Celebrity status : one person

My celebrity status was raised today to the level of “one person”.  Here is a quote from the Cyprus Mail article covering TEDxNicosia:

Perhaps the most apt response to that performance was from one person on social networking site Twitter who said, “Holly molly! Check the voice on that kid! Jaw dropped at #TedxNicosia”. Hashtags are used on Twitter to enable people, including strangers, to discuss a set topic.

If you missed the original, here it is:

TEDxNicosia 2013 – The power of RE

The stage at #TEDxNicosia

As most of you know, I spent most of the yesterday in Nicosia, attending the second ever TEDxNicosia event.  I know quite a few people who wanted t go, but the event was sold out in 72 hours, and even yours truly missed getting the ticket.  If it wasn’t for the kind invite of Marina Theodotou, I would have missed it too.  So, here are my experiences, notes, and thoughts on the conference.

Continue reading “TEDxNicosia 2013 – The power of RE”

TEDxNicosia speakers report

TEDxNicosia 2013 is just a few short hours away.   As I mentioned previously, I am very excited, and I keep thinking about it.  One particular thought was bugging me all day today – how are the speakers being selected, and is there anything common among them? Do they share any specific knowledge or experience, or personal characteristics?  Not knowing any of the speakers personally, I decided to go for some fun PHP scripting rather than any serious research.  It’s Friday after all!

The result is this little project.  I basically took the 12 speaker profiles directly from the TEDxNicosia speakers page, and used it as my source data.  Each profile is saved into a text file with the name of the speaker.  Then I ran some simple analysis on those text files.   First, I wanted to see if their profile texts were sharing any common words.  That would be an indication, right?  Obviously, I had to filter out some words like ‘as’, ‘and’, and ‘he’ (see a full list of filtered out words).  For the rest, here is the top 20 most common words (by the way, the script reports the names of speakers as well, but I took it out for clarity and simplicity):

  1. Cyprus, shared by 11 out of 12 profiles;
  2. years, shared by 10 / 12;
  3. university, shared by 8 / 12;
  4. international, shared by 7 / 12;
  5. world, shared by 7 / 12;
  6. work, shared by 6 / 12;
  7. national, shared by 5 / 12;
  8. media, shared by 5 / 12;
  9. currently, shared by 5 / 12;
  10. including, shared by 5 / 12;
  11. well, shared by 5 / 12;
  12. all, shared by 5 / 12;
  13. life, shared by 5 / 12;
  14. first, shared by 5 / 12;
  15. people, shared by 5 / 12;
  16. USA, shared by 5 / 12;
  17. development, shared by 4 / 12;
  18. London, shared by 4 / 12;
  19. business, shared by 4 / 12;
  20. experience, shared by 4 / 12;

Interesting, isn’t it?  The easiest to notice for me is geography.  The most shared word is Cyprus, which is not surprising, because the TEDxNicosia event is happening, here, in Cyprus, and because most of the speakers either live here, or were born here, or moved here.  the other two geographical highlights are the USA and UK (London specifically).  These are the most influential, however there are indications of other travel (national, international, world).

One other thing which stands out is hard work.  It is suggested by work, all, life, development, business, and experience.  It sounds like all these people know what they are talking about.  Especially if you throw in university in there.  Also, first is indicative of either trying new things or of leading somewhere.

The rest might also mean something, but they don’t stand out so much.  At least not to me.   Except maybe if I put together media and people.  Then there is a sort of social suggestion.

After reading speakers’ profiles, I think the above is pretty accurate.  Even if it wasn’t, accuracy wasn’t exactly the point.  The whole thing is more of technical entertainment piece.  Oh, by the way, that reminds me.  What does TED stand for?  Technology, Entertainment, Design.  While we are looking at speaker profile words, why don’t we try and see if the TED words are in there too.  A bit more of coding, and here is what I get:

  • technology is represented by 3 out of 12 speakers;
  • entertainment is not represented by anyone;
  • design is represented by 2 out of 12;

Doesn’t sound too good?  Well, that’s because these numbers have very little to do with the actual speakers.  The source data were speaker profiles, which are only a few words long.  If these were worded even slightly different, the results would be completely different.  Just to give you an indication – even though the word ‘entertainment’ haven’t been used, a few other words, such as ‘music’, ‘dance’, ‘film’, ‘book’ were used plenty, and these can easily be used near entertainment.

