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In Search of Swissness at TEDx

In Search of Swissness - TED and TEDx

What does it take to become the #1 trusted brand in the world? To be the most environmentally friendly and innovative country on earth? To have the most Nobel laureates per capita and the highest quality of life? To answer these questions, one has to ask, “what does it mean to have Swissness?”

When one tiny country has that much going for it, the search for Swissness becomes almost mythic and can spawn strange theories and a bit of subjective humor. While other nations spend millions on fancy consultants to come up with splashy campaigns that try to instill elusive Swiss qualities into the collective consciousness, the Swiss just do what comes naturally. How did a previously poor people with limited natural resources rise to the top in so many ways?

Well, look no further, Fancy Consultants of the world. In my previous post, "11 Things Americans can learn from the Swiss", I attempted to highlight versions of “Swissness” in the lessons noted. Taking that a step further, I’ve analyzed dozens and dozens of TED and TEDx talks, and have curated the talks that best represent what Swissness really means. Take a look and let me know: What are your favorite TED and TEDx talks? What else captures Swissness to you?

1. Pioneers: Hitch up your wagons, then throw everything overboard!

The Swiss know they must adapt to preserve. Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss adventurer, pilot and co-founder of Solar Impulse, is on a quest to achieve the first round-the-world solar airplane flight. He explains how to make the impossible quite possible: “If we want to change our trajectory in life, we have to change our altitude... Pioneers are not the one with new ideas. Real pioneers allow themselves to throw overboard old habits, certainty, convictions, paradigms, and dogmas.”


2. Idea Sex

Actually, an idea orgy. Whaa? Wait, wait- the Swiss speak publicly of sex? Here, the European Curator of TED Global, Swiss-born Bruno Giussani, shares how open minds and new technology- in multiple languages – can create space to engage. And, yes, it’s exciting.


3. Precision over Pretense

In this great talk, successful Swiss entrepreneur Jesús Martin-Garcia explains why design trumps vision. He tells how, much like opinions, everyone has a vision. On his key competitor: “We could have exchanged vision statements. The key difference was design.”


4. Prepare for Battle (and when to go to war)

Swiss people fighting? Yes - fervently and passionately, when it comes to conservation and our environment. Watch Vera Weber show how bio-diversity matters in our business and social values. “Nature is a global enterprise that we call bio-diversity. Nature is the best run business on this earth, and the riches and the wealthiest. She has power and is on top on everyone and everything.”


5. Join the Geneva Convention

Originally founded by five Genevois families, the ICRC was created to provide protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and strife. In his compelling talk, “No Scraps of Men”, the head of ICRC orthopaedic programmes in Afghanistan, Alberto Cairo reminds us: "Dignity can not wait for better times."

(Picture copyright TED Blog)

DJ Forza

DJ is a Citizen Diplomat, Kiva Fellow, PhD candidate and local coffee shop aficionado.

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DJ Forza

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