Like many people, I enjoy a good TED talk. At typically 15 minutes or less, they are only ever a window into someone else’s viewpoint or wisdom, but it really is not hard to find something new, each time you go on the site that will inspire, provoke, reinforce or contradict. I heard that TED was coming to Bristol in the form of the TEDx, a kind of franchise of TED, independent but upholding a similar ethos. I had to go.

Look, I won’t lie, it’s £25 a ticket, rather than the £000’s it costs for membership and attendance of the big TED conference, so my expectations were uncertain. I went with an open mind. The TED production values were there, top venue, but I had no way to judge the speakers before hand. The fact that I don’t know them means little, as I have rarely heard of my favourite speakers on the main TED site, and their pen portraits in the brochure didn’t help me work out how much they might mean to me.
So it was patchy. The theme was failure, and I like the idea of openly discussing something that underpins all success and yet remains taboo in itself. Not sure how much some of the talks really took this theme to heart, and some of the content was recorded TED talks that I could have watched at home. But there were a couple of standout ones for me, including a couple of the recorded ones. Yes, I could have got a lot of these messages in my usual 5 minutes snatched aside to watch a TED talk or read a blog post, but that is not the same as spending a whole day in a great venue, among a thousand other folks, all swimming in these words and thoughts, and therefore having bit of time and space to wallow in it myself.

So what did I actually get from it?  It’s pretty personal so I don’t know what to share here, but I highly recommend you checkout:

Eddie Obeng – Smart Failure for a fast-changing world.  He pretty much tells us that everything we learned before …now… is pretty much worthless in the new world.

Jia Jiang – Death Life by a hundred rejections

And when it is posted, Sven Hopla’s discussion of how failure is so essential to learning when you are in the circus, and that, if failure is not a very real possibility, you don’t have an act anymore.

Well worth a day away from the chaos, the ticket price and a train fair.
For a few hours, I felt that I can be a bit more honest about how difficult and elusive success can be, and how failure maybe is not the crippling outcome that occasionally prevents me getting started.


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