Friends always want to know, “Did doing a TED talk make you famous? Rich?” I’m always direct to answer, “not at all*”.
So, when the LI editorial team asked me to write a 1-year retrospective of what it was like to be a TED speaker, we identified the headline quickly. The piece, found here, argues that TED actually does what it should do… gets an idea to spread. And I proceed to use the editorial angle of “famous” to share details on this point of view.
From the online comments, some people interpreted that I was “lamenting” the lack of fame, and in-person friends said I should stop talking about my personal story because doing so takes the focus off the ideas I have. The whole experience has me thinking about what to do next, whether something require a change.
When any of us receive criticism, it’s a great opportunity to decide what to take in, what (and who) to ignore and also take a clear look at what exactly we’re reacting to, and why.
From the people who assumed I was “lamenting” any lack of fame, I’ll choose to learn that what I thought was humorous left open a door for people to misinterpret. People will do that. Just check You Tube comments. (Pro tip: Never read YouTube comments.) So humorous stuff ought to be better delivered, or left out entirely.
But the friends who worry I’m being “too social”, or “too open”, I wonder if they are actually clear who I am, what I think about, and believe in. (Do they not know I wrote Social Era Rules which argues that community, openness in purpose are key??!) Or, could it be that are working from bias. I see how Sandberg, Mayer, and Barra are criticized online for “a female proclivity to seek the spotlight”, and told they should be ashamed. At the same time, males of similar rank i.e. Zuckerberg, Gates, Jamie Dimon do not get similar treatment. (And, before that sentence gets misconstrued, I am NOT arguing I’m at their level, just identifying examples and patterns in broader culture.) I see so often, how women face blatant bias and double standards, as Lauren Leader-Chivee argued on the HBR blog. Also, as Rachel Edidin argued when she asked, “Why do we hate Amanda Palmer” at Wired. Bias isn’t fixable until we acknowledge it.
It is not entirely clear bias is the case, here. And that’s the rough part of this feedback in specific, but feedback in general; it’s hard to parse what is what, and what to take in, and what to leave out.
While the answers are not clear, I know enough to ask questions, to stay in community, and to learn from fellow travelers. If you have any light to lend to this, your take would be so helpful. The question as I think of it … Is there something to change re being “too open”? And I guess the broader question is always – how do you act on criticism, and what works best for you?
p.s. I was at TED this last week, and even thought I was achingly struggling through a respiratory health issue, it was still AH-MAY-ZING. Loved to see it through the eyes of Amanda Palmer, who managed to bridge TED with the people living AMIDST it.
p.p.s. And * … I don’t underestimate that TED might very well be involved with the fact that since my 2nd book came out, the volume of people who tune in has grown. The actual numbers from Book II release (September 2012) to now is 10,000 people to close to 1,500,000. I’m not discounting this, but its hard to do attribution to TED, specifically.