Making it to TED


Last week Friday, I realised a big moment in my life. It came about so swiftly and required so much effort and preparation that I didnt have much time to reflect on it in the lead-up, and when it was over…I was too depleted for days to switch my brain on again or put pen to paper.

That moment was TED. My first. Not as attendee…as SPEAKER! ( Lol…I am willing to put myself through torture again should  anyone think my future ideas worthy of another talk!)

And to be totally honest…it was not quite TED Global, it was TED X Melbourne– an independently organised event licensed by TED. It’s like the Teddie Bear version, but it’s also the edge of innovation from whence Big Bear TED draws it’s next hits, so not exactly a walk in the park! And it’s the same sort of crowd…highly intelligent, accomplished change agents, tech savvy, edge-dwelling, hyper-connected, passionate about ideas and with ambition to change the world. As audiences go, I don’t think they come any more challenging than that!

The next big hurdle was finding an “IDEA WORTH SPREADING” within the theme of the event: Innovation. Do you know how hard it is to come up with a really NEW idea? Something that is not just an echo chamber? And that you can credibly talk to?

I had my concept very early on, then had to decide how to build it by drawing on tens of millions of accumulated ideas and distilled wisdom since the days humans started fashioning tools and leaving our interpretation of the world on the walls of caves. Then…how to narrow that down! Brevity is a quality I have sought to conquer all my life. Twitter has made an enormous contribution, but I was hugely challenged in picking out what to put in and what to leave out in 18 precious minutes whilst weaving drama and story, tension and resolution, strong beginning and climactic ending, with emotional connection.

I read somewhere that a good speaker on the paid circuit, (ie one who earns a living from conference speaking and does not have another day job on top of it) would spend up to 35 hours to prepare a 1 hour talk.

I would suggest that one can trebble that time for a TED 18 minute talk- especially if it’s not something you do day in and day out. 

I had about 1 month notice of the invitation, and early on decided that it wasn’t enough time to work with slides. Having attended TED Global twice as an audience member, as well as being the curator for AMPLIFY FESTIVAL and a regular at PICNIC, PopTech, Aspen Ideas Festival and the Business Innovation Factory, I have found that slides blur in my mind after a day of talk after talk after talk….so the presentations that demanded that I listen to only the speaker were somehow retained with greater impact.

But another reason for this decision is that I am accutely aware that as a digital immigrant born in 1961, I simply haven’t mastered the mouse flick to sell my shtick effortlessly and slick. So I said: pass. More pressure therefore on ME to keep my audience enthralled- and that in the last slot on a Friday afternoon!

Most people who know me would think I am very comfortable with public speaking. I do a lot of it and I have overcome shyness…but this time, I was throwing up for two days- the last time 5 minutes before I went on the stage! Whether it was stress or if I caught the same viral enteritis that brought down my 13 year old daughter’s friend who flew to Melbourne with us, I dont know. The poor kid was so ill and feverish that I had to arrange for a chauffeured car to take her to the airport to fly back to her mum as I took off for the Melbourne Convention Centre 30 minutes before my speaking slot. All in a day’s work for a working mum!

But it’s true what the experts say: “It all comes together when you go live on stage!

When I walked onto that big round red rug and saw the clock ticking….18:00, 17:59, 17:58, 17:57..instead of the choking anxiety that debilitated me moments before, an invisible fairy godmother cloaked me in a beam of light and confidence from who knows where! In practising, I did an early version of the talk to two of my team members, and the only other practise audience I had was my daughter and her sick friend in the hotel room- the rest was me in the bathroom mirror! So I was quite taken aback when the audience actually laughed….I hadn’t anticipated that….my kids always say my jokes are “SO LAME”!

I had taken a bit of a risk with a message that was truly heartfelt, but that many of the social media and internet junkies ( of whom I am an honorary member!) could construe as being anti social media or anti-computers. And indeed, some did. But I was relieved when by and large, the feedback I had at the post TED cocktail party and ever since then in a constant stream of tweets, blogposts and LinkedIn requests, that my talk HAD provoked reflection and stimulated people to think more deeply. ( The video is not yet available, and I will insert it when it’s up, but my talk was about The Maker Instinct- the relationship of how we learn by making things in a physical sense and how using ALL our senses and intelligences, underpin our ability to create and innovate.)

My final reflection on this experience I could not include in my TED Talk….I needed the reflection time after for its message to crystallise although it did pop into my conscious mind as I was in the process…..and that is:

The “MAKING” of a speech is in itself an enormous act of personal ( and professional) innovation and courage.

