TEDGlobal: Recap

A week later, and still revealing in how amazing TEDGlobal was this year.

The experience for me at TEDGlobal for the last few years has changed a little each time. Last year, I went to give a talk on Best Practices for a New University Level TEDx. It was great to spend time with other TEDx organizers from all over the world. I keep in touch with many of them, and have run into organizers from Egypt, Pakistan and all over the US in my travels to various countries. It brings a lot of great content and thinking into my inbox all the time, which is a gift.

This year, I was attending as a TEDUniversity speaker and was able to think about and produce my own content. I remember walking onto the stage after practicing some Amy Cuddy power poses in the hallway (they actually really helped!), took a deep breathe and felt myself grinning. The talk flowed out of me, just like I had hoped it would. And it was real and it was my own. I learned a lot about getting feedback, editing mercilessly and drafting from this experience. I realized how very important it is to find editors and brainstorming partners that you really trust and respect. The TED team was fabulous throughout the process — and when it was finished, they were the first people I heard from and hugged.

For the rest of the event, I wound up having the most interesting conversations about my field, technology and maps.

One evening I talked through data visuals to explain my mapping ideas for the informal economy with a software designer. We talked about the future of cities and software.. and he gave me some ideas to help clarify my work and objectives.

A long time mentor sat me down and gave me feedback on my lifestyle (read: totally crazy, doesn’t sleep and desperate to learn as much as possible… sometimes at the expense of sleep/health/social life). We talked through my goals and the work I want to accomplish… and I left with clarity knowing where I need to go and feeling centered for the first time in a while.

I talked to a series of infrastructure designer and builders about cities and informal economies. As it turned out, they each had a very different and interesting perspective into the wild world of city planning and economies. They pushed me and gave me things to read and encouraged my work. I have endless respect and awe for this particular team and cannot wait to see what else they accomplish all over the world!

In essence, the TEDGlobal conference was like being at an endless dinner party with smart, obsessive researchers, creative minds and artists, designers changing all of the experiences around us, and people that I am humbled to call friends. I am one of those people who somewhat frequently feels alone in large rooms of people, and that was never the case at TED or TEDx events.

On a side note, Other exciting follow-up from TEDGlobal news: I was asked to give a talk at TEDxMunich in November! It was be great to be back in Munich. I have not been able to visit since I was an exchange student in nearby Ulm in highschool…

I am still processing a lot of what I learned at the event and what I am taking away from it as I determine my direction for this and next year. I will post more soon.


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Tea, Tequila, and informal economy enthusiast.

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