There are those in the Startup/tech community who often say “stay out of my way and let me do my job mentality” to Government.
Take this article for example: JUSTIN TRUDEAU SHOULD DO NOTHING FOR STARTUPS
This feels like a lack the understanding of how Government at all its levels can impact on the ability of the business community to grow and be global champions.
I spent four years in elected office at cabinet level (Cornwall County Council, UK) with one of my remits been Economic Development of Creative Industries and for the last seven years I have being a part of the Vancouver Tech/Startup scene. This has given me some experience, thoughts, problems, solutions for what any place that wants to consider Startups as a part of their economic strength.
I worry like many, that Vancouver will become a resort town.. technology is one pathway to diversify it. Over the last decade I feel the BC Provincial Government has failed actual Startups (those who are not large Tech companies), at time that could have made a real difference, they made their economic focus elsewhere.
Here is a list of areas to explore before the Provincial Elections in British Columbia in 2017.
Most ideas/solutions/problems will have to be solved in partnership with Vancouver City, Federal Government, businesses, teachers, unions and many others.
1. Listen and understand what Startups offer – not just “leaders talking to leaders”
By engaging with the industry and community leaders to explore approaches and strategies both with the leaders and their employees.
It needs to be wider then the traditional old boys network, so not just friends/connections/trade associations. The traditional group of “talked to” are generally mostly men, white and from well off backgrounds. Talk to women, which our sector is so sorely missing in the top positions. So talk to people like Maura Rodgers or Jenn Cooper people who have created actual communities. Look for who is excluded and work out why.
2. Understand the businesses at their different stages – Not just one type of entrepreneur
By exploring the different needs of different sized organizations whether they are small, medium or large. It tends to be the larger ones that can afford lobbying, lets not ignore the small. The needs of Hootsuite are different to those of a five person startup, or the startup whose main target is a non Canadian market i.e Payroll Hero.
3. Involve Traditional and non Traditional Education institutions
By ensuring that all teaching and training organizations (including schools, colleges, Universities, bootcamps i.e. CodeCore and other private training organizations) that educate or train people are involved in the on-going journey to strengthen our knowledge based economy.
It seems that some of traditional educational institutes only talk to the really large companies i.e. E.A. or Sage or SAP. They often want experience with a C variant or Java. Whilst most startups want a framework/language that lets them to get up and running within a 3-6 month window and experimenting with a product to market fit. They do not always have time to train a person in a new language. Some Universities in the US have recognized this and have Startup Engineering programs i.e. Stanford.
I think Bootcamps and on-line learning platforms are an important part of our future learning culture as they adapt much faster then Universities and Colleges in which programming languages/frameworks/techniques to teach.
P.S. Who teaching people how to learn? Schools, Colleges or Universities?
4. BC Training grants DO NOT recognize online learning
This is the case for monthly subscription learning which can occasionally have the most up to date knowledge. In a place the size of BC it is not always economically to get a trainer out to the middle of no where. The mentality of BC Government is that they want you to give a job to a trainer and get them to train your people in personal. This can be very expensive. Reduce the barriers to learning not increase them. Are they environmental benefits from delivering online?
5. Developing effective skills training in schools
By exploring which skills are needed in an effective knowledge based economy. That these skills become fully understood and clear strategies are developed to to ensure they are gained from School upto University e.g
- Change management
- Conflict management
- Risk taking
To consider how these skills compare on the Global stage, Vancouver/BC is competing against every other city/area on the planet. What are Vancouverites poor at, how can we improve it? I feel that I have seen a lot of conflict avoidance (rather then conflict resolution) in my time in Vancouver is this just my experience or is it a “Trait” of Vancouver? Lets understand our vulnerabilities and counter them rather than ignore them.
6. Growing Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is encouraged at every level of education, from school upwards e.g. Young Enterprise in the UK. It should become part of the school system to teach children conflict management, understanding risk, managing stress and managing change. Maybe the program should consider Social enterprise and not just be limited to private enterprise.
7. Coding for all ages
I am not convinced that programming is for everyone, we humans are far much more diverse then that. One UK programmers’ feelings are well expressed here – Learn To Code, It’s Harder Than You Think
But we should consider Programming a good way to teach problem solving, logical analysis and critical thinking and not just as a career. As it is in UK, US and Nova Scotia.
