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takeaways from TEDx Brisbane

March 7, 2010

TEDx Brisbane Logo

Wow. What an amazing day. Ten out of ten and a koala stamp to TEDx Brisbane co-hosts Paul Fairweather and Carl Lindgren! A great start to what I am sure is going to be an annual event here in Brisbane that will sell out pretty much as soon as it opens.

So many great speakers and so many great people who I met throughout the day. (Thanks to Shane, Dave, Graeme and Tim and everyone else I shared the TED experience with). For me, all of them were carrying the same message – make a decision and then take the action that follows.

Kevin Finn from Finn Creative ( started the day sharing his unique ways of seeing the world and the joy of what can happen if you have the strength let go of the rope and if you have the strength to hang on.

Robert Perkin the founder of Food Connect ( who aims to supply local, sustainably produced food to the community and in the process create a new, more equitable way of distributing local produce in a socially responsible way. An amazing contribution from a man who admits he was on the way to his neighbour’s farm to borrow a gun to kill himself when he heard a friend had just taken his own life. Robert let go of the rope, turned around, went home and sought help. The world is a much richer place as a result.

Richard Slater, a Brisbane boy who is the GM behind We Are Hunted ( a music chart site for the 99 most popular emerging songs in the world. His message – release now, then iterate. Don’t wait.

Sheldon Lieberman from was a great example of what can happen if you make a decision and take the action that follows. You might have seen his work on YouTube before but check out his site and stuff like this:

Chris Sarra was great and spoke about the power of the expectations we put on others saying, I think, that people will always live down to your expectations of them. His challenge to us all when faced with a “challenging” kid – don’t ask ‘what are we going to do with this child?’ instead ask ‘what would I want done if this was my child, my grandchild, my sister or my brother?’

The TED talk videos during the day were also great. Temple Grandin extended Chris Sarra’s theme in the context of the kids society brands as autistic. She points out that her autism means that she sees the world differently to most other people and that is why she has been so successful. You can check out her TED talk here:

In a lovely piece of synchronicity the people at have just finished a series of animations for ABC TV3 called “Laser Beak Man” based on the artwork of Tim Sharp ( As his website says:

Tim was diagnosed with Autism when he was three years old. Such were Tim’s enormous difficulties that the doctor’s advice was “that the best thing to do was put him away and forget about him.”

He always told his mum that he wanted his stuff to be on the television. He made the decision, kept hanging on and he continues to draw today. What is your excuse?

Dallas Clayton and his book “A very awesome book” is another great example. His philosophy is that for every one that you buy he will make sure one is given away – but it has to be actually put into the hands of a person. Awesome stuff. Check his website out at

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the incredibly successful book “Eat, Pray, Love” is another TED talk you should watch. She talks about the nature of creativity and genius. After my earlier post “why you are not your own worst enemy” I really related to the distinction she makes between having a genius and being a genius. The story she tells of the poem chasing the poet through the fields gives me goosebumps just writing about it now. Only Tom Waits could tell a song to come back later or go and bug Leonard Cohen! Check out Elizabeth’s TED talk here:

So much more I could write about but I will close here with my take home messages from Nigel Brennan the Australian photojournalist recently released by kidnappers in Somalia. The photographs he did manage to take before being kidnapped show the most  beautiful country and the most amazing people struggling to live amidst the most terrible conflict. Nigel spoke of the short time every two weeks during his captivity when he was allowed out of his cell to wash his clothes and how he will never take for granted the amazing blue of the sky.

His description of the freedom he experienced when he managed to briefly escape with two others from his captors was riveting. He spoke of those 30 minutes as being the most liberating and joyful 30 minutes of his life. He said they were also the most terrifying. When his colleague was taken away and he heard a single shot from an AK47 he spoke of the calm that descended over him as he reconciled himself with his own death that he felt sure would quickly follow. He closed by saying that he felt he stood before those assembled at TEDx Brisbane not because he wasn’t killed but because he never gave up hope.

And that is what I took away from TEDx Brisbane. Never give up hope, make a decision, take the action and never give up hope. And that is an idea worth spreading!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2010 4:06 am

    Paul, sounds like you had an awesome day …..
    Never give up hope, make a decision, take the action and never give up hope.
    And that is an idea worth spreading! – I agree 100% !

  2. March 7, 2010 10:37 pm

    Great wrap of TEDx Brisbane Paul! brought back great memories reading it.
    We should have more sharing like this

  3. March 8, 2010 8:42 pm

    Thanks Robert. Most of the success of the day can be attributed to the preparedness of speakers like yourself to share their deepest hopes as well as their deepest fears. Once that happens it is almost impossible not to engage.

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