Monday, January 09, 2012


Having heard of the TED talk series for a while now, I was totally excited when I got to know that IIMB was having a micro version of its own - the TEDxIIMB event. It was the first time it was being conducted, and is expected to be an annual event. It was scheduled for a Wednesday, so there was a little discomfort with having to take a half-day off from work, and it didn't help that my fellow smarties (the others in the PGSEM programme) gave a lazy look out of the corner of their eyes when I asked who'd be coming along. The reason? "It's a TEDx event man, it'll be on the internet anyway... we can watch it for free! That too, in office!". But for some reason, maybe to partake of a historic moment, I just had to go. And so I did, though I thought the price was exorbitant even AFTER getting the customary IIMB discount. Now, before I come off as this really miserly chap, I better get to the actual topic.

As always happen, the event that's supposed to start at 2, promptly began around 2:15. That's remarkably early, when you consider IST. The underlying theme was supposed to be "Unconventional Paradigms". So the speakers were chosen aptly, representing a set of people who do.. things.. differently. Some of the speakers seemed to understand what they were supposed to do and came through with a message that made me think. Some of the others had so much to say, they forgot that they weren't the only speakers in the session. Being alloted 15 minutes and taking 45 minutes can *REALLY* test the patience of someone. Even if what you've done is remarkable, I believe that in a talk the audience is important, what you have to say... not as much. You have to get through to them, get them to absorb what you have to say. A couple of the guys came about saying "I did this, I did that" and that leads to a tune-out. Having said all that, tt wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be! We had a few guys talking to us about how they chose to live life differently, and there were some really cool takeaways there.

First off, we had Raghuram (of MTV Roadies fame), who spoke to us about why he thought Roadies succeeded when many other reality shows fail here. His main funda was that during the making of the show, its important to build something you like rather than what you THINK the audience likes. Giving examples of how other people thought that a good reality show requires khadoos judges, and lots of swearwords and tantrums, he tried to explain how Roadies was NOT about that and how it just came to be that... like an unintended consequence. Treating it as a design constraint for any reality show doesn't really make sense. Chilled out speaker, but not really the best start to a TEDx if you ask me.

Next we had Anil Kakodkar, who spoke of how unconventional sources of energy were far more likely to save us in the long run rather than today's methods and sources. Really cool, really technical, where he spoke of Thorium and solar as sources of energy, but man, this was so serious! I heard a couple of guys doze off around me and snore a bit before they caught themselves! (Or was it me?)

We then had Brigadier Dilawar Singh who was trying an unconventional strategy when it came to combating terrorism. He actually went out of his way to engage with the local populace in some of the most unstable locations and conflict zones! It was fascinating to see the passion of the man who so strongly believed that peace and buy-in can be achieved with the local populace if you're just willing to open up to them and let them open up to you. Yes, he went on for much longer than he was supposed to, and it was undoubtedly an awesome tale, but mannn... after a while you start yawning. The guy next to me kept giving me the 'disgusting!' look, and hit me in the ribs everytime I yawned. Other than grimacing at the jabs, there wasn't much else I could do! Luckily it all stopped when I caught him yawning and gave him a pointed stare after which I was left alone.

The last talk in the first session was by Vivek Prabhakar of fame. This was an amazing end to the first session! In his own light-hearted and humor filled way (not to mention Apple-enabled beautiful presentations), he explained how he and his wife got together to start a business and how it wasn't all fun and games. He went on to explain how they came up with their fridge-magnets merchandise, their different takes on Indian mythological charecters and the creative ways in which they got out of sticky situations. At the end of the day, however, he says there's nothing he would otherwise do. It's always awesome to hear the stories of entrepreneurs, tends to motivate you quite a bit...

The midday session had talks by Ram Prasad (Final Mile Consulting), Amitabh Kant (Incredible India, Kerala - Campaign Architect) and Kiran Bedi (Really? You need an intro?). They had their fair share of stories to tell, and I'd have described them if it wasn't for the fact that you can actually see the videos. I personally thought Kiran Bedi was trying to really push the Lokpal bill across by making people answer some apparently rhetorical questions. Yes, I get how passionate people can be, and even though I felt a little forced by her presentation, I think I'd rather read the Lokpal bill again. I'd urge you to do the same... I wouldn't want her primary concern to remain that way for long. In her own words, she mentions, "Very few of you have given the bill a look through. We need you to do that, this is our last chance of getting through, of getting the way of the people, don't neglect it." At the very least, reading that bill is definitely on top of my list.

The third session had Pankaj Advani and Khurshid Batliwala open the session, one after the other. Pankaj's story was of a normal guy who made it all the way to the top, and his reflections on what it took to get him there. Khurshid, in a very SriSriRavishankar-ish look explained how he made his way from the IIT Delhi to getting into the Art Of Living. Both the speakers had a good share of humour in their talk, and really gelled with the audience. Prof. Trilochan Sastry who came up next, didn't spend much time actually talking about the ADR (which is what the schedule said he'd talk about), but in his own way he took the audience through an insightful talk on the importance of happiness and contentment in one's life.

To close for the day, we had Vipul Goyal, another IIT Delhi guy who's become a comedian. Was a nice wrap-up for the day, making jabs at everyday life and getting us to think a little. All in all, it's a nice beginning to what looks to become an annual event. Each of the speakers had something unconventional in them, or their means of dealing. Looks like I'd be buying a ticket for next year's event anyway! :)

No comments:


Get Our Latest Posts Via Email - It's Free

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner