Excel at Innovation

The other day while carousing Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues for the umpteenth time, two thoughts intersected, simultaneously stirring a bit of curiosity.

Junto is Franklin’s 1727 charter improvement and mental exploration club. Upon initiation, members swore to “endeavor impartially to find [truth] and receive it, and communicate it to others”. This group is responsible for the first public library, fire departments, public hospital, police departments, paved streets, and University of Pennsylvania. Perhaps even more importantly, it fostered an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity and discussion. It provided means for men to share ideas and exchange structured argument; to experiment with thoughts and expression and learning and reap the benefits of an environment conducive to exploration.

Junto is one half of my thought intersection. The remaining is TED. It is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Excelling beyond this definition, the “ideas worth spreading” house of ingenuity hosts conferences boasting internationally renowned speakers across categories such as creativity, discovery, simplicity, and wisdom. Intriguing conversations abound.

Junto. TED. Is today’s idea sharing group a reincarnation of Ben Franklin’s improvement society? Do the colaborations and developments TED has fostered over the years compare with the first library or public hospital? Difficult questions to answer without empirical datasets to directly link project development and implementation with TED events and networking (if such data exists, please share). In my opinion, then, Yes.

One thing is certain. Openness in mind and disposition, be it the 1700’s or the 21st century, always fares well for mankind. We social creatures must share inspiration to excel at innovation. One man quintessentially becomes many when he combines others’s thoughts and ideas with his own. And many men can become few if they disregard the potential of the world around them. Junto offered, as TED does today, the invaluable opportunities to develop and elucidate what we already know in pursuit of what we have yet to discover. And that, to me, is the most exciting thing in the world.

Be an open book,


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  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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