A few weeks ago, I covered author and TED founder Richard Saul Wurman and his speech at the PCMA conference, ending with a promise of a future post full of Richard Saul Wurman one-liners. I’m a man of my word, so here is a sampling of paraquotes* from Richard Saul Wurman’s curmudgeonly, idiosyncratic talk:

  • The more famous you are, the shorter the introduction.
  • I do things driven by my curiosity.
  • TED was never my life. I've done 80 books on 60 subjects. I write books on things that are interesting to me that I can't find material about. I did TED because it was fascinating to do.  I sold TED because I got bored with doing a better version of what I’d done the year before.
  • I'm in the “doing of something” business.
  • I sort of feel like a pig in shit. I have access to people I really like to talk to. I love conversations & see new patterns in things.
  • An improvised conversation feels like, and probably is, more of the truth.
  • I don’t have a lawyer, a business manager, a distributor, or a publisher. I fail a lot, but these people wouldn’t change that. I’ve failed sideways my whole life.
  • In 240 BC, a Greek calculated the circumference of the earth within 100 miles. Fifteen hundred years went by before it was really measured.
  • Learning is remembering what you're interested in.
  • Whatever you think you're doing now is going to be gone. We live in the age of “also.”
  • What is the edge to a city? There's no agreement to what the edge of a city is. There’s no basis to compare cities.
  • A meeting is made up of hundreds of little details that people don't even realize that make them feel more comfortable.
  • I'm just sort of peeing around my territory with my ideas.
  • I'm abrasive now, but I was cocky then (in the 1970s). With that abrasiveness, there's a certain amount of charm.

* Note:  I’ve never really spelled it out, but I call these paraquotes because the statements are coming from live tweets. Given the limits of 140 characters (minus the conference and speaker hashtags), I can’t be certain these were the speaker’s EXACT words. And to create better thematic sense of them, some tweets are combined which may have come from different sections of the presentation. The paraquotes do, however, represent the gist of what the speaker said.  - Mike Brown


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