Exclusive: The Opening Address of Tedx Auckland
On 6 October, the first round of Auckland based TED talks – TEDx – hits Auckland. CEOs, entrepreneurs, er, change development specialists, and of course, ‘thought leaders’ will pack the Aotea Centre for a full day of talks, discussion and learning that will enlighten, profound, and hopefully not be censored.
We stumbled across a leaked transcript of one of the talks and felt compelled to share it as a sneak preview of the weekend fun. This comes from an as-yet unannounced ‘active social mode guru’ whose convocation address is hotly tapped to synthesise TED’s diverse knowledge bases into one compact pill of inspiration. Read – or as we prefer to say ‘interact with the eyes’ – and enjoy:
Thank you all for coming today. A lot of people come to these talks for answers, but at the bottom of every answer is a question. So I’m going to get you thinking with a question, and that is this: what were the Beatles?
What’s that, a band? Did you say they were a band down the front? No, not quite.
Did I hear some say, celebrities? Hmm, try again.
Businessmen? Mmm, getting close. But let’s look at some parallels.
The Beatles made millions of dollars. They were very successful at what they did and were seen as originators. And of course, a lot of people all around the world ‘liked’ them.
In other words, The Beatles were the first online social media network.
Now, this might be a lot to take in. When The Beatles sang ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ there was no Internet. There were no angel investors willing to give them a shot. There wasn’t even Facebook.
But there was a concept, and a concept is just an idea that’s yet to come to fruition. The Beatles knew it, even if their model was ahead of its time. Now you know it.
But there’s a big gap between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’. I’m going to talk about ‘Jenny’ and ‘Kathleen’ – two sisters I was in the same class as growing up. Now Jenny was the smart kid at school. A pluses all the way through, science fair winner three years straight, then she was dating Trent Markman from the first XV for a while and I think she might have had a kid and he skipped town or something and she was crying a lot in class...anyway, well the point is - Jenny just became a housewife. Kathleen was always somewhere in the middle in class, classic B student, but she went to uni, did a Bachelor of Commerce, and is now a businesswoman.
What kind of businesswoman? She doesn’t know. She does. And I guess that was the real difference between Jenny and Kathleen.
Another Kathleen I’d like to talk about now is a young guy I met in my role as a venture capitalist. Now to explain this, I’ve got two circles on this Powerpoint. And you’re like, what is this, two circles, I’m paying this guy to talk! I hear you.
I recently became a dad, and there’s something ineffably previous about looking at your first son and seeing the spark that reminds you of you. That’s an idea - and two circles can be an idea too.
This is actually an age-old problem - the circle on the left is app development. And we’ve had apps for a long time, just not the ability to harness them. Think about cancer, for example - I know, horrible, right? Get a load of this guy, that’s pretty grim! Does he have cancer? But I don’t eat gluten, so...no. No I don’t.
But cancer is ‘installed’ in your body, and what does it do? It finds a cell, and clicks ‘divide’ and then keeps ‘dividing’. Imagine if you took an Instagram and it never stopped taking an Instagram of itself and that never stopped taking an Instagram of itself.
That app is in your body. It is out of control and it is going to get you. Who would pay for this thing?!
But I found a way to tame these killer apps, and it’s the circle on the right - venture capitalism. Let’s bring those circles together. What’s that line telling us?
All together now.
There is no cure for a great idea.
I’ve got another scenario for you now. You’re walking down Queen St and turn up Vulcan Lane, and you check-in on your smartphone. A man in a sharp suit with an eccentric hint of genius to him walks past you and is checking in to the same network. You don’t realise it yet, but he’s a multi-millionaire.
24 hours later, by pooling your social currency on that same network, you’re a multi-millionaire too - working on the ground floor of his office for a more sustainable tomorrow, because we need to be sustainable if we’re going to grow.
It sounds crazy, and it is. But ‘crazy’ told Charles Dickens to invent the novel, or Winston Churchill to unite the rebels in World War Two. I will invest what my cleaner would earn in a decade into ‘crazy’ without a second thought if it meant a concept became a marketable idea. And that’s not peanuts, because I’m not one of those minimum wage guys. I pay my cleaners fourteen dollars an hour before tax.
Let’s think about that for a while.
The guy who’s come up with that idea I just mentioned is a young guy. He’s a naive guy, but that’s beautiful, because we’re all getting younger now. The Internet, cloning. It’s just that kind of century. But he’s come up with a self-sufficient, ridiculously simple, self-explanatory idea for a new social network. And so I have invested $20 million into making that a reality.
$20 million in this economy? Well, that’s the power of ideas, and money is just that - an idea. You can’t make me more copies of an idea when things are tough, and ideas don’t grow on trees. That’s why we have entrepreneurship. The Ancient Greeks had money - you would pay an Athenian coin for a slave. Stop and think about how far we’ve come when you perceive that last thing within your mind. An Athenian coin for a slave.
That’s right. They didn’t even have notes. Which just goes to show that even an idea done a thousand times for a million years can still surprise you.
I mentioned the economy before, and there’s a lot of talk at the moment about how governments around the world need to fix problems. Now, I’m a positive guy - I don’t like to say something won’t work. If I see someone pushing shit up a hill, I’ll tell them to turn that into an alternative fuel source. But - guys, and I hope you’re in the audience because, I really really think the private sector and public sector can teach each other a lot - governments don’t fix problems.
Solutions fix problems.
Do I have all the solutions today? Well, I’m a motivational speaker to a point - but I’m also a businessman. So hands off.
<remember to laugh here and not look too serious>
No, I kid, I kid. The point is - we’re all individually capable of the solutions. Look around you - why are people sitting around you. Did you come with them? Did they come with you? How do you know? Why do this many people spontaneously decide they want to inspire themselves to greater thought leadership? Do you think it was someone else?
You all have the cultural cache to solve global warming with a complex system of hedge funds, and you may not even realise it yet.
I want to leave you with a story about the first social entrepreneur that might inspire the audience to ‘think different’ when they go home today. He inspired people everywhere he went, and some say this may have even predated TED! He was misunderstood and mocked by his doubters. He was good with his hands, but also gave a great toast. He’d use the power of innovation to feed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and a fish. And he was able to retire before the age of 40.
Ladies and gentlemen, that man’s name was Jesus Christ.