The Entertainment Gathering – How to Hang with Bezos, Yo-Yo Ma, and More


The Entertainment Group (The EG) is the most incredible weekend gathering you’ve never heard of.

I had no idea what it was 12 months ago, but two unrelated friends — also first-time attendees — raved to me about it in the same week. Once I did the digging, it quickly became the event I most wanted to be part of.

Where else can you sit next to Yo-Yo Ma, Jeff Bezos, and the guys from MythBusters with the breathing room lost at the mega-conferences? Share drinks with the winners of Nobels, MacArthurs, Oscars, and Tonys without the pretension of a white-tie ball? Hang with Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs while listening to the world’s top dueling pianists?

Now I’m in the mix: I’m speaking on December 12th, most likely on accelerated learning and the quest for elegant skill acquisition.

Founded by Richard Saul Wurman, the mastermind behind TED, to recreate the dream conference, it hosts the most unusual and creative cross-section of inventors, entertainers, artists, scientists, rising stars and living national treasures you could ever imagine… Mike Hawley (MIT Media Lab professor, digital media pioneer, veteran of Lucasfilm, computer inventor with Steve Jobs at NeXT) directs it. And unlike TED, you can actually still get in without filling out an application and soliciting letters of reference.

Just a swipe of your all-powerful credit card while a few spots still remain. It ain’t cheap, but this is one of the few cases where I think it’s worth it. I was planning on attending whether I spoke or not, and I’ve never paid for the other usual suspects in the high-end conference world.

Here are a few of my favorite past EG presentations, from “talks” on the TED website:

Rick Smolan: Natasha’s story
Jonathan Harris: New storytelling tools
Mark Bittman: What’s wrong with what we eat
Kevin Kelly: The next 5,000 days

The EG is where Negroponte launched the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) laptop, Brian Greene gave a crash course in quantum theory, Caleb Chung gave away Pleos. Paul Horowitz told us how he’s actually hunting for little green men. John Underkoffler (the real genius behind the “Minority Report” interface) showed his inventions, Jonathan Harris presented his dazzling web artistry, Pablos Holman showed his terrifying hackery, and Will Wright unveiled SPORE for the very first time.

I’ve been told they’re giving away Chumbys as door prizes this year… but it’s more than just hackers and gadgets.

It is Yo-Yo Ma playing the ‘cello, and Leon Fleisher at the piano, and Jonathan Winters reminiscing about his life. It is Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Calligrapher, Donald Jackson. It’s Minsky, and Mossberg, and Markoff and Myrhvold. It’s also guys like Peter Gelb, who runs the MET Opera in NY showing how they’re now HD-casting La Boheme across the country, which they pretty much have to do seeing as how MacArthur-winning architect Liz Diller has been tearing up Lincoln Center and redesigning it. If you want to jam with Todd Rundgren or Laurie Anderson, wangle a bit part in David Pogue’s next sophomoric tech video, explore King Tut’s Tomb with Zahi Hawass, join the Ringling Brothers Circus with star clown Bello Nock, or have your snapshot taken with Bran Ferren’s 10 *gigapixel* camera, you might want to come to Monterey December 11-13th.
11-13 December
Monterey, California

Posted on: November 24, 2008.

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63 comments on “The Entertainment Gathering – How to Hang with Bezos, Yo-Yo Ma, and More

  1. Tim, want to put up link to interview with you about Trial by Fire but not sure it is allowed here. I’ll check back and you can let me know. Reason for confusion: this is your blog and my article appears on a site that does allow ads but has major Google juice so I’m hoping that it gets extra viewers for your show, which rocked! I just don’t know the TOS for your site yet.

    The show -Trial by Fire, hope people write to THe History Channel and request a repeat. It has a permanent place of honor on my Tivo and I’ve got a watch alert set up for the title.


  2. Hi Tim!

    Love your blog. Very addicting to read! Your lifestyle is incredibly inspiring.

    Will be @ the EG, and I am very much looking forward to meeting you!!

    I am a student and the Entrepreneurship Center Student Director @ Bryant University in Rhode Island. I have been conducting a lot of research on this topic – “the advantages (and disadvantages) of acting on your ideas while young” (i.e. starting a company / nonprofit or writing a book while your young).

    So far, I’ve interviewed some amazing people like Steve Wozniak (who will be @ the EG), David Pogue (NY Times Tech Columnist, and will be speaking @ the EG), and Chad Moutray (Chief Economist, SBA). The overwhelmingly positive amount of feedback I have gotten from these people has inspired me to consider writing a book on this.

    I would love to interview you between a seminar. Having traveled the world, learned six languages, attained a Guiness world record, and written a best selling book before you even turned 30, I’d have to say you are THE example of “acting on your ideas while you’re still young”!!

    With warm regards & endless possibility,

    Lauren Amarante


  3. Hi Tim,

    I attended this conference and it was everything you mentioned and more – I’m still reeling.

    I have your book (and use it ;) but wanted to stop by your blog and congratulate you on a great presentation. You’re very inspiring and explained your practice perfectly for the audience in attendance.

    Take Care,

    Gretchen Fox


  4. thanks for the shout out for eg. what a chance but you’re right tim. $4000.00 to go hang in a country like a rock star may be a good idea. The pictures, experience, and the stories!?!?!?! However, make the right contact and you could be living like a rock star for more than just a few months.


  5. Nice. In a similar light, tried contacting Queen Latifah about my Character Cards, with the info in 4HWW, no one answered before or after hours so tried during, no go. Will keep trying before/after. Any more ideas? Perhaps a podcast on iTunes…?

    Thanks Tim, keep up the awesome job, looking forward to seeing your show.


  6. Hi Tim, I know why you left amish comm. I been there done that and don’t want to go back ever! I left 12 years ago and I’m much happier and I hope you are too. God Bless and party on… :O)


  7. Tim,

    This post is what introduced me to TED, and it’s since become a Major Life Goal for me to attend.

    I’m a twenty year old writer (mostly poetry, some plays, some fiction. I just write.) with a good leaning towards people and skill management. (Stage management for theatre mostly, although the last four months I’ve been the assistant mananger of a new nightclub in vancouver) I’m giving myself, tops, another eight years before I go.