TEDX Bucharest Conference, 2010

Technology.  Entertainment.  Design. These three words stand for TED, a small nonprofit organization (Sapling Foundation) dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading – organizing conferences around the world from diverse areas since 1984. The talks are offered free online on ted.com.

In Romania TED is represented by TEDx, which is organized by a team of young professionals volunteering their time, expertise and energy for creating the TEDx space of ideas worth spreading. TEDx Bucharest Conference 2010, held on October 15, followed the structure TED got us used to: 18 minutes talks from 13 speakers, experts in various areas: medicine, engineering, design etc. in the spirit of the TEDTalks diversity. We were looking forward to attend a TED event, as their site is the site that made us give up watching TV a couple of years ago. Consequently, we had high expectations and we weren’t disappointed.

The event was well-organized, the time schedule was followed, food and location were well-chosen.  All the speakers brought a new idea, every single talk having an interesting learning in it, even though some of the talks were not as appealing as the idea itself. But one of the characteristics of TED is that it brings people who accomplished something great, no matter their talent for public speaking. The agenda was well planned, with enough time to socialize and entertaining activities (such as Drum Cafe):


We’ve mentioned below the messages delivered that we considered more appealing, due not only to presenter’s ideas, but also to the enthusiasm and energy, leaving the great ideas but weaker presentations at the end.

1. Happiness is very much related to the area we come fromEric Weiner, the author of “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World”, makes an in-depth analysis of the degree of happiness around the world. Contrary to what one would expect, the economic situation of a country does not make it the happiest in the world, nor does the climate. On the contrary, one of the happiest countries in the world is Iceland; Qatar, Bhutan, Thailand are also very happy places. At the other end we find countries like Moldova and [surprise!] Romania. What is interesting is that the ruler of Bhutan actually is the first to use the GNH (Gross National Happiness Index), which is an indicator that measures the quality of life, which might become more important than the GDP in the future. Watch the video of the presentation here.

Quotes:
“Better to fail for the right reason than to succeed for the wrong one”
“We are creatures of peace”
“Where we are affects how we feel”
“You think too much. Just listen to the music”
“The quality of a society is more important than your place in it”
Bhutan has a GNH (Gross National Happiness)
Thailand differentiates 11 types of smiles
Listen to Stravinsky – Spring
 
2. The bigger you are the more powerful and faster, says Ph. D. MIT Professor Adrian Bejan. The theory he developed – the constructal theory of generation of design in nature – explains the evolution of the design found in nature and the connections between them (e.g. the flow or a river resembles very much to a tree). Watch the video of the presentation here.

3. Are you the person you would like your son to become? Andrei Rosu realized one day that he is not teaching his son anything; he woke up the next morning and decided to run the North Pole Marathon. After 3 months of training for 2 hours at 5 a.m. in the morning, in temperatures of under 0°C, and working hard to get sponsors for his endeavor, he made it: he ran the North Pole marathon, finishing in almost 8 hours, and is currently set to run 7 marathons on 7 continents. He admitted it wasn’t easy at all and he wanted to give up several times, but he kept on going, having in mind his image at the 42nd km, on his knees, kissing the photo of his wife and son printed on the back of his glove. You can get a better idea about his first marathon, at the North Pole, by watching this video. Watch the video of the presentation here.

His message could be summarized in three main ideas:
Dream it BIG
Plan it RIGHT
Do it NOW

4. Eating healthy is more difficult than we can imagine. Even if you decide to have a healthy diet it will be hard for you to follow it.Magnus Scheving, the creator of the Lazy Town TV show, one of the most successful children’s TV show in the world, teaches children what health is and how to keep a healthy life. He made an interesting experiment that shows how hard it is nowadays to actually buy healthy products: a person shopped only for healthy products for 3 minutes in a supermarket; after the 3 minutes, she had ¼ of the shopping basket filled; in the second shopping round, blind-folded, the same person had to shop only for junk / unhealthy food. After only 2 minutes the basked was already full of products, none of it being healthy. He also illustrated that mankind lost passion for eating, as food comes now in packages and we heat it up in the microwave in 5 minutes, whereas before, people would look for their food, pick it or hunt it, which made the eating process more meaningful. Watch the video of the presentation here.

Quotes:
Move the world.
Don’t worry. Do something about it.
Dream a dream and accomplish it.

