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You need to know about TED and TEDx

Posted: April 20, 2011, 4:50 p.m., EDT

I recently attended TedXMileHigh. For 6 ½ hours, I heard 18 of Colorado’s most-inspired citizens discuss the ways they--and we--can make a difference in the world. What is TED/TEDx? TED is a nonprofit devoted to "ideas worth spreading.”

Started in California 26 years ago, TED gathers the world’s leading thinkers and doers, who give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. The”TEDTalks” are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Sir Richard Branson and many other world leaders. Two major TED events are held each year. The TED Conference takes place every spring in Long Beach, Calif., (along with a parallel conference, TEDActive in Palm Springs). TEDGlobal is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

TEDx, created in the spirit of "ideas worth spreading,” is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The event I attended was called TEDxMileHigh, where x =an independently organized TED event. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a smaller group (we had about 1,500 in attendance). All the speakers had a Colorado connection, and I would say 80 percent of them were riveting. You can find a TEDx event near you by visiting this website.

My favorite speaker was Colorado’s new Governor, John Hickenlooper. Governor Hickenlooper refused to run any negative ads in his successful campaign. How refreshing is that? The former mayor of Denver, he said it was the first time in more than 100 years that the mayor of Denver was elected governor. Everyone loves him because of his positive attitude and ability to truly be bi-partisan.

A close second favorite was this amazing man named Paul Polak, the founder of International Development Enterprise. Formerly a psychiatrist, 77-year-old Dr. Polak now works in underdeveloped countries, finding ways to get clean drinking water to the 1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to it. And he is succeeding. He described a project in India where small stores are selling fresh drinking water to millions of rural farmers for less than 4 cents a liter. It’s a true win-win and gave us all hope that positive change really is happening. You can watch him and other inspirational speakers here.

It was an amazing day and I came away with a renewed sense of "How can I be a more productive change agent for my passion?” My passion happens to be bettering the quality of life for companion parrots. That’s another entire subject and probably the topic of one of my upcoming blogs.

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