Chris Anderson was sitting in a very low-power pose. Off to the side at an all-staff meeting at TED’s Hudson Street headquarters in January, he was folded forward with his hand on his neck, a posture that communicates self-protection according to the 2012 TED Talk on body language by the social psychologist Amy Cuddy (15.7 million views).
By letting his employees give mini TED Talks on what they were working on, Mr. Anderson was allowing for what Alain de Botton, in his 2009 TED Talk (2.9 million views), called “a kinder, gentler philosophy of success.”
When Mr. Anderson finally took the floor himself with tousled hair in an untucked black button-down and jeans, he appealed to virtue by raising the question, “What are we building today that honestly is going to impress historians in two thousand years’ time?” It could have come straight from the playbook on “practical wisdom” outlined in a 2009 TED Talk by the psychologist Barry Schwartz (1.9 million views).
At 57, Mr. Anderson, the British former magazine publisher and Internet entrepreneur who took over the organization in 2001 and built it into a multimedia colossus, is in many ways the embodiment of his famous ideas organization. Like the TED Talks millions love, and some love to rip apart, Mr. Anderson is high-minded but sometimes inaccessible, forward thinking to the point of “whoa,” and so earnest it can be easy to smirk.