8. Career changing
Why do Governments only consider this when the shit has hit the fan? Its a reality of now and the future, there are no jobs for life. We should teach the reality in schools, rather then just try and box people for life in a career through poor decision tree mechanics.
How do we make this easier and less feared, almost part of our natural lives like it will be for any Gen Yers.
Consider how people can support themselves whilst re-training, consider how to make this possible for shift work. Consider online as well as physical education.
Developing alliances between industry and research institutions to create innovation infrastructure is of courses necessary, and some exists, but is currently poor. Maybe make some of the “intellectual property” known about.. Hacking events? Open Transparent patent libraries, people whose job is to market their intellectual property.
10. Support the jobs that are actually needed i.e. Software Engineers not just Post Grads
Most government programs support PHds and Masters, but we actually need far more people with Bachelors in Software Engineering. Also what about the 40% of people that learn programming themselves? Could we better support them they are a large chunk of our software environment.
11. Support of growth Technology Leaders
Consider how to support the next generation of CTOs, from co-founding to a full CTO with a scaled up business. There are many programs that support the CEO/Founders but to be truly successful you need the product to scale. It seems like we have few homegrown success (if we do why not celebrate them rather then just the CEOs?), most companies want “magical” tech “genius” or “star” or “rockstar” or “ninja” from some other country. We have no programs to support Tech Founder to CTO, why? To have a successful tech community we need many of these people.
12. Open Government – Community, Procurement and Solutions
The Government needs to lead by example and considers how startups/SMEs can help them in all aspects of their scope, make parts of their systems more efficient e.g. innovate through Government Hacking events, fairer procurement procedures for SMEs. That Startups are looked at like NGOs as a possible solution to a problem i.e. how to make government delivery of services faster, more efficient. IBM or other large corporates are not the only ones with solutions and frankly some startups could beat the large corporates in producing solutions i.e. The Obama health online system
13. Social Enterprise
That Startups who work with Government or NGOs, should consider sharing their success with Government and/or NGOs who were core partners. For example either paying back any, grants when they can afford it (i.e. making a lot of profit), or even better give a number of shares to represent the initial investment or revenue sharing.
14. Evolving beyond “Me too” products
To consider how we can come up with something new, rather than the solely Canadian version of this or that. I feel that productivity in the innovation economy comes from generating new ideas that generate new revenue. Yet where is the support to take Visionary or high risk projects in B.C.? I hear many people in Vancouver tech conferences call for this, but the Angels do not invest in these, IRAP does not invest in these. NVBC never lets these through. We need some way of support high risk ventures, yes maybe limited it per year, but something.
15. Why the basis for B2B and B2C in BC?
Explore what we in BC have failed to produce more successes with B2C companies here, as we seem limited to B2B. Why?
16. Avoiding the Social Problems seen in Silicon Valley/San Francisco and Seattle – “Cruel Gentrification”
For us to consider a kinder approach to gentrification, bringing the startup community together with the community they often displace, and develop solutions that could help both succeed. There was an event to explore this but it was more hype then solution based. The solutions offered were just give more money to charities. It like many meetings really avoided Gentrification. We can see this happening in Gastown and to some degree China town, how can we create a proactive “kind gentrification”?
17. Involvement in Policy
Canadians entrepreneurs can help our policy makers design strategic policies for intellectual property rights in trade agreements, judicial strategies when ideas ownership is on the line, technology standards strategies and many others. And please talk to people outside the “Canadian maple syrup mafia“. I am not discounting their wisdom/experience but we need the next generation involved to and those who are currently excluded.
18. Upgrade SR&ED
First of all Thank You (yes I know its federal). It does make a difference. But make it easier to apply for the smaller startups. I think the documentation process is so complex that now consultants help lots of companies, or worse startups have to invest a lot of time in it. This program needs to be streamlined.
19. The ability to solve a problem
They maybe some that think that start Startups are just for making money but like NGOs they can solve any problem. Software Engineers are problem solver machines. This is a resource under used by Governments at every level and by every party. There could be Startup Weekend events or Hacking events that target specific areas of concern i.e. Government, Health, casework database, transit systems, etc Maybe Government contracts should include a clause that every large spend on IT systems should work with Startups or support the community in some fashion. Or maybe you have a open competition over a week and compete startups against corporates?
