I love TED talks. I have watched more of them than I could remember and Chris Anderson is one of my personal heroes. I even spoke at a TEDx event earlier in my life. With that, the lack of accountability and follow-through that TED enforces with its speakers makes its overall mission less potent than it could potentially be.
Over the years, I have watched the movement grow and franchise into many corners of the world. When Jacqueline Novogratz (Acumen Fund CEO and Mr. Anderson's wife) spoke to SEED at the University of Virginia last spring, she told us the story of TED in Shekhawati, a small village in India that lacks most resources that TEDx events require. Despite that, people came together and put together an impressive event while embracing resourcefulness and the power of ideas.
Stories like this are especially inspiring and are indicative of the global reach and scope of this movement. While bringing together a community or a village towards a common cause is certainly great, thinking beyond that requires follow-through and accountability.
The world we live in is full of great speakers. Most politicians have great rhetoric, a voice that is intended to stir people to action. While that may have worked in past decades, the world we live in now moves too quickly for mere rhetoric to have any lasting impact.
The TED movement stands at the intersection of technology, innovation and education. It has gotten the world's attention but for the most part, it has been focused on talking about changing the world. If that were ever going to happen, there needs to be more action and less talk.
My generation inherits a global economic sustainability crisis, a Middle East in revolt, and an environment in decay. In order for us to have the wherewithal and follow-through to address any of these issues, we need to be doers, not mere good speakers. And the TED movement is in a great position to both set such an example and jumpstart action to address these issues.
So, Mr. Anderson:
As you very well know, everything around us has been built by doers. It surely is nice to hear people articulate a certain concept or idea, but it is worth reminding ourselves that "an idea worth spreading" is worth nothing if it is not executed. And if anyone was in a position to put that concept into action, it is the TED talks that you so eloquently curate.
PS: the irony of this post is not lost on me.