TedX Brighton 2016

Amidst chaos and depression of 2016 there was one day when a random group of people in Brighton got a chance to experience a different reality. Reality in which the future is bright, good things happen, people help each other, and take brave steps because it is the right thing to do. Reality where there is hope. Hope that everything is going to be fine. It was as if my soul went on vacation to a happy place for a day.

A sunny Friday in October, and over 1300 people came to the gorgeous Brighton Dome for the 6th annual TedX Brighton. This years event was titled 'We can be heroes. A celebration of the theme of impact'.

A local Brighton street dance team Streetfunk opened the day with a very energetic rhythm. And then the talks started. The first section of the day was titled 'Oh Behave!'.

What it means to be 'flextrovert' | Professor Karen Pine

The first speaker was professor Karen Pine (@karenpine), psychologist and co-founder of Do Something Different.

She talked about flextraverts, how their flexibility makes their lives and lives of those around them better, and how anybody can work on being more flextraverted (not sure that is actually a word).

The secret to building a healthy & happy workplace | Wolter Smit

Next up was Wolter Smit, co-founder and CEO of TOPdesk. He started by asking 'Why is it so many people have a shitty job?'. And then gave his view on how to create a company people genuinely like to work at. His recipe (referencing Douglas McGregor's theory) is as follows:

  1. Put a lot of effort in finding the right (Y type) people.
  2. Create a secure environment and give them freedom to try things out and make mistakes.

And for employees, his advice was: "if you are not having fun in your job, do something about it. It is your life. You don't want to spend your life doing a shitty job."


IQ The educational elephant in the room | Richard Summers

Richard Summers (@CrowdCats) is a neuroscientist and entrepreneur. He talked about IQ, how the brain works, and the three different types of intelligence that exist:

  • Abstraction intelligence - problem solving, IQ.
  • Artisan intelligence - ability to learn new things (music, sports, other skills).
  • Complexity intelligence - emotional & aesthetic intelligence.

He highlighted the fact that the educational system currently is solely focused on IQ (which is mostly inherited and can't be changed much), while completely ignoring other types of intelligence. This can and should be changed to help kids become happier and live better lives.

Innervation* | Rory Sutherland

To finish up this section we were presented with an absolutely hilarious talk by Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland). He is a Vice Chairman of Ogilvy-change, a behavioural science practice.

He talked about the concept of wealth as 'being in a position to make a large number of well informed successful choices', instead of simply 'having more money'. From this point of view, creating wealth or making people more wealthy does not necessarily mean creating more stuff, it can mean creating better choices, helping them choose more wisely.

There is a difference between the economics idea of how we make decisions, and the evolution / neuroscience's one. People don't notice when the choice architecture is bad. We are used to making decisions with incomplete and poor data. By improving the choice architecture we can improve people's wealth, while not increasing their consumption.

*Innervation. The campaign for choice creation or a redefinition of wealth.


After a short morning break, the 2nd section of the day - "Making the cut' started.

What it means to be an artist | Alberto Martinez

Alberto Martinez is an artist, born in Cuba. He talked about his life story of becoming an artist and his process of painting.

A bottle with history | Tom Cartmale

Tom Cartmale is a brand strategist, creative director and occasional road cyclist.

A few years back he became interested in (and slightly obsessed with) bicycle bottles. And then decided to revive a once iconic Coloral cycling bottle from the 1940s. He tells a story of researching, designing, and trying to make the new version of the bottle a reality via crowdfunding and other efforts.

How I named 250,000 Chinese babies | Beau Jessup

Beau Jessup on stage
Photo by Clive Andrews

Beau Jessup is a 16 year old student who created a website specialname.cn, which helps parents in China chose English names for their babies. The story went viral and was featured in newspapers all over the world.

Making my own dent in the universe | Sarah Giblin

Sarah Giblin (@_riut) is the inventor of RiutBag. She tells a story of leaving "an ok office job in Reading" to pursue her idea and bring it to live. I was quite impressed. I create digital products for a living, but when it comes to creating an actual physical product.. that sounds overwhelming and I wouldn't know where to start.