20. Explore the support of turning a service company into product
So two companies that evolved products from a service company (Web Agencies) Vision Critical and Hootsuite. Is this something we can repeat, is there a way to support this?
21. With Industry define targets of success could really look like
By using the above to develop achievable targets for expansion with specific strategies linked to specific industries.
For my first vote in Canada (I became a Canadian Citizen this summer) I spent much time researching the political parties, their records and their personalities. Including watching a city council meeting and attending one of the debates.
Still it was really hard to see the difference between the Vision party and the NPA. I found both the websites unhelpful in understanding the parties and how they differed.
It took a little digging into the councils minutes to get some feeling for the local politics. The campaign started to help, but it was the local newspapers that really did the work to show the differences. The debates also helped, in showing the temperaments of the mayoral candidates.
In this election, Vancouver City 2014 (BC, Canada) I voted for Vision across the board. I was disappointed that we are still using an ancient voting system (first past the post) rather than a modern transferable voting system. Splitting your votes across parties generally leads to weak indecisive government, unless they have experience working in a coalition. Thus I did not do it. It appeared to be a campaign that seemed to be a two horse race between Vision and NPA.
Vision had enough of the left of center perspectives without dismissing the liberal concerns. Robertson has also worked hard to get know part of the Startup Community, which I am a member, though I have never met him. He is also outspoken on protecting those less fortunate in life.
I did not appreciate the attack ads that the Vision campaign ran on Kirk LaPointe, they were tacky. They attacked the person not the party (in his case NPA). This made me pause to think about if I wanted to vote for any Vision candidates. There are smarter ways to run a campaign and stay respectable.
After running 110 election campaigns (Liberal Democrats and NUS) I never resorted to personal attacks. OK maybe I did when I was immature. Yes, I know negative campaign works. And sometimes the media likes to add a certain “flair” to their words to get the attention of potential readers.
So, do we not have to become smarter, wiser and better. How we do things is important. Maybe I am being too idealistic, some campaigns may need it, I am not sure this one did. In fairness I am without all the facts, the polling data, etc. Is it better to lose and stick with principles?
Having been elected to public office (County Councillor for Newquay North, UK, 2005) and had the honour of a cabinet position (Community & Culture) my opposition taught me many things. The need for scrutiny, really listening, debating points of policy, forgiving others, strategy, how to be the better person when you lost and yes how to run better campaigns.
I am a better man for both my party and the non party members of Cornwall County Council (2005 – 2008). Some would call the non party members opposition but after six months I did not view it like this. I saw them as opportunities to be better, and thus I worked at getting all involved in the decision making, made scrutiny of my work easier, taking the time to actually understand their needs and always having an open door policy to all. Also appreciating that you often have two relationships with other politicians, the public and private. As a Liberal I feel I have the responsibility to be open minded, listen and understand first before making my decision. Even when it is difficult to hear, freedom of speech.
Here I will say it, strong opposition makes a government stronger. As long as the agenda is to do the best for the residents not the political party. Which frankly is sometimes as long as half your term of office, if you are lucky. Critical reviews can be helpful and harmful depending on the agenda.
Having a Mayor like Mr Robertson who has strongly held beliefs on the environment may find it harder to get funds they need for infrastructure projects, quickly. But they are more likely to create a city that I want to live in and interact with my communities. Those who invest in the Parks, Communities and Culture, create an environment to de-stress, meet random people and form more community and ideas. This translates into less single people, greater entrepreneurship and more collaborative community. We all hide too much in our places of living or in our circles of friends and family. Do we want an inclusive culture and community or do we want differences to divide us? Thus I also voted to give the council ability to get and spend fund on all three areas.
Having a bureaucrat, which is how I saw Kirk LaPointe, may have been more successful at getting more funds and more businesses into Vancouver. But is that the kind of the city I want to live in? And whilst I liked Kirk LaPoint (yes I have met him many years ago and liked him) I did not wholly trust NPA, it felt they cared more for business than the community. Vision clearly needs to do a better job of being open minded as it felt they dropped a candidate because she worked in sexual health. Of course no party is perfect, but at least there is some process to vet the candidate before.
A balance with the community and environment matters to me. A balance between business and environment. After all we need jobs but not at the cost of the only planet we live on. And I am happy to pay tax, to protect the vulnerable, provide a safety net for all of us when shit happens and give education opportunities to allow us all to climb the ladder. And if we kill the planet we are dead, both physically and spiritually.
