Chris McCann's Personal Blog

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My TED Story, What TEDactive is Like

with 6 comments

TED 2010 logo TED aka the Technology Entertainment and Design conference. Some people call it Elistist and some call it “humbling, inspiring, and moving on many levels“. Here is my  take:

My TED Story
The first TED talk I ever watched was Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight which was emailed to me by my old college roommate. The video is of Jill, a brain researcher, who had a massive stroke and recounted her story from the inside out in great scientific detail. She went through emotions, showed a live brain on stage, and opened up on stage and let it all out in her talk. I had no idea what this TED thing was but I was hooked.

I spent the following weekend watching as many TED talks as humanly possible in the span of 48 hours and I was completely inspired. I still had no idea what TED was, besides being a conference, but I knew I needed to attend this and it was since my dream to speak at TED.

Fast forward a bit, once I graduated college and was running [Startup Digest] I got a very random email asking if I wanted to be a part of TEDx Silicon Valley. The story actually wasn’t that simple, what started off as one email led to a very odd and “skull and bones” esq situation that is too long for the post. Next time you see me in person though ask me about it, it’s a great story.

tedx silicon valley tedxsvPhoto by ValleyZen

Long story short I was part of the founding team of TEDx Silicon Valley which happened on Decmeber 12th 2009, and it ended up being the biggest TEDx in TED history. TEDx events are independently organized TED’s and to find out more check out here.

After the conference ended I was officially part of the “TED family” and was invited to attend TEDActive which is the simulcast of the big TED conference which is going on right now, the same time the main TED conference is. It is a more intimate and fun gathering of TEDsters around the globe bringing together a good group of TED translators, TEDx organizers, TED prize winners, and other entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, and people making a big difference.

tedactive ted activeWhat TEDactive is like
For all the fuss and negativity TED occasionally gets, I have to admit that the conference is nothing short of unbelievable. The speakers, presenters, and performers are some of the most unbelievable people doing things that completely humble me.

A good example of this was Dr. Kevin Bales talk today. Kevin has dedicated his life to the eradication of slavery which surprisingly enough is still very prevalent. Worldwide he quoted there are 27 million slaves and a human person is sold for $3,000-$10 depending on the country (I had no idea there was a market price for this?!). Kevin has set up an organizing which not only helps these people get out of slavery but teaches them the life skills to stay out of slavery forever. If you are interested check out Free The Slaves.

But the real value of TED is not only in the live talks themselves but the people who attend. I’m getting to spend 5 days with people from all over the world (Uganda, Korea, Germany, etc) who are all extremely passionate and active in their communities. Just this morning I met a guy from Kentucky who sold his software company to HP and spent a 1 hour breakfast session with us expalaing the ins and outs of the printing, printers, packaging, and labeling industry. Now I have absolutely no interest or involvement with the printing industry but it is so cool to hear a passionate entrepreneur talk about their industry. Where else can you get such a diverse group of passionate doers together?

From the dinners, afterparties, PJ sessions, flash mobs, music videos, and all of the other weird and wacky things were doing at TEDactive, the real value of TED is the chance to spend real quality time with the world’s leading doers all around an atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and inspiration.

I am so excited for the finals two days of TEDactive and if I haven’t met you here at Palm Springs yet come say Hi! 🙂


Written by Chris McCann

February 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. I completely agree with your statement “Now I have absolutely no interest or involvement with the printing industry but it is so cool to hear a passionate entrepreneur talk about their industry.” I absolutely love meeting passionate people and TED does the right job of bringing all these passionate people together. I may not ever look into the printing industry again but just seeing that sparkle in their eye as they talk about it is an amazing feeling.

    I’m glad you’re having a good time at TEDActive!


    February 13, 2010 at 1:07 am

  2. Hi Chris,
    I didn’t get to meet you in Palm Springs, but enjoyed reading your commentary. Maybe, next year??


    February 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    • Of course 🙂 Or if you are ever in silicon valley you can come say hi too!

      Chris McCann

      February 18, 2010 at 1:21 am

  3. […] – Chris McCann on “What TEDActive is like” […]

  4. Great post Chris.

    Drue Kataoka

    March 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm

  5. Hey, that was without a doubt an interesting article. I had actually been searching for a photo printing related article for a while now. Thanks! Do you offer a subscription service? because I can’t seem to find the details anywhere.


    March 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

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