This is one of my favorite weeks of the year – TED begins today! For those of you who aren’t familiar with TED, it’s a conference… and a whole lot more. (TED stands for Technology – Entertainment – Design). There’s the event itself, the foundation and the TED Prize, the website – TED.com, TED Global, and more. TED has become a global voice for Ideas Worth Spreading.

I go to TED because it stretches me. As leaders, I’m convinced we have to constantly find events, people, disciplines and any other activities we can to fuel our growth and creativity. TED is one of these things in my life.

Here are five of the things I love about TED…

1.  The Ideas  The ideas shared run the gamut from amazing to bizarre to insightful to mind-boggling. TED challenges my thinking.

2.  The Presenters  TED is the only place I know where you can hear from an economist, a ukulele virtuoso, a cancer researcher, a silk spider scientist, a chef, an activist and an astronomer in a single afternoon.

3.  The Attendees  I’ve met some of the most interesting, high-impact men and women in the world in the hallways at TED. Here are a couple of examples: I had a conversation with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who really did invent the Internet. Imagine that, a chicken salesman talking to the guy who invented the Internet! Or, the conversation I had with a Nobel Prize winning biologist – I didn’t say much.

4.  The Format – TED Talks are AMAZING. One of the reasons – the average talk is less than 18 minutes!  Breakout talks are usually only 5 – 10 minutes each. The pace is exhilarating and exhausting. The short talk format forces presenters to be on point – quickly. At our annual meeting this year, four of our presenters attempted their own versions of TED Talks. They were extremely well-received. Less really can be more! 

5.  The Web Site  TED.com. This site is built around the TED Talks. The most stunning, surprising, provocative and challenging talks from the last few decades can be found there – and it’s all FREE. Explore the site yourself – I’d love to hear which talks are your favorites.

I’ll be blogging and tweeting from TED this week, so check back in for updates.

What are the things you do on purpose to stretch yourself as a leader?

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.