TED@Sydney – talent search

Last weekend besides TEDxSydney on the Sunday we had the delight to be part of TED@Sydney Talent Search.

20+ would be speakers did 6 minute versions of TED talks with the prize being a chance to do a talk on the main TED stage next Feb at the main event.

What I loved most about this event was seeing and hearing a group of mostly young ( average age 23*) Aussies pitch big ideas with confidence and for the most part they are all world changers which is the sweet spot for me. (* a few older – one was 73)

My personal motto is: change everything for the better and that is what gets me out of bed every day. These speakers were my kind of people for sure.

As audience members our task was to rate talks / speakers on a scale of 1-5. At the beginning it was hard to do since so many of them  were either 4 or 5 on the scale.

In the end I made up a higher level criteria for assessment based on world impact.

Chantelle BaxterOn that basis my top pick was Chantelle Baxter whose talk on world changing sanitary pads for Sierra Leone caused most of the guys in the audience to squirm a fair bit.

I heard that Chantelle did a great talk at TEDx McQuarie Uni . Chantelle Baxter is the brain and artist behind the One Girl branding and online presence.  “The Age’s – Top 100 Most Influential People in Melbourne.”

In September 2008, Chantelle raised $5,000 to build a primary school in Sierra Leone and spent one month working with 80 beautiful children in an impoverished rural community.

Upon her return, she couldn’t shake her desire to be make a difference, and in April 2009 she co-founded One Girl.

Linh Do

My number 2 pick was Linh Do also from Melbourne. Linh looks and sounds like she is still 16. Her enthusiasm for her projects and for the UN (gulp) was contagious.

Like many adults I have written off the UN as an actual force for good but if enough people like Linh can regenerate it then more power to them.  Linh Do – The Voice – according to a profile

“She spends her time advocating for sustainable development and better youth engagement. Linh is The Voice. She is a social media gun, and is passionate about inclusivity and community building. She keeps OurSay.org in touch with youth political advocacy.Super power: being more than one person at all times.”

I’m not sure how the voting went – but I wanted to give both Chantelle and Linh 6 our of 5 as they were exceptional when pretty much all of the speakers were very good so it was hard to rate them objectively.

One curiosity of the talks was that there were 3 science communicators in who gave talks. Derek Muller, Adam Spencer and James Bryne. They were different but I felt that their various projects overlapped somewhat.

I know in business we have this philosophy of creative destruction and competition but I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the 3 of them joined forces or somehow combined their efforts rather than having 3 completely separate projects.

I know that is probably not practical but in NZ we have Science Media Centre and Sci Blogs and the blog network has 50 ish separate bloggers inside that network.

Disclosure: I work on the websites for both of those projects myself. Of course I’, also a huge fan of Symphony of Science project by John Boswell.

Special Mentions need to go to Pip Hall who went over from Auckland to talk about the Wet Hot Beauties water ballet project. I have personally never watched synchronised swimming and so I was ready to give Pip and Judy a 1 out of 5 but I was totally surprised.

Turns out that the project is much more about having fun and spreading joy than it is about any kind of syncronisation. Even better as I live in Auckland I can go watch them sometime or even join in. There are 66 members in that group now.

The other special mention goes to Rebekah Campbell of posse.com. Rebekah is clearly a high achiever in the music industry. Her TED audition was unusual in that it was less a worthy project and more of a business project.

However if she is correct and she has raised $5m+ to support Posse so far then it will change the music industry for the better and we all need that.

Update: this timelapse video has just been released.