It forces you to let go of fear, to find courage, to hold opposable ideas in your mind, to anticipate objections, to think with both reason and emotion, to experiment, to fail, to stand up and try again.

(The proviso is that you do it yourself…don’t outsource it! )

And THAT’s why I’d jump at another opportunity like this. Speeches are a pain…they take HOURS to prepare, can totally tank if you misread your brief, but you learn so much about how to communicate and engage others in the process.

So here’s my next big idea:

I think delivering an 18 minute speech on a big idea or value should be a mandatory hiring test for all people leaders!  

( Hint: That may be an idea worth spreading! What do you think? Shall I start working on that in case someone wants to give me another go at this? )

(On 25 Nov I received the video link to YOUTUBE- so now you can see me in my imperfect glory…and you can see I’m actually having fun!) 



Can intuition be taught?

 Annalie’s note: This blogpost below is not mine…but I am sharing it here because it’s a fascinating read and I am interested in meeting folks who study this area. Furthermore, I produce the Amplify Festival of Innovation & Thought Leadership at AMP every 2nd year.  Amplify looks at how emerging technologies transform human interaction, shape new social structure and values, and in particular, how this impacts the business environment. Part of the programme is a creativity tapas- a series of workshops where we immerse employees in the non-left brain way of developing perception, through art.  

I am calling on artists and creative practitioners – preferably Sydney-based because its simpler logistically and cost-wise, who have a unique take like the artist David Kassan in the YouTube clip above, to get in touch. Lets explore how technology converges with art and how it is being used in the development of perceptive and intuitive skills. I’d be interested in any of the creative or performing arts….from painting to photography to music to dance, improv theatre, writing and poetry ( in particular performed stories and slam poetry) Contact me via a comment below, @maverickwoman on Twitter or amplify (at) amp (dot) com (dot) au

Intuition is really annoying sometimes.

Actually, I love intuition, because almost all my thinking is based on it. I don’t think I am very good at analysing and thinking things through logically. Often I just have a feeling about how something should be, and then sometimes I post-rationalise it.

Not everybody’s mind works this way; if yours works like this too, you will think this is completely obvious. If not, you probably know people of this type, who can just assert “I think we should do it this way” and turn out to be right in maybe 75% of cases. Intuition is never perfect, but I love it, because it often gives a “good enough” answer very quickly, or at least provides some pointers towards places where it would be worth spending a bit more time analysing.

The thing that I find so annoying about intuition is that it is very hard to communicate. Let me explain.

Intuition is built from a large number of experiences: you grow up, you go through life, you meet people, you go to places, you read stuff, you make up stuff. There is no chance you can remember all the things you ever experience in factual detail, because that would be an overwhelmingly huge amount of information. But those things are nevertheless not forgotten: each experience leaves a trace, a tiny shadow of memory, so your thinking afterwards is ever so slightly different from the way it was before.

Over the course of years, those tiny traces are aggregated, and what you get out at the end is an intuitive understanding of how the world works (or rather, how those parts of the world which you have experienced work). Think of it like very light crayon touches, in the hands of an artist, gradually forming to be a beautiful picture — except that the picture is never complete, and always evolving.

With that intuition, when you encounter a new situation, it doesn’t matter that you haven’t encountered the exact same situation before: your brain does an approximate matching of the new situation with your mental model of the world, and immediately predicts the right answer. It doesn’t even need to search through memories, because the picture of the world in your head is already the fully aggregated sum of your experiences.

(As a second step, you will typically compare your gut reaction to specific memories, to check whether the results agree. But that’s another topic.)

A tale of bitmaps and vector graphics

The way I imagine the brain stores intuition is a bit like a huge bitmap image, with lots and lots of pixels [1]. When a new piece of information comes in, the brain’s massively parallel processing structure takes the new information, combines it with the existing image, correlates, interpolates, extrapolates, and produces an answer in an instant.

But what if you want to teach your intuition to someone else? You can’t tell that person all the things you ever experienced in your life, because that would be far too much, and you’ve forgotten and assimilated most of those memories anyway. But that mental bitmap is also a terrible transfer format: our mouths and hands are extremely slow communication channels, making it impossible to get the bitmap out of your brain. Imagine reading out the individual pixel values of a bitmap image over the phone. It would take hours before the other person had even the vaguest, blurriest idea of the outlines of the image. And it would take years to fill in the detail.

So… if you want to transfer that bitmap out of your brain and into someone else’s, even approximately, you have to turn that bitmap into a vector graphic.

In vector graphics, if you choose your points and curves carefully, you can communicate the general structure of a picture very succinctly. You can enable the other person to very quickly get a rough idea of your thinking. Of course it won’t have all the colourful detail until you add lots more information, but that’s ok. And once you have analysed your picture into a vector form, you have actually gained a better understanding of what it is really about, you can zoom in to see a higher resolution, and you may be able to spot patterns that you weren’t previously aware of.

Of course, the problem: turning bitmaps into vector graphics is hard. Computer Vision researchers are always thinking about better algorithms for doing it.

And to return from our image analogy to the topic of intuition: expressing intuitive knowledge in a structured form is really hard.

Vectorising intuition

As a child, when you learn your first language by imitating sounds and by being continually corrected by your parents, you are building an intuition for the way that language works. You start off with ga ga ga, and it takes years before you can speak a coherent sentence; later, as time goes on and you grow up, you get quite good at it. Because your brain stores a pre-rendered representation of the language, you can speak and understand it easily and quickly.

When an adult learns a foreign language, by contrast, the usual way of learning it is by studying grammar, vocabulary and carefully chosen texts. The rules of grammar and the structure of the syllabus are a kind of vector representation of the language, optimised for giving the learner a rough overview of the language structure and helping them construct useful sentences as quickly as possible.

It is perfectly possible for an adult to go to a foreign country with no prior knowledge of the language, and to learn to speak it without formal grammar or syllabus, in the same way as a child does. However, most adults prefer to learn a language in a systematic manner, presumably because learning in “vectorised” form allows you to be much faster in getting to the stage where you can have an interesting conversation.

No matter which way you learn the basics, it always takes years to reach native proficiency in a language; that is unavoidable, because in the end you can’t get around learning a huge amount of subtle details and building your own intuition. (Even if represented in vector form, complicated curves and shadings require a large number of points.) The difference is in the time it takes to grok the core concepts.

But here comes the important bit. When it comes to learning languages, most languages have benefitted from decades (if not centuries) of research and systematisation efforts by many intelligent people. For most languages, grammar and learning techniques are very well understood. But what if you want to communicate some intuition that only you have? Well, you have to do the vectorising yourself.

When you have built an intuition in a specific area that is not well-known — say, with regard to some arcane or new technology, or with regard to your company’s business strategy — then there is no existing grammar you can refer to. You are like a linguist, going into the Amazonian Jungle to document mysterious languages not yet known to the outside world. You have to observe the systematic parts and the exceptions, and formulate the grammar yourself.

Turning your intuitive bitmap into a vector form that you can communicate… is hard. Very hard. But you need to figure it out.

Why is this important?

Well, there’s only so far that a single person’s intuition can reach. If you want to build great things and change the world, you need much more than a single person’s brain can hold. You need both depth and breadth: fine-grained intuition in specific technical fields requiring expertise, and also a greater variety of perspectives than a single person can have experienced.

You need to combine the intuitions of several people, i.e. you have to form a team. And in order to combine your intuitions, you need to communicate and explain them. Why? Because otherwise you have no way of resolving differences, and no way of learning from each other and improving.

By default, intuition comes without a reason attached: you ‘simply know’ that the answer is X, but you don’t know why. The problem arises when your colleague ‘simply knows’ that the answer is Y, where X≠Y, and doesn’t know a reason either. (Maybe X and Y are not completely contradictory, but rather partially overlapping ideas or differences in emphasis. Different nevertheless.) At that point either one has to overrule the other (which would defeat the goal of forming a team in the first place), or you have to rationalise the intuition, untangle the pre-aggregated reasoning, and communicate it in terms which the other person can understand.

What if you could understand the structure of both X and Y, and the reasoning behind it, and thus manage to synthesise the two? That is a lot of effort, but I am increasingly thinking that figuring out how to communicate your intuition is one of the most valuable things you can do in a team. For if you can combine your mental image of the world with other people’s, you can build something much greater than each of you. Your thoughts can be superhuman, in some sense. And that, if you can figure it out, is a huge advantage you can have.

A startup is a really interesting environment to try this kind of thing, because you can be as choosy as you want about the people you work with. You can pick like-minded people, and together work towards that shared intuition. You can build a good, well-founded, shared intuition of who your customers are and what they want. And if you can attain that shared intuition, you’re well underway to success.


