Why Everyone Should Attend TEDx

When I attended my first TEDx event back in 2009, it was preceded by some itemized convincing of my boss. Not exactly surprising, considering the new series was founded earlier that year, and John Forté doesn't outwardly apply to one's routine as a project manager. After three years, however, I'm convinced everyone, regardless of field or function, should attend these local events. Here's why.

The motto of the larger TED series, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, is "ideas worth spreading." Frankly, how can anyone say the creation and expression of ideas is not relevant to their job? Prior to 2009, accessibility of the TED program, however, was largely relegated to their web videos. TEDx came about -- where x = independently organized TED event -- and first-hand exposure to this provoking line of content was suddenly available in your backyard. (Thanks to hard-working organizers, like Dave Troy and Nate Mook.)

The events are usually thematic, such as this year’s Be Fearless of TEDx MidAtlantic, or targeted at a specific subject, like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010. Whatever direction, the programs offer exposure to topics and ideas that most of us would otherwise miss in our day-to-day. TEDx is a punchy, accessible and needed interruption to our well-worn habits of attention and thought. When was the last time (or have you ever) briefly considered the subject of endocrine disruption?

TEDx is usually simulcast online, which is great for distant, distributed audiences; but if you’re able, you should certainly attend the event in person. Given the wide-ranging subject matter, you have occasion to meet some interesting folks, including many outside of your industry. It’s also nice to simply step away from your desk and learn something new. As a project manager working with various clients and subject matter, it’s useful to discover ways to shake up the norm and study new things. TEDx is a must-experience in this respect.

It’s wonderful to see the program doing so well. More than 4,300 locally organized events have been hosted across 1,200 cities and 133 countries, which amounts to something like 16,500 talks. Yet I still get quizzical looks from friends and colleagues when TEDx MidAtlantic comes around each year. It’s a shame. You won’t find a more inspiring, varied program of speakers and ideas that will leave you wondering --  a pastime that often fails to break into our daily routines. So when TEDx rolls through your town, go.

Here’s one of my favorite talks from this past year’s event:

Kevin is a senior digital strategist in our Falls Church, VA, HQ. He helps clients such as the World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Valspar create dynamic and successful online strategies.

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