The TED talks are by now familiar to many of us, I for one find them utterly inspiring, and even harbour a secret longing to one day be one of those speakers. There’s just the small matter of my intense fear of public speaking and the fact that barely any of my ideas are actually worth sharing.
However, thank goodness, there are a lot of brilliant people out there with equally brilliant ideas, so many in fact that in addition to the main TED talks, there are also now independently organised local events known as Tedx. And it should come as no surprise given the Dutch propensity for innovation and entrepreneurship that we have our own TedxAmsterdam event.
In fact TedxAmsterdam, founded by Jim Stolze of De Wereld Draait Door fame, is now in its 5th year. The next edition will take place on 6 November at the distinguished Concert Gebouw, featuring a varied list of speakers from all over the world and with very different backgrounds. For instance, photographer Jimmy Nelson who set out to search for the world’s last indigenous cultures for his project, ‘Before They Pass Away’, Favio Chávez who has been trying to improve the lives of impoverished children in Paraguay by teaching them music using recycled material from a nearby rubbish dump, and with what is the theme of many of my favourite TED talks, neuroscientist Amy Williams of MIT explains how she and an international team of experts are trying to unravel the mystery of the human mind.
Alongside the main event there’s also the TEDxAmsterdam Award. This award gives the winner an opportunity to present their ideas at the event itself with the aim of firstly, simply sharing the idea but also in the hope that by doing so it may come to the attention of someone who can help move it forward. The judges look for those ideas which inspire, are intended to make a positive impact on people or the planet and of course, have a link to the Netherlands. Last year’s winner was Marcel Verduyn with his ‘ice from the sky’ idea, which proposed to make use of the earth’s atmosphere to make ice which could be used not only for cooling food, but also for providing cheap useable energy. Full details of the ideas of the finalists are publicised shortly before the day, all sure to be interesting, and in a few cases probably even mind blowing.
All in all this looks to be another fascinating and inspiring occasion, but how does one get to attend? If you don’t know then chances are you won’t be attending, the event is invitation only. This is not in any way to make the event elitist, the organisers say they are trying to create a diverse audience that together will create the right conditions for ideas to grow and flourish. In their words they are looking for people who are ‘real innovators; people with a track record of taking bold ideas to fruition’. If you think you fit the bill, you can create a profile on the TedxAmsterdam site and explain why. Unfortunately my lack of ability to bring even a cheesecake successfully to fruition might stop me from being on the list for the foreseeable future. However, I don’t have to miss out and neither do you, as we can watch the whole thing live by attending one of the many ‘simulcast’ events being held all over the city. Find one, get inspired, and maybe you could even find yourself on stage at next year’s event.