Who else should stand up for Vancouver and it’s beliefs if not the Mayor? Thus I went with passionate advocate not the bureaucrat.
P.S. Now I have to work out which way to go between Liberals and NPD for Provincials and Federal.
Things I need to understand better:
There are a couple areas I need to become more knowledgable in and make better decisions on who I vote for. I know how these issues are tackled in the UK but I am still learning how they are in Canada.
Some very smart people state that for future our cities they will have to become more dense. These smart people often live in very big houses outside of these dense zones. Apartments that are built today are small. Their kitchens encourage eating out and not cooking at home, with local foods. They do not encourage eating at a table and the sharing of food. I wonder if this is why coffee shops are so full of people, because their apartments are so small.
Apartment blocks are often built so that you can completely ignore all humans around you. I do not have a problem of sharing space with other humans, but we all need space the current trends are worrying. This is partly related to our green spaces in Vancouver, we need to keep a balance, we all do not have cars and log cabins in the country.
I feel developers/estate agents are making so much money, and in the process are creating the largest social divide in our society. Affordable housing is often a box with with a smaller box extension. More and more people are being excluded from the opportunity to buy in Vancouver.
Freedom of Information
This is a must especially with all the above worries. I heard criticisms towards The Vision team, I will have to explore this further.
We need more public transport and less cars. Whilst I prefer to walk rather than I bike, I feel the journey for more bike lanes is a good thing.
I feel there are many threads here, essentially how are we helping vulnerable people in a sustainable way and how are we helping people become independent again (if possible). I realise this issue is not simply about a place to live, but sometimes can be about how we treat mental health in our society.
Most of this academic term I have being teaching (4 courses – marketing, advertising, public and government relations) and being a student (3 courses all – HTML/CSS/Java/Systems Design) in the evenings, with my days left to Professional You – so I have participated in a few startup events and I was keen to see who is new on the scene. This event seemed a good way of finding out. You never know who you will meet and what you will learn.
The essence, is you “form” a business” in 54 hours over a weekend. You pitch and people choose to join your team. And you and your team, show off in a 4 minute pitch (to all the teams) on sunday evening and a bunch of judges choose.
Overall it was an excellent weekend, I met a lot of people in the startup community that I had not met before. More importantly I met a lot of people I want to stay in contact with. I learned somethings about myself. In fact I enjoyed the event so much that if I can afford the time and cash I will go to the one in Seattle in January 2012.
I think these sort of ‘networking whilst doing‘ events, could become an important of part Vancouvers’ tech community (in fact any community that wants to encourage and generate more startups). I love the way it brings people together and gives them a window into what it is like to work with people. I could see greater potential in finding your co-founder or your first team at an event like this.
The Journey – Day One – Start 5.30pm
The first engagement (except buying the ticket) was an invite to the community site – Kohort, this happened on the first day before the event. We were all encouraged to start to get to know each other and share ideas. Frankly this start was pretty awesome, as people filled out profiles and started talking and sharing their thoughts, ideas and capabilities.
I got to the venue early, almost two hours – yes I was eager :-) The Segal Centre, Granville Street, Vancouver.
As the event started, people started intensely networking with 80% of participants having high energy and 20% were just shy. We were encouraged to fill out badges and colour them according to our capabilities i.e. business, designer or developer. Some people like me are mutates/mongrels (or multiple talented), so we had colourful badges. This time went REALLY fast as there were so many people to meet :-)
The speeches were ok Joel Solomon?? (a social conscience VC), Jason Bailey was Jason Bailey (casual, offensive/ruffin, uncaring/tough love ). Dave Olson (Director of Marketing Hootsuite) was standup comedy act.
Sean (one of the hosts) presented us some awesome slides giving us advice about how to pull the team and business idea together.
Next up it was time for the participants to start working. Each pitcher was given 60 seconds to rally us to there cause, there were a LOT, I am guessing 50+. I had being thinking about pitching but I decided not too, as my brain was numbed after all the pitches!
I wrote comments for each e.g.
- did I like the idea
- did I like the person pitching
- who did they want
Some pitchers stated they wanted only developers, so I crossed them out (I am a growing developer, but only asking for a developer and not a designer or marketing person said something to me about the person pitching). There was some interesting ideas and some crazy ones.
