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What does TEDxUniversityofNevada mean to you?

TEDxUniversityofNevada team recalls highlights and takeaways of past talks, looks forward to Jan. 27 event

To date, TEDxUniversityofNevada has produced a dazzling array of talks filmed live, that have collectively now picked up over 25 million combined views online.   In anticipation of our next big event on Jan. 27, we recently asked a few TEDxUniversityofNevada volunteers what TEDx means to them, what some of their all-time favorite talks have been, what recommendations they would give to a first time TEDxUniversityofNevada attendee, and more.  

Read on to learn more about some of our local volunteers' perspectives including thoughts from Alice Heiman, Amanda Burden, Bret Simmons, Dave Croasdell, Josh Smith, Karen Coe, Nicole Shearer, Paul Klein, and Tyler Bourns. These dedicated volunteers work together along with the rest of the team, to handle everything from event organization and promotion, to speaker selection and preparation, as well as day of execution.  

In your opinion, what does TEDx stand for?   

●     Tyler:  The sharing of ideas that can change the way you look at the world. Both big and small.

●     Dave: TEDx mirrors its parent organization - ideas that inspire. In our community we have been fortunate to have a strong leader and visionary in Dr. Bret Simmons who has doggedly managed TEDx University of Nevada to provide diverse perspectives, unique stories and a tremendous opportunities to envision challenges within and beyond our community.

●     Nicole: Community. This event provides both a physical community (once a year) and an online community (year-round) where people can express new ideas, stories and camaraderie.

●     Josh: To me, TEDx is more than just the talks you see or the videos you watch on the TED website or YouTube. TEDx is a community of individuals seeking to learn and understand the world and gain different perspectives. What you don't typically see are the conversations that happen after a talk is given. One talk can have a domino effect and impact hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. ​

●     Karen: An independently organized TED event.

●     Bret: Ideas worth spreading that influence millions around the globe originate right here in Reno.

●     Alice:A gathering of people who want to share ideas.  

What was the best TEDx talk from TEDxUniversityofNevada that you ever experienced live?   

●     Tyler: Jocko's extreme ownership talk. His Intensity and Passion is phenomenal. He commanded that room, you could feel the energy in every single audience member, and the message underneath resonated deeply with me- Accountability and how to be a leader.

●     Amanda: This is such a tough question because I have enjoyed so many thought-provoking talks over the five years that I've attended. What pops into my mind right away is Samina Ali's talk about "What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman's hijab?" The talk was fascinating, and I marveled at Samina's bravery in educating us about this controversial topic.

●     Karen: Too many to choose, but Elizabeth Smart and Tyler Glenn are right up there!

●     Alice: So many good ones. I loved Ming Li Wu. Entertaining, educational, well written and well delivered.

●     Bret: I love them all and don't have a favorite, but the Elizabeth Smart talk was a unique experience. The most riveting 11 minute talk I've ever experienced. Also can't deny that I love the live performance of The Warning so much we had them two years in a row. I'm a huge fan of Jon Foreman so meeting him and watching his great performance and inspiring message is something I'll never forget.

●     Josh: I love watching talks that include both a music performance and a talk in between their sets. It's a unique experience compared to most talks and it gives the performer the chance to connect with an audience in a different way compared to a traditional concert or music performance. It also gives attendees the opportunity to be exposed to different types of music that they traditionally would not listen to. Particularly I liked Jon Foreman's performance in 2016, and Tim Snider's in 2015.

●     Paul: The best talk was the 2014 talk I gave with Kristin Stith on inspiring change in a city. The experience we went through preparing for the talk and the outpour of support that followed was phenomenal. Using Reno and our actual experiences of reviving the slogan Biggest Little City as a destination brand as our case study for the the talk made the experience special. I was proud and honored to share what we did and why we volunteered to do it for our community.   

What advice do you have for a first time TEDx attendee?   

●     Alice: Look at the website to learn about who will be speaking. Arrive early and network with the other participants. Bring a journal to take notes about each talk and write your thoughts and feelings after each talk. Take a photo of each speaker and at the end of the talk, tweet or post a thought with the photo and use #TEDxUNR. Sit with someone you DON'T know. At each intermission discuss the talks you viewed and which ones really got you thinking. Talk to some of the speakers. Buy one of the speakers' books and have them sign it. During each session sit in a different section of the audience to get a different perspective and meet new people. Don't miss getting a photo at the photo booth. Watch your favorite talks again when the videos are released.

