Monday, 15 May 2017


TED has transformed the world of presenting. Presenters now learn their presentations - no scripts, barely any notes. They line up with their stories and they practise, boy, do they practise.

The 2017 London Business School TEDx event was on Friday; the standard was higher than ever. But there’s a problem. In a world of virtually universal competence and consistency little stands out unless it’s exceptional.  Here were some highlights from the day’s insights and entertainment during which some ideas worth spreading were spread.

We had  presentations on the importance of dance, on radical developments in reading for the blind - “seeking the holy braille,” on how bilingualism is like having two eyes whilst we monolinguists are one-eyed unfortunates, on finding whose live saving heart tissue was donated to you and the emotions this stirred, on narcissism, on colonising Mars and much, much more.

Here are a few “aha!” observations:

Sangeeta Bhatia who talked about nano-sized cameras - in effect tiny particles that can roam your body seeking cancer cells and which are flushed out in your urine.

She said:
“OK where are we going with this?”

I love that - where we are going is early cancer detection and longer lives…is that a dream? Not much longer…anyway

“We all need dreams to help us keep pushing forwards”


Lucy Kellaway who has given up her cushy job writing for the Financial Times and writing so well that she is probably the foremost management writer of our times constantly pricking the pomposity of the corporate world. On being asked how she would make Maths (which she’ll be teaching) more fun she retorted:
“Fun? Why should Maths be fun? I want to make it clearer.”

Rafe Offer who set up Sofar Sounds abandoned a career in global marketing with companies like Diageo. Sofar organises intimate, secret and small musical gigs for people who want to listen and savour quietly. It’s gone global and is operating in 300 cities worldwide. You only get to hear what’s happening, and where, the day before they happen. Inevitably (this is the London Business School hosting this TEDx event after all)

Rafe was asked:

“How do you scale this?” to which he replied
“We scale it by staying small.”

Interesting and right. The root of Sofar’s success is its intimacy and lack of big scale concert-venue paraphernalia. These are not events; they are “happenings.” Too many brands betray their original magic in the quest to grow. I don’t see Rafe making that mistake.

Renier Zeldenrust is in the construction business in complex environments. Like Mars. Why go to Mars and beyond? The silica rich earth on Mars and the precious metals like titanium and nickel in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter that’s why. There’s a gold rush into space about to happen.

We need to have more radical, important and inspiring conversations like these more often. We just need to think and debate more deeply.

1 comment:

James Arnold-Baker said...

Lucy Kellaway - see her article in Oxford Today, for sheer anger at Oxford as a reserve for the privileged few. Crikey!