The wall was than covered with posters for each pitch/idea and we the participants had to choose by voting. The top 15ish ideas that would go ahead. Every attendee had three votes and they chose which projects they liked. This was really interesting to watch as a lot of pitchers seemed to assume that people would vote for the idea not, not the pitcher – thus many of the pitchers did not really try to recruit. My votes went to the people as much as the idea. I voted for Organised Good, My best helper and Jukenuke (which were all pitched by woman).
The most popular pitches (the 15ish with the most votes) were chosen to have the opportunity to talk again and we were given time to explore the idea with each of the pitchers and choose our teams. This was hard.
There was a couple I considered e.g. My Best Helper, one to match mentors with mentorees, one for mobile voting, one mobile app to monitor your houses electricity usage (so you could see when you left electrical appliances on). I did not want to do anything like my current Startup i.e.Professional You. I circled each team to get a sense of what skill sets they already had (you could tell by the colour of their badges), see how big they were. I also avoided the ideas that were clearly mature as I was not sure if I would just become a freebie for the weekend.
I chose Organized Good, in part because I thought it would be most difficult problem to solve. A social pitch with encouraging online and off dialogue with a focus on civic engagement, politics and local community.
The initial team was a cool bunch of people Tara (the pitcher), Fiona (her partner), Steve, Ash and Murf. We got together and Tara downloaded the idea with us and we starting talking and kept talking until 1.30am. In terms of capabilities we had four business people, 1.5 designer and 1.5 developer (I count as the halves as I wanted to play a different role i.e. 19 years of marketing with a computer science degree (refreshing at BCIT presently)).
8.30am the team slowly trickled in. We debated the idea a lot.
There is a journey for initial pitchers e.g. letting others take apart and grow their idea. We talked about the online versus offline, Generation Y versus inviting the whole community. We agreed on a lot more than we disagreed:
- We wanted people to meet face to face
- Local (almost hyper) community (down to neighbourhood/street level)
- That it should be social, community, civic and political – we were worried about this language as it might turn people off, but the spirit was right
- That its was about action, not just talk, we wanted to help communities solve problems
- We wanted to encourage solutions not rants or endlessly debating issues.
- We wanted to help the community help its self
- That meetings and encouraging collaborative projects would be important
Some concepts I noticed with our team and other teams at play:
- Democratizing the idea – would the idea be allowed to grow beyond the pitchers’ visions?
- Idea ownership – would the pitcher give up the idea so it became owned by the team and maybe something bigger.
- Idea maturity – The ideas that had being developed for a while (like the winner) clearly had the advantage.
I wondered how good would I be in giving up the idea and letting others grow it.
With a basic idea agreed upon we split into groups (of pairs) one working on market research, one on the revenue model and one on the design. I worked on the site layout and wireframes as well creating an early story deck.
There was food at some point (for those that know me e.g. ex-chef – food is important to me, so I was either in love, in the zone or asleep), but it existed and was gone as I was still chewing on some of our other dilemmas.
We setup the Facebook page, and watched it slowly climb to 25 Likes so you can own the URL – this was painful and bribes were offered.
Today we got additional help from Thor and Azita who dropped in for part of the evening (she helped Tara and Fiona develop the initial idea but yesterday(friday) was her birthday :-), with Fiona off to work (poor her) yes life still goes on.. the team continued until our brains dribbled out of our ears and alcohol was needed (yes and sleep).
The breakfast was a lot better today, not just muffins, there was fruit too and things with chocolate inside them. Azita joined us full-time today she was fresh with energy and smiles:-) with further reinforcements brought in by Fiona (Chris and Shelby)
We had a diverse revenue model sorted (1Million after three years and in 53 communities).. we came up with a clever new approach to online dialogue.. we even got some expressions of interest to invest.. we worked out the initial organizations that would fund the initial technology.. we established which would be the first local communities we would start with (in Vancouver).. we got support from a local celebrity tech startup CEO.. Some good looking design work (Steve!!). This was our peak.
The basic 10 second pitch was Stackoverflow (online problem solving) merged with meetup.com (getting people in the same room) focused on their community, civic and politics.
Telling the story
We had a lot of different approaches and it took us a while to agree how to tell the story. We all had different levels of tolerance how emotive and challenging we wanted/could be. Than some unhelpful mentor popped in and stated that should only do 5 slides and spend 30-40 seconds (some of team took this to heart) on each. This caused a lot of friction inside the team (or was it just me?!). Sometimes ‘advice’ is unhelpful, as it disrupted the flow of the team. From this point we lost our flow, we were tired and over coffeed. We tried a number of different angles. Towards the end we got some of our flow back with some concrete examples of how we would tell the story. Tara asked Azita to help her pitch on stage and this was our front team.
The venue was The 560 Club which was pretty awesome. Some of the pitches were freckin awesome and some were not. A lot of groups had travelled a long way with a spark of an idea in a short time.
We were the sixth pitch. Tara led the way with Azita(one of the original idea originators). In someways you could see that we were going to pitch to a panel of judges who care for making money through online technology, and who may not care to have a ROI as social good. To an audience who maybe be more comfortable in an online world than in the offline world. We felt as a group it was always going to be tough and yet the ladies performed superbly.
You can see who won here. We got the Best Social Cause award and thus we drank, and met many more new people.
I met some good people, worked with people who I might never had met. The event was well hosted – Joey, Mike and Sean were awesome. The volunteers never seemed in short supply or lack of enthusiasm. The venue worked well (but next time I will try and steal one of the rooms with white boards!) and we need water!
Suggestions for organization
Just because I have offered a bunch of suggestions for next time, does not mean I thought the event was weak. It was an awesome event, which will hopefully occur a couple times a year here in Vancouver, BC
1. Reward the design and developers work
It feels like the business people are rewarded but not the developers or designers. It felt like all the Angel/Judges cared little for their efforts unless it was tied into presentation. I would suggest rewards for best design and best development. Also mix up the judges with some developer and designer types rather than all angel/vc with biz backgrounds (this group are not always right!)
Ensure that everyone knows where the water is, there was a kitchen which many of us sneaked into. When you have this much coffee/caffeine we need to stay hydrated.
3. Mentor schedules
On a piece of paper given to each team. So we know where to find them. The random pop ins seemed awkward and occasionally unhelpful. I feel sorry for the mentors that came over, just as we were doing a team update and we needed to weak each other (it happened three times to us). Add mentors to Kohort. And give the times they will be around so we grab them (and maybe even plan ahead!).
4. Business Model
The business model generation book is an excellent way to help people build out their business model fast and if you could give us a big poster for each team – we can than move the stickies around as we pivot and evolve.
5. Early access to Kohort
Allow us to converse early, maybe the moment we sign up to the event we can join Kohort and get know each other.
6. Introduction to scrum
Give access to basis of scrum so that those unfamiliar can play with developers and designers more fairly and faster. One sheet. Sean mentioned it, but there were a bunch of people who had no experience of it. Maybe put it on Kohort so it can be read before. On that point make those most excellent slides available on Kohort before. Yes enough participants will prepare before the event.
7. Attendance list
I would love to know who is going to event so I can work out who I want to meet and check out. Maybe we could access this and two lines about each person.
8. The Judges need a mic
Only the first pitcher repeated the judges questions or gems of advice. So the rest was lost to the rest of the audience :-(
9. Bring all the teams back together
I think if at some point on the saturday, each team could give 60 seconds on where they are and helped needed in terms of sector of specialized knowledge. There was a lot of talent tied up in different teams. Some cross pollination would help everyone and help you meet new people.
I was asked by another team to help out review their approach to (workplace) motivation (my startup is all about psychology and the matching of you to your perfect boss or team member). One of the mentors connected us. As I have spent the last two years studying all the published psychology work for the last decade and listening to all podcasts of MITs Psychology degree. We had an intense back and forth, I gave some advice, a video to watch and got back to my team.
10. Bonus Points – Whiteboards
I think better if there is a whiteboard to allow me to brainstorm, I manage better if I can see a scrum board, I tell stores better if I can develop it on a whiteboard. They also look really cool for photos. I would say teams that have a white board may have a soft advantage. If possible see if you can persuade your next venue to bring in whiteboards on wheels. Or maybe we could could borrow from local businesses. With the vancouver weekend three or four teams had white boards. I know its not an easy one but you would get bonus points (I am not sure which game to plug them into yet) and I think your teams would perform better.
They were/are freckin awesome :-)
Did I learn anything? Yes. Was it a good crowd of people? Most definitely. Would you recommend it to friends? Yes. Were there ideas to spread? Absolutely.
