#TEDxAKL 2016 live notes

Since the first TEDxAuckland events back in 2009 there have been a huge number of speakers (100+) and attendees (7000+) who come along each year to be surprised, challenged, inspired, entertained and informed.

In the early days finding speakers was easy because the tall poppies are easy to see but over time you wonder surely the quality of talks must go down as you get through the usual suspects list.

In fact what has happened is that the process of finding and coaching potential speakers is a well honed machine and the unsung stories are now getting to be heard – loud and clear.

Yes there are still moments when you think if this speaker going to “jump the shark?” and for the most part they deliver. That doesn’t mean you have to like all or any of the speakers. In fact challenging the status quo is very much part of the brief.

As I write this the event is part way through the second day. This year the event has been run over a two day calendar. It started at 3pm yesterday and 20+ speakers are spread over 2 6hr days. I would have much preferred it wasn’t on during school and work days but I also understand that due to venue bookings these were the best days.

Also being the weekend before a major tax deadline makes it tough for self-employed people so this year for the first time ever I stayed at work and tried to catch most of the talks on the live stream. Here are a few notes that I took earlier.

Even after attending more than 10 TEDx events and watching hundreds of TEDx and TED clips over the past decade I am still delighted at what I call the quiet stealth talks where someone you probably wouldn’t notice in a crowd passes on some very powerful ideas in a way that makes a real tangible difference.

Everyone has their favourite talks but those quiet unassuming ones often stay with you much longer. They do for me anyway.

In the first set Barbara Breen and Lizzie Marvelly all presented well but then came the first surprise of the day. Jayne Bailey talked on saying yes to change and getting out of our comfort zones. As I listened I realised I have heard Jayne talk before years ago. At that time it was another project but it prompted the same inspiration. I had been concerned the talk was going to be predictable but it was anything but. Jayne is passionate and has cut through to spare.

As the talks continued I was struck by how well presented most of them were. It is a fine line to communicate ideas with passion and make them something that we might care about. Some succeed better than others. A talk by one speaker involved recycling fabric to make caps. It is easy to dismiss as some kind of satirical hipster startup but you could tell Adrien had done his homework. Actually not to my interest – a little too earnest… But then along came Vaughn Rowsell.

Vaughans talk at TEDxAuckland back in 2014 was one of the highlights of that year. It is rare to get a repeat speaker so soon and Vaughns talk on going against the pattern appeals to my contrarian personality very much. I know about OMG Tech Rangers which is the example he finished off on.

On day two – Samuel Gibson, Georgia Lala, Richard Aston, Pani Farvad and Sharad Paul all gave outstanding talks. Some of them on quite simple ideas but ones with powerful consequences.

Once again Richard Astons talk on finding the human centre in social work was one that resonated most with me. This year is the year my father died after being in ill health for a few years. Anyone with older family members knows how much just spending time with them is so very important.

Samuel Gibson’s talk was a bit of a show stopper. Outstanding.

Thanks again to the TEDxAuckland crew for another brilliant event – most of whom are volunteers. The event finishes later today and I hope to catch up with some more of the talks later on. In case the livestream is still on you can catch it at NZHerald

The Matt Shirtcliffe talk seems like it is a “must hear”.