[1] I’m not sure what each individual pixel represents. In mathematical terms, a picture is a function mapping from 2D space to colour, and a bitmap approximates this function by sampling at regularly spaced values of the input. Along that line of thinking, the mind is probably a function mapping from sensory inputs and memories to explanations and actions (or something along those lines — I’m not a neuroscientist). This function can be represented as lots of individual data points (“London & lunchtime & hunger & last had Falafel 10 days ago → go to the King of Falafel”), which is bitmap-like, or in some systematic manner (“I like to eat falafel for lunch. For example, in London, the King of Falafel is good.”), which is vector-like, omitting redundant information (lunchtime and hunger are strongly correlated, so mentioning both is fairly redundant) and emphasising structure or dependencies (the King of Falafel only exists in London). However, as you can see, his only vaguely makes sense. The bitmap/vector analogy is itself an example of a piece of intuition that I’m trying to communicate to you right now.


Boom chicka wah wah of fabulous women by Jane Copeland

written by

Imagine doing work which involved being a connector between the future and the present. It is quite apt that as my first subject, the woman whose boom chicka wah wah I will be sharing with you, is the unique and extraordinary Annalie Killian.

Killian’s keynote presentation on ‘Being Helpful is the New Black’, or as it was titled on the AITD National Conference program ‘Emergence of a participatory culture to accelerate organisational learning’, is when the penny dropped. I discovered that there is a new sort of quid pro quo emerging, called social capital. It was the catalyst that catapulted  this former social media phobic Gen Xer, into the world of the new digital networked community of social media. I have just mentioned the word catalyst without even realising that it’s Killian’s official title at work: a catalyst for magic. It’s a big statement, and well in fact she is. Director of Innovation at AMP, Killian’s work focuses on building a culture of collaboration and innovation, a place where employee creativity is nurtured and channelled.

What is your boom chicka wah wah? “Being totally at ease with who I am.”

Follow Annalie on twitter

What is really significant about Killian, is the innovations she has been responsible for. In the workplace, Killian is a champion and driver of the adoption of emerging technologies in the web and mobile web space, social networks and social media. Some of the more unique, and some would say slightly left of center initiatives, include:  creativity challenges for user-generated content on the AMP Intranet, social media cafes, a creativity bootcamp, and a creative challenge to IT professionals. However the major initiative and a project sited as her favourite, is  AMPLIFY -a thought leadership festival that explores the intersection of technology, science and art with society. AMPLIFY  draws global experts to Sydney to discuss and bath in all things innovation.

Really what Annalie is doing is mixing things up, rocking the boat so to speak. New thinking and new ideas mean change, and as you can appreciate as wonderful as it sounds, challenging the status quo can’t be easy. To be an innovator is to be different and this comes with its fair share of hurdles. And that is what is appealing. Having an impact on the way we do things, must have taken such strength, self belief and passion to drive it forward and continue to do so. Enormous in fact. True to her twitter name @maverickwoman, Killian is indeed a transformational change agent.

So here’s my interview where I try to uncover and share the special ingredient, the essence of my first modern day Heroine, so that you can take it away and create your own magic.

What is the best magic you have created to date?

While I love to create stuff in the physical sense with my hands, I seldom do these days. My creativity is much more applied at a macro-level. I enable creation by others, I make opportunities possible, guide the process, and remove obstacles and barriers so the magic that’s already there, can flow freely. It’s a funny fragile thing. It requires a safe space for a bit of risk-taking and vulnerability, and that’s what I try and carve out. I can’t tell you how many times IT geeks, accountants, corporate folks- essentially NON-artists, have left me speechless by coming out with work that is far more creative than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams- despite being labeled “a so-called creative type.” That definitively proves what is a fundamental belief I have….ALL people are creative. It’s not a special kiss from the gods that singles out some folks and leaves others with “uncreativity”.

Has there been anything significant that happened in your life to make you take the path that you took?

It’s an interesting question. I’d have to say no, I can’t pinpoint any conscious event that triggered this route, I have just fallen into every role I had except for my first 5 years at Deloitte. I did learn something when, as a city girl, I ended up with Deloitte in Zululand, desperately unhappy in a small town and disengaged with my work and community but feeling trapped by marriage. I was very unhappy, but I eventually realized that the only thing I could do was leave (at the time a price too high to pay), or stay and look for ways in which I could make my world a better place. When I stopped focusing on myself and sought opportunities for making a difference for others, my whole world changed forever. It’s the most empowering thing ever to know that one person CAN make a difference – and you never look back from there, you just want to keep taking on bigger and bigger challenges.

