Why attending inspiring events like TEDx is good for your career

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By: Kirsten Kippen | 4.20.17

Last Saturday, instead of my typical lazy weekend routine of scrambled eggs and library storytime with my baby, I headed downtown. I spent the day attending TEDx Portland with fellow Idealist Consulting colleague Jacqueline Fassett.

What could possibly make a dark auditorium seem more attractive than spending time with family after a long week? It’s simple: I have always wanted to attend a TED event. TED (Technology, Design, Education) Talks are infamous for launching careers, creating viral ideas (their slogan is after all “Ideas worth spreading”), and inspiring new approaches to old problems.

On a local level, TEDx Portland has a rich history of spreading ideas, sharing knowledge and building community in Portland. Two years ago, while looking for new direction for our Engagement Party at Dreamforce we brought in TEDx Portland alumni Cody Goldberg to reenact his TED talk about Play, which infused our party with new energy.

I was looking for inspiration again this year as it’s been a long, rough winter. I wanted to get inspired by my community, to feel like a part of something positive. I wanted to hear speakers like Emma McIlroy who has created a tribe of fans around her “Wild Feminist” shirts.

Beyond the personal benefits, I am a firm believer that attending events, like TEDx, is good for your career. Hopefully, your company feels the same and offers a way to cover the tab for the event. Regardless, here are three reasons why attending events like this is great for your career.

If your heart sings, you’ll do better work

Prior to TEDx, Idealist Consulting had a 2-day company retreat where one session was dedicated to unlocking your momentum. The top advice? Figure out what makes your heart sing, then prioritize that as much as possible.

For me, one of the things that makes my heart sing is hearing personal stories of people who are working on tough problems in innovative ways. For that reason, it was enormously energizing to go to an event like this.


Creativity needs a jumpstart sometimes

Just as you may get struck by inspiration going for a walk or while cooking dinner, putting yourself into a new environment like an inspiring conference can shift your brain just enough to unlock new thinking.

One of the most interesting, creatively-inspiring talks of TEDx Portland for me was the talk of the founder of ZoomCare, Dave Sanders. He shared this simple formula for remaking our world:

Bring people together;

Reduce friction;

Put you in control.

This formula is what has allowed companies, like Lyft and Amazon, to disrupt old industries and it’s what is driving ZoomCare to disrupt healthcare. But I was struck by how this formula could also be applied to my work with Salesforce or marketing automation. These three things are at the core of the work we do every day with clients.


It will make you feel connected

The final reason is simple; it can be hard sometimes today to feel that physical comfort of being supported by a large group of people who believe in similar ideals. Being in the room at TEDx Portland, I had a distinct feeling that the Rose City is setting a standard for how to do smart, family-minded, socially-conscious business today.

“Your success will be measured by your helping others achieve prosperity.” - Ben Dehen-Artaiz


You don’t have to have a TEDx in your city to get energized by a community bigger than yourself. But I do believe you have to make space to do this in person, and not just digitally.

So here is my challenge to you: find a MeetUp group, a university lecture, or gather together a happy hour dedicated to a topic that inspires you. Put down your device and feel the energy of people who have dealt with problems in innovative ways. I guarantee it will be time well-spent and will bring a new perspective to your 9-5 work.

Want to get inspired right now? Here’s one of my favorite all-time TED talks called “The way we think about charity is dead wrong” by Dan Pallotta.


Watch the TED Talk





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