By Hugh Simpson, corporate advisor, digital entrepreneur and current student of the University of Sydney Business School’s MBA program
TEDxSydney is the local licensed version of the world famous TED Talks, where a hand-picked audience gets to listen to some of Australia’s best thought leaders, innovators and doers under the theme of ‘ideas worth spreading’.
I was incredibly lucky to be accepted as one of the 2300 attendees who got to fill the Sydney Opera House on 26 April 2014 to experience what can only be described as inspiration heaven. Walking up the Opera House steps to a Woolworths Innovation breakfast and meeting some of the attendees, you got the sense straight away this was not like any other conference.
Over the last 18-months I have experienced one of the most innovative university courses I have ever completed with my MBA, but it was great to see that the University of Sydney carried this sense of innovation through as the Principal Partner of the world’s leading ‘ideas festival’.
Michael West, member and cultural representative of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC), started the day with a ‘Welcome to Country’ on behalf of the Aboriginal communities in and around Sydney. ‘Black Arm Band’ then provided a moving musical performance to get us in the mood for the long list of acclaimed speakers, performers and wonderful locally sourced, crafted and sustainable food, coffee and drinks.
There are too many speakers to list them all here, but the full stream can be found here.
Barat Ali Batoor’s story of his journey from Afghanistan to Australia as a refugee was one of the highlights for me. Adam Atler, author of Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave and Assistant Professor at NYU’s Stern Business School, presented his research on psychology in marketing by teaching us how to get more hits with online dating. The University of Sydney’s own Dr Clio Cresswell followed this theme by describing the mathematical formula behind sex and finding the right partner.
Internationally acclaimed artist, Tim Clark, and his mother Judy told their story from Tim’s diagnosis with Autism and living in poverty to being having artworks and a film being displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Megan Washington performed the closing song, but not before she showed true inspiration by revealing she had a stutter and despite being an incredible musician, she found public speaking daunting.
Following this exhausting day of inspiration, what better way to soak up the atmosphere than to continue meeting some of these inspirational speakers and attendees over a few beverages on the Sydney Opera House steps.
It was a privilege to be part of such an event and without the inspiration derived from the innovative approach of the MBA, I don’t think I would have been accepted to what was hopefully the first of many TED events I’ll attend in years to come.