Mon, Mar 7, 2011
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the TED Conference in Southern California. For those of you who’ve never heard of the TED talks, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and it’s an invitation-only event reserved for the best and brightest from the fields of technology, entertainment and communications arts.
I was invited as part of TED’s executive briefing program where they invite new people to experience a taste of the conference.
At its heart TED is about ideas. This year’s version was themed “Invention and Discovery” and featured a cross-section of thinkers, artists, educators, and businesspeople whose ideas have led to discovery and invention across an incredibly wide range of topics.
One surgeon, Anthony Atala, is using printing to create artificial organs like kidneys that are being used in procedures successfully today. A professor from Virginia Tech is creating cars that the Blind can drive. A robotics company is creating a robotic skeletal device to allow paralyzed people to walk. It was remarkable to see how ideas are making a profound impact in the lives of people in need.
And artists from paper cutters to architectural sculptors to spoken-word poets were awe-inspiring to see how they’ve refined their craft and learned to express their ideas with brilliant clarity.
The beauty of TED and the transformative power of it live in the diversity of the ideas. Programs within a single morning or afternoon session will range from really smart people talking about topics they may have a passion for beyond their life’s work (Bill Gates gave a disarming talk about state budgets and the lack of public scrutiny that they face and the negative consequential impact on education and America’s future) to people discussing the output of the scientific discovery within a life’s work.
Scientist, follows commercial artist, follows poet, follows historian, follows educator, follows musician. And the stew of the ideas is exponentially greater than the sum of the individual ingredients.
On a personal level, it acted as a great catalyst. Attending TED is like attaching a supercharged set of jumper cables to your brain. It hurts your brain a little while you’re doing it, but the power you get lasts beyond well the catalytic event itself. And it feels like a Pavlovian human reaction to respond to ideas you hear with ideas you create.
I also couldn’t help but filter TED and the content through our world here at Monster and what it means for us. And interestingly, one theme came ringing through over and over. Ideas are the fuel of progress. Innovation and invention are what make great things possible.
But there are two ingredients to invention and innovation. One is having the desire, intelligence or talent to create great ideas. But the other less obvious and more germane factor to Monster is that all ideas are born of work – hard work.
The ideas of TED spanned so many areas that they almost defy categorization. But all of them were born of discovery, modification, practice, and a passion that drove someone to work incredibly hard.
If ideas are the fuel of human progress, work is the engine of ideas. And as a company dedicated to inspiring people to improve their lives through the world of work, it sure feels great to be in a business that’s at the heart of progress.