On December 11, an extraordinary group of hundreds of thought leaders, brimming with MacArthurs, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Kennedy honors, Nobels and more, will convene at the Monterey Conference Center for eg: the entertainment gathering.
The conference, founded by TED impresario Richard Saul Wurman and now directed by Michael Hawley, is worlds away from typical industry conferences. "It's organized around one thing," says Hawley. "It is simply about bringing together the best of the best in our most creative enterprises." Hawley is well-calibrated to know. His technology career has included pioneering work in digital cinema at Lucasfilm, computer music at IRCAM in France, degrees from Yale and MIT, and leading research for more than a decade at the Media Lab where he became one of the world's most visible and active researchers and innovators. He also plays the piano (and won the Cliburn competition in 2002). This is the kind of event where speakers go to meet the audience, which includes presenters (and past "alums"), captains of industry. Folks like Matt Groening, Amy Tan, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Herbie Hancock, Steve Wozniak and HEROES creator Tim Kring all attend. The typical audience snapshot: roughly 40% President / "CxO" level execs; 30% are Founder/Director/Chairman/General Partner; 10% Professor/Dean/Educator. "And the rest? God knows. But everyone is exceptional," says Hawley. "Some are billionaires and some are rising stars. Some are national treasures and some are yet to be discovered."
As a long time TED attendee and previous eg participant, I can attest that both are exceptionally engaging, motivating, stirring, emotional, provocative, fun and relevant. TED has expanded in recent years, but eg in many ways recaptures TED's original freshness and intent. "Expansion is a cooling process. eg is still small, intimate, bubbly and it's in a cozy setting where you can probably meet everyone. In a conference, size does matter and eg strikes the right balance between critical mass and intimacy" Hawley commented in an interview with Jack Myers Media Business Report.
Hawley acknowledges the $4,000 fee may seem pricey, but in fact, it is considerably less than many other premium affairs. "We all hunger for inspiration and in business, you can't afford to be without a good idea. Life has to move forward: the future is for the bold. This is a conference of, and for, bold people. The people who come are among the most talented in their organizations. For them, attending eg is a serious commitment because they know it is a font of ideas and connections that will stick with them for years. You often forge new lifelong friendships. It's like panning for gold -- new ideas and new people of this caliber simply do not surface from traditional markets and conferences."
The focus of eg is emphatically on the live event, advises Hawley. "The conference is limited to the capacity of the room. There is no overflow. There is no webcast. Seats are not refundable or transferable. You are either there, or you are not. To be part of a great event means breathing the same air, and more important, it means immersing yourself in moments that you will remember vividly for the rest of your lives. Last year, Jonathan Winters told his life story: the audience was laughing and crying at the same time. It was unforgettable. That kind of thing simply does not happen through a screen. A typical reaction from Jeff Hayzlett, the Chief Marketing Officer of Kodak: 'Damn, I wish my wife were here!' When was the last time you were part of an event that transcends industry and becomes something so humanly valuable, yet recharges all of your business batteries?"
Hawley adds "A lot of people have felt stuck this year --- wedged between global economic horrors and a paralyzing presidential campaign. One school of thought says that mass digital media swamps people with massive amounts of the same brain-constipating garbage, causing everyone to think the same stuff and talk about the same gossip --- it gums up the works, like a LaBrea tarpit of the mind. There's some truth to that, but at the same time, it also surfaces more solutions and good ideas than ever before. After a year of crippling, public handwringing, the world is simply starving for fresh ideas, great communicators, and inspiring people who slice through the nonsense." Without a doubt, eg brings the best and brightest thinkers, performers, inventors, executives and creators into an energetic, idea-driven environment.
Speakers at the December 11 to 13 event include: rock star Todd Rundgren, Oscar & Tony winner Marshall Brickman, MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, New York Times columnists David Pogue and Mark Bittman, urban explorer Miru Kim, portrait photographer Dana Gluckstein, inventor Bran Ferren, game designer Scott Kim, MacArthur laureate dancer Jacques D'Amboise and many others. It is a staggeringly good lineup. Presentations are limited to 20-minutes each and must be original and never presented before.
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This post originally appeared at JackMyers.com.
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