What does an average day look like to you and how important is your time management?

I don’t have an average day. But I do struggle to contain them because I work in a totally seamless way. There is no separation between life and work. I love my job so much I would probably keep doing what I’m doing regardless of the financial rewards of pay. The satisfaction and meaning comes from the work and impact and challenge, not the carrot or stick. So, you can see in what camp I am philosophically when it comes to what motivates people. It’s doing meaningful work that makes you feel worthy.

How do you engage the imagination of young girls in technology?

I have wrestled with this one for a long time and I think that’s because technology jobs are stereotyped by media as the socially inept geeky types writing code in solitude in the basement. I think we have to fish where the fish are….where are young girls hanging out, and what do they use. Then paint a career in technology as an extension of what they are probably already doing, which is probably online shopping or messaging their friends on social networks!

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were 15 years old?

That I would have about 5 careers by the time I was 50, and that it’s more important to try lots of things at 15 than obsess about one thing. I had a lot of angst because I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted to study. It doesn’t matter- just study something and get good at it. Work at it so you can master it, but consider that a starting point to a beautiful meandering journey that may sometimes take you down blind but interesting alleyways, or occasionally, take the fork in the road…..your career choices at 15 are not an end point.

In terms of your personal style (physically) what would you say your signature item was?

Clothes wise I think its eccentricity- creating a contrast or going for the unexpected. I have a great love for accessories and used to wear hats a lot in my late teens/early twenties- everything from berets to elaborate statement pieces with a dramatically long feather- stuff that literally stopped people in their tracks.

“When I stopped focusing on myself and sought opportunities for making a difference for others, my whole world changed forever.”

If you had to describe yourself as a pair of your shoes, which pair would they be?

Definitely my black Gortex Ara boots – totally plain with a comfortable 2 inch heel. They always keep me dry and warm in even the wettest, iciest conditions but look elegant. I can even walk in them…for miles!

What do you want to see more of?

I want to see a focus on beauty as well as function. I think aesthetics are neglected and it is a psychological driver for sustainability. Beauty has enormous worth and we should actively pursue it in all the consumer choices we make. Choose one beautiful thing and treasure it instead of buying many cheaper utilitarian but uncherished products that you may throw away because they don’t have enduring value.

What would you say to young women who want to create magic in their lives and for others?

What are you waiting for? Everything that will happen in your life, for the rest of your life, is up to you. Own it.

Penny for YOUR thoughts.What did you get out of this post? Do you think everyone is creative? How do you define innovation? Leave a comment and be part of the community.

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Announcing AMPLIFY11: “EVERYTHING CONNECTS” Sydney, 13-17 June 2011



About AMPLI FY 11, 13-17 June 2011, Sydney, Australia  

“From a humble experiment in knowledge exchange in 2005, AMPLIFY has grown into a week-long biannual festival enjoyed by more than 3500 employees, leaders, board members and invited guests, and that’s not counting the online audience. This unique learning event has become a powerful amplifier of our organisational thinking, learning and culture. This is one of many reasons why the AMP Leadership Team continues to invest in and grow AMPLIFY year on year. 

For our people, AMPLIFY creates a powerful ‘knowledge market’ where we can openly exchange ideas with the foremost thinkers in the world, dabble with futuristic concepts and experiences way beyond our comfort zones, and experiment with emerging technologies to understand how these could add value for our customers and our business.”  Lee Barnett, CIO

Link to AMPLIFY 09 here ( Website for AMPLIFY 11 is currently under construction)


Following on the 2007 theme of Collaboration, and the 2009 theme of Convergence and Emergence, AMPLIFY 11 will be themed “EVERYTHING CONNECTS”. AMPLIFY 11 will explore how ubiquitous and pervasive connectivity, real-time streams of data, mobility, networks, relationships and data visualisation, augmented reality and the “internet of things” are transforming human interaction, services and transactions and redefining business models. 

AMPLIFY 11 will examine these trends through the lens of our business as pre-eminent Financial Services and Wealth Management company in Australia.

Who speaks at AMPLIFY?