The theme of TEDx Vancouver was “Frontier” this year. This is my third TEDxVancouver and fifth TEDx event and it has being interesting to see it grow.
There are some who just go for the speakers, me I go to meet the audience, people who are willing to apply are already interesting and hopeful the speakers will intiate ideas for people to talk about. I prefer to learn and evolve through dialogue.
Thoughts on Speakers:
Reid Gower ****
The video was inspiring and keyed into hope, aspiration and the beauty of the planet we live on.
Nolan Watson ***
“Don’t donate to Africa, invest in Africa!” .
“treating symptoms instead of effectively solving problems”
Spoke on how naïve compassion kills lives
“Pursue what gives you meaning…and what allows you to share your joy with everyone”
“Twenty years from now, the things you would be most disappointed by are the things you didn’t do, rather than the things did” – Mark Twain
A story, of force changed and how they dealt with it. Two snowboarders, one breaks his neck (and cannot snowboard anymore) both build a device to make learning snowboarding safer to learn, esp tricks.
The importance of expressing emotion. It started off really well, that our society often represses our emotions. But the actually case ‘the building of the a wooden temple to burn down’ (could you have built a house for a homeless family instead?) was interesting but only for people who could really afford it, so it felt self indulgent, when compared with the other stories.
Sean Aiken ***
“what matters is what makes you come alive”
“Those who are most passionate about their work, are those that are connected to the meaning behind what they do”
Jose Figueroa ***
A story of stupid immigration bureaucracy. Not the first one I have heard when you have a conservative government with a commitment to slow down immigration.
‘Canada has the obligation to respect innocent people’
I would have loved to hear this in spanish with a translated. Some people complained about the political nature of this talk, but I pointed out to them that anything involving humans and change inherently becomes politics.. hmm if politics comes from the latin – citizen + city does that mean it does not exist in the rest of the country ;-)
Seth Cooper ***
Interesting speech about using games and gamers to solve some of the world tough problems, the examples were in bio chemistry. For me this is old news.
Christopher Gaze ****
“Shakespeare is all around us. Alive and well.”
Excellent stage presence. I learned a lot of the metaphors I take for granted and are from Shakespeare. One drunk actress came up to me later to say that he had got one line wrong. Me I just respected him even more :-)
Jer Thorp ****
“By placing data into a human context it gains meaning. These are our histories.”
A man who loves his data and knows how to use design principles to make it more readable.
Kara Pecknold ***
Saw her presentation at the Design Thinking conference, liked it. She had definitely polished both her presentation and slides, so it was an upgrade in terms of presentation. Design process – Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver
“99% of life lives beneath the surface of the ocean”.
Really cool tech, sign up to see live data come in and watch the fish swim by from camera upto 800 miles out into the pacific. http://www.neptunecanada.ca/
Although the content was too much, I think he delivered some of the most important messages, where the whole audience could help.
“Inaction is an action”
“There is no way you can sustain status quo.”
“people that operate under ‘status quo’ are going to fall behind”
“The future of humanity is in the NGO Community and the youth will join them”
“That if the youth of today vote they will change politics forever”
My reflection from his:
Youth of 2day could change the political system by voting, say no to status quo or they cud let their inaction be their legacy
Victor Lucas *****
I think in terms of content, emotion and presentation this was the best presentation, the context was = what advice will he give his girl when she is born and understands language, they are simply rules that any of us could apply to ourselves.
1. Don’t be a dick – People love people who aren’t dicks. Go light on the sarcasm. What people remember most about dicks, are that they were dicks.
2. Don’t dick around – Touch the world. It takes work, planning, and goals to be happy. Don’t let dicking around be your goal
3. Don’t hang out with dicks – If you aren’t a dick, you’ll attract people who don’t dick around. If you hang out with dicks, other people will think you’re a dick.
They actually feel quiet Canadian?!
Venue + Crowd management
Amazing for presenting, bad venue for meeting people, no WIFI within the theatre. Crowd management was poor. $80 per person and 1000 people turned up not sure where all the money went considering how many volunteers helped out
Limited, they ran out of meat and I ended with vegetarian, its ok I can eat grass ;-). Apparently no vegan? The pop tart donut things were interesting if you could fight other people for them.
The presentation organization was smooth and professional.
Billy the kid was awesome. It would have being nice to have more than one performer.
