#TED2015#TED2015 just concluded in Vancouver with a lineup of truly exceptional speakers, thought leaders, scientists, and generally interesting people. My impression is that they didn’t arrive at this point in their careers by staying heads-down at their desks; they got out there with an idea, tested it, failed, and pivoted toward the evolution of their vision.

To a student of business relationships, this year’s TED program demonstrates the strategic value of our connections with one another:

  • Session 1: Opening Gambit, was all about reframing the things we think we know. This takes giving others our full attention, with an open mind to the possibility that what we hear may completely transform our lens—an important relationship skill.
  • Session 3: Machines That Learn, delved into the possibilities of artificial intelligence. As the machines around us become more adept at natural language communication, we humans will be freed to do…what? Adaptive innovation will increasingly be our mission as cognitive computing matures. Imagine the innovation that can arise from intelligent relationships between machines and people.
  • Session 5: Life Stories, explored the lives of several great innovators. A business mentor drove into me, “we don’t have a business life and a personal life—we have one life.” We deepen our strategic relationships when we share our stories with each other—not in marathon download (like that person you’ve probably sat next to on an airplane) but when we give and take, allowing a relationship to form naturally.
  • Session 9: Just and Unjust, tackled tough realities like gang violence and bullying with probing insights about breaking cycles of injustice. Strategic relationships likewise value justice, speaking out with candor and courage when required.
  • And the speakers in Session 11: Passion and Consequence, brought fire in the belly to pursuits as varied as surf photography and psychotherapy. What would be the consequence in your business relationships if you allowed your passion to show? From experience, I can say—good things will happen!

These presenters were people with social courage—they engage, listen, and connect seekers and solvers across their networks. Sure, sometimes that effort leads to failure. But it also leads to greater acumen.

Just this past week, a number of my colleagues have brought the TED vibe to their own platforms.. Jennifer Bridges of PDUs2go has gotten involved with TEDxCentennialParkWomen. Mark Sylvester and Kymberlee Weil of InfoNetworks are launching TEDx Santa Barbara and streamed a part of the TED Conference live. I’m exploring the launch of MyRide a mobile app + consumer portal for the powersports industry. We’re trying, without letting fear of failure hold us back.

The point is, we all have a comfort zone and unless you find ways to extend and expand that comfort zone, you’ll become complacent. The day you become complacent is the day you’re no longer relevant to your relationships!

So get out of the office, get out of your perceived “safe” zone, extend your reach into new opportunities. Sure, they’ll be uncomfortable, but that’s how we grow— personally and professionally.

Nour Takeaways

  1. For a master class in the traits of successful people, pay attention to the presenters at #TED2015.
  1. People who achieve an invitation to speak at TED recognize the value of strategic relationships.
  1. Do not allow complacency in yourself and those you lead: find ways to expand your comfort zone.
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