TEDxToronto: Calling ideas into action

“An idea without any action behind it merely stays as an idea.”

After downloading the podcasts and being shown the talks in various courses at school, for the first time, I was able to attend a TED event in-person.

My application was selected to attend TEDxToronto in September. The theme was A Call to Action, which felt like a great fit as we just personally hosted a conference named “Called to Action” for students last year.

Thousands watched online from across Canada and beyond, and it was exciting to be there. But what was the event all about? Inspiring talks and ideas; “In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, it brings together the city’s foremost thought leaders, change makers and everyday people from each discipline and challenges them to deliver powerful, unforgettable and unique TEDxTalks”.

It was incredible to be involved in the online discussion with Twitter; using hash tags and quotes and links to photos it was just amazing to see the online enthusiasm of everyone in the room. It was the #1 Trending Topic on Twitter for the day and 20,000+ people in 100+ countries viewed the live webcast.

Instead of re-summarizing the event, I found a great post that sums-it-up nicely by Elisa Birnbaum (a freelance journalist, producer and communications consultant who’s also the president of Elle Communications and co-founder of SEE Change Magazine):

Here’s the thing about ideas. They’re powerful. Not only in their ability to inspire, confound and configure, but in their capacity to motivate, and promote discourse and debate. They push us to reach outside our self-contained box of understanding and pursue our potential, our call to action, which was the underlying theme of this year’s TEDxToronto.

The ideas that came out of our agora—some brash and brazen, others pure and simple—gave us all reason to pause, think, and act. From Drew Dudley’s hope that we embrace our inner leader, to Dr. Catherine Zahn’s insistence that we open our eyes to discover, discuss and demand a better life for those facing mental challenges, and Neil Hetherington’s inclusive community-building model, one that instills eventual homeowners with a sense of pride and ownership (and his directive to stop watching Extreme Home Makeover, where that sensibility is lacking).

Amanda Sussman reminded us that politicians can make good partners if relationships are pursued effectively, stating, “Incremental reform is the triumph and frustration of our democracy. But change happens in small steps.” And Tonya Surman introduced us to the notion of community bonds as powerful tools of potential. Social change cannot succeed by the efforts of one person alone, she added, though social networks are only as effective as what we do with them.

Trey Anthony’s call to action was to remain true to oneself and be fearless. Break out of your restrictive self-generated box, she added, and by gosh, leave the job you hate (a standing ovation followed). “Dive into your fear; one cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to swim away from the shore…even at risk of drowning,” opined Anthony. Along those same lines, George Kourounis left the audience with this thought: embrace your fears for the worst thing you can be is comfortable.

The French writer Victor Hugo wrote that nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. How right he was. Ideas are at the very heart of social change and the speakers who promote them embody Aristotle’s notion of leaders – inspirational GPS’ on the road to human potential. As such, our city’s new agora, TEDxToronto, established its place in the world of thought, provocation and action.

Powerful Quotes from the Talks

  • On living in the moment: “You’re as young as you’re ever going to be.” – NEIL PASRICHA
  • On walking into the crater of an active volcano: “Fear is my friend. If I don’t have fear in these extreme situations, then I’ll make mistakes.” – GEORGE KOUROUNIS
  • “The world says, ‘You’re black, queer, working class, and you fit in this box.’ I say that your call to action is to come out of your box.” TREY ANTHONY
  • “There is no world. There are only 6 million understandings of it.” – DREW DUDLEY
  • “I invite you all to join me in this jihad of love.” – BOONAA MOHAMMED

More recap is available at www.tedxtoronto.com/blog/highlights.

I look forward to the next chance to experience TED, to inspire and motivate further – and to highlight the potential and opportunities available to us all.