TEDx Gramercy at Baruch
Saturday March 10th brought a special treat to the Engleman Recital Hall here at Baruch College. Costa Michailidis (a Baruch alumnus), Katie Tracy, and their team (TEDxGramercy), put together a morning of presentations to Upgrade Your World.
Local communities of doers and thought-leaders independently organize TEDx events. TED simply lends the name and offers some guidance. TEDxGramercy, like all TEDx events, offered “ideas worth spreading” and delivered “a combination of live presenters, TEDTalks videos and performances.”
Our local thought-leaders and doers, Costa and Katie, worked since August to bring to the sold-out crowd Sophy Bot, Andrew Sispoidis, Jean Tang, Andy Burnett, Marshall Bergmann and Stavros Michailidis (and their ideas!) to the Baruch Performing Arts Center of the Newman Vertical Campus. Khaled Dajani, transcendental, fusion guitarist, with Kelley Donovon gave two performances.
The program started with a TEDx Introduction by TED curator Chris Anderson. The second TEDTalk shown later in the day was The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Anchor. This brilliant (and hilarious) TEDTalk is a must-watch for everyone in a graduate program or those struggling in this success = happiness world (i.e. everyone!).
You will soon be able watch the day’s videos yourself on the YouTube channel for TEDxGramercy. In the meantime, here are some of observations your correspondent took from each presentation.
Sophy started her talk with a realization during a personal crisis that she prefers one breakfast (fruits, cold cuts and cheeses) to others. And the she continued on to trucker hats and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
Your identity is much more flexible than what your parents do or what you are born with. You can control your identity. Moreover, it’s in perpetual flux in this age of hyperconnectivity.
We have the freedom to express ourselves and be who we want to be. Tattoos once meant a miscreant and trouble maker, now 1 in 3 of the 25 to 29 age bracket has one. Her two-year nephew has a mohawk.
Instead of new negatives, Sophy puts forth that we should look at the positive — to accept ourselves. “So when I walk down the street tomorrow, most people will see a hipster. But I know better than that. I know that who I am, is exactly who I chose to be. And every single one of us has the freedom to make that same choice.”
Andrew started by highlighting a huge, but often ignored, challenge — cyber security. Keeping badniks (and governments) at bay has been sisyphusian task not just for the world-wide web, but more and more for medical devices, cellphones and all gadgets digital.
Andrew described smart phones as more than the gadgets we love. They are a spy’s dream. This gadget contains a treasure drove of personal data, indicates where you are, what you are saying and to whom you are saying it . . . and surreptitiously sends that data to points obscured.
Where is the balance between participating in the digital world (e.g. Facebook, Pinterest, Google) and securing one’s information? We are sharing data with friends and neighbors, but also with everyone else — nefarious and benevolent.
He closed by commenting, “participating in the modern world is like operating a car. We need to be mindful about our responsibilities. We can’t rely on technology to solve the security issue. Our behavior makes a difference as do our choices. Technology will follow our desires. We just have to make those priorities clear.”
This was my favorite (in my humble and biased opinion) of all the talks. Jean spoke to an issue near and dear to the GradBaruchian, effective communication, especially writing. Jean started with this great introduction, “I see great writing, even literature, all day, every day, just not in business.”
It’s not that there isn’t good copy somewhere, but rather, that business writing has lost a central element of good literature — show, don’t tell.
She nailed all the major points of writing well, speaking clearly and powerpointing concisely (and with wit!). She embodies the finest points that our Biz Comm classes drill into our heads.
“Words are powerful business tools. The act of giving voice to what you do, speaks to, and enhances our view of who you are in the world and what you stand for.”
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that her talk will be one of TEDTalks of the day.
Andy spoke about developing spaces to support collaboration and stimulate greater creativity. He described the fabulous work spaces that Google uses to facilitate idea sharing and to build social structures. However, for the overwhelming majority of people in the world, they will never get near these great work spaces.
His research has focused on two questions: 1) “Is it possible to take what makes physical work spaces great and deliver them through the digital environment?” 2) Where you are most comfortable versus where are you most creative?
He shared in his presentation the 3-dimensional and sometimes fantastical virtual spaces that students created to help answer those questions.
He invited everyone to submit images of ideal work spaces (real and digital). Simply tweet the image with #ithinkhere.
Keep working on the Brooklynese Andy. You’re almost there!
Marshall spoke on a hot topic circulating these days — gamification. The beginning of this talk started with Bingo. The audience had cards with words placed across the card in a grid. As Marshall went through his talk, he asked those everyone to check words on the card as he spoke those words. Once someone had bingo, they stood up and shout “Bingo!” A prize awaited the winner.
By including the simple game, the game player (i.e. audience member) paid more attention and focused on the speaker because they were actively listening and looking for words.
Active learning through doing and simulation profoundly affects learning outcomes (Edgar Dale). Gaming is such a method. The effectiveness of using games is so clear that institutions such as Harvard Business School are relying far more on simulations (i.e. game) than case studies. Marshall describes today as the “printing-press” moment for gaming — learning and having fun at the same time.
Stavros started with a snowflake and how it can grow to a snowball and take on a life of its own. It starts to have momentum. What if ideas have momentum?
Mass, Speed and Direction make up momentum. He broke down ideas into different scenarios.
Optimal momentum for ideas is when there are resources (i.e. mass), speed and direction.
Chaos for ideas is when there are resources and speed but the results are unfocused.
Slow growth happens when ideas have resources and direction, but there is no speed.
Other scenarios are: Boot strapping — speed and direction but no resources; stagnation — resources only; and busy work — speed only; and good intentions — direction only.
A takeaway for me was the special role the audience. This group was great. They were responsive and supportive through the microphone changes. Quality audio was a key component to go along with the video. What you forget when you watch a TEDTalk are all the actions behind the scenes to make it happen. In this TEDx it was getting the microphone situation just right and sometimes starting over.
Thank you to the sponsors IPM, Studio 137 & MKR Labs who helped make it happen. Jim’s Organic Coffee deserves special kudos for the great coffee and snacks during the break. Well done Katie, Costa and the TEDxGramercy team. Looking forward to the next one.