Last Thursday I got to go to TEDxRotterdam. The second largest TEDx in the Netherlands. TED is a highly exclusive conference conference in California, which has gotten wildly popular since they started posting their bite size lectures on to the internet. A TEDx is a independently organized TED event which borrows the format but has to rely on local volunteers to get great speakers.
I also got to go TEDxAmsterdam last year, which is still one of the most awesome things to ever happen to me. TEDxRotterdam only allowed senior year students in, and since I’m a senior student studying in Rotterdam I was pretty much guaranteed a seat. I do not, however, know what made the TEDxAmsterdam people decide me worthy of a seat in their audience. My best guess is that saying you have developed a game makes you stand out as a girl.
If I had to pick one to be my favorite talk of the day, I would say I had to go with Kees Moeliker. I already knew his story on the homosexual necrophiliac duck. What made this years TEDxRotterdam exciting is that I had seen him walk around with a Harrods green plastic bag, only to pull out the victim of the necrophiliac duck out of it on stage.
Some of the talks could have been better prepared, but the talk that really annoyed me was the one by KPN CEO Eelco Blok. All he did in his 18 minutes was talk about how you have to work really hard if you want to become a CEO and that being a CEO is really hard work. In his mind, there is only one way of getting to the top, and that is by putting your teeth in it. This is such an archaic way of talking about leadership. One of the reasons we’re in the financial crisis we’re in right now is because there were too many people looking straight forward and trying their best to make short term profits. There is something to be said about reducing this fanaticism. Sometimes taking in more of your surroundings gets you a lot better decision making. It also idolizes the self made men, and I don’t believe there is such a thing. If you read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, you see again and again that it is not the person themselves but mostly coincidence that they got to meet the right people at the right time. Not that working hard isn’t still part of the package, but you can also work really hard and fail.
That’s actually the other part that bothered me about his talk. The complete absence of the acknowledgement of failure. I’m writing this blog you’re reading right now, and you might think I’m not the best writer in the world. I’m working of getting there, by writing this blog. You won’t ever get any better at anything if you always strive at being the very best. It will keep you in your safe zone.
I got to taking pictures for Wikipedia. This wasn’t the easiest thing to do since flash photography wasn’t allowed and people tend to move around a lot when they’re giving a speech. Because of that a lot of the pictures I’ve donated are very blurry. Joost Conijn, Filip Jonker and Rob Wijnberg now have a picture up on their wikipedia page. Max Westerman already had a picture, but I’m afraid he has to deal with having another picture of himself up there next one in which he is 20 years younger.
After going over the few pictures I had taken last year at TEDxAmsterdam, I descided to write a Wikipedia page for them. This got me 10 seconds of internet fame after they retweeted my tweet about them having a Wikipedia page. I do hope they look at the page history, see the page has basically one author, and decide to invite that author to this years TEDxAmsterdam. I might descide to also write an article for TEDxRotterdam, it’s just that so far there haven’t been any significant events linked to TEDxRotterdam as there have with the TEDx in Amsterdam; most notably Hans Teeuwen returning to the Netherlands. Maybe Teeuwen has a vague rememberence of me at TEDxAmsterdam as I pointed him the wrong way when he was looking for a place to smoke.
I finished my evening at TEDxRotterdam having dinner with 4 of the people that had given a speech that day. I had asked two of them to pose for a picture for Wikipedia, and asking favors is one of the quick ways of getting people to like you. (Ben Franclin effect). I should find a way of getting more TED into my life, because attending these events makes me feel like I’m in the right place.