I was lucky enough to be one of the 600+ people who attended TEDxPhilly yesterday. (Full disclosure, we were one of the proud sponsors of the event.) It was a collection of people from all different walks of life, in different lines of work, from photographers to gardeners to teachers to movie producers. All of the talks left me with one message “Pursue your Passion”
For those of you not familiar with TED events, these events are meant showcase ‘ideas worth spreading.’ Speakers overcome life’s greatest fear and get up in front of people to share ideas for 18 minutes. These ideas might not sit well with everyone in the room, but that’s not the point. These ideas are meant to spark thought, discussion and action.
The talks for TEDxPhilly were all over the map. But I left the day with a strong message: Pursue Your Passion. From Cristin Aptowicz telling us that cubicle life is ok since it provides freedom to pursue creativity as you see it, to Simon Hauger showing how West Philly high school kids can beat the pants off of MIT when it comes to building Hybrid cars, to Zoe Strauss who took an area under I-95 and turned it into her own art show, and… well I could go on for a while. Everyone presented great stories of how people could achieve fantastic things pursuing their passion. Teachers talked about turning on the light switch on in kids; artists talked about finding their own light switch, but everyone talked about how passions are causing great change in Philly, right here, right now.
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz was the first presentation and really set the bar high for everyone who followed. I’ve never seen anyone with such a deep knowledge of presidential trivia and a passion to share it with us. Then she showed equal zeal for the Mutter museum.
The ones focused on education were all moving. In most of what we do, success is measured in profit/loss. For Chris Lehmann, Stanford Thompson, and Simon Hauger, their work with Philly area students is measured in minds activated. It was powerful to hear their stories of how rewarding it is to get kids to do things that no one else thinks is possible.
The most moving part of the day was when Stanford Thompson presented the impact of him pursuing his passion – teaching music. Stanford is the Director of Tune Up Philly, and brought an orchestra of middle schoolers to the stage of the Kimmel center. They took the classic ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and played it in a way that brought tears to many of us in the audience.
Looking though the presentaiton list, I thought Robert Moore’s talk on data was going to be a yawner. But once again, Robert demonstrated the power of pursuing your passion. I was captivated by his talk of how we are creating some-crazy-over-the-top-bytes of data every data in our ‘data exhaust’. Robert described data exhaust has the data we leave when we use our credit card, walk by a security camera, tweet, etc. His passion for data excited me.
The event was run beautifully. Having run a few 200 person events here at Archer, I fully appreciated how hard a task it would be to get so many different moving parts to connect correctly. There were some minor glitches with the presentaitons, but nothing that detracted from the day. I hope the TEDxPhilly staff is finally able to get some sleep!
Thanks to everyone who had the vision and dedication to pull off such a powerful event! I look forward to keeping the discussion alive until the next TEDxPhilly!