I love sailing, but the number of times they changed the camera angle started to make we sea sick (for those speakers whom did not use slides). Though seeing the person on the screen was helpful as if you were one or two levels up those presenters were a mite small.
This was awesome. The venue was very cool (Space Centre) as the whole venue was open including the laser show (which was cool but too long). Looking forward to when the venue is in a place that does not need cash for drinks.
Suggestions for next time (I will add to these as my brain returns):
Help people network
Give people 10 random people they should meet, have ‘professional’ volunteer networkers whose job is to get people together to talk, have a lot of space so people can easily discover people, have games people can play based on the talks.
Call to Action
Stalls for each speech where you could pick up notes and ways to get involved and help. As well as find people who want to talk more about that talk :-)
The president dude said that he wanted to form a community and I think it can become one. So involve us in dialogue, before and after the event. Don’t just talk at us.
- Maybe start with the theme – crowd source it. If you have courage get the community to vote their top five and than let the organizers choose.
- Let us all see the applications, this will allow us to choose who we want to talk to at the event. Not brave enough for that than publish the attendees list with our links.
- Have so many non-celebrity speakers and get some professional trainers to get their presentation skills upto speed (yes I would volunteer for that). OK after writing this I find out that you sort of did this but not with the TEDx Vancouver community but with another community (http://tedxvancouver.com/vancouverisawesome-com-helps-select-kara-pecknold-as-speaker-at-tedxvancouver-2011/)
- Have a space where by skilled people can volunteer (see which skills they can offer), this will help you choose good people and also people may volunteer to be coached by an expert volunteer.
- Choose an online platform to keep the dialogue on-going after hearing the speakers (twitter is helpful for buzz not so much for dialogue).
- In the end community forms out of lots of interactions between people and the best is when you can watch the dialogue without having to intervene.
- Use the space on the name badges for something useful, yes your name helps, AND some unconferences have “Ask me about..” or “Three things I love…” people often just need an excuse to talk to each other, make it easier, especially for the shy types
- I wonder what you can learn from each talk, if you applied it to TEDx Vancouver?..
TED.com talks played on the day
These were interspersed during the day. Apparently to make sure we don’t go native or become to NIMBY and share in the global movement :-)
Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization
Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity
Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter
Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days
Whoops missed one (Thanks Chris Ryan)
What do you think? I welcome your views both pro and anti :-)
The talkers can be interesting but like PechaKucha the quality varies. What does not vary is the quality of people the audience. I love meeting them :-) I was talking to one of the team for TEDx Victoria and I pushed that they should consider activities and ways to make it easier for audience to get to know each other rather than rely on everyone being an extrovert and serendipity. Taking effort here will also form a stronger community.
You should apply, yes you, there is one in most energetic areas. If not create one!
The questions are not tough:
- If a friend were to describe your accomplishments in three sentences or less, what would they say?
- What are you passionate about? (Work, creative outlets, issues, communities, etc.)
- List at least one website that will help us understand you better. (This can include personal blogs, photos or sites you just generally love to check out).
- What do you hope to get out of this TEDx event?
If a friend were to describe your accomplishments in three sentences or less, what would they say? *
- Survived 12 schools and a bunch of foster homes before reaching college
- Elected as a politician and then elected by his peers onto the cornwall county council cabinet, (Cornwall, UK.)
- A connector of ideas, patterns, trends, knowledge and people e.g. he is constantly connecting people who need to meet each other, being best man five times, he has over 3,500 books..
What are you passionate about? (work, creative output, issues, communities, etc.) *
- Helping people grow
- Understanding people
- Learning and meritocracy
- Creation and creativity
- Social Justice
- Mountains, Sea and Trees
List at least one website that will help us understand you better. (This can include personal blogs, photos or sites you just generally love to check out). *
LinkedIN – http://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbrooke
My startup – www.professionalyou.com
Video (careful I swear) http://www.professionalyou.com/video.html
My thoughts – https://ericbrooke.wordpress.com/
My book collection – http://homepage.mac.com/ericbrooke/deliciouslibrary/
Twitter – @ericbrooke
What do you hope to get out of this TEDx event? *
Learning and meeting exciting people in the audience. Sharing what I learn with my friends, colleagues and random people I meet in life.
I am interested in this year’s theme as we (Professional You) are exploring the frontier of careers, talent management, recruitment and leadership. And we aim to have a revolution..