TEDxSydney 2017 – “Unconventional”

By Posted on : 21 Jun 2017 0 Comments

TEDxSydney 2017 – Friday 16th June – “Unconventional”

Attending a TEDx event had been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Having watched over a hundred TED talks online and now mentally ticking it off my bucket list while walking into the International Convention Centre on the morning of Friday the 16th, I still did not know what to expect from the day ahead. With the theme of the day – “Unconventional” in mind, I was handed a lanyard which had a blank space to personalise with stickers (the stickers were to identify each of us to a “tribe” we felt we belonged to). The groups included ranged from “Introverts”, “LGBTIQ”, “Idea Sharers and Story Tellers”, “Business Hives” to “Body, Mind & Soul”. During the breaks and intervals, we could make our way to the external breakout areas dedicated to the 15 individual “tribes”, where they had corresponding activities for each. In the “Technology & The Future” area, there was a virtual reality game, and the “Mind, Body & Soul” tribe had a masseuse and “silent” tai chi class. It was definitely an “unconventional” but amazing way for attendees to network and get to know their fellow like-minded “TEDxers” on the day.

The food provided at the event did not disappoint – fresh, wholesome and sustainable! With the support from BioPak, all food packaging on the day was 100% compostable and came in biodegradable containers.

Over 4000 people filled the ICC Sydney to hear from 14 speakers, 8 performances and watch 6 short films. The balance and variety of speakers who took to the stage (the infamous “red dot”!) was incredible, with a significant presence of Aboriginal culture and sensational Australian music acts between talks from Gawurra and Sarah Blasko to name a few.

Speakers and their subjects:

  • Bronwyn King – Anti Tobacco investing
  • Tom Griffiths – Quick decision making
  • Judy Atkinson – Deep listening
  • Jane Gilmore – Misrepresentation of journalism towards females
  • Mike Cannon-Brookes – Imposter syndrome
  • Elanor Huntington – The value of engineers and encouraging more to step forward
  • Mariam Veiszadeh – Diversity and unconscious bias (the Diversity Dividend)
  • David Hunt – Australia’s relationship to its history
  • Jack Charles – Youth detention centres
  • Sarah Houbolt – Accessibility and inclusion of disabled persons
  • David Power – Sustainable tuna life in the Pacific
  • Jordan Raskopoulos – Transgender awareness
  • Scott Griffiths – Body dysmorphia
  • Peter Greste – Press freedom


Personally, I found the stand out speaker of the day was Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and co-CEO of the software company Atlassian. His story of the recent twitter exchange between himself and Elon Musk around the South Australian power crisis was captivating. For those of us who sat back and watched the twitter exchanges between these two young, successful and influential business leaders, nobody would have been able to point out that Mike looked or felt he was out of his depth. He famously stated that he “couldn’t have told you the difference between a 1.5 volt AA battery that goes into [his] kids’ toys, and a 100MW industrial scale battery facility that could potentially solve South Australia’s power crisis”.

Everyone in the room listened intently and seemed to hang on every word he said. Mike spoke about his take on “Imposter Syndrome”, and how he is using it for the better and to help drive him forward. He was honest in the way he spoke around experiencing imposter syndrome for years and how he always felt that with more success, would come less “inadequacy” related thoughts. But Mike was quick to point out how wrong he was. He found himself consistently experiencing these thoughts and the best advice he felt he could give to others was to “not freeze” – to just keep going, keep up the momentum and while you should be aware of imposter syndrome, it should not overpower you. It is a feeling that almost every successful person experiences in their career and he went on to tell us that imposter syndrome does not go away with any level of success.  In fact, “most days, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing”, Mike announced to the 4000-strong crowd.

Walking away from my first TEDxSydney event, I felt re-energised with all of my new learnings and “unconventional” insights that I took away from the day, and to nobody’s surprise, I cannot wait for the next one! For those who could not attend, the live stream broadcast is available on the TEDx Website – https://tedxsydney.com/live2017/