I'm a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.


Kiruba Shankar

TED Crowdsources Speaker Selection. Next Audition in Bangalore.

When I first heard about TED Auditions, it perfectly made sense. I have organized a few TEDx events and attended a few more and I can tell you that some speakers were so outstanding that they truly deserved the main TED stage.

TED is launching a World-Wide hunt for amazing speakers via auditions in 14 cities (Amsterdam, Bangalore, Doha, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Tunis and Vancouver). The auditions are physical events that take place between April and June.

The auditions for India have been announced and takes place on May 20th in Bangalore.

As one of the Global TEDx Ambassadors, I look forward to playing my part by spreading the word and recommending some awesome Doers (who are also excellent communicators) from India.

There are many TED supporters in India and if you are one of them, please take a moment to suggest a deserving speaker who deserves the limelight. More than TED, you would be doing that individual a big favor. Its time we collaboratively, unearthed some hidden jewels in our group.

Please note that Bangalore is the only city in India where the auditions will take place. However, the hunt for awesome speakers is Pan-India. So, no matter what city you live in, please look around your community and recommend names.

TED is looking for the following people. See if it rings a bell.

THE INVENTOR : sharing an innovation with world-changing potential

THE TEACHER : sharing valuable knowledge in a memorable way – to teenagers or adults

THE PRODIGY : young talent ready to break out

THE ARTIST : who can showcase their work in a compelling, new way (Don’t just talk about it. Show us your work!)

THE PERFORMER : music, dance, comedy, drama… or something entirely different

THE SAGE : wisdom the world needs from those who have learned it the hard way

THE ENTHUSIAST : with an infectious passion about a topic they can share

THE CHANGE-AGENT : helping shape the world’s future with work that matters

THE STORY-TELLER : vivid, original, meaningful … with a talent for connection

THE SPARK : with a powerful idea worth spreading

Learn more about TED 2013 Auditions.

In California from Feb 6 – 16

It’s not often that one gets to attend a TED.  The combination of exclusive and expensive makes it hard to get.   After I attended TEDindia at Mysore,  I was so smitten by my experience that I made it my goal to attend one more TED.  So, when I got an invite to participate and speak in TEDActive in Palm Springs, CA, I dived in head first.

Here’s how my schedule roughly looks like.

Feb 7 & 8 – Los Angeles

Feb 9 – 13 – Palm Springs at TEDactive

Feb 14 – 16 – San Francisco

At both LA and SFO, I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends and interesting people.  Please ping me at Kiruba@Kiruba.com or +91.9841597744 if you would be game for a meet up.   At LA,  I’m also looking for a couch to crash at.

While I’ve been to California before, I never really took the time out to see around LA or SFO in detail. I’d love to hear from you on interesting places to visit.  I generally tend to avoid very touristy places.   In addition to places, I’m also very eager to meet achievers that I’d like to profile at the Cerebrate book.

Thanks in advance for your help.

TED Fellows Project: Satyabrata Dam, The 3 Pole Man

Welcome to the TED India Fellows project where a team of 15 bloggers interview TED Fellows to get to know them better.

My first TED Fellow is a good friend and a man of distinction. Satyabrata Dam is the only Indian to have climbed Mt.Everest (twice) and reached North Pole and South Pole..not to mention that he’s climbed the highest peak in every continent in the World.

(Photo :Arun Nair)

The first time I heard about Satya was when I was scouting for great achievers to invite for Cerebrate, a FooCamp like event that brings achievers together. Rajesh Lalwani, a fellow social media practitioner recommenced Satya and I knew why. His profile was not only stupendous but added a completely different variety to the gang. Since the event, we’ve become good friends . He is a great conversationalist and a fun company to have.

And so here goes my set of questions to him as part of the TED Fellows project.

Reaching the two poles and climbing Mt.Everest (what you refer as the 3 poles) are great achievements. One is vertical and other is horizontal. Both gruelingly challenging. I know its unfair to compare but talk to us how one complements the other.

Like you said, one is in the horizontal plane and the other is in the vertical plane so each has its own peculiarities and also similarities. If we compare the two then the following emerges:
(a) Skiing to poles do not involve any high altitude related problems, like rarefied atmosphere, lack of pressure
(b) While in the Poles the constant temperature is less than -30 C (average) on Everest the temperature is not so constant and we only reach such extreme low temperatures above 22000 ft and not lower
(c) Both are equally grueling, life threatening and exhausting
(d) Though some of the clothing, equipment are similar, the stuff used for skiing is vastly different from those used for climbing
(e) The entire logistics and execution of the two are also totally different and can’t be compared at any level
(f) Both happen in extremely harsh and unforgiving weather conditions where it can change rapidly without warning and it is weather that often decides the outcome of the expedition
(g) Being different kind of activities, the food planning is different for each, though there are similarities
(h) The particular body muscle groups required for the two are different, therefore it also needs different kind of specialized training and pre expedition preparations
(i) The mental focus and attitude needed is also different for the two to a large extent
there are many more ways (the major ones are listed above) of comparing the two. But to summarize the above, I can say that climbing Everest was the most difficult in all possible ways (physically exhausting, fatal, etc), then North Pole and then South Pole in the order of difficulty

What has been your most challenging climb so far?
If by climb you mean reaching the summit of a peak, then I guess, I would put three climbs on the top side by side: Cerro Tore in South Patagonias, Argentina and Grandes Jorasses North Face in Chamonix France and the winter ascent of Khan Tengri North Face in Kazakhstan, closely followed by my attempt on Eigar North face, Switzerland and climb of Mt Thor in Arctic Canada.

