Ted x American Riviera: Thinking Different

I just got back from the Tedx American Riviera. The American Riviera (Riviera apparently being an ancient Indian word meaning “place with nice weather and scenery that is full of rich people”) was held in Santa Barbara.

I liked the TED Talks I saw on youtube and Eric Greenspan had recommended it on Twitter, and he usually has good ideas so I thought “What the hell- ” which is my main motivation for just about everything I do.

It was not what I expected. That being said, if you have a chance to go to any of the TED Talks, I recommend it.

The TED originally stood for Technology Entertainment Design, and I expected more Technology. That being said, what technology that was discussed was way cool. I most liked Jamey Marth’s talk on nanomedicine, Yulan Wang’s on health care robotics and Debra Lieberman’s on health care games. Not only did I like Jay Freeman’s talk on jailbreaking the iPhone but it garnered me major “coolness points” with both my children and my husband. When you have three daughters in their twenties, coolness points are rare, so thank you, Jay.

The most interesting (to me) person I met was Don Oparah. His company, VAI Global, seems to be exactly what I was looking for, sort of a Facebook for grown-ups. I just signed up for it.

Well, obviously, I liked all the technology talks. There was more on environment and sustainability than I expected, and also a lot more of the sort of “live your bliss” new age-y stuff. I’m not a very touchy-feely person but some of it was worth thinking about. Certainly the speaker on the 100 reasons not to have an affair was thought-provoking. In short, he said people have excuses to have affairs like “We never talk” “Our sex life is boring.” His suggestion was that you’d be a lot better off trying to build the relationship you want with the person to whom you are married than find it somewhere else. If you never talk, well – TALK!  He acknowledged it may not be simple – but hey, have you ever tried divorce?

As far as “wanting less” and trying to consume less – I thought those were terrific messages but I was not the only person who noted the irony of that message delivered on California’s coastline of multi-million dollar homes.

On the other hand, if you’re going to pick one group to tell to consume less, this is certainly a good place to start.

Of course, photographer Chris Orwig had the most stunning visuals in his presentation (duh).

I was least looking forward to Shaun Tomson’s presentation. In fact, I almost skipped it. Yeah, he was a world surfing champion. I was a world judo champion. Not that becoming world champion isn’t a hell of a ride – but hey, I already know that story. I don’t want to ruin it for you but let me just say I was riveted to my seat during his talk and drove straight home to see my little girl. Next on my list is to buy his book.

The only disappointment in the event is that there was not that much discussion. I mean, there were random people I struck up conversations with who were really interesting and nice, but I expected some type of organized discussion – discuss with people around you after each talk, or each hour. Instead, it was one (very interesting) talk right after another. During lunch, I was very amused by several people who spent the entire time checking their email and text messages at the table. I can only conclude that they must have been VERY important.

The vision wall was a very cool idea. I heard that was Don Oparah’s idea also so double interesting-cool points for him.

Still, it was well worth going. The non-technology talks were interesting because they brought up ideas I normally would not have thought about in the course of the day – or month. Some ideas, I am still thinking about – like the simple joy of being able to kiss my daughter goodnight when she has fallen asleep on the couch watching some stupid vampire show I told her not to watch.

Driving home I was reminded of the line from Oliver Wendell Holmes.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

Yeah, it was very much like that.

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