Guest column: TEDx idea exchange simple but powerful

The definition of an idea is “a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.” Yet it can be much more than that.

The definition of an idea is “a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.” Yet it can be much more than that.

An idea can change the way a person lives their life; it can also change the course of mankind. Everything starts with an idea.

The mission of TED and TEDx is simple yet powerful: spread ideas.

The method by which mankind spreads ideas through the ages reflects the technology they have at hand.

Early hominoids on the island of Sulawesi put their ideas on cave walls over 35,000 years ago. We then learned to spread ideas through language, print and now we spread them digitally.

For myself, I find ideas are equally powerful whether I come up with the idea myself or hear the idea from another person. It’s the idea itself, which triggers endorphins and unleashes the imagination.

This is why the discovering of the world of TED had such a powerful effect on me as they had developed the infrastructure to deliver ideas globally and for free.

TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design and the first conference was in 1985. The first videos were posted online in 2006, which included videos by Al Gore, Ken Robinson and Tony Robbins.

In 2002 I founded the Philosopher’s Café in Penticton whereby I would interview interesting people who live in our part of the world. I would talk with them for an hour about their ideas and stories and the audience would ask questions for an hour.

We had some great interviews over the years, but there was no record of the talk for an archive or replay. I tried recording the talk digitally but never found this to be satisfactory.

Imagine my delight seeing my first TED talk. Here was a way for a presenter to tell their story or share an idea and spread their impact around the world.

There are two early TED talks that left an impact on me to this day. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard brain scientist, had a massive stroke and her talk is a first hand narrative about the experience. Her video was called My Stroke of Insight and it became an epic TED talk watched over 20 million times.

The second video was How to Start a Movement, which is a three-minute classic by Derek Sivers. This had a powerful message that the most important factor of a new movement was not the leader but rather the early adapters. They are the ones that decide which ideas gain traction and which go back to the drawing board.

Then TED did something bold in 2009. They created TEDx and gave free licenses that allowed groups around the world to create their own TEDx conferences highlighting ideas generated in their unique part of the world.

My friend Nikos Theodosakis and I were all over this and we created TEDxOkanaganCollege in 2011. We were early adopters and our event was one of a handful done in Canada at that time.

TEDxOkanaganCollege was a massive day-long affair with 18 speakers, many musicians, tours and TED talks looking Beyond Sustainablity. Above all, it was a great learning experience about the subtleties of TEDx.

The first talk of the day given by Carroll Beichman taught me a valuable aspect about TEDx beyond spreading ideas.

Carroll told us the story of the piano at Okanagan College in Penticton and how it found its way to the Okanagan 100 years earlier. It was the concert piano from Massey Hall in Toronto and it journeyed to Naramata in 1911 via CPR, steam wheeler and horse and cart.

Since that time, Carroll and Arnold Beichman have passed on and their property sold. The whole story of the piano may have passed on with them except we have this TEDx video in our archive and the story will live on.

The fourth TEDx in Penticton is called The Young. The Wise. The Transitional. and will feature eight presenters, music and videos and will be held Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.

On the stage will be a couple of scientists, an artist, a lute maker, an educator, a teenage poet, a tech startup and a legend of the wine industry. They will share their thoughts and ideas in a talk of 18 minutes or less.

There will be ideas worth spreading, but more importantly we are creating a community of curious minds. I always find the many people in the audience could easily be on the stage sharing their thoughts.

TEDxPenticton is becoming more that just an evening of speakers. We are creating a valuable archive of recorded talks that are being watched around the world. One video from TEDxPenticton 2014 has been viewed over 100,000 times. People around the world are interested in what we have to say.

Like the Book Shop, Soundstage and The Dream Café, TEDxPenticton adds to the culture and Bohemian index of Penticton. Support TEDxPenticton and let’s spread our ideas and stories all over the globe.

TED talks mentioned can be found at under Brian’s picks.

Brian Hughes is the organizer of TEDx Penticton.