Who are the thought leaders of the future? TedxSMU is on a mission to discover these individuals and bring their innovative ideas to the forefront of groundbreaking discussion – but there can only be one. Over the course of a couple of hours, 11 participants battle it out to fill the last slot in the TEDxSMU Disruption series on December 3, 2011.
What is the power of three minutes? Dave Weaver, host and President of One Agency, reminds the speakers that is all they have to make their case in this American Idol-like showcase (that makes him Ryan Seacrest). The secret word to “get off the stage” word – shoo. I’m sure the speakers felt threatened.
Zac Crain – Former elementary school janitor and current editor of D Magazine.
Grace Gilker – Sophomore at H’ockaday and a former speaker at TEDxSMUKids. As a side note, she would personally like Tina Fey to come speak at her high school graduation.
Omar Jahwar– A 2010 TEDxSMU speaker, has successfully mediated a truce between the Bloods and Crips.
With formal introductions made, the judges seated and the contestants lined up – a hush settles the theater as we all wait in anticipation to find out whose idea will reign supreme.
What People Reach for When Things Fall Apart
First to the mic is Brad Ford Smith. His platform takes an interesting view of what is left behind after makeshift or otherwise creative attempts to repair the broken items. The glue, tape, nails, Velcro, ribbon, floss that serves secondary purposes to extend the life of whatever necessity we see fit. Smith wants to take a closer look at it all and reveal what’s really holding it all together.
As an art conservator, when things break he’s the first person they seek out – after they’ve tried to fix it of course. His art exploits the tragedies of the “do it yourself” mentality. The crowd responds well to a series of pictures and stories Smith tells about how he turns these crafty mistakes into art.
Outsource Your Brain
Outsourcing your brain? No, Christian Genko is not talking about what would probably be a very difficult transplant overseas. He’s advocating for a more intense focus on computer programming. Truthfully he’s probably being seen as a hero for computer engineers everywhere. Chris wants you to learn how to teach your computer what you’re thinking. Is this type of efficiency possible?
Genko, whether he knows it or not, has the audience slightly stumped. Math was clearly not the class favorite. Nevertheless, his approach to developing an artificial brain is thoroughly put together.
Done in less than 3 minutes? Anyone else having a brain freeze?
Unlocking the Creative Genius – Living the Dream Circuit
“This is what dreams are made of.” Sadly I remember that from a Hillary Duff song but I doubt that’s where Golbahar Dadyan got the inspiration to study dreams or as she calls it the Universal Language of the Mind. According to her our dreams produce symbols in our subconscious that we can interpret in a conscious state to unlock and discover our supernatural potential. This harmonious connection, otherwise known as Unity, is the key behind the geniuses of Helen Keller and Albert Einstein.
Are you intrigued yet? Well in 5 steps you could be well on your way to mastering life. There’s a Harry Potter reference in there somewhere.
Golbahar’s message is to, “sleep, dream and awaken to your creative potential. “
So if the root to creativity is more sleep, then she has my vote!
Follow My Heels
Of course, the coach wants to get up and move around. As a coach for the USA track team, hopefully, the audience can keep up with Jon-Eric Fountain’s talk. At the sound of Usain Bolt going 30 mph and working out, I could tell many were reminiscing about their now caput New Year’s resolution. There’s always next year…right?
Back on our feet we go, Fountain makes a point about sprinting and form. Developing efficiency and eventually increasing the individual’s ability speed.
His final Challenge: “Find the ways to be most efficient in your life and follow your heels.”
Seeing Through the Haze
Will Clarke brings us back to our college years with his views on hazing. Fond or not so fond memories of doing whatever to belong, “hazing” has long had a place in our society. The question that Clarke wants to answer is:
“Why do we ask people to kill a part of themselves to become a part of something else?”
Is violence really a necessary act to become a man? Clarke wants to use his Ted Talk to ask people to see through the violent nature of transitioning between boy to man. Whether his idea to disrupt this age old tradition will work at TEDxSMU will be up to the audience and the judges to decide.
Wild Mustangs, Wildlife
The horses are here, the horses are here! Well, not really but there is one on the stage in the form of a portrait. RJ Daum infected himself with the flu in order to prepare for his TEDxSMU. My first thought was, is he contagious because I definitely shook his hand earlier. I didn’t get my flu shot either…
The point? Daum wants to be able to establish the connection between Wild Mustangs and human DNA to hopefully solve the pandemic that he believes is coming. Honestly, he probably lost the audience when he said he had the flu but you have to give him points for the shock value.
