This is a guest post by Angela Horn
I was one of the fortunate few that got to attend TEDx Cape Town recently. Our budget didn’t allow for the luxury of spending R600 on the event, so I decided to go out on a limb and ask for a free ticket in return for a review.
This ‘just ask and see what happens’ side to my personality was non-existent until just a few months ago, so while I’m definitely becoming more brazen in my requests, I still find myself a little surprised when I receive a ‘yes’ for my efforts.
Especially when it’s of the straightforward, no questions asked variety.
I’ve always been more wallflower than dance floor Daisy, a trait I most certainly inherited from my mother. Whenever she found herself lacking in courage my mom would explain it away by saying that she’d always been a little backward in coming forward.
I believe that her attitude was born as a direct result of the two women who influenced her life the most. Her mother, a post lady in World War II and a formidable lady by any standards, and her mother-in-law, a stoic Boer vrou (farmer’s wife) who impressed upon her the importance of accepting her lot in life and never asking for more.
It’s no wonder I didn’t think it okay to ask for anything.
But then I came across Annette Saldana and everything changed. Through her website, The Art and Science of Making Irresistible Requests, she is inspiring women to ask for what they want.
“Success isn’t something you wait for. It’s created with every request.” – Annette Saldana.
I signed up for her 30-Requests-in-30-Days Challenge, and the rest, as they say, is history. She warned that asking could get addictive; that once you start you won’t want to stop. Boy, was she ever right about that.
So often as women we feel that we don’t have the right to ask, that it’s somehow not okay and that we should just, as my mother was taught, accept our lot in life. The thing is, not only is it okay to ask, we live in a day and an age where it’s imperative that we do.
What did I learn from attending TEDx Cape Town 2012?
Well the very first thing I learnt is that I really need to get myself a Smart Phone. I currently have a R150 Samsung that, were I to lob it with any degree of accuracy, it might serve to momentarily stun a Daschund. To be fair though, I can also make and receive calls on it.
What I can’t do, however, is tweet about where I am and what I’m up to. So while everyone around me was hashtagging to their heart’s content, all I could do is watch in envy as their comments scrolled up on the screen during the breaks. I’m an avid tweeter when in front of my laptop, so you can imagine my frustration.
We arrived to find the Baxter Theatre’s foyer humming with excitement. Hundreds of people were milling about, queuing to register and waiting at the bar to get a much-needed caffeine hit. Nine am is early for Capetonians, even forward thinking socially conscious ones.
A final call warned us that the conference was about to start, so we raced upstairs to take our seats in an already packed auditorium. By the time the doors closed there wasn’t an empty seat in the house, no mean feat for a rainy and blustery weekend morning in the Mother City.
Justin Beswick, co-organiser and emcee, kicked things off and pretty soon we were watching Brené Brown, aka Vulnerability TED, talk about shame. Sporty and I had already seen this talk, but watching it again with 700 like-minded peers made the experience that much more enjoyable. I’ve never had occasion to say this before, but the energy in the room that morning, and indeed throughout the day, was palpable.
The TEDx Cape Town crew had lined up a host of phenomenal speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds to entertain us, but more importantly to make us think. There were 20 bright and colorful minds in total and I can honestly say that out of all of them there was only a very small handful that didn’t have me utterly entranced.
Mbali Vilakazi captivated the audience with her moving, poetry inspired, piece in which she explained how words literally transformed her life.
Errorthoughtical Engineer, Peter Greenwall, had everyone in stiches as he explained how to upcycle failure into material for innovation by asking “Why the fail?” instead of WTF?!
The amount of social change projects we heard about during the day was really heartening. From Lauren Gillis, a social entrepreneur making a difference one bead at a time to Arthur Attwell who, through a project called Paperight, is giving people in outlying areas quick, easy and affordable access to books, creating small business opportunities, and at the same time ensuring that the publishers still make a profit.
So many truly remarkable South Africans, and all of them doing equally remarkable things. I left TEDx Cape Town on Saturday humbled to live in a country so alive with possibility.
What we play is life; so let’s go do that.
Angela Horn is a Cape Town-based freelance writer, lifestyle blogger and public speaker. Feel free to stalk her on Twitter or harass her via email. Alternatively you can just head over to Mostly Mindful and sign up for her bi-monthly minimalist missives.