One of the great, well-known aspects of being in the consulting or freelancing world is the flexibility to create your own schedule. It opens up time for things that a typical job won’t always allow, to do something fun like perfecting your golf game, to spend more quality time with your loved ones, or especially the chance to learn something new or enhance your perspective.
Recently, some EM Marketers (myself included) were able to do just that, at TEDxSF, a conference that brings innovators and inspirational speakers to San Francisco. I found it a little odd to hold the event in a dilapidated old shipping warehouse over in the Dogpatch neighborhood that currently houses some veteran Burning Man contraptions (or so I was told), but I came to appreciate the symbolism it represented, a message that seemed to carry on throughout the day: taking an outdated structure and repurposing its meaning for today’s culture.
Many of the talks touched upon convention and challenging it, such as the way we approach learning (and teaching), or the way we choose to identify ourselves, or even the much-outdated notion that our planet has unlimited resources. Even though we know a lot of the current methods are broken or flawed, what are we doing to actively change our ways?
Amin Toufani promoted “Lygometry,” which is the quantification of everything we know we don’t know. He implored, “the best way to think outside the box is to not know where the box is,” because he believes what is holding us back in the Information Age today is our obsession with knowledge and pretending to know things we don’t. Through Lygometry, he hopes people can better embrace that there are still many unknowns, and focus on those to create solutions to the bigger problems that we grapple with today.
Other speakers had much more ominous, foreboding messages of the direction of life as we know it: we currently consume the earth’s resources at a rate six times greater than our current planet can sustain; modern day eugenics will be the one percent’s insurance of staying in power; Artificial Intelligence is the “Beginning of the End” of the human race. It can be a lot to take in over the course of just a few hours.
Uplifting, Inspiring Messages
Despite those raw messages, the majority of the talks were uplifting and hopeful, like 17-year-old Rodeo Beauty Pageant Queen Michelle Serna encouraging each participant to remember that you are beautiful too, no matter what you look like. And Keith Yamashita led an inspiring talk on how to live a creative life, driven by ideas, passion, and a community of support (I highly recommend watching this talk once it is uploaded to the TED website). Justine Musk reminded us that we all have inner freaks — parts about us that are unique and are there for a reason — and that it’s our responsibility to embrace them and share that gift with the world, letting go of the fear of not being accepted.
A Reminder to Live Consciously
All in all, it was an incredibly thought-provoking day. What I like about TED talks (I watch a new video from their website fairly regularly) is that they remind me to continue to live my life consciously, in all aspects. As a new member of the EM Marketing community, and the consulting/freelancing world in general, I can’t think of a better lifestyle choice, both within my career and alongside it.