Now that Friday night is quickly turning into Saturday morning, I think I should grab a few hours of sleep and drive out to Nicosia.  See you all there, or see you all after!

TEDxNicosia 2013 – RE-Think. RE-Generate. RE-Act.

Since the last TEDxNicosia event back in 2011, everyone and their brother were asking: “When?  When is the next one?  And how do I get there?”  Well, guess what – the next TEDxNicosia event is this Saturday (March 9, 2013)!


That’s the good news.  The bad news are that the event is totally sold out.  In fact, all tickets were sold out in 72 hours!   If you don’t have a ticket now,  you aren’t going this time.  Sad, I know.  But that’s not all the news either.  I have more.

(drum roll, nervous shaking, breath in, breath out, … go!)

Marina Theodotou, the event organizer, has invited me to attend the event in the capacity of the blogger.  Yes, that’s right.  This is my first “official” time.  I’ll be there for the whole day, blogging, tweeting, snapping pictures, and what not.  I’ll tell you all about it.  I promise.  But before I even start, here is the disclaimer:  the only compensation/gain that I received or will receive is the complimentary ticket to the event (Thank you, Marina).  All of the views, opinions, writing, tweets and images posted on this blog or in social networks under my accounts, are of my authorship, unless otherwise stated. 

Now, with that cleared, I have to say that I am super exciTED.  I can’t wait to get there, listen to speeches and presentations, and hang out with some really cool people.  Just a couple of days to go!

TEDxNicosia videos are online

I’ve been waiting for TEDxNicosia videos to be published online and finally the wait is over.  As good as they are, there is really no way to express the atmosphere that was in the room.  But they definitely help to imagine.  Get inspired!

And, as mentioned before, if you have time for only a single talk, then watch this one, by Nicos Anastasiou.


Together with the photos and the summary of my personal experiences, I hope you can realize now how cool of an event that was.

TEDxNicosia photos are online

When I went to TEDxNicosia event last month, I forgot to take my camera.  I was a bit sad to miss such an opportunity.  But during the talks I caught myself thinking that it’s probably for the better that I didn’t have the camera with me.  The talks were so interesting and engaging that I would either forget to take more pictures or miss parts of the talks while making shots.  And then again, sitting in the middle of the row it wouldn’t be too easy to move around.  And we all know how boring are the picture taken from the same place.

Anyway, now all my thoughts are put to rest.  As I mentioned before, TEDxNicosia was very well organized.  And part of that organization was arranging for an excellent photographer – Andri Josef.   I remember seeing Andri all over the place during the event – next to the stage, on the floor, in the cafeteria, and always behind the camera.  She must have taken a gadzillion images during that day!  Now, you can have a look at some of them in TEDxNicosia Gallery, covering the speakers, the venue, the organizers, the attendees, and more.   Here is a check-in image of Michael and me.  We just got our badges, heading for the coffee.



TEDxNicosia : thoughts and impressions

As you know, I spent most of the day in Nicosia yesterday, attending TEDxNicosia event together with Michael Stepanov. I’ve mentioned several times in this blog and on Twitter that I was overexcited about this event and my opportunity to actually go there.

Michael picked me up at 8am and drove me to Nicosia. With the new 3 lane section of the highway and a recently learnt shortcut through the Strovolos industrial area, it took us only about an hour to get to University of Nicosia, ex Intercollege campus. Lots of people, lots of cars, gladly huge parking space – everything as expected for a Wednesday morning. As soon as we came through the main entrance we spotted the TEDxNicosia mini-poster directing us downstairs to the Cine Studios.

