Arrogance is an enormous turn-off in personal relations, but sometimes it's a pretty good motivator to do good work. It's what turned this music fan into a critic and producer: the (sometimes quite incorrect) belief that I could do something better. Arrogance is one of the two dueling ingredients of ambition, which is, after all, a combination of arrogance that you can do something better and humility in the face of so many people who inspire you.
One of the best places to witness that combination of arrogance and humility is TED. I've been lucky enough to attend the TED conference several times and I've been intrigued by how the organizers are trying to extend it via videos and independently organized events, collectively know as TEDx. (I've been thinking about both the elitism and openness of TED and will publish an essay on it early next year in HBR.)
This year I served as one of the curators of TEDxBoston, along with four tremendous colleagues. It was a chance to step out of the audience for a change and see what it might be like from the other side. Like many who spent a lot of time in a particular audience, I had ideas on what I might do differently if given the chance. It's the same impulse that leads people to call in to radio shows to say how they would have handled that 4th and 1 situation better than Bill Belichick did.
It was a thrill to help develop and organize the programming, but what struck me most, after we picked the speakers, all of them enormously ambitious, was how humble the best of them were. They inspired people by telling stories about what inspired them. Some of my favorite talks from the day:
Bill Walczak, a Boston legend, showed how a new model for urban healthcare and education can change a culture of despair into a community of opportunity. Plenty of TED speakers talk about how they want to change the world; Bill showed us how he actually did it.
Vibha Pingle of Ubuntu at Work told how microfinance doesn't help women out of poverty; it merely helps them cope with poverty better. And she pointed toward a real way out.
We've covered previously Eric Mongeon's work to bring Edgar Allan Poe back to life. Here's his talk on how he did it, with a hat tip to Boing Boing.
There's plenty more. In particular, I was moved by Ann Christensen, whose talk, as well as some recent work by her father, Clay Christensen, I'll celebrate in a post later this week.
(If you like these and want to sample some more, you can see 'em all here.)
When the Congressional Science committee wants to talk about the cold weather, and when NASA has to defend their budget by explaining why NASA is important, it can make people who believe in facts… a bit tense.
Acting is a crappy business, but the world needs actors, and since we live in a time when digital production and distribution has democratized filmmaking, anyone can be a casting director. Exhibit A is a new tumblr, Casting Call Woes, which has netted a foul-smelling collection of ripe ones from the sea of DIY casting […]
Store more on your Mac without making a scene thanks to this microSD memory card adapter. Compatible with MicroSD, MicroSDHC, and MicroSDXC, HyperDrive sits unnoticeably inside your machine without any protruding parts getting your way. Store everything from documents, movies, music, and photos, to Time Machine backups without spending major cash on cloud storage.Instantly expands […]
Carrying this EDC card is like slinging around a handheld toolbox wherever you go. Its minimal design is small enough to fit in your wallet’s billfold, and it’s TSA-compliant so you’ll never leave it behind. It’s got hex wrenches, metric and imperial rulers, flathead and Phillip’s screwdrivers, and a bottle opener so that you’re ready […]
Today only take an additional 15% off the below drones today using coupon code: DRONE15 at checkoutThe Code Black is our top-selling drone of all time—and for good reason. This powerful, palm-size drone is not only insanely fun to fly, but can capture some serious video footage from up above. With a flight time of […]