Giving the Speech of Your Life

February 26, 2008

Some of the world’s most fascinating ted_logo.gif thinkers and greatest visionaries will be descending on Monterey, Calif., tomorrow to give the “speech of their lives” on social challenges facing the world at the annual Ted Conference.

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader, with the mission “to spread ideas that change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world.”

Its speakers over the years have been the Who’s Who on the planet: From Bill Gates to Al Gore to Sergey Brin. But the real star speakers have been the unexpected, like Li Lu – the key organizer of the Tiananmen Square protest 1989. Or Patrick Awuah, a native of the African country of Ghana, who left his homeland as a teenager to attend college in the U.S., work at Microsoft for a decade, then return home to co-found a liberal arts college aimed at educating Africa’s next generation of leaders.

If you haven’t heard of the conference, it’s not surprising, because it’s always been by invitation-only and cost $4k. But last year, it relaunched its Web site – posting the best Ted Talks over the years.

It’s run by the Sapling Foundation, run by Chris Anderson, the founder and former publisher of Business 2.0 magazine. The foundation acquired the conference from its retiring founder Richard Saul Wurman. He gave an emotional talk at the 2002 TED conference regarding what inspired him to do so.

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