TEDxSquareMile 2015 – We came, we saw, we got connected…

And that’s a wrap! TEDxSquareMile2015, you were fantastic. We’d like to say a massive thank you to all who attended, to all our speakers and to Cass Business School for having us. We hope that you all enjoyed getting connected with the myriad ideas and people present.

DSC_0137We heard John Dennis’ compelling story of how he overcame the bleakest times through connecting with others, and Arturs Ivanov’s plea for the audience to reconnect with spontaneous laughter. Then there was Tariq el Kashef’s suggestion that we connect by disconnecting and stepping outdoors, Stephanie Bosset’s warning that we need to be more sceptical of the information we receive through social media, and Anna Shield and Emily Garsin’s rousing finale, in which we all connected through singing in three-part harmony.  These and other key moments throughout the day provided new chances to get connected, with ideas, with other people and with ourselves.

Coming soon…Speaker videos

We also hope that you’ll stay connected with us though, particularly since all of the speakers’ presentations have been recorded for posterity (with thanks to Courage Media) and we’ll have all of the videos available for you to watch online via the TEDx YouTube Channel in due course. Watch this space!DSC_0147

More than that though, we hope that our event has encouraged you to get more connected in your daily life, in whatever way will bring you peace, happiness and satisfaction.

TEDxSquareMile 2015 – How it all began

The power of connection can achieve a lot, as demonstrated by the way the event itself came about. Five months ago, the seeds of TEDxSquareMile 2015 were sown when organiser Alex Dobre reached out for volunteers to help plan and organise the event. At that point we didn’t know each other, we didn’t have a venue, speakers, a set date for the event, or anything else. All we had was the desire to put on a TEDx event exploring what it means to get connected.

Our motivations for doing so were in the vein of the TED philosophy of ‘ideas worth spreading’. As all volunteers were unpaid and all money raised by ticket sales and sponsorship went into actually funding the event, TEDxSquareMile, and all those like it held around the world, is a direct challenge to the dominant idea in our society that the carrot of financial gain is required for motivation.

A different way of organising

Since that initial starting point, the event has grown and evolved in a decentralised way, according to Alex’s bold idea for each member of the organising team to simply do what they wish and take any initiatives they can to progress. WeDSC_0144 each took a role in democratically voting for the speakers who would eventually appear on stage, and everybody had a part to play in making the event what it was. With no leader and no clearly defined roles, some might have feared chaos and a lack of direction, but we hope you’ll agree that it all came together beautifully.

In the days before and on the day of the event itself, we continued to work in this way, with each member of the team fluidly moving into the roles where they were most needed and to which they were best suited (with some exceptional help from Aurore Hochard and Peter Adjobia at Cass Business School).

When people come together and work towards a common goal without constraints or dictation from on high, the results can be unpredictable, remarkable and immensely positive. We hope that some of you will be inspired to see what you can organise yourselves, simply by getting connected with others in your community or even on the other side of the globe.

Peace, love and connectivity,

The TEDxSquareMile 2015 Organising Team


Alex Dobre, Brenda Kerson, Irina Ursu, Jay Shetty, Chris Glithero, Antoni Peychev, Diana Mitra, Adelaida Manolescu, Maud D’Agostini, Nina Yordanova, Leanne Forster, Jennifer Travers, Eunhye Grace Lee, Jiajun Tan, Rachel Ricketts, Emil Petrov, Aneliya Petrova, Rahil Baig, Dengei Calunod, Matthew Hoffbrand, Jasna Ana Bibic

An interview with Dr Harry Witchel

TEDx SquareMile 2015 is now upon us, and there’s just time for one final interview with one of our speakers. Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, will be presenting a talk with Lisa Lavia from the Noise Abatement Society. The thharry_witcheleme of their talk is ‘Applied soundscapes:How sound connects us’…

How did you and Lisa Lavia meet?

We met as part of the university’s engagement with the community.  We started collaborating together with Brighton and Hove City Council on planning, development and arts events.  It was fun, impactful, and we got data that neither we nor anyone else internationally could get in another way.

What does connection mean to you?

Connecting is more than adjacency.  It involves caring, sharing, and doing one’s best for others.  In the best connections, it means knowing what people want, sometimes even before they themselves know.

How do you stay connected?

Connection is not effortless – you have to work at it.

Describe your TEDx talk in 1-2 sentences?

Applied soundscapes are the future path for people to connect to each other and with the built environment.  Sound is everywhere, you can’t ignore it, it turns a space into a place.

What’s the best advice you have received?

The power of music can connect us.

Why should people come to TEDx Square Mile?

You will see some important, thought-provoking and enjoyable speakers.  Your mind will thank you for it.

What is your favourite idea spread through a TED or TEDx talk?

If we do things the way we always have done, we will not progress.  Innovate and thrive; fear and unquestioned conventions lead only to ritual and away from creativity.

Interview by Brenda Kerson

Connecting through laughter: An interview with Arturs Ivanovs

Not long to go now, so here’s another teaser to warm you up for TEDxSquareMile 2015 this Saturday. Here we talk to speaker and laughter yoga practitioner Arturs Ivanovs about how he connects through laughter…

1. Can you tell us a little about laughter yoga and what it means to you?

arturs ivanovLaughter yoga is a combination of laughter exercises and yoga deep breathing. It is a simple, fast, effective and powerful tool, which everyone can use to promote their good health and sense of happiness. Laughter yoga combines the art of laughing and science of breathing in playful and fun exercises.

Since I was a child I have always loved to make people laugh and really enjoy seeing people smiling and happy. My ultimate goal in life is to live 100 healthy and happy years. In 2013, I discovered Laughter Yoga and found it to be a simple and powerful tool to help me achieve this outcome.

Laughter Yoga has given me the opportunity to express myself professionally and to earn a living doing what I love. There is nothing else in my life which gives me the same pleasure as when I am leading a laughter yoga class or training my students and seeing them happy. It makes me feel very happy and blessed to do this job.

2. What is the link between laughter yoga and ‘Getting Connected’?

“Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal language connection”. – Yakov Smirnoff

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” – Victor Borge

Through laughter yoga, I have seen that joyful laughing is infectious and brings people together. I have witnessed the power of laughter connecting hearts.

3. What do you hope people will gain from hearing your talk?

I will share how laughter yoga has changed my life and how it can change other peoples’ lives. My aim is to give people a fast and easy tool that anyone can use to connect with themselves and with others. I will demonstrate how you can change your emotional state within a few minutes by performing laughter yoga exercises. My goal is to unleash the laughter giant within you for ultimate health and happiness.

4. What drew you towards speaking at TEDxSquareMile?

TEDxSquareMile is a great platform which positively impacts many people’s lives. It is a great way to inspire people and share ideas. I believe the topic ‘Get Connected’ is the perfect theme to share how laughter yoga encourages connection.

5. Apart from laughter yoga, what’s your favourite way to get connected?

I love anything that encourages real connections and causes us to use our human senses: touch, smell, sound and sight. This can be anything from laughing, singing and dancing to playing and experiencing nature.

6. Describe your TEDx talk in one sentence…

The demonstration of connection through the power of laughter.

Interview by Chris Glithero

An interview with Irene Scopelliti

Just a few days left to go till we get connected at TEDxSquareMile, and we’ve been asking some of our speakers to share their thoughts about connectivity. First up, consumer psychology researcher Irene Scopelliti…

What does ‘getting connected’ mean to you?

irene_scopetelliTransforming one-shot interactions and random encounters into ongoing relationships that transcend geographical proximity, such that we feel together even when far apart. Getting connected opens up the possibility to have a constant exchange of information, experiences, and emotions with other people who have crossed our path.

Tell us a little about the talk you’ll present and its relation to the ‘Get connected’ theme…

The fact that we are more and more connected to one another multiplies the opportunities to self-promote and brag, in particular via social networking. In addition, some connections are relatively superficial. I’ll present some ideas on the psychology of bragging drawn from research my coauthors and I have conducted on the topic. These ideas help understand how an empathy gap between communicators and their recipients can explain why bragging is perceived so negatively, especially online.

