Saturday, September 17, 2011

TEDx talk prep

With only 2 months remaining before my TEDx talk in Toronto, it's time to kick preparation into high-gear. I wrote a draft of my speech back in April but re-reading it now there is a lot I want to change. The general biography elements are interesting and there are a couple funny moments but overall my message is not nearly clear enough in that draft. (That's why I'm glad it's a "draft") :)

My buddy Arjun sent along this incredibly helful page too with some great suggestions:

My real aim here I think it to try to distill the patented Jutan enthusiasm. I want to show how my wonder/enthusiasm is not just a part of my personality that is good but inconsequential - rather, it's a tool that I've honed and used very intentionally all throughout my life to help me achieve what I want from the world. It has been they key to achieving my childhood dream-job. It was the key to achieving many smaller (and larger) dreams all along the way. It has been my most essential tool to keep focused and determined to achieve what I want, and to be confident in the road to attain these goals. The flavour of this needs to be accessible - I can't go on and on about myself in a biography-style without tying it (even just briefly) back to the thesis. Little stories and anecdotes will be fun to listen to I think/hope, but this doc above has good advice - don't be preachy. I don't want to claim that I've got some secret method for achieving your childhood dreams, or I'm going to sound instantly like an infomercial. Rather I want to discuss a few anecdotes of where my enthusiasm and sticktoitiveness have served me very well, and let the audience distill meaning from my stories into actionable items in their own lives.

Really, I think the fact that I chose Computer Science is a less important point to discuss. What I've achieved with it is exciting (I certainly think so!) but the flavour I think I want to impart is that I would have brought my energy to whatever career I chose. Assuming the same level of enthusiasm, determination, effort and all that good stuff, it's certainly possible (or, maybe there was even a good chance) that I could have been successful in a different career. What I mean to say is, the point is the attitude and the intention, not the specific career or industry choice. In Malcolm Gladwell terms, I would have put his suggested "10,000 hours" (from "Outliers") into whatever the heck I decided to spend my time on. Doesn't matter that it was Computer Science rather than botany or marine life research or astronomy or high-board diving. The intention, the attitude, the determination: that's the message.

I'm starting to get some good ideas flowing here and I think it's starting to take shape. I am gonna spend a bunch more time working through these thoughts, and in the meantime start gathering some hilarious and nerdy photos of me as a kid. This is gonna be fun.

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