This was the first time I've ever heard of Riut bag. It sounded exactly like what I wanted from a backpack, so I got one about two months ago. Am happy to report it is indeed very convenient, and I love it.


Next there was an hour and a half lunch break, and we returned to Section 3 - 'The art of heroism'.

Helping the refugees | Elaine Ortiz

The first talk was supposed to be by Elaine Ortiz (@hummingbirdbtn), the founder of the HummingBird project, a human rights and refugee welfare activist.

She was not able to be there in person, as the refuge camp at Calais was about to be demolished at that time and her presence was needed. She recorded a short and touching video from Calais though, urging people to act and push government to solve refuge crisis.

Elaine Ortiz speaking to TedX Brighton audience
Photo by Clive Andrews

Prison and the greater good | Whitney Iles

Whitney Iles (@whitney_iles) is a social entrepreneur, community activist and the founder of Project 507, a social enterprise established to change systems that generate violence.

She spoke about her work in and around prisons. This was a glimpse in the world many forget exists during their day to day lives. The world with a lot of injustice happening still. How often do you think about prison? Or people who are there? Their conditions?

Listening to the birds | Astacianna Hatcher

Astacianna Hatcher on stage
Photo by Clive Andrews

Astacianna Hatcher is a 'bird listener'. Her job is to listen to the soundscapes and document the birds present and/or missing there. By doing so she can find out about negative changes in the environment, as birds are great bio-indicators.

This was a fascinating talk.

Imagine leaving every night out at 21:30 | Paul Richards

Paul Richards (@heavy_load) was a member of a punk band Heavy Load. He later became a director for the charity Stay up Late and the creator of Gig Buddies, a charitable service which enables people with a learning disability to have an active social life.

Reshaping the way we care | Rachel Mortimer

Rachel Mortimer (@engageandcreate) is on a mission to help people with dementia to enjoy human contact, conversation and creativity.

Data shows that human interaction in a care home can be limited to just two minutes per 6 hours. Determined to change that, Rachel founded Engage and create. One of the programs this social enterprise runs is Ignite, which uses art and exploration of painting to stimulate memories and conversations for people in care homes.


The final section of the day was called 'Role Models'.

How to rethink your relationship with 'stuff' | Cat Fletcher

Cat Fletcher (@cityreusedepot) talked about what it takes to produce the stuff we consume and throw out every day. If a thing is really cheap it is likely something or someone was abused along the way in producing it. We are responsible for so much inequality across the world, just through the stuff we buy. And lots of litter gets into our natural ecosystem and pollutes rivers and oceans. Right now there are about 6 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans across the world.

As a response to all of that Cat created Freegle, UK's reuse network, which now has over 2.6 million members. Its goal is to facilitate reuse and reduce waste.

Lessons from the Wizard of Oz | Helen Packham

Helen Packham (@HelenEPackham) stepped in at the last minute to cover for another speaker who wasn't able to come.

She is a life and business coach. And delivered a great talk about empowerment and achieving your goals. The video is not on youtube for some reason, hopefully it'll go up soon.

This quote from the Wizard of Oz sums it up pretty well: "You always had the power my dear, you just needed to find it by yourself."

The journey into fatherhood | Dave Perrins

Dave Perrins (@daveperrins) is a founder of The Dad Course, a programme designed to help first time dads prepare for fatherhood.

He talked about his family and his role models, becoming a dad himself, and how The Dad Course was created out of a desire to see more engaged, more confident and healthier dads.

Removing the stigma of disability | Adam Pearson

Adam Pearson (@adam_pearson) is a presenter, actor and University of Brighton 2016 Alumnus of the Year.

He talked about disability, and the ways it is presented in the media. He shared stories from his own life, and finished with an encouragement for the audience: 'Find what difference you want to make in this world, decide what you wanna be, and be it. No excuses.'

Everyone loves an underdog | Jordan Stephens

Jordan Stephens (@rizzlekicks) in a musician, writer and performer, part of a pop band Rizzle Kicks.

He talked about being an underdog, and utilizing low expectation to help him succeed.


I thoroughly enjoy the day, this bubble of ideas, and excitement, and hope. The very same evening I bought a ticket for TedX Brighton 2017. Looking forward to it!

#events #TedX #inspiration