TEDx Detroit event review

by tomlucier on November 6, 2009

Ted X Detroit Logo

Ted X Detroit Logo

In the middle of October, I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend a limited-seating event in Detroit called TEDx Detroit.
TED.com has been one of the most uplifting, challenging, brilliant websites I’ve been visiting for the past four years.
Tedx Detroit was a spin-off, localized version of the talks on TED.com, from the conference in Monterrey, California every year.

Getting chosen, as one of two Canadians on-hand for the event (Mita Williams of Leddy Library also chosen) was an honour.
Sitting in a conference room at Lawrence Tech University at 10 Mile Road, I was surrounded by 200 DOERS. Idea people, entrepreneurs, visionaries, and curious people who make it their mission to SHOW UP, and then do more than that.

The speaking series was a cross section of the brilliance moving Detroit forward. This event was a connecting, resource-heavy link-up.

Speakers at this TEDx Detroit event were many, and so I thought I’d narrow their talks down to things they said that stood out to me in each talk:

Picture 7
Dr. Gary Gabel
- Before we turn three years old, we have been rewarded THOUSANDS of times for whining, and complaining (ie. need food, need diaper changed, need more blankets). He related this to consumers, citizens, complaining about things hoping for a reply. An answer. Instead of fixing it themselves. Some of us never get out of this habit.
- How did the market crash open the possibilities the be the person I want to be? Good question.

Picture 10
Dawn WhiteAccio Wind Energy (named after a Harry Potter spell)
- Accio Wind Energy, in Detroit, looked into getting rid of the spinning blade technology for windmills, because it has been controversial. Animal harm, vibrations, etc.
- Get rid of spinning blades? She thought of the Dyson Vacuum cleaner.
- There are fans without blades. I have one.
- They use a PANEL design, with TUBES inside that capture wind energy.
- Because they are located in the manufacturing hub, they can make these for FAR LESS than anyone else in the country (or world). They can get “wind energy tubing” for pennies per foot because of Detroit’s manufacturing infrastructure.
- Using current workforce and assembly line keeps costs down and invigorates Michigan economy.

Picture 11
Fabienne MunchHerman Miller (Furniture)
- She spoke about thiking WAY ahead of the normal time frames we think of with regards to future business needs…or world needs.
- Think about 2050. How will businesses work?
- She stated a quote that made me think big. It was from Max De Pree, of Herman Miller.
“There are two ways of competing in this business – you can nickel and dime the competition to death, or you can take giant steps that distinguish you from them. But the only way to take giant steps is to have giants.”
That last bit is beautiful.

Picture 12
Aaron Crumm – Adaptive Materials Inc.:
- Coal fired power plant consumes 100 train cars of coal a day!
- Personalized power generators = future of alternative energies
- Too many steps to get from energy source to battery, and eventually to consumer.
- Detroit based company ready to change this.

Picture 13
Richard B. Sheridan:
- His big truth – If it doesn’t work, and it isn’t obvious – the design is STUPID. You shouldn’t have to guess whether to push or pull a door. Its design should make it obvious, as should other items’ designs.
- Did you ever notice that the save button on Microsoft programs is a FLOPPY DISK?! Relevant?
- We need anthropology to learn how to make things better for people. Study people to see what is actually needed in products.

Picture 14
Charles “Chazz” MillerPublic Art Workz:
- BRILLIANT presentation about his role in teaching art to inner city Detroiters.
- CREATING the market for art, then creating the art.
- His creations are imaginative, and involve making things look better in order to pick up the morale of the community.
- He showed images of working models of amazing, interactive street furniture. A Poe”tree” (poetry) that tells you a different poem, out loud, when you touch different branches of the tree-shaped sculpture. Great ideas, great man.

Picture 15
Matt DugenerEnliven Software
- He spoke about creating an “entrepreneur community”. Making it work by COLLABORATING!
- He said, “In Texas, when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re a hero. In Michigan, you’re a criminal.”
- People wonder why you’re not in the Big 3, and they’re more suspicious than supportive of your business.
- He sees a problem that was taught at all levels, but apparent in Windsor/Detroit – We taught everyone how to be employees, and not employERS.

Picture 16
Dan IzzoBizzo.biz
- Dan’s company, I think, is willing to supply investment (after looking at an upstart’s business plan etc.) to an entrepreneur. 67% of the equity of the comany is owned by Bizzo until the money is returned to Bizzo…then the equity FLIPS, and the entrepreneur owns 67% of the business…Bizzo keeps 33%…as an investor…BUT…one condition…
-The business MUST open within Detroit’s city limits!!! BRILLIANT!

Picture 17
Paul Schutt – “Issue Media Group” – “Model D blog” – “Metro Mode
- Paul’s company focuses on showing the face of the New Detroit using publications, online and offline.
- He’s raising profiles of of DIVERSTIY in business and art in Detroit.
- He points out that the media like to write about the STP (Same Ten People). This needs to be changed, by stepping in and offering more diverse stories and looks at other gifted peopel in the area…acting as a content farm for mainstream media.
- Create Once. Publish Everywhere.

Thanks to all the organizers in Detroit who made this happen, and who allowed me to attend.
It was phenomenal, even though I had to leave early to get to work.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

rino 11.06.09 at 10:51 pm

thanks for the recap.

Mark Boscariol 11.08.09 at 2:28 am

I know I’m digressing here but I’ve also been following TED. I saw one speech by Bill Gates on Education and Teachers and it shows how little people even want to talk about the problems we face, let alone solve them.
Basically he said the Gates foundation studies what makes good teachers good and track how all the different factors contribute to whether a teacher is a good teacher or not. They concluded that the characteristic that had the least effect on whether a teacher was a good teacher or not was the level of education of that teacher. While at the same time the characteristic that most determines the pay rate of teachers is their level of higher education. How do you debate how to make education better when we don’t even discuss and debate an issue like that publicly

Until someone has the courage to discuss and debate this issue, things don’t look good for the future Education in North America

Ted is an amazing resource for ideas and discussion

Dan Izzo 11.11.09 at 9:23 pm

Dan Izzo here – thanks for the comment. Just to clear up a bit of a misconception, I work for Bizdom U, my blog is Bizzo.biz/ Bizdom U provides all of the awesome stuff you described above (funding, equity swap etc.).


Charlie Wollborg 11.14.09 at 10:21 pm

Excellent recap, Tom. I’m enjoying watching the talks from TEDxDetroit again as they’re posted to the TEDx channel on YouTube: http://j.mp/1yvzcY

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