“Success comes from taking the initiative and following up — persisting. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life?” – Tony Robbins
In past columns for The Nicaragua Dispatch, I’ve written about how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur, process online payments, and lobby other small businesses in Nicaragua. Luckily, a recent event served to calm the entrepreneurial air and pump some serious fun and possibility into what usually seems like taking two steps forward, one step back.
On Sept. 7, Managua hosted its first TEDx event. If you want more information on TED and TEDx, check out www.ted.com.
TEDxManagua was born out Johnny Bosche’s insistence to bring a TEDx event to Nicaragua. It wasn’t easy. Most people aren’t aware that a TEDx event isn’t actually the same thing as a TED event. It’s independently organized, but the TED team does oversee the organization, its topics, and logistics.
TED takes incredible care of its brand, and it showed during the TEDxManagua event a few weeks ago. With 15 speakers from a variety of different industries and covering all sorts of topics, the event achieved what it was out to generate: momentum.
The Power of Inspiration
When the 100 invited guests entered the theater, the music pumping through the speakers pulsed beats of excitement through the crowd. The anticipation was high as the lights dimmed and Johnny, the event’s host, took the stage to welcome everyone. He spoke of the event’s theme — momentum — and how he hoped to achieve that through the following 15 speakers.
Throughout the day, there was a common narrative thread from speaker to the next—the ever-elusive “follow-your-passion” career path. The different topics (from CO2 Bambu’s eco-housing solutions to an advertising agency that is pushing the gender boundaries with controversial messages) all focused on how much more one can accomplish in his or her life if there is passion for the work.
While some may have felt a desire for other topics, the “do-what-you-love” mantra set the stage for inspiration to lead the way to some amazing projects. If anything comes to TEDxManagua, it’s getting those who attended in person and via video to think outside the box in terms of their own lives.
Unexpectedness Works Wonders
Some of the most jarring speakers of the day included a clown, the famous Payaso Pipo, a formerly tormented and famous painter, Jean-Marc Calvet, and a curious 12-year-old boy and future star programmer, Dennis Gallo. The element of surprise and unexpectedness kept the crowd laughing, leaning forward in their seats, and at times even shedding a tear.
I’ve grown fond of Dennis, the young programmer, and was moved when he concluded his talk to a standing ovation. While he showed the audience a very premature version of his Study Hall web app, the fact that a 12-year-old can teach himself to program in his spare time caused the grown-ups in the room to reexamine their own levels of motivation and conviction.
I was lucky enough to be chosen to speak as well, and I used my time to share just how necessary hard work is to making anything succeed. While my time onstage felt effortless and fun, my favorite moment was when I revealed the fact that I hire my staff via Twitter. Most corporate businessmen in the audience balked at my techie HR practices, but, hey, it works!
The Need for a Platform
As it goes with most inspirational events, there is always a desire for more. The audience wants to connect, projects are begging to be born, and speakers are bombarded with requests for coffee in return for some help. It’s incredibly exhilarating, but the effects could be much grander if there was a platform to sustain it.
By next year, the TEDxManagua team hopes to create such a platform to help generate more community service hours volunteered by each TEDx event around the world. (There are thousands and thousands each year.) The project will be called xHours, and it will have started in Managua.
Being part of this event (the first one ever to enforce the mandatory eight hours of community service), I built homes in a remote village near Montelimar. It was grueling but incredibly powerful — just thinking of the tens of thousands of other volunteers who will be doing the same throughout the world.
What could happen if we divide these hours up between different industries, country needs, emerging technologies? There’s no way of knowing what could emerge. And to think it all started in Nicaragua.
On one single day, TEDxManagua generated momentum to last a lifetime.
For all those who think Nicaragua deserves amazing ideas, answer one question for me: If you could suggest a topic for next year’s TEDxManagua event, what would it be?
Marcella Chamorro recently released a book on authenticity in marketing, titled To Be or Like to Be, and she also writes for her blog on lifestyle & marketing. She is a blogger, speaker, and consultant based in Managua, working on developing technologies to help people be more creative. Marcella writes the column ‘Challenging Innovation in Nicaragua’ for The Nicaragua Dispatch.