What has your research revealed about the way that people connect with each other and with themselves?

People often brag with good intentions, they share with others their achievements and great moments motivated by their pride and happiness, and by the belief that others may be experiencing the same positive emotions. However, their beliefs often don’t match reality, resulting in what in our studies we call an ‘emotional miscalibration.’ This miscalibration makes us tend to overestimate the extent to which our counterparts will feel proud and happy for us when we brag and underestimate the extent to which they will be annoyed when hearing our good news.

Why do people brag, and do you think they do so more now in the era of social media?

The emotional miscalibration that we observed in our studies may be exacerbated online, because although social media allows us to connect with more and more contacts, these connections may be relatively superficial. A higher psychological distance can increase the empathy gap between our connections and us. Moreover, having a large number of connections may make us feel like we have an audience, which prompts us to engage in more self-promotion and brag more than what we would normally do.

What drew you towards presenting a talk at TEDxSquareMile?
I wanted to make people aware of the empathy gap between our connections and us, and of the potential negative emotional consequences attached to it. Awareness and small nudges to reduce the empathy gap can help us reap more benefits of being connected.

What makes you feel most connected?
Technology. In whatever form allows me to get and feel connected with the important people in my life, wherever in the world I am.

Interview by Chris Glithero.

Check back tomorrow for an interview with laughter yoga practitioner Arturs Ivanovs.

Get Connected at TEDxSquareMile this Saturday

Just five days to go now till we get connected with a host of great speakers at TEDx SquareMile 2015. If you haven’t already got a ticket then there are a few left, but do purchase one without delay to avoid disappointment.

On Saturday November 28th at Cass Business School we’ll be bringing you a programme of intriguing, insightful and entertaining talks covering all aspects of connectivity in the modern age. Highlights on the day include:

  • Adventurer John Dennis talking about overcoming depression by ‘getting connected’, and how this has pushed him to take on some formidable physical and mental challenges
  • David Keene, Google for Work Head of Marketing EMEA, talking about ‘The future of work’
  • Laughter yoga teacher Arturs Ivanov taking us through the ‘The unique power of connection through laughter’
  • Spiritual leader Radhanath Swami talking about unity in diversity and connecting with yourself
  • Tech entrepreneur Pilgrim Beart guiding us through ‘connected innovation’
  • Helen Morris Brown, psychologist and performance coach, exploring ‘The psychology of communicating effectively in a digital world’
  • Nine more speakers talking about the many different aspects of our ‘get connected’ theme
  • Networking opportunities
  • Musical performances
  • Exciting technologies showcased at the innovation desk

We look forward to connecting with all those in attendance this Saturday. And for those that don’t have a ticket, don’t forget you’ll be able to view all talks from the event on the TEDx YouTube channel shortly afterwards.

John Dennis adventurer

TEDx speaker John Dennis beat depression, now he’s taking on the arctic…

With just three weeks left to go till TEDx SquareMile 2015, now’s a good time to get to know some of our speakers a little better.

First up is John Dennis, an adventurer who will be talking about the importance of getting connected in overcoming depression and other mental health issues.

Interview by Chris Glithero

image_00008In February 2016, John will embark on the ‘dreaded yet thrilling’ Yukon Arctic Ultra – a 300-mile race lasting eight days, in temperatures as low as -49°c. Two years ago, John’s life was somewhat different…

In 2013 John was trapped in severe depression, which he has since identified as being in large part due to his father’s suicide two decades earlier. In that bleak time, he could barely overcome the challenge of leaving his bed, let alone trekking across arctic tundra.

He credits his recovery from this dark period with the strength of the connections that he made to family, friends and experienced professionals. Today, he’s on a mission to raise awareness of mental health issues and to simultaneously push his own limits…

Q: What does the phrase ‘get connected’ mean to you? 