Even though we weren’t the first ones to show up and with a little queue already waiting for registrations it took us only about 10 minutes to get processed. Name, ticket, badge, goodies baggy, brownie cookie, snapshot in front of the TEDxNicosia logo wall. There was still time before the start of the talks, so we had some of that coffee nicely provided by the even organizers. And a cookie. And some water. And I met someone. Chrys comments frequently on this blog, but we’ve never actually met. Until now. So there, before the talks even started I already got some value out of the event.

And it was time so we finished the coffee and went in to get inspired. The hall was packed. I was sitting in the second row so I could see too well behind me, but for what I could see – there were no spare seats. 150 people or so, video cameras, photo cameras, laptops, and the stage with the traditional red circle of a carpet, cut out 3D letters of the conference logo and a large screen for slides. Everyone was excited, I could feel it in the air.

Marina Theodotou, the founder and curator of the TEDxNicosia gave a brief introduction. She was worried, which is to be expected. I am a bit familiar with event organizations but even I was surprised to learn that the whole thing took around 10 months to organize and that everyone worked pro bono – the event rests on the shoulders of volunteers (and sponsors, of course) and it has no commercial goal in itself.

Then, finally, the talks started. There were a total of eleven of them plus two videos, separated into four sections, by the title of the conference: dream, risk, care, and live. Each of the sections wasn’t necessarily a topic in itself, but rather a focus point or a perspective to a talk. Each and every speaker was interesting and each and every talk was inspirational in its own way. There was something for everyone in every talk.

It is hard to rate the talks or to select the best ones – each one gave me something to think about or taught me something that I didn’t know before. But if you put a gun to my head and told me to choose, I’d have to pick two. Coincidentally, there were the first and the last talks of the event.

The first one was by Nicos Anastasiou. It actually worried me a couple of times. Let me give you some context. Since Cyprus is a multilingual country, I was a bit nervous going to the event, not being sure that everything would be in English. I don’t have anything against Greek – after all it’s one of the official languages – but I don’t really understand it that well. TEDxNicosia website is all English and there was no mentioning of Greek or of any other languages. That gave me hope but not confidence. My other worry was that given that this conference is not of any specific industry, interest, or subject, and that it usually receives plenty of international attention, I thought the issue of divided Cyprus would be raised more than necessary. Again, I don’t have a problem with that, but that wouldn’t be all I was expecting of the event. And here we are. The first talk and the first slide with the title clearly says that it is going to be about the Cyprus problem. That was the first time when I got a bit nervous.

But just a few minutes into it, I realized that there was nothing to worry about. Even though Nicos Anastasiou did indeed speak of the Cyprus problem and divided people, it was very different from anything I ever heard on this subject before. Nicos covered some of his personal experiences and how that brought him into work that he does now with Youth Encounters for Peace (YEP) and other groups of people. I’ve never heard of any of the organizations or projects that he was talking about. I thought that was because I am a foreigner and because I don’t get news in Greek. As I discovered later during the break, not many Cypriots heard of them either. Somehow it all goes on under the radar without much exposure from either politicians or the mass media. And that is sad.

Sad, because the work these people do is really amazing. And Nicos described it in the most excellent way. There were no big words or self promotion, greed or show off. It was quite the opposite. It was very modest, very personal, and very humane. To the point that my second reason for worry started to surface.

Nicos’ talk was very touching and emotional. Given that I cry in most of the drama movies (yeah, I can admit now that pretty much everyone knows it anyway), I started feeling that this was way more powerful and real than a movie. A sip of a water and a look around, and what do I see? There were a lot of eyes around with tears in them. No shame there. As it was the first one of the event and we had hours ahead of us, I was worried for a bit that I won’t be able to handle all of it. Fortunately or unfortunately, but it was the only talk that was that moving.

The last talk of the event was by Myrtani Pieri. She spoke very passionately about the complimentary value of science in understanding and enjoying the beauty of the world. Some of the thoughts I’ve heard before (for example in this interview with Richard Feynman), some I didn’t. But it was not only about the thoughts here. It was about the passion and inspiration with which she spoke. It was mesmerizing, hypnotizing. All I wanted just to hear more and more more.

