For the second consecutive year, Santa Barbara on Friday will host the TEDx American Riviera conference, a series of lectures and presentations in conjunction with TED Talks that are designed to push the bounds of everyday conventional wisdom and “ignite the spark within.”
“Tell us a story you’ve never told before — be vulnerable,” said Mark Sylvester, co-host of TEDx American Riviera and CEO of introNetworks. “Tell us a story from a new angle; give us something new to chew on. That’s really hard for people.”
Supported by the private nonprofit Sapling Foundation, TED Talks has been delivering “ideas worth spreading” in the form of short monologues worldwide for the past 25 years. But TED and its independent subsidiary, TEDx, are not merely a series of speakers trying to sell their ideas. Rather, it’s an assembly of great thinkers sharing creative and imaginative ideas for the betterment of the world around us.
Sylvester, along with fellow TEDx co-hosts Kymberlee Weil and Eric Greenspan, spearheaded Santa Barbara’s TEDx conference after they themselves were inspired by the innovative thought being generated from previous TED Talks and TEDx events.
“I’ve been going to TED for nine years in a row,” said Weil, introNetworks’ president. “Every year when I come home I tell my friends, my family and co-workers how amazing and life changing it was. So when we came upon the idea to participate to have an event locally, to bring TED to Santa Barbara, we couldn’t say no. It’s such an honor to spread these ideas about changing the world.”
A total of 16 speakers will take the stage Friday at Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road in Montecito. The conference will feature a diverse range of subjects from integrating business models to the secrets of finding and keeping everlasting love to new ways on how to consume raw foods.
Handpicked by TEDx organizers, the TEDx American Riviera-featured speakers are modern pioneers in their fields.
“We chose the speakers very carefully,” Weil said. “Everyone was handpicked for a very particular reason.
“We want people who have strong points of view and be passionate about what they do. In some cases they may be controversial, they may have radical ideas. At the end of the day we want to inspire people to think and look at the world slightly differently.”
Santa Barbara will be one of 25 locations worldwide to hold a TEDx conference on 11/11/11, and every lecture will be broadcasted live in HD on the TEDx American Riviera Web site.
“I really love TED as a conference because it breaks the boundaries and looks at new ways to design, to educate, and for business,” said TEDx speaker Peter Matthies, founder of the Santa Barbara-based Conscious Business Institute.
Matthies’ lecture, entitled “The Spark at Work,” will explore the question of whether there is a better way to work without being stressed.
“It basically comes from the observation that most people don’t like what they are doing,” Matthies explained. “A lot of us are unfulfilled.
“That’s what I see in a lot of companies — people are totally burnt out. And so we work with companies like BMW and Siemens, and what you see in the company is a lot of conflict and uncertainty with what lies ahead. We need new perspectives and TED provides a lot of new insight and out-of-box thinking, and business and individuals can benefit from that.”
“For me personally, it’s the best of the best,” author Jenna McCarthy said on being selected to present at TEDx. “It’s a tremendous honor; it’s like being asked to guest co-host with Oprah. I just hope I don’t throw up on stage.”
McCarthy will be giving a talk Friday called “How to Live Happily Ever After,” which she described as a lighthearted approach to marriage.
“It’s based on a lot of quasi-ridiculous research I did on my last book about marriage,” McCarthy said. “I have pages and pages of studies that say, ‘Here’s what makes happy marriage,’ but I think that’s a little bit absurd.”
Sylvester and Weil each said the speakers have been preparing for months for this year’s TEDx American Riviera conference and they’re ready to make an impact on the Santa Barbara community.
“For Santa Barbara to get involved is a pretty big deal,” Sylvester said. “We have worked hard with all the individual speakers. We think this is one thin Santa Barbara slice of a worldwide movement and people from around the world will be looking to Santa Barbara.”
Along with Matthies and McCarthy, Friday’s speakers include:
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