Big Ideas. Worth Spreading?

It’s been quite a week.  I was lucky enough to be a volunteer at this year’s TEDxWaterloo – my first TED event. It definitely won’t be my last.  I’ve watched, and been inspired by, many a #tedtalk online over the last few years but, as I found out earlier in the week, there really is nothing quite like experiencing one for yourself.

For those of you who don’t know about TED, it’s a small not-for-profit organization with the mission statement, ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.  It does this via an annual TED Global Conference, and a series of TEDx [the x stands for independently organized] events, at which people talk about ideas that inspire them.  It has been described as ‘the ultimate brain spa’ and ‘a journey into the future’.  The Waterloo event was both!

Attendees at this week’s Waterloo event heard about launching cameras – and lego men – into space for just $400, the wider role of community art projects and they had particle physics explained to them – via the media of magic and dance [Lindy Hop in case you are wondering!].

Too often the first things we consider when planning a communications programme are the restrictions – not what we’re trying to achieve. There’s underestimated value in having big ideas – and of considering every possible way of achieving them.  There will always be constraining factors – usually time, budget or resources – but TEDxWaterloo has reinforced that if there is a vision, and an openness to exploration and creativity, then incredible things can be achieved.

Perhaps it’s time we all dreamed a little bigger and encouraged our colleagues to do the same?

What big idea would you spread?

You’ve got 18 minutes to share one big idea with an audience.  What would you talk about?

Here’s one I enjoyed to give you inspiration.


Later in the week I’ll tell you what I’d talk about!

Rethink what’s possible…

How much do you think it would cost to launch a camera into near space and take photographs of the earth? If I told you that you could do it for $400 you’d think I was crazy, right?

I had the privilege to be part of TEDxWaterloo yesterday and one of the most inspiring talks was by Toronto student Matthew Ho who told about how he and a friend had sent cameras and a Lego figure into near space and taken photographs of the earth’s atmosphere – using only the contents of a small plastic crate totalling just $400.  ‘Putting a camera into space is really not that difficult’, the audience was told… and that got me thinking.  Far too many good ideas get mothballed because it appears too crazy or difficult.

I founded THINK DIFFERENT[LY] with the mission to encourage companies to think beyond the traditional boundaries of marketing communications. We look at how we can complement the traditional disciplines with new ideas and approaches and challenge the traditional assumptions of effective marketing, public relations and marketing – because we believe that when you do amazing things can happen… like launching a camera into near space for $400.

You can watch a video of Matthew’s achievements below: