I hate being late.

I am the first guy at a party because when something starts at a certain time, I just can’t reconcile in my head this concept of being fashionably late. I also suffer from anxiety when other people don’t show up on time. I have no idea where this great sense of punctuality comes from. My brother certainly doesn’t share my views on punctuality, so I’m not sure I can blame my parents.

However I got here, I’m kind of upset that I’m late to the TED party. I guess I got a little bitter and little bent from other groundswell business talk “trends” over the years, and I mistook TED for something it wasn’t (a platform for an agenda) instead of what it is (a platform for ideas).

When you get that many ideas in one place and you leave the conclusions and actions up to the viewer, it seems to me that what you have is most likely the purest source for informal learning we have ever known.

But now I’m on the outside looking in. It’s that Labor Day party your friend invites you to every year, but you never seem to have time to make. This evidently is the year you don’t automatically get an invitation. The Grand Rapids TEDx event is happening on May 10th, and since I didn’t attend years past, I’ve got to fill out an application to explain why I’m worthy of getting an invite.

When you think about it, this is incredibly smart. Even if there was no judgment placed on the merits of the application (which evidently there is), the act of applying shows a level of commitment and engagement. By denying general admission, you ensure that people really WANT to be there. That’s something worth thinking about when it comes to development activities and even the communities of practice we build for our organizations.

At any rate, I thought I would share some of my application in this blog, if for no other reason than to put a little more of myself out there.

How will you contribute and what unique perspectives and characteristics will you bring to TEDxGrandRapids?

I am constantly seeking new inspiration—and I know I inspire others—but it takes real work, real thought, and real attention.

I live my life as an open book. My business life and my personal life are one in the same and give each other real value. The things we care about personally are therefore inseparable from the things that our businesses care about.

I will contribute to the TEDx conversation through my writing—not only as a reporter of what I see, hear and feel, but also as an interpreter of how I can apply what I have learned and how others may do so too.

I will use the inspiration I gather to help formulate my own ideas, and I will share those ideas for the greater good.

What inspires you? Tell us about yourself.

I get charged up about very small details—a riff in a song, the way the grain converges in a chunk of curly maple, the rusty piece of junk in a photograph—and I want to take those little details and think of how I can reapply them, use them differently, put my own stamp on it.

I run a company. There are plenty of places to apply those details, but I am just as proud of the music I play, the guitars that I build, the last run I took in the skate park, the puck I stopped as a goalie.

The trick is to take one of those little things and grow it into something that combines some of those passions in life into something greater than the sum of its parts. The combination guitar/skateboard didn’t stay in tune so well, but I’m sure the next big idea is just around the corner.

Now what if you take those two simple questions and apply them to your job? Would you answer the same way?

How do we get there?

I, for one, am shopping for a few ideas and hope I find them at my local TEDx event. That is, if I get invited to the party.