But then, isn't that kind of what TED does for a certain self-selecting — largely well-educated and well-off — group? Sure, TED is a non-profit, and TEDx events are organized and coordinated independently. There's no stereotypical corporate manipulation at play here. But there's no denying that the TED "philosophy" creates a brand for its adherents. That brand includes some degree of intellectual curiosity. It also imparts some smugness.

After lunch on Saturday, TEDxDirigo executive producer Janice O'Rourke, a leadership coach and theater artist, invited five audience members to join her on stage. During the lunch break, attendees had been invited to write down, on a postcard, some thoughts about the conference; O'Rourke and her helpers were tasked with reading aloud an anonymous selection of cards. One of the respondents had written: "These are my people."

My people. There's an underlying suggestion that TED-ers are the chosen ones, that they are an exclusive group. That merely by attending a conference at which motivated experts talk about changing the world, one is, in fact, part of a movement to effect change. (That the ted.com website has a special page devoted to answering the question, "Is TED elitist?" should tell you something.)

I love watching TEDTalks online (ted.com/talks) and I encourage those who didn't attend TEDxDirigo: Engage to seek out Saturday's talks once they're posted online (tedxdirigo.com). Spreading ideas is a worthwhile endeavor, but access, inclusivity, and humility are important too.

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