Welcome to episode 29 of Birmingham Shines. I’m your host and producer Sheree Martin and this week’s show is about TEDxBirmingham: what it is, why it matters, who it’s for and more. We also talk about what makes Birmingham Shine and what makes a person shine.
My guest is Matthew Hamilton, someone I’ve been trying to have on the show since last summer and we finally had a chance to sit down just before the beginning of the year to talk about TEDxBirmingham. I’m a huge fan of TED talks and TEDx talks and use them to learn, find inspiration and spark my own innovation and creativity.
TEDxBirmingham 4th edition is set for March 12 and the leadership team just announced this year’s speakers a few weeks ago.
Matthew and I talk about the importance of TEDx events in the life of a community and the goals of TEDxBirmingham in particular. I ask Matthew to highlight a few of his favorite speakers from past TEDxBirmingham events and you can find videos of those talks on the Birmingham Shines blog. He also gives us a preview of this year’s speaker line-up.
You can apply for tickets right now through tedxbirmingham.org and Matthew explains the selection process in our conversation around the 43 minute mark. The deadline to submit your application is January 31, so only a few days left to apply for tickets. But you can also participate via the free livestream if you can’t attend in person.
Why does TEDx matter? Matthew says it creates a forum in a community where a diverse group of people can come together and share ideas. The TEDx event can be a spark or catalyst for innovation. Tt’s the sharing of ideas and bringing people together to connect that is the service TEDx events provide to a community.
The focus or mission of TED is to bring to light Ideas Worth Spreading. I like to think that my hero Benjamin Franklin would have been one of the forces to bring a TED-type of event to life. His Junto is probably the closest thing to a TED-type of event that existed in the colonies in the first half of the 18th century.
Matthew is a co-organizer with Dr. Sarah Parcak of UAB, who’s a TED Fellow. In curating the speakers for TEDxBirmingham events they try to focus on ideas that matter coming OUT of Birmingham, more than ideas about Birmingham.
“We want to share ideas that are originating in this city, out to the world,” Hamilton said.
One of the criteria used by the TEDxBirmingham organizers for speaker selections is that the idea is one that would be relevant to someone regardless of geography. The idea is not specific to Birmingham or relevant only to people in our city or region.
Matthew used the example of Dr. Pat Hymel’s TEDxBirmingham talk from 2013, which focused on how we grow and learn from our mistakes.
This year’s TEDxBirmingham has the theme of Pure Imagination. In curating speakers for this theme, Hamilton says the idea was to find speakers who consider the possibilities for the future with an emphasis on WHEN, not if.
Once we finish talking about TEDxBirmingham, past and present. Matthew shares some of his thoughts on how and why Birmingham Shines: It really comes down to the people.
We talk about two books Matthew recommends:
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- How Will You Measure Your Life by Clay Christiansen
What makes someone shine personally? A similar theme echoed by other guests: A willingness to step out and do the thing you’re passionate about.