On Sunday, April 7 I had the pleasure of giving a TEDx talk at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. And what an experience it was!
Now before you start wondering where the video of my talk is, let me tell you: we do not get the video for at least a month after the event. Why? I have no idea. Maybe the TEDx people have to OK the content? Not sure. But that is pretty standard.
I promise to share it with you as soon as I get a copy.
Thought it would be fun, though, to share some behind the scenes scoop about the event.
The theme was “Emerge.” As the committee described, “Our theme aims to highlight the importance of standing out, changing perspectives, and building off of our successes and failures to pursue our passions. Whether it be developing emerging technology, revolutionizing the fashion industry, or even receiving an Olympic medal, our speakers embrace diverse ideas and share how they’ve emerged through the many obstacles of life.”
And, let me tell you, there were some AMAZING speakers. It started off with Elise Swopes. You may know her from her incredible… creations on Instagram, which have landed her collaborations with some of today’s top companies, like Apple and Adobe. Elise’s journey to Insta stardom is incredible. You can learn more here, as well as the interview I did with her (I will share it with you soon ).
I was second in the speaking line. And here are the folks who followed:
Carl Gunter: A computer science professor who does research on computer security and privacy. He talked about access to biological info (such as your genetic makeup) when it comes to the potential for unwanted individuals to access your health info.
Katie Hoff: A 2x Olympian and 3x medalist for her outstanding performance as a swimmer. Her story to the Olympics and beyond is a great one!
Ananya Cleetus: She describes herself best on her website: “I’m currently studying Computer Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and am an intern at Microsoft in Redmond! I teach a freshman honors course, CS196, and I helped run Reflections|Projections, the largest student-run technology conference in the Midwest. I developed my own low cost 3d-printed robotic prosthetic arm for leprosy victims in India, and have a day named after me in the city of Pittsburgh. I also founded Anemone, a mental health crisis app for people in emergencies, and Magikstra, a Carnegie Science Award-winning social network for high school students to find mentors.” Ananya and I were chatting in the green room before going on. When I asked her if she did much speaking, she shared with me, “ I have spoken a few times about my apps.” Where, you might wonder? Well, the White House… twice!
Evangelo Boussi: This man is a beacon of love. Just being with him, you can feel what a loving soul he is. Oh, and he and his partner own DUNDAS, an incredible fashion line that dresses Beyoncé and Kendall Jenner, to name a few. He touts his success (the company has only been around for three years!) to develop meaningful relationships. I interviewed him, so you can see what an incredible man he is!
Jinjun Xiong & Wen Hwu: The creators of Watson (Remember the IBM supercomputer?). They were great! They both provided so much insight and good information I think everyone should hear.
Dona Sarkar: Despite being than 40 years old, I would need 10 pages to list out all that Dona does. She spends her “days engineering software as the Chief #NinjaCat of the Windows Insider Program at Microsoft.” She is also a fashion designer (Her outfit, that she made, was gorgeous), writer of fiction and non-fiction books to help young professionals have the careers of their dreams, a speaker about Imposter Syndrome (and how to overcome it) and helps promote intrapreneurship. Really incredible!
Cole Bennett: The owner of Lyrica Lemonade, which makes music videos for some of the today’s top rap artists. He was a delightful young man and so generous with his time! The younger crowd (OMG- I feel like my mother!) was swooning over him. In fact, I met a college student who was pining to interview him. The student had a press pass, so I told him how to get backstage and Cole agreed to do an interview with him that lasted over 20 minutes. My oldest daughter was also smitten with Cole. Here’s a pic of them together:
In the upcoming weeks, I will share with you the interviews I did with 5 of these incredible speakers.
What was it like to give a TEDx talk? Personally, it was quite an experience. Click here if you want to hear about it.
And, of course, as soon as the official TEDx talk videos are released, I will share them with you.