The TED Conference trashed me. I feel like I went to Monterey, California as an empty bucket, got completely overfilled with water and then someone just dumped me all over the street. I'm drained. There's a slight temptation to mention all the cool and famous people I met, but I think the overall experience of sitting shoulder to shoulder with some of the smartest people I have ever met is something that I'll always hold closest to my heart. It was a full-on holistic assault - the mind, body and spirit got filled, challenged, questioned and schooled. It's enough fodder to keep me thinking until TED 2009 (if they'll have me back, I can't imagine not going).
Here's one way to illustrate what TED is like. I sat down in one of the sessions. Unlike other conferences where no one talks to one another (and if they do, it's quite forced), at TED, everyone talks to everyone, so when you sit down in a session you always introduce yourself to the people on either side of you. Man, why don't we always do this as a society? It turn out the person on my right owns a toy company that is responsible for the amazing game/puzzle, Rush Hour (I must have given that game as a gift to over fifteen kids in the past few years) and the person on my left was the creator of del.icio.us (in case you have not been following Six Pixels of Separation for the past while, I love del.icio.us).
Who would you talk to?
The correct answer is: you introduce them to one another and you talk to everybody.
And that's what TED is. Technology Entertainment Design. In those three seats, the three of us had all the angles covered with enough interest and uniqueness - in terms of what we do individually - that it not only spurred some interesting conversation, but I think all of us were able to appreciate the session and the speakers because of the shared experience.
There were so many amazing Marketing lessons that I'll take home from TED. The curator, Chris Anderson, is such a wise and smart dude. He provoked the speakers at the end of their presentations with real questions - Marketers need to be this provocative with their line of questioning. The TED conference gives both perspective and depth to concepts. It was enough if all you really wanted was a nibble, but there was plenty there if you wanted the full meal. TED's use of technology was also an incredible lesson in how Marketers need to use every channel to compliment one another (and not cannibalize each channel). The website and the online community cannot replace the live conference, but it does enhance the experience. With a remote live satellite feed from Aspen, where a few thousand gathered to watch the conference via closed satellite, TED demonstrated how great communication is great communication. We were able to get live feeds from Aspen and although it didn't feel like Monterey, they had their own, unique experience going. They didn't try to copy or make it "less than" - they used what they had to create a different experience.
There are many different ways to make Marketing work. Some of the models are new and some of the classics work perfectly well. TED offered total balance in terms of content and full-on community involvement.
You're smart enough to take those lessons and apply them to your Marketing.