John: It means more to me than simply network connections. ‘Get connected’ means lifeline, help, comfort, friends, family. Because without these things, the chances are that I would not have pulled through my depression.

Q: How important do you think it is for people suffering or recovering from mental illness to get connected?

John: Hugely important. It’s very easy for someone to become inward in a situation like I found myself in – the hardest part is accepting that connections, wherever they come from, are essential. Once you accept that things aren’t in your control, that’s when being connected to those who can help really comes to life. Help is beyond important and I am so grateful for all the support I’ve had throughout the whole recovery process.

Q:  What will your TEDx talk be about? 

John: I am hoping that my story will be of inspiration through the darkest times. I’ll cover my childhood trauma and other early experiences, through to what turned out to be the darkest period of my life, followed by one of the most terrifyingly exciting periods of my life, as a husband and parent, and in taking on these huge events to raise the profile of depression.

Q: When do you feel most connected?

John: When I stand back and look at what has been achieved. Yes, it’s my name with the “depression” tag, though all that’s happened has happened because of my acceptance of help. Connection to me is so much more: feeling, seeing, touching life is so important and it is easy for people to lose sight of that.

Q: In your adventures, how important has it been to be connected, and what form did that connectivity take?

John:  My adventures would not happen without connections, pure and simple. Everyone, I mean everyone, has to start from somewhere. I chose to seek the very best advice and listened to absolutely everyone. Regardless whether the points were positive or negative, I listened. Without that, I would have floundered about and achieved nothing but talk.

You can see John Dennis present his talk, alongside our other exciting speakers at TEDx SquareMile 2015, on 28th November at Cass Business School in the City of London. Click here to purchase tickets, or view our speakers page to find out who else will be there.

TEDX SquareMile2015

TEDx SquareMile 2015 tickets: Get ‘em while you can

With a little over a month left till we ‘Get Connected’ with some awesome talks in the City at Cass Business School, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve almost sold half of all tickets for the event. So, if you’re planning on coming, NOW is the time to grab yourself a ticket before they sell out.

You can purchase your tickets here.

The event will take place on Saturday 28th November, from 10AM to 6PM.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Octavius Black, Mind Gym CEO
  • John Dennis, adventurer and mental health campaigner
  • Hayley Quinn, dating expert
  • Radhanath Swami, spiritual leader
  • Erik Fairbairn, POD Point founder
  • Craig Twyford, Director of Octopus Analytics
  • David Keene, Google for Work head of marketing
  • Tariq El Kashef, adventure tour leader
  • Further speakers to be announced soon…

Get connected with a host of fascinating talks – buy your ticket today.

You can help connect the world’s most vulnerable communities, one map at a time

With less than two months to go till our ‘Get Connected’ event, we’re going to be taking a look around at some of the innovative ways that people and organisations are getting connected. This week, we’re exploring the Missing Maps project, which aims to ‘put the world’s most vulnerable people on the map’.

In the year 2015, it is arguably digital connectivity that is having the most profound effects upon our individual lives and the way that we communicate. But beyond social media, viral videos and the constant stream of internet news and click-bait articles, connections are being quietly forged that can make a much larger impact in our ever-shrinking world.

Missing Maps is one such project, which is leveraging the power of the internet and crowdsourcing to make a positive difference in some of the world’s most at-risk communities.

Which maps are missing?

While you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole world has been mapped already and is available online at the click of a button, the fact is that there remain large areas of the developing world which lack even basic maps. For local aid organisations and international humanitarian NGOs, this is a problem.

Without accurate and up-to-date maps it can be incredibly difficult to get aid and personnel to the areas where they are most needed, and in a crisis situation this can be the difference between life and death.

Missing mapsMake a connection to those at risk

Missing Maps was founded last year by Medicins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the British Red Cross, American Red Cross and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team (HOT). Its purpose is to harness the collective efforts of thousands of volunteers around the world to create comprehensive maps of some of the most at risk global communities.