AMPLIFY attracts an enviable blend of the foremost thought leaders from all over the world and across a range of disciplines to share the cutting edge of research and technological evolution, and implications for financial services. Past speakers ( a small selection shared here) include:

  • Jamais CascioResearch fellow at the Institute for the FutureSenior Fellow for the IEET, Foreign Policy Global top 100 thinkers
  • Dr Jane McGonigal, Director of Games Design, Institute for the Future- a global thought leader in future scenarios forecasting and mass collaborative problem-solving
  • Michael Schrage, Author “Serious Play”, Research Fellow MIT eMedia Lab
  • Chris Shipley, Executive Producer of DEMO, co-founder Guidewire Group
  • Dr BJ Fogg, Researcher, Innovator, Founder Persuasive Technologies Lab, Stanford University
  • Dr Richard Satava, Programme Manager bio-medicine DARPA, Prof of Surgery, Washington Univ and Medicine Futurist
  • Dr Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Centre for Collective Intelligence
  • Pete Williams, Partner & Chairman Deloitte Innovation Council, CEO Deloitte Digital
  • Dr Amantha Imber, PHD in Science of Creativity, Chief Inventologist and Inventium
  • Dr James Gardner, Author “How to Future-proof a bank”, Chief Technology Officer for largest Public Service Dept in UK, Thought Leader Gov 2.0
  • Spike Jones, Social Media Strategist, Storyteller second to none, Board of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association of America)
  • David Vaskevitch, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Corporation

Beyond the keynote presentations, we also offer a number of workshops for those wanting a deeper learning experience, and the popular EXPO on Friday 17 June will again buzz with emerging technologies and face-to-face experimentation, many of which ultimately make their way to adoption by our organisation.

Who attends AMPLIFY?

AMPLIFY is pretty unique. It’s NOT a commercial conference and AMP does not run it as a revenue exercise- its an investment in our organizational learning and an “open innovation exercise”. We offer this rich land immersive earning opportunity to everyone and anyone of AMP’s 3500 leaders and employees, our 2000 Financial Planners, our clients and business partners. Anyone can register, and sessions run throughout the day- from pre-work hours through lunch times till after hours –providing freedom of choice and flexibility, with some repeats. About 300 places are made available to the public on an application basis.

We converge both the physical and the virtual AMPLIFY through our website where anyone can subscribe to and participate in blogs, video content and twitter conversations throughout and beyond the AMPLIFY Festival, no matter where they are in the world. We plan to link up with the TEDX programme in 2011.

Curatorial approach to AMPLIFY

The programme is designed to engage both heart and mind, logic and emotion, theory and practice, serious learning and fun. Here is what we typically offer in the mix:

  • The Speaker Stream offers 45-minute keynote presentations followed by Q&A, supplemented by live streamed audio-casts and twitter streams
  • The one-day EXPO transforms AMP office common areas into a vibrant market of ideas and emerging technologies for participants to try out – presented by employee teams, partners, vendors, entrepreneurs and R&D institutions.
  • Deep-dive workshops with specialists in selected areas of particular interest to our business.
  • The Technology on Tap pub night offers after-hours infotainment as Australia’s leading PhD researchers explain what they’re studying, why we should care and how it will help make the world a better place-in 2 minutes! Audience votes determine a cash prize to help fund ongoing research.
  • We actively partner to amplify AMPLIFY, and in 2011 we will by partnering with the Lowy Institute and the Vivid Sydney and Creative Sydney Festivals produced by Events NSW, The City of Sydney as well as the Lowy Institute.
  • Creativity Tapas offering hands-on learning workshops looking at cultural trends, decentralised production and creative execution enabled by mass collaboration technologies, and immersion in creative pursuits, eg music, crafts, art, multimedia
  • We also offer sponsorship opportunities for brands who want to be associated with specific elements of the programme or the festival at large. Past sponsors include CSC, KPMG, Microsoft. For 2011, we are also in negotiation with Events NSW, Tata Consulting Services, Cisco, and TEDX.

My research interests

Given the theme of AMPLIFY 11 as “Everything Connects”, I am interested in how emerging technologies are opening up new ways of doing things, interacting, connecting, communicating, transacting, sharing, collaborating, creating, producing, learning, working. Particularly, the way this shifts and disrupts social constructs like privacy, choice, control, security, methods of production, organization of labour, corporate structures and leadership models, geographical boundaries, intellectual property, competition, community and civic participation, design of physical spaces,  governance, and behavioral economics.

The advances in search (speed, sentiment, scale, filters, type of content, real time news streams), storage and secure access (cloud), and connectivity via networks in real time from any device anywhere anytime and anyhow – and the ability to track that connectivity visually, as well as nano-and bio-medicine and synthetic solutions have application to our business in the following areas:

  • commercial building & shopping centre management,
  • actuarial calculation of risk, design of new financial products and services,
  • value and speed of information and speed of share market trades for our trading rooms,
  • re-imagining distribution channels,
  • bundling of services with other industries,
  • design of business models
  • how we design and organise work,
  • how we attract, re-train and retain the right skills,
  • how we operate for scale advantage AND for agility and speed to market.

