If you’re like most people, you probably have a bucket list of things you want to accomplish before you leave this great green Earth. One of mine? To be a speaker at the TEDxDetroit conference.
Charlie Wollborg, curator of TEDxDetroit and Chief Troublemaker of Curve Idea Accelerator, appreciates my sentiment (and actually liked my idea for a topic; I’m keeping that in mind, sir!). He himself feels motivated and energized by this unique conference, which engages your left AND right brains during its all-day presentations.
“Creativity is all about cross-pollination,” said Wollborg, who is one of the major organizers for the Sept. 30 event, which will take place this year at the historic Detroit Opera House. “When you’re a business leader, hearing these ideas engages both sides of your head. That leads to new ideas and mashups you may not have thought of yet.”
Haven’t been yet? For your newbies, TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Started as a conference in California 1984, TED has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon that is known for producing inspiring talks and movements. In 2006, TED’s curator decided to put its archive of recorded TEDtalks online for free. Today, TEDtalks have accrued well over a billion views. Every day, people around the world watch 1.9 million TED videos.
In 2009, TED launched the TEDx program to spread the ideals of TED to other cities. TEDxDetroit was one of the first TEDx events. In the past five years, there have been 9,000 TEDx events in 157 countries. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection.
TEDxDetroit is an annual event that brings “ideas, innovation and inspiration” together in one amazing and must-see conference. TEDxDetroit is an offshoot of the original event – and what makes it great is that it features local entrepreneurs, educators, scientists, musicians and artists who are pushing their industries forward, Wollborg explained.
TEDxDetroit is an event unlike any other, Wollberg said. It is part business conference, part tech expo, part art festival, part revival. It brings creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, educators and geeks from across the Great Lakes to share big ideas, get inspired and foster new connections.
“The annual event acts like a supercollider. The attendees and idea act like charged particles – bouncing off each other and creating new connections, collaborations and opportunities,” he added.
Now in its sixth year, TEDxDetroit has been in some of the city’s greatest locations – think the Gem Theatre/Century Club and Cobo Arena, for starters. This year’s location is an equally great stunner, giving people who might not normally travel to Detroit an idea of how impressive its downtown core and neighborhoods have become in recent years.
“Detroit is the city of reinvention and TEDxDetroit brings together the thinkers and doers in our community who are making it happen,” Wollborg said. “We’re excited to fill the Detroit Opera House with a creative spark that will forge new connections and collaborations.”
TEDxDetroit also has had some amazing alumni in its ranks. They include inventors, such as Veronika Scott, whose Empowerment Plan created jobs and a coat/sleeping bag that homeless people could use to save them from the cold. The Detroit-based business recently won recognition from Forbes Women’s Summit in New York City as well as a little rock-and-roller known as Madonna. Scott is great.
There was Andy Didorosi, whose Detroit Bus is not only moving people around the city and showing them a good time (via buses, bikes and more). He’s also getting kids to after-school programs and making sure they have a ride that keeps them safe and sound. He’s kinda great, too.
One showstopper TEDxDetroit talk came from Tom Nardone, owner of PriveCo. and head of the Detroit Mower gang. His talk on how “Something > Nothing” brought me to tears when I saw it live; I have watched it many more times since then. It is these kind of special moments that enrich your life and push you to do more as a person than you thought you could. And that’s super great.
This year’s speaker list will be released on Wednesday, Sept. 3, although there are always a few surprise presenters that aren’t revealed until the day of the event.
“We’re excited about the future of Detroit and Michigan,” said Wollborg. “It’s hard not to be optimistic after learning from the bright minds at TEDxDetroit.”
One more thing: TEDxDetroit has a different type of registration. Space is limited for this event. So you have to “apply” for a ticket. That means you have to share an idea, a suggestion. You have to say you’re your favorite talk was. That kind of thing. But I promise – it is worth the time and effort. Register here. Hope to see you there.