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TED founder Richard S. Wurman: I was trying to do the best conference in the world*

by - 22 January





TED was born in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman's observation of a powerful convergence among three fields: technology, entertainment and design. What other inventions did he introduce to turn TED into the best conference in the world - watch my talk with him:

What is the secret of TED success?
Immediately after the conference they realize it was such an extraordinary experience that I ran for 18 years and it was sold out always a year in advance with no advertising, no press passes, no publicity, not announcing who was going to come and virally, before the Internet. It was sold out because people told other people and a thousand people came and it was a very interesting time in my life. There were many other inventions: I did away with panels, I did away with having rich white men in suits talk to each other,  I did away with long introductions, I did away with long speeches, I did away with the golf course which was the reason people went to conferences so they could play golf, I did away with saving seats for speakers and VIPs, I did away with a lot of things. I stayed on the stage always and if somebody said something I didn't understand, I interrupted them and if they were boring, I stood behind him until they got off the stage. I was trying to do the best conference in the world.
Currently what TED is trying to do, which I am NOT objecting to, but it's a different mission. I was trying to do the best conference in the world, they're trying to change the world.
Before TED maybe 95% of all meetings where business meetings on one single subject, often business meetings within the same industry or within the same company, talking about narrow subjects. If it was medicine, they only talked about medicine. Or in business, it would be about bonds,  about stocks. Nobody went outside of their profession, nobody met people outside of their profession. Then I did TED and you could meet people who did things you knew nothing about, that became so interesting, that a juggler could be sitting next to you, or a president of a company, or a very wealthy man, or or a an entertainer, or the best violinist, or a magician. They could all be sitting there. That became so interesting,  that people started one by one seeing,  well if a funny little guy like me could do this and be successful, they can also run a conference. And now it has been a proliferation of thousands of conferences, that are based on that kind of freedom.

*Excerpt from my talk with TED founder Richard Saul Wurman
Read and watch more about the importance of curiosity in life here and about what makes a day interesting here.

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