I am interested in seeing how some of these ground-shifting technologies work, and in discussing these with social scientists and anthropologists to understand what it could mean in terms of social impact and our business, as well as venture capital firmsIn the context of the above explanation, specific R&D themes include:

  • computer-assisted persuasion,
  • eHealth solutions, nano-medicine, social health networks
  • human + machine intelligence and interaction,
  • algorithmic analysis of streaming news, social and location-based networks,
  • data mining and visualisation and real-time intelligent search,
  • innovation in devices for interaction eg mobile, speech recognition, sensing, haptics, speech indexing and enhanced human-human interaction,
  • automation of low value routine tasks

My research trip: 30 June to 27 July 2010

I will be visiting San Francisco, Seattle, Aspen (Ideas Festival), Boston (World Future Society Conference) , London, Oxford (TED Global), Bangalore, Chennai, Beijing and Shanghai (World Expo). I have opportunities in my schedule to meet up with our existing business partners, Thought leaders, visit R&D Centres and universities.My itinerary can be viewed at                                                                       

About AMP 

More at is a leading wealth management company operating in Australia and New Zealand, with selective investment management activities in Asia (through AMP Capital Investors) and a growing banking business in Australia. AMP has two core business units:

  • AMP Financial Services which provides financial planning advice,superannuation, retirement savings and income products, investments, risk insurance and selected banking products; and 
  •  AMP Capital Investors which manages investments for clients across all themajor asset classes including equities, fixed interest, infrastructure, property including a number of shopping centres, diversified funds and multi-manager funds.

In Australia, AMP is a leading provider of retail and corporate superannuation and retirement income products. We have one of the largest planner forces in Australia and New Zealand. AMP is one of the region’s largest investment managers, with more than $114 billion in assets under management (as at 31 December 2009). AMP has:

  •      around 795,000 shareholders
  •      more than 3.6 million customers
  •      more than 3,500 employees
  •      more than 2,000 financial planners in Australia and New Zealand.

About my role

I specialise in change. Specifically, change to achieve a quantifiable shift in an innovative business culture, employee engagement and business performance and growth. Through the AMPLIFY Innovation & Thought Leadership Festival that I curate and produce every 2 years, we set imagination on fire with fresh and futuristic thinking. This is a major catalyst for change leading to business innovation, adoption of emerging technologies, entrepreneurial growth.

Through the Idea Frontier employee innovation programme, employees can effect change by planting their ideas into a smart system where they can grow, be pruned, expanded, bundled, propagated, weeded, harvested and/or taken to market by tapping into the collective intelligence and joint efforts of the entire organisation.

Through social media inside the company we ignite new relationships, collaboration and productivity. Change is catalysed through early experimentation with emerging technologies eg hardware/ devices/ interfaces and software eg Cloud-solutions, SaaS, Twitter, Yammer, wikis, blogs, team collaboration spaces, podcasts, and other community-based initiatives including Social Media Cafes, Blogger meet-ups, barcamps, innovation campaigns, employee short film festivals and other User-generated Content campaigns.

We set hearts and minds on fire by providing immersive experiences for creative learning, team bonding, personal growth and skills development. Examples include storytelling workshops, music jam sessions, group collaboration challenges, painting, scuplting, dancing, improv theatre and rich media production. This creates a change of heart!

We douse the skeptics with measurable ROI- the adoption of new strategy, implemented ideas, new products and services, business process improvements, our innovation pipeline, and a 43% positive change in employee engagement and culture over a period of 10 years to a high-performance culture benchmarked to world’s best companies.

In a nutshell, we catalyse a little magic every time.

My contact details: 

(My LinkedIn profile is here: ).

Annalie Killian, AMP, Sydney, Australia. Tel: +61(02) 92575000 email: annalie underscore killian at ampdot com dot au


The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs? Creativity


Hooray- finally Creativity gets its dues….thanks for reporting this Fast Company. Based on the ranking of qualities, how many CEOs do you know that fit this pattern? OK, now name them! That’s right- hit the comment button below! 