A short musical selection by Kerri Arista allows the audience to digest the material they’ve heard from the first couple of speakers.
Making Good Products Making Inspirations and Value
Just how do you compare home cooking to furniture? Family values lending themselves to art? Sean Springer draws upon childhood memories of his mom’s kitchen to create and design furniture that tells a story of a family.
The judges seemed intrigued by how Springer could turn his mother’s kitchen table into a chicken – it made me think about dinner. Hopefully, with a little bit of creativity and fond memories, he can create the optimal piece of furniture.
Make Cafeterias Compete
Well, it looks like mystery meat is still unpopular in today’s schools. Stacy Cherones has made it her mission to change the way students see view their midday meals. Building upon the Disruption strategy, Cherones uses Jamie Oliver as a platform to launch her attack on school cafeteria food. Many students would rather eat unhealthy food – why? Because we are creatures of habit and consistency. We tend to keep our mental behaviors in line with our physical behaviors. Stacy’s solution is to have food trucks with healthy alternative compete with cafeteria’s Food trucks as a solution? That is truly a disruption. Making the cafeteria compete with food trucks? It sounds like a reality TVshow. Let’s hope enough of the audience wants to watch it play out in real life.
“What Social Media & Ike Turner Have in Common” Jasmin Brand
Jasmin Brand loved school so more, she begged her dad to start school early. Oh and she hates pokes on Facebook but other than that she’s a social media nut.
Imagine this: Brand as director Quentin Tarantino, Social media as Ike Turner and Tina as education. You can fill in the rest of the details but I can tell you its not pretty. Is social media really getting beaten up by education? Brand wants to bring to light the conflict the two have. Education is known as the source of knowledge and but more students are turning to social media.
“Let’s take the best of technology and bring it to our teachers – our students deserve the best.”
Given the opportunity, Brand could possibly mediate the fued00 between the two forces. Who knows, maybe Web 2.0 could be the ultimate teaching tool.
The Power of You
“Images don’t reflect who we are they shape it.”
With Facebook being the third-largest country in population and with its new timeline feature, Baldwin believes the power of images is taking over. Flickr and Google image search contains millions of images submitted by the average person. More than ever, people have the authority to create and alter how we see our world. Did you see the love handles on the French President or that Beyonce’s skin was lightened for an ad campaign? With images as our tool and for the first time in history more people have the power to figure out how they want to see the world and how they’re viewed.
Disaster Relieve Housing – A Clown’s Perspective
The axes start to fly – now that’s a way to start a presentation. Although the front row was a bit worried no fingers were lost.
Darren Collins was just doing what he does best but that’s not what he entirely wanted to focus on during his presentation. He’s decided to fix the global housing issue.
After visiting the small town of Oakridge, Tennessee, he came across this paradox.
“If it’s possible for people to build a city overnight to build a bomb then how come we can’t build houses for those that the bomb has affected?”
The question resonated throughout the crowd as we all tried to digest this concept. Much like the axes he juggled, Collin’s throws us another question at us.
“How many of us have decided not to do something because we felt that weren’t qualified to do it?”
He’s on a journey to make us think deeper about our part in solving the world’s problems.
Collins wants us to disrupt our pattern of thinking and wants us to start doing things – productive things more specifically. Not based on our experience but based on our creativity and the will to make an impact on the world around us. Collins has decided to change the world, one clown at a time.
Even without the axes, Collins delivered a message that made judge Grace laugh, think, and a bit sad. If I could speak for the audience I would have to say they agreed.
Coming To The End
The final break of the night lends itself to voting and mingling while Kerri Arista provided the soundtrack. Suspense still hangs in the air but it is overpowered by words of excitement.
Sharon Lyle and Dave Weaver take the stage to announce the winners of the first TEDxSMU auditions.
Drum Roll Please
Wow – a curveball! Darren Collins has to withdraw. He’ll be in Guatemala (probably fulfilling his mission) during TEDxSMU. We don’t think will be seeing the last of him though.
Even more shocking is that there are three winners!
- Belinda Baldwin – The Power of You
- Jasmin Brand – What Social Media & Ike Turner Have in Common
- Will Clarke – Seeing Through Haze
These guys worked hard to deliver a presentation that won over the hearts of the audience and judges. I can’t wait to see what they come up with in December. Congratulations to all of our winners and job well done to all of our speakers!
Special thanks to Sharon Lyle, Director of TEDxSMU, for allowing WrightIMC to cover this event! We had a blast and can’t wait for the next one.