What began three years ago as a class project of Leadership Plano has grown into one of Plano’s finest community events, TEDxPlano. TED Talks are about an idea that is worth sharing, and this year’s TEDxPlano topic was FWD: Thinking. This past Friday evening, guests gathered at The Courtyard Theater in historic downtown Plano to witness a diverse group of people–men and women, young and old, and folks of different ethnicities and nationalities–bring their ideas to life.
Shannah Hayley, Plano’s Director of Marketing and Community Engagement, shared that while the topics were diverse, there were three common threads to the event which each speaker addressed in their own unique way. Those threads were (1) the idea of perfectionism and how to free ourselves from its paralyzing grip; (2) the ever expanding role of technology in our lives and our interaction with it and (3) how we might think about breaking free from a silo mentality in our personal and professional lives to learn from the wider world and empower one another to be innovative, creative and forward thinking. Here’s the lineup.
Melinda Marcus, President of Marcus & Associates, spoke on the topic of perfectionism. Quoting hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, who once said, “I miss 100% of the shots I never made,” she encouraged all to focus on their life’s purpose, to take risks and to give up those perfect excuses which keep people from “choosing to do nothing over something that would be less than perfect.”
Josh Hart, President of Red Panda ADR, challenged the audience to cast aside the negative labels we have about the different generations in the workplace. Today’s workplace is comprised of a multi-generational mix of Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers and Millennials who think differently but really have much in common. To engage those in our lives who think differently, he suggested that we be real, be empowering, be connected and be open.
Krithika Iyer, a Junior at the IB World School at Plano East Senior High, spoke about “Why Young People Are Your Best Investment.” Iyer is the founder of the SmartStart Initiative, which empowers parents to be educators and students to be proactive about their education. Citing research that shows that “developing entrepreneurship skills is a better measure of progress than obtaining a PhD,” she seeks to foster creativity and entrepreneurship among teens.
Kimberly O’Neil is the youngest African American woman to serve as a City Manager in the United States. Sharing the story of a citizen who came by her office daily to discuss city problems, he said, “Kimberly, I want you to hear our voices.” Recognizing that we are all created equal but not all equally treated, O’Neil inspired the audience in her talk “Your Voice is Your Currency” to use their voices for good and to make a positive difference in the world.
Craig Janssen, Managing Director of Idibri, a team of technology designers, theatre consultants and acousticians, asked “Will Future Generations Want What We Build?” Technology infuses our lives with connections, and we need to build for connection. Our use of social media reflects our yearning to live and work in community. Future buildings will be designed to keep us connected to foster creativity.
Ramy Mahmoud, an award-winning Plano educator, reflected upon social media and education. Believing that social media has turned us into “perfection seekers,” he suggests our use of social media has led us down a road where we “do what we can to protect our perception.” He challenges his students to think outside of the social media box through face to face dialogue. “Sometimes you can learn to appreciate the other side of an argument, even if you don’t agree.”
Diamond Wilson, a novelist and poet, introduced Krashen’s Hypothesis in her talk “Thinking Forward to Your Future Self.” A multi-lingual speaker, she was introduced to Krashen’s Hypothesis while studying linguistics. She taught the hypothesis with the image of “i + 1” with “i” representing what we know and “1” representing the stretch of information we need to acquire to grow and learn. To reach our goals, we must learn in small steps with goals that are achievable, set aside our fear and enter into the journey of constant growth and change.
Dancer, activist and writer, Marquita Burke De Jesus spoke in her talk “Speak Up, Dance Big & Live Loud” about opening one’s eyes to “the shift,” that moment when perception changes. Her shift happened upon learning about the sex trafficking and slave trade of children. She is the founder of Silence the Violence, a group working to bring about legislative change related to violence and trafficking.
TEDxPlano represents Plano’s best – diversity, innovation, creativity and forward thinking. While the City of Plano is the Visionary Sponsor for the event, Collin College is also a sponsor and provides coaching to each of the speakers through its Speech and Communications faculty. Professors Whitney Pisani and Robert Aronoff were very helpful in making the event a success.
If you have a great idea you’d like to share at a future event, please go to TEDxPlano.org, bookmark the site and join the email list to be notified of the application process and future events.TEDxPlano Website >