TED Talks Back

Last month I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a TEDx talk right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For those of you who have never heard of TED talks, it began in 1984 as a one-off event conceived by architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman.  He observed a convergence of the field of Technology, Entertainment and Design (that is, "TED"). 

The event was financially unsuccessful: it took six years before the second conference was organized. But then it took off and by 2006 the attendance cost was $4,400.00 and was by INVITATION ONLY! Now there's an annual membership fee of $6,000.00 which includes attendance of the conference, club mailing, networking tools and conference DVDs. 

Why so much? Because TED has attracted some of the greatest minds in the world, from Bono to Bill Clinton, Jamie Oliver and Dave Eggers. But no matter how famous the speaker a TED talk is limited to 18 minutes. Here's the reasoning behind this number:

It [18 minutes] is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It’s the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.

The Albuquerque event was a TEDx event. It's an independent group who obtained a free license and agree to adhere to the rules of TED talks. I saw a teenager poet talk about her brother's suicide and sister's drug addiction, a sculptor challenged us to think differently and release the artist within, and then my favorite speaker talked about poop. How we can't deal with our shit and it could be destroying the earth. Hint: She is advocating for composting toilets to save water. 

2014 CU Watercooler Symposium in Austin, Texas got "crashed." 

2014 CU Watercooler Symposium in Austin, Texas got "crashed." 

Credit Unions are fortunate in that we have our own TED talks in the form of the CU Watercolor Symposium, the brainchild of Matt Davis and Tim McAlpine, The Watercolor brings like minded people together to experience brief talks that challenge the status quo, make you laugh, think, and want to dance and throw money around the stage. At the end of each presentation, Watercolor editors ask a few questions and then open it up to audience participation. It's the most interactive event I've ever experienced. On more than one occasion I have met attendees who have used vacation time and paid their own way to attend The CU Watercooler. 

I've been to almost every Watercolor and had the privilege of being a presenter. This year there's an amazing line-up, and the cost is very credit union friendly. 

Hope to see you there!