TEDxSFU 1 © 2012 Sam. All rights reserved.

Spending a day with TED

If you are looking for inspiration and thoughtful dialogue then you don’t have to look beyond TED. TED talks have become a storyteller’s friend. A speaker is allocated a certain amount of time to engage with the audience on a topic related to leadership, community engagement, activism, or anything that has purpose and meaning. Last year, I had the honour of being a TEDxSFU (http://tedxsfu.com/) speaker and my topic of choice was ‘Discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary’. It was such a rewarding and enriching experience and one that I am grateful for. If you are interested, my talk is at – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVNM58H_arI

This year, I got to be an audience member. The benefit is last year; I only got to see 4 of the 15 speakers because I did not want to cloud my thoughts with other speakers. Attending this year, I got to see all 11 speakers and it was a phenomenal day. The theme was set as ‘Going Against the Grain’ and spoke about how we have a life but it might not be the path we have chosen. My good friend Riaz Meghji spoke about “Every Conversation Counts” and was a natural up there. His message was to embrace the conversation and people and appreciate the sentiment. Others spoke and they ranged from Loretta Cella from the Passion Foundation about discovering your passion and “don’t question who you are but live it” to Mark Brand from Save on Meats about his journey and it is up to us to look after our communities. Alexandra Samuel shared with us that we are on a virtual migration and the things we need to bring and things we need to leave behind. Lauren Oates is a human rights activist and shared her compelling stories regarding the strength of the women from Afghanistan. I think my favorite quote came from Luke Brocki, a free lance journalist, who shared a Ben Franklin quote: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Each speaker had a different story and message; however, there was one theme that kept coming back…that something in their past was a transition point. There was something that was either traumatic, engaging or life altering. It makes me wonder about situations that we encounter in our lives. While many let situations or people take us over and dictate how we will react, each of the speakers shared with how they overcame these challenges in life. I thought about my own life and when my father became a paraplegic and how our family changed and we grew from the experience. When we encounter that hurricane of activity that could be negative, it is when you have to be the most strongest and stay solid.

It was a day filled with speakers, engaging conversations, an audience of appreciative people and a hilarious emcee (Aaron C). The event is all student run and they put on a great show. It is rare where you have to apply to be an audience member and they have to limit who can be an observer. I also had a lovely day catching up with my two guests, Rachel T and Mandy J. Govinder G is also someone who was there to take in the process of TEDx as he is part of a team building another TEDx. There were too many of my students/alumni/friends to list but I wanted to tell you all that you made the event for me…each and every one of you. It was an inspiring day and to be in the presence and audience of so many who care about their community. Part of me thought that being a speaker would be a great opportunity again and the other part said that I got my moment last year and I could sit back and watch. Spending a day with TED is something I am looking forward to…on a yearly basis (whether as a speaker or audience member).