TED2012: Full Spectrum – Photos from a Magical Week

The TED Stage is a place I never imagined I’d be…so while I was in Long Beach last week, I made it a point to appreciate every minute of every day, and I took lots of photos. Here are some that I hope will give you an idea what an amazing and surreal experience it was…

A red carpet led to the door of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.  And inside…

Giant posters of all the speakers loomed over the TED lobby. This was a little scary.

And speaking of scary things…

This glowing hand offered me an apple when I opened the door to my room at the Long Beach Hyatt late Sunday night.  I made it past the scary apple-hand and was comforted by checking out the contents of the famous TED gift bag before I went to bed.

Monday was rehearsal day.  It was great to have the opportunity to stand on the stage and see what it would be like speaking later on in the conference. There are monitors on the floor as well as a digital clock that counts down your time (six minutes, in my case!)

TED curator Chris Anderson gave the speaker briefing Monday afternoon. “Let a thousand experiments bloom,” he told us. “Be proud of what you’ve prepared and how you do it.” Then he invited the whole speaker crew onto the stage for one last look before the official talks began the next day.

In the opening line of my talk on world building, I’d planned to ask the audience how many had played with Legos as kids. So I was delighted to find this on display in one of the TED social spaces…

It had to be a good sign, right?

The social spaces were full of all sorts of amazing exhibits, including this one from Genentech, where you could swab your DNA and then hear what it sounded like as music (they used algorithms to make DNA code into musical notes somehow).

You didn’t think I’d pass up the chance to be part of a genetic symphony, did you?

If you’d like to hear the full symphony of TEDsters’ DNA, it’s available online. Sounds pretty neat, even though I’m not sure which notes I contributed. I hope it’s one of the nice, zippy parts.

Here’s Julie Burstein speaking at TED2012 – Her book, SPARK: HOW CREATIVITY WORKS is a favorite of mine, so I was excited to meet her, and she was so, so nice. Julie spoke early in the week and spent much of the rest of her week reassuring the rest of us that we would do just fine.

On Tuesday night, there was a big, fancy party.

And here is the dessert table, for those of you who value dessert like I do.

I will be doing gym-time penance for my TED desserts for months.

Regina Dugan is the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and gave one of my favorite talks of the week. She asked what we’d do if we knew that failure was impossible…and that got us all thinking about how fear of failure impacts the choices we make, the chances we choose to take, and what we dare to try. Powerful stuff from an amazing woman.

Thursday night, there was another fancy party, at the aquarium.

Even the fish were fancy.

On Friday, the walk from the Hyatt to the Performing Arts center felt a little different; that morning was Session 11: The Classroom, where I was speaking along with Bill Nye, Ainissa Ramirez, Angie Miller, Al Vernaccio, John Bohanon, Awele Makeba, Rafe Esquith, Chris Anderson, and Aaron Reedy.  I was nervous, but my family had flown out to California to meet me on Wednesday so they could be at my session, and that helped so much.

There were lots of fascinating people at TED, but these three were my favorites.:-)

Here are two more super-nice people I met in Long Beach…

Nicoletta Daskolakas and Jessica Patrick were the official TED makeup artists, and they were both super-talented and incredibly kind (even to those of us who don’t really know our mascara from our lip liner on a regular day).  Bill Nye and I had our hair/makeup appointment together.

I kept thinking, “How surreal is this? I’m having my makeup done with Bill Nye?!!  And usually I don’t even wear makeup!”

Then it was time for The Classroom. The theatre looked a lot different than it had during rehearsals.

I was happy with the way my talk went. It was far from perfect, but it was me, and I got to share some ideas about which I’m truly passionate.

Official TED photo by James Duncan Davidson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedconference/6801109922/in/set-72157629496635587/

There’s no video online yet, but you can read the TED blog summary here. After the last session on Friday, the conference ended with a picnic and goodbyes.

From left to right: Julie Burstein, Ainissa Ramirez, and Cyndi Parr (Encyclopedia of Life)

From left to right: Ben Lillie, who writes for TED, Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere, Angie Miller, Al Vernaccio, and Brandon Miller.

I met such great people here — especially my fellow speakers in The Classroom session. I’m hoping they’ll visit my blog for interviews later on so you can get to know them better. But for now, I’m so thankful for the friendships that bloomed along with so many incredible ideas this week.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime – and one that I wish everyone could experience. Just in case you’re interested…TED is holding open auditions for its 2013 conference, “The Young. The Wise. Undiscovered.”
You never know…

I’m still processing all the amazing talks from last week and will have thoughts to share in the weeks to come, but for now, here are a couple that have already been shared online that you should check out.

Vijay Kumar shared his engineering team’s robots that fly and cooperate. (There’s an amazing robot-music-video at the end of this one!)

Susan Cain spoke beautifully about the power of introverts in our world.

And finally, Bryan Stevenson got what long-time TED attendees say was the biggest standing ovation in TED history with his talk on race, poverty, privilege, and justice. Please share this one where you can; it’s a conversation that we so need to be having.

13 Replies on “TED2012: Full Spectrum – Photos from a Magical Week

  1. So happy to hear about your fabulous time. Two squees from my house for the photo of your shared makeup session with Bill Nye. Thanks for sharing an inside look.

    1. That was one of the funniest moments for me – realizing how funny we both looked being hit with puffs of powder & hair spray! Thanks, Kathy!

  2. It sounds like it was amazing! Love all the pictures, especially the one of your makeup session with Bill Nye.
    How many people can say they’ve done a TED talk AND got their makeup done with Bill Nye? 😀

    1. Crazy, isn’t it? It was truly an incredible week. I do hope you’ll check out the talks – some of them (especially Stevenson’s talk on race & privilege) are going to start incredible conversations.

  3. My TED withdrawal continues and seems to grow rather than lessen with each passing day. I’m obsessively checking the website to see if they’ve posted our talks yet. The week was magical and you were certainly one of the keys to the magic! I’m so thankful for the chance to share such a peak experience with you! Hope it’s only the first of many! xo

    1. I know!! I already miss all of my fellow Classroom buddies. I think a reunion might be in order one of these days, no? We’ll have to start plotting.

    1. Thanks, Chris! They’ve released a handful of videos already (not mine yet!) – check out the one with Improv Everywhere – it was absolutely fantastic!