5. Roland Hermann, a Romanian dentist, with a team of 5 other doctors, travels the poor countries around the world trying to help the sick people. He offered as a volunteer for a short period of time and now, two years after, he does the same thing. His message is that there is no excuse for not helping people, such as not having enough money, not being part of a big organization etc. Anybody can go in the poor countries and help! Watch the video of the presentation here.

6. Oana Pellea, one of the most popular Romanian actresses had a simple message, delivered with emotion and sensitivity: life is right in front of you, get up and grab it, stop talking, stop finding excuses, start doing and live! The message, so powerfully presented, got the audience standing and applauding, and made Oana expand her speech with a few extra minutes. Unlike all other speakers, she used Romanian, which was a loss for non speakers, but made the message even more meaningful for Romanian speakers. Watch the video of the presentation here.

Quotes:
The only real thing we have is this machine (ourselves) which we don’t fully know and this moment.
When something bothers you, you instinctively push the brake.
It’s about things invisible to the eye.
No one else but you will judge you.
The leader is that one who puts on the light in somebody. It’s like at Easter: you pass the light.
Life is divided in days. It is not linear. Every day in life has its own story to tell.

7. Among other things, Arnoud Raskin is a business consultant who uses business models inspired by street children. He is the creator of the mobile school – literally a truck with a few expandable black boards meant to educate people in the streets in the poor countries. Arnoud’s message is that you can and actually should learn from anything and anyone in your environment. The street kids are real entrepreneurs, seeing around them opportunities and taking them: where we see trash they see goods that can be sold, profit. The business models he developed based on the knowledge brought by working with these kids are used in high level corporations and the income goes to supporting street kids going through school or different programs to help them. He shared a movie about a South American teenager girl, who supported herself financially since she was 7 years old and financed school with the money she earned by herself, doing various entrepreneurial activities (e.g. selling vegetables left over from the market). It was very inspiring to see real stories such as this one, and open your mind to being pleased with what you have and maybe trying to make the world better for the unfortunate ones. Watch the video of the presentation here.

Quotes:
See opportunity.
Focus on opportunity.
Act more than you talk.
Be resilient. Be able to handle change.
Never compromise your authenticity.

8. A similar idea was presented by Mihai Panaitescu. The 24-year-old Romanian product designer is a supporter of the Venus Project, which aims to design products that last and work for more than a few years, to reduce consumerism and to expand redesign to cultural and world levelWatch the video of the presentation here.

Quotes:
Beauty is well resolved function.
What if we would create a product that lasts 100 years?

9. Adrian Stoica works for NASA and is developing telepresence technology. This combines audio and video experiences and adds other sensorial experiences such as scent. For now, he has ongoing projects like, for example Telemediators, which allows you to visit parts of the world through the lens of a local, in exchange of an amount of money. During his speech, he showed us how he tested the service a few days before. Find out more about it hereWatch the video of the presentation here.

10.  Raluca van Staden is the inventor of a sensor that determines the existence of cancer in humans at the molecular level. Astonishing is that the sensor detects cancer in less than six minutes and the estimated cost would be less than one euro. The device produced on large-scale would be very easy to use, as easy as a glucometer. She won this year the Golden Trophy of the World Intellectual Property Organization for the Best Woman Inventor at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva. Watch the video of the presentation here.

11.  Nik Halik, the “thrillionaire” showed us that you can do whatever you set your mind to. As a child, he made a list of 10 wishes, ten things he wanted to accomplish and he managed to do all of them: become a rock star, an astronaut, become a millionaire, travel the world, have lunch on the Titanic etc. Although the way he presented his achievements was far from being modest – which did not impress the audience too much, his closing phrase is memorable: “The richest place on Earth is the graveyard, because of all the unfulfilled dreams”. So get out there and accomplish whatever dreams you have! Watch the video of the presentation here.

12.  Catalin Stefanescu, producer and host of Garantat 100% had a speech about culture. Watch the video of the presentation here.

13.  Radu Tatucu is a Harvard College full scholarship student which tried to outline the importance of education in building an outstanding future Romanian generation. Watch the video of the presentation here.

I recommend TEDx Conference as a very good learning experience, also an opportunity for meeting the speakers in person (most of them attended the entire conference and were open for discussions) and other “TEDsters”  from different area of expertise (social media, consulting, art etc.). Overall it is worth the investment for the new perspectives, la joie de vivre it brings through its carefully chosen speakers and incredible amount of energy to do things you experience at the end.