So how does it work? Essentially, remote online volunteers (possibly you) trace satellite imagery using their own computer, marking on features such as buildings, roads and rivers. Once that part is complete, local volunteers in the community in question can add further specific details like street names and specific building types. This data is then available for free usage on the open-source OpenStreetMap platform, and can be used by aid organisations for disaster response, as well as by people who live in the area.

The fundamental idea is to map those areas that are most at risk of natural disasters, disease outbreaks, conflict and other dangers before they occur, so that an aid response can be made quickly and effectively. Current tasks within the project include mapping areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo to help MSF respond to disease outbreaks, parts of Haiti to aid local disaster response efforts, and areas of Tanzania to help develop flooding early warning systems.

How do I get involved?

The great thing about the Missing Maps project is that you can easily volunteer from the comfort of your own home, whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours to spare. All you need is a computer and an internet connection to get started (a mouse will make mapping easier, but is not essential).

Once you’re ready, head to the Missing Maps website to view a quick tutorial. You’ll be guided through the process to create a free account, then you can take part in your first mapping task, which will be a single map square within a wider area. Editing takes place using a simple browser-based editor which is intuitive to use, and many people find that tracing squares and lines over satellite imagery is a surprisingly relaxing and rewarding activity.

Because it’s a collaborative effort you don’t necessarily need to finish the task in one sitting, you can simply unlock it for others to work on. Likewise, whenever you find yourself at a loose end, you can head back to the website and help to complete other unfinished tasks.

Attend a mapathon

Missing maps mapathon

Though you can do it at home, if you’re a social butterfly you might like to head to one of the regular ‘mapathons’ that take place in London and other cities. At these mapping parties, volunteers come together to map specific areas, and there’s usually plenty of free beer, pizza, guest talks and pleasant banter on offer too. Yet another chance to get connected with new people, while helping to connect a distant part of the world at the same time.

Do you know of any interesting and innovative initiatives that are helping people to get better connected? We’d love to hear about in the comments section below.

Written by Chris Glithero, TEDxSquareMile 2015 organising team volunteer

Reasons to be excited: Tickets and confirmed speakers

With less than two months to go till TEDxSquareMile 2015 we’ve been busy with preparations to ensure that this year’s event is the best yet. We’ve now got a total of eight confirmed speakers for the event, including dating guru Hayley Quinn, polar explorer John Dennis, Octavius Black of Mind Gym and renowned spiritual leader and philanphropist, Radhanath Swami. You can find out more about each of these in the ‘Speakers’ section of our website. Check back soon for more exciting speaker announcements.

Tickets are now on sale

The other big development here at TEDxSquareMile is that tickets are now available for sale! You can find out more and snap yourself up a ticket here. They’re selling quickly so act now if you’re planning on attending the event on November 28th.

As the preparations move up a gear, the organisation team is hard at work with a good many tasks, from securing sponsors to sorting out the t-shirts for volunteers to wear on the day. We’ve also welcomed many new faces onto the team and are looking forward to the unique contributions that each of these have to make.

The power of connection

Getting connected is not only the theme of our event, it’s the cause of it. The progress that we have made so far is down to the fact that we, formerly a group of strangers from a huge variety of backgrounds, have connected with each other to work together to make this thing happen. As a team we have connected with leading figures across a broad spectrum, who will provide the informational and inspirational banquet that awaits at the end of November. Now we’d like to offer you the chance to connect too, as an audience member for our event – because let’s face it, without an audience it would just be a bunch of mammals on stage uselessly expelling warm air. Don’t forget to grab your ticket, and if you’ve got any ideas for how you’d like the event to be, do let us know in the comments box below.

“We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.” – Stephen Hawking

Connections in the City – A photoblog

Our world is full of connections, from the physical and technological, to the spiritual, temporal and social. To celebrate the ‘Get Connected’ theme of our upcoming TEDx event, I took a walk around the City of London to see what connections I could find there and catch on camera. The photos below feature just some of those.

What does being connected mean to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Chris (TEDxSquareMile organising team volunteer)