For CEOs, creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking, according to a new study by IBM. The study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.
Fast Company’s annual list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business just took on a whole new depth. And this year’s list will be revealed later this month.
Steven Tomasco, a manager at IBM Global Business Services, expressed surprise at this key finding, saying that it is “very interesting that coming off the worst economic conditions they’d ever seen, [CEOs] didn’t fall back on management discipline, existing best practices, rigor, or operations. In fact, they [did] just the opposite.”
About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking. Creative leaders are also more prepared to break with the status quo of industry, enterprise and revenue models, and they are 81% more likely to rate innovation as a “crucial capability.”

Float like a butterfly!

In celebration of Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthday today, 15 April, and the start of World Creativity Week- a little spiritual reflection and soulful inspiration.

From Leonardo, this quote: When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. He enjoyed purchasing caged birds so that he could set them free and believed that “The time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” 

Next, from two spiritual men of our time, Deepak Chopra and Andrew Cohen, this beautiful short clip about the quantum leap in creativity that is enabled by just a few cells- the imaginal cells. But, no post will be complete without a story….so, watch the video first, 

then read this delightful story, sourced via


The caterpillar’s new cells are called ‘imaginal cells.’
They are so totally different from the caterpillar cells
that his immune system thinks they are enemies… and gobbles them up.

But these new imaginal cells continue to appear. More and more of them!
Pretty soon, the caterpillar’s immune system
cannot destroy them fast enough.
More and more of the imaginal cells survive.
And then an amazing thing happens!

The little tiny lonely imaginal cells start to clump together
into friendly little groups.
They all resonate together at the same frequency,
passing information from one to another.
Then, after awhile, another amazing thing happens!

The clumps of imaginal cells start to cluster together!
A long string of clumping and clustering imaginal cells,
all resonating at the same frequency,
all passing information from one to another there inside the chrysalis.

Then at some point,
the entire long string of imaginal cells
suddenly realizes all together
that it is something different from the caterpillar.
Something new! Something wonderful!
…and in that realization
is the shout of the birth of the butterfly!

Since the butterfly now “knows” that it is a butterfly,
the little tiny imaginal cells
no longer have to do all those things individual cells must do.
Now they are part of a multi-celled organism—
A FAMILY who can share the work.

Each new butterfly cell can take on a different job—
There is something for everyone to do.
And everyone is important.
And each cell begins to do just that very thing it is most drawn to do.
And every other cell encourages it to do just that.

A great way to organize a butterfly!”

*Adapted Version of Nori Huddle’s story from her book, Butterfly

Diary note: On Monday 20 April, I am launching with my team our 2010 Creativity Week initiative that I cant tell you about just yet, but it will be beautiful and exciting and be sure to check back in regularly as I will be blogging about it.

It’s World Creativity Week! Here’s some inspiration to act…

“In the left side of our brain sits a strict referee sorting all our thoughts. He sorts correct and wrong. He has no creativity or sense of humor. Example, what is a cow. Animal on a field eating grass. Correct. Lightsaber swinging jedi animal with jugs squirting pink beer and singing gangster rap. Wrong, thought discarded. Kick him out, have some fun. Dare to be wrong, and ridiculed by the silly referees out there. Dare to play.”~ This was the highest rated comment on a YouTube clip about creativity- by user hjernevasket  3 


World Creativity week was started by Marci Segal in Toronto on the anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday 15 April, and now its celebrated in 46 countries. Anyone can participate- and contribute your celebration to the wiki. See

By way of inspiration- here are a few pits of content I thought I will share! 

Tom Peters 

Dan Pink
Tim Brown at TED: The powerful link between creativity and play

Unmanaging and unleashing your creative beast

Let’s face it….You’re creative!’re-Creative

Life is about invention, not survival.

We are here to create, not to defend.
Out beyond the shadows of darwinistic thought,
a wholly different world appears.
A world that delights in explorations.
A world that makes it up as it goes along.
A world that welcomes us into the exploration
as good partners.- Margaret Wheatley

In a creative organization, everyone in the
organization feels compelled to be alert,
seeking out new measures, new events to observe.
Our consciousness expands as we become willing
to question even our processes of observation.
Consciousness and creativity are inextricably
linked in this always discovering world.

Organizations keep searching for ties that bind them
–new incentives, rewards, punishments.
But organizations could accomplish
so much more if they relied on the passion
evoked when we connect to others, purpose to purpose.

Until the system forms, we have very limited
knowledge of what might emerge.
The only way to know a system is to play with it.
Instead of defining what’s right for a system
and then struggling to impose it,
we learn to say, “Let’s see.”