questions, he says.

Two thirds of the Plum Jungle team told us about their Hyde Park Bicentennial project. How it changed their lives; taking them around the world and growing their public profile. They tell us to commit ourselves to our passions, and things will just fall into place – as it did for them. Mike Chin and Pete Longworth brought a refreshing, uplifting atmosphere to TEDx displaying their talents using photography and music collaboration.

Richard Webb, moved here eight months ago. Why? Because New Zealand is the next destination. He says a focus on innovation and creating an environment to support our entrepreneurs will help New Zealand make leaps and bounds against our equivalent countries in the OECD. Ideas are one thing, but helping our visionaries actually turn them into reality is the key. New Zealand is a great incubator for a world business, but Webb says we must get rid of the “that’s good enough” attitude. The future is headed our way, let’s take it.

Dr. Privahini Bradoo speaks of a world where we aren’t “employed” as servants but rather “empowered”. She reinforced the concept of a youthful nature – the attitude that creates change and innovation. Priv really ended the day on a high, and we thank her for coming over from San Francisco to show us how we can really change in the world.

[Image Credit: TEDx Auckland]

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...

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