TEDx Marbella: a surefire success

Photos by Fredy Torra and Michelle Chaplow
I don’t remember how I first heard about TED, the movement which brings together eminent speakers with ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, about five years ago - perhaps I just came across the website on the Internet by chance. The event mentioned looked so interesting that I briefly considered attending; however it was taking place in Long Beach California, and the entrance was about $3,000, so I had to be content with a mini-stock of podcasts downloaded onto my iPad, ready to watch, and be inspired by, on a plane journey (noting the material was far more interesting than the entertainment system provide by the airline!).
TED is a nonprofit organization started in 1984 by Chris Anderson (editor of Wired and inventor of the popular statistical theory, and author of the book, The Long Tale) as a conference bringing together people from the Technology, Entertainment and Design worlds. They give short talks - less than 18 minutes – which are intended to “initiate, innovate and motivate”. The best talks can be viewed, or downloaded at TED.com - around 1,400 of them.

The TEDx programme is designed to give communities the opportunity hold TED-like events at a local level; its official definition is “an independently-organised TED event”.
Last year, Rami Morante, a long-time Marbella resident originally from Buenos Aires, realised there should be a TEDxMarbella. He obtained the licence to operate this independent TEDx from TED, and set the date for 8 March 2013, to coincide with International Women’s Day.
TEDxMarbella took place in Dani Garcia’s Calima restaurant, a renowned Michelin-starred establishment overlooking the sea in the gardens of the Don Pepe Hotel in Marbella. There was a long waiting list for tickets as the first event, under strict TED rules, was limited to 100 spectators only. It was also the first TEDx event on the Costa del Sol and only the second in Andalucia - TEDxSevilla showcased eight speakers in January this year, some of whom also took part in TEDx Marbella.
Most of the presentations were in Spanish, with a few in English; audio interpretation was available but appeared to be little used. A characteristic of TED style is speaking from the stage without podium or notes, explaining passionately a clear idea or vision. The talk can be with or without a visual presentation, but if used, it is certainly not ‘death by PowerPoint’, with bullet points used as a verbal crutch.
With a palpable sense of anticipation, the audience sat quietly in the darkened room last Friday morning, their attention focused on the black stage with big red spot in the centre resembling a spotlight, to reflect the strong red TED logo. Rami introduced the event and the first of 22 speakers bounced up onto the stage with typical drive and energy of those invited to take part in TED events.

This initial speaker was Alberto Garcia, a captain in the Guardia Civil, perhaps the smartest dressed speaker, in full shining uniform. Alberto updated us on security in “smart cities” and showed an entertaining video of a hacker adding first a smiley, and then his photo, to motorway overhead warning signs.
Dani Garcia, @danigarcia_ca is a natural speaker, and gave us a purely verbal gastronomic feast. He questioned which great innovator created the tortilla, and reflected on creativity: “up to what point do you go up the pyramid.”
Boris Soler, @borissoler had noticed there was nothing on ‘feisbuk’ about hairdressing: Social Media has since changed his life. He gave us a great live hairdressing-and-SM demonstration.

Michelle Chaplow’s @michellechaplow vision was to raise the standard of photography when promoting destinations and luxury hotels, beautifully illustrated with images of Andalucia from her extensive collection. "To me the most important factor is to capture the essence of the scene,” said Michelle.
Angeles Muñoz @angelesmunoz_, Mayor of Marbella, spoke about the advances in technology at Marbella town hall. Apparently it no longer takes a week for a paper to get from the second to the third floor.
Paul Templeton @imagicator amazed us when he spoke about The Kindred Project, an NGO created by the Sotogrande International School, and what young people can do to promote education as a force for good around the world.
Jacobo Cestino @cestino_jacobo, MD of luxury Marbella residential development La Zagaleta, spoke about his vision for the use of the empty properties in Spain. “Another model is possible,” he declared.
Beto Nahmad @betonahmad, an advertising creative and film director, was very entertaining, demonstrating that even (his) way-out ideas are possible to achieve. These included transporting football fans’ shouts in plastic bottles, and a security safe inside a mattress for those who don’t trust banks.
Juanjo Valderrama @jjvaarq, a neuroscientist, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, demonstrated how stupid the brain can be and focused on art to question the minimum number of elements needed to depict a woman.
A few technical glitches aside, it was a great success - Rami’s biggest challenge for the next TEDxMarbella will be finding a way of stopping speakers from overrunning their allocated time – perhaps he can turn up the music as they did at the Oscars this year?
Well done Rami and team - Rafa García Cruz, Francisco Torres, María Arjona, Antonio Cabello, and all the volunteers, for putting on this event with a limited budget, and we look forward the next one.

More information about Future TED event locations and dates can be found on the TEDx website. The next in Andalucia will be TEDxAlbayzin in Granada on 27 June 2013.
Twitter: The event hashtag is #TEDxMarbella and here is compiled a list of speakers tweets.
Blog published on 11 March 2013