Extreme mountaineering is a dangerous sport. You yourself said 70% of your friends in the climbing world are dead. What is it that makes you want to go back?

By the way, two more of my friends died just two days ago, I got the news today. Well, for me the mountains are my life, my passion and my addiction. I know sooner or later they will kill me but I cannot escape their fatal charm. I do it because only when I face death eye to eye do I feel really alive. When I hold my own life in my own hands and my skills and there is nothing else who is responsible or attributable to my situation only then I start feeling really in my elements. It’s a strange addiction

Tell us about your biggest achievements in life that you look back with pride.
I would sight three biggest achievements: (a) Learning to climb mountains when I was 10 (b) Carrying the naval flag on top of Everest in 2004 with a team of novices and returning without any casualties or major mishaps (c) Adopting a child and seeing her grow and ensuring that she got a good family to live in

What has been your biggest mistake and what lessons did you learn from it?
I must have made million mistakes, but to sight one, or a few, whenever someone died in my expeditions due to the consequences of my decisions I have found that mistake as unforgiving. Each of their deaths lie very heavily on my conscience and will do so I guess till I live. But what I learnt out of them was that though we can shape our fate we cannot change our destiny and that to achieve anything in life, one must first begin with acceptance of certain fundamental facts

After 22 years at the Navy, you’ve decided to pursue management studies at IIMA. Explain.
Well, academically I have no achievements so to speak (this has been a sore point with me all my life, since I admire people with academic excellence) and since I was on the verge of leaving the Navy and it offered me this course from IIM, A, I decided to do it so that I have a respectable degree. This is a special scheme for defense officers on the verge of retirement. And since I am still on Navy’s pay this is a good way to do a course. Once out I don’t think I would really have the drive to do a course of this stature. To tell you a secret, though it is extremely difficult to get into IIM A through normal selection process, for us, there is no such thing. And what really clinched the deal was that during these 24 weeks of the course I did not have any major expeditions planned. So I will end up with a decent degree, some amount of new knowledge and a great amount of self-satisfaction.

Name one person you admire most and why?

I have always admired Swami Vivekananda… need I say more. His photo stands next to Lord Shiva on my study table

Talk to us about your other interests that you are passionate about.
I am passionate about traveling and exploring places that are not on the map, all sorts of extreme sports (more life threatening the better) acquiring all sorts of diverse knowledge in an autodidactic fashion, writing, putting a smile on every face, magic, music and dreaming

The TED Fellows Project: Getting to Know Them Better

If there is one event that I’m eagerly looking forward to, it has to be TED India. Quite excited. I ask myself what is it that makes the event so exciting and the answer clearly lies in the people attending the event.

One look at the TED India Fellows list will give you an idea. They are not just people with ideas but with the tenacity to turn their ideas into reality.

I found the TED India Fellows page a bit limiting. Other than the brief two line profile of each, there wasn’t much about them. And so, a plan was drawn to get to know them better.

Here’s how the project works.

1. Select 25 fellows from the full list of 103.
2. Select 5 bloggers who will be the interviewers.
3. Assign 5 fellows to each blogger.
4. The bloggers would then make a questionnaire and send it to their respective fellows.
5. Once the fellows get back with the answers, they will get published on their blogs, on TEDx websites and linked to from Twitter and Facbook.
6. The idea is to publish one interview each day in the run up to TED India at Mysore.

TED India team has been very supportive and have promised full support for the project.

If you are interested in being part of this project, please mail me at Kiruba(@)Kiruba.com. Feel free to call me at 098415 97744 should you need more information.

Looking for TEDIndia Fellows

We all know that TED is coming to Mysore, India later this year. As part of the event, TED is looking to select 100 TED Fellows.

TED Fellows are remarkable thinkers and doers who have shown unusual accomplishment, exceptional courage, moral imagination and the potential to increase positive change in their respective fields. They can be innovators in technology, entertainment, design, science, film, art, music, entrepreneurship or the NGO community, among other pursuits.

The application to apply for a TEDIndia Fellow opened on April 20th and runs till June 15th.

The TEDIndia Fellows program will have international representation with a distinctly South Asian majority, with approximately 75% of the Fellows representing the South Asian region, and 25% representing other regions of the world. South Asia is defined as including the countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.

For more information about how individuals may apply for a TEDIndia Fellowship, please visit
. TED Fellows may apply or be nominated by another individual.

If you know a great person who fits the bill, please do highlight them. You can either directly nominate them or mention them in the comments below. Lets aim at bringing the hidden gems out in the limelight. Great achievers deserve the spotlight.