I consider myself to be a rather passionate person. I have troubles controlling or directing my passion often. But I do not what it is and how it feels and how awesome it is. And when I meet people – on a daily basis – who either have never experienced it (I doubt it actually) or completely and totally forgot what it is (which is more likely), I wish I could give them some of my passion if only just for a moment. I think the world would have been a far better place if more people were more passionate about more things. Even though religious extremists are trying to prove me wrong.

The two talks were very different from each other. But what they had in common was that they were very human. They were about the really important things in our lives – not the jobs or money or social status or fashion or anything like that. They were about basic needs – the need to connect with other humans and the need to know how the world around us works. They were about things that people seek no matter how rich or poor they are or where they live or how old they are.

The other talks weren’t bad. As I said, I took something out of each and every one of them. Aude Marie Auphan spoke of her huge career change from “holding the top job in my profession for 10 years” to an entrepreneurial adventure and her need to integrate her job with her newly acquired parenting responsibilities and her own growth and development. Devrim Celal shared his story of how he became a marathon runner and ran 1,000 kilometers marathon through 4 toughest deserts on the planet. Alexandros Charalambides brought up an important issue of energy – how we use it, what the Mari explosion taught us, what we have to do, and what are the possible ways of doing it. Alexandra Eleptheriou explained how important it is to understand the circumstances when choosing actions. Antonis Petrou got me started on Cyprus marine biology, which I knew absolute nothing about until his talk yesterday. Maria Stylianou shared her rediscovery and redefinition of the world as a parent – something that I went and still going through as well. Viken Tavitian shared his more practical and entertaining approach to sciences than that of the boring textbooks – something that I’ve thought about a lot. From Orestis Tringides I’ve learned about yet another important initiative – Open Cyprus Project (www.accessinfocyprus.eu and www.access-info.org) which is an initiative that promotes access to information for increased government transparency and citizen activism. Angeliki Yiassemides talk had an interesting part on similarities between personal and group psychologies, involving both consciousness and subconsciousness.

Even with brief, 18 minutes in length, talks there was still plenty to learn and think about. Following the TED and TEDx tradition, all of these talks will be published online on the TEDxNicosia website as well as YouTube, as soon as next week. And while there is no way to pass the atmosphere of the event fully into a video, I think a good chunk of it will still be there.

There were also two videos. One I’ve seen a few times before – Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.


The other one was new to me – a TED talk actually: Raghava KK: Shake up your story.


The rest of the event was organized as good as the talks were. The program was followed as timely as it is possible in Cyprus. The catering was very good – with snacks, fruits and refreshments, and even wine and whiskey at the end of the event. There was free and open WiFi network in the auditorium, which, unlike many other conferences, worked like a clockwork. There was excellent photo and video coverage – too early to see it online yet, but I’m sure it will follow next week or so. There were workshops and a “tree of dreams” for those who wanted to participate during the breaks. And plenty of space and opportunity to network and talk with fellow TED-ers. Despite this being the first such even in Cyprus, the organization was top notch – very smooth, very professional.

Even now, a day later, I am still under an impression and my head spins from all that I got at TEDxNicosia. I am very glad I attended and I will definitely do my best to attend all future events (hope there will be more of them). And judging by the looks on other people faces and conversations here and there – everybody really enjoyed it.

Huge thanks are due to the organizers who have worked their butts off month after month to bring us that. You guys have done an amazing job and a standing ovation at the end of the event is just one of the many things that proves it. Please make these events a tradition and I’m sure more and more people will come, get inspired and will change their lives and lives of people around them for the better.

TEDxNicosia : TEDx is coming to Cyprus!


No, it’s not a joke. And you are not dreaming.  I couldn’t believe my eyes at first too.  The famous TEDx conference will now be represented in Cyprus as well.  Who could have imagined?  The first TEDxNicosia will take place on November 30th, 2011 at University of Nicosia campus.  The registration is already open and participation is only 25 Euro.  Provided, of course, that you pass the selection and approval process, as with any other TED event.  I have, of course, submitted my application and am waiting for the approval.  This is so exciting!