●     Amanda: Hold onto your hat! Go in with an open mind and be ready to become enveloped in a truly great experience. You will leave with so many fascinating notions in your head. The amount of information you take in can be overwhelming. Take a deep breath and try to process everything slowly, and, even better, bring your friends and family members into the conversation.

●     Josh: Have a nourishing breakfast before the event, stay caffeinated, and be ready to not only listen and watch some incredible people speak, but to also have some engaging conversations with people that you typically wouldn't have a conversation with. The conversations and interactions with the people are what make a live TEDx event so special.​

●     Karen: Be open and ready to for a life-changing experience

●     Tyler: Take notes, be comfortable. It's a long day and can be a bit of information overload. But at the same time can also be truly inspiring, so make sure you remember the talks that resonated with you personally the most. All the talks go online for later viewing later, so you can always go back later for a refresher. My biggest suggestion though would be to take action. It's easy to get motivated on the day of, but to take the lessons you learned on the day and actually apply and implement them into your life can be so much more powerful.

●     Bret: Turn your phone off and fully engage in the talks and with other attendees. Be fully present and keep an open mind.   

If you had to recommend watching just one TEDx talk on YouTube, what would it be and why?   

●     Nicole: TED and TEDx talks can be incredibly personal not only for the people giving the talk but also for the people watching them. Because of this, it's impossible to recommend just one talk. I think certain talks come along when you need them to. Others are incredibly relevant to mainstream dialogue and sometimes they'll show up in search when you're looking to better understand or research a given topic. So, with that said, my recommendation wouldn't be to just watch one TEDx talk but rather for people to think of a topic they would like to understand better or know more about and go from there. If there isn't a talk on a topic you'd like to hear about, I would encourage folks to reach out and let us know. We're always looking for new ideas and are interested to learn what people want to hear about.

●     Tyler: Probably Logan Laplante''s Hackschooling talk. It's our most viewed talk with almost 10 million views. But it remains in my mind, one of the most inspiring to see a young kid take a new look at how to approach life. Times have changed with how our careers are shaped and he nailed it.

●     Dave: Hugh Hempel's impassioned plea for developing different perspectives based on his personal experiences raising two young daughters with severe seizures challenges mindsets and status quo. We have come a long way as a society in a short time. Mr. Hempel's talk and like-minded perspectives will have a huge impact on research in the medical uses of cannabis going forward.

●     Karen: Elizabeth Smart - she is compelling and her story is amazing. Outside of our event, I'd pick  "What the Columbine Shooting Taught me About Pain" from TEDxMileHigh.

●     Amanda: Albert Lee's talk/song, "When I sing the anthem" rocks me to my core and give me goose bumps. I would highly recommend watching that one.

●     Bret: Other than our own talks, I've watched the Amy Purdy talk more than any other. I show it in my MBA classes

●     Alice: Oh, so many good ones. I'll pick Amy Selinger's talk on back pain. So many people have back pain and don't know why. (Disclosure, Amy is my cousin.)  

Who has given the most inspiring TEDxUniversityofNevada talk and why?   

●     Karen: Juan Lopez, Why you should embrace your stutter. This talk was beyond words!

●     Tyler: There are sooo many, so it's hard to say but Tyler Glenn's stands out to me. The life he's lived and adversity he's faced was evident. To hear him share his journey through his incredible vocals and stories was truly special to hear. More of a subtle inspiration, but I loved the message of just being able to be you.

●     Dave: There have been a great number of truly inspiring talks on the TEDx stage in Reno - From Elizabeth Smart to Juan Lopez (managing a stuttering problem) and Jill Tolles (moving beyond sexual abuse as a child). My favorite was Neil Peterson in 2015 who spoke about overcoming obstacles and following your passions. He has demonstrated through his life and actions that the only true barrier is attitude. His journey takes the audience from the slums of South Africa and crippling health to owning and racing yachts. His anecdotes speak to an entrepreneurial nature and innovative spirit that could not be held down. I especially like the anecdote about mailing a piece 2x4 to the bow of one of his first homemade boats in order to make it "long enough" to race.

●     Amanda: Ashley Clift-Jennings offered a beautiful talk that I'm sure will inspire many people in unconventional relationships to ask themselves, "Have you met your soul mate?"

●     Nicole: There have been so many inspiring talks through the years. Last year, I think Samina Ali hit it out of the park with her talk about the Quran and Muslim woman. Her courage and determination to give that talk was