Last week I read a blog post by science writer and speaker Frank Swain titled ‘Why I’m Not a TEDx Speaker’. In his opening remarks Frank shares that he was invited to
speak at a TEDx event, but turned the offer down not because he doesn’t like TED but because “TED doesn’t pay its speakers.”
For those not already aware, TED are a not for profit organisation whose stated objective is to share ideas ‘worth spreading’. While securing tickets to a TED conference is both a difficult and expensive exercise, at TED.com they “make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free.”
At the heart of Franks argument is that TED collect a substantial amount of money for their events therefore should compensate the speakers for their contributions. While I believe its entirely up to each person to decide how much of their time and money they are willing to invest in any venture, Franks comments left me feeling he has missed the point.
Often I observe people who adopt a limiting view of the opportunities that come along. In the case of TED, sharing knowledge that can make a positive difference to the world as well as the recognition that comes from doing it well, make it a highly sort after gig. To be perfectly clear this blog is not intended to be a rebuttal of Frank’s comments. He has every right to decide for himself what he considers a valuable opportunity or not. But his blog did make me reflect on the people I see constraining their potential by adopting a short-term focus on quick wins and immediate returns.
Sometimes the greatest opportunities that come along are born out of what at the time may seem like entirely unrelated efforts. For example, recently I volunteered to speak at an event that led to an exciting business opportunity. While I wasn’t there to sell my services, a member of the audience was inspired by what I had to say and encouraged her senior management team to meet with me. That in turn led to not only paid work but also a fantastic new client relationship that is likely to bring substantial opportunity in the future.
A different but even more rewarding experience was what flowed from a conversation I had with a guy I met on a plane. We chatted the whole way home sharing our views of all things people management. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and when we landed we exchanged business cards. A few weeks later I received an email from him asking whether I would be willing to meet with his friend, an aspiring HR professional.
While at times it can be challenging to create space in my diary I do enjoy meeting and sharing my insights with people eager to make a difference in the world of business. It took a few more weeks but eventually I was able to commit to a breakfast catch up. An event I could have easily written off as unimportant or having no benefit to me turned out to be extremely rewarding. The person I met was Stephanie, a bright, passionate and kind young woman I have no doubt will be very successful in her career.
The exciting thing for me is Stephanie has become the newest member of our team. A week after meeting her our business manager Siobhan landed an exciting new job. While we were thrilled for Siobhan the impact on our business was massive. Having spent five years being the queen of all things finance, administration, marketing, events management etc we needed to move very quickly to find the right person to step into the role. Stephanie was the perfect fit and started with Ryan Gately soon after.
My experiences in life have led me to believe that we get what we give. Sometimes however there isn’t a straight line or obvious connection between the contributions we make and what we receive in return. I have no doubt my willingness to spend time sharing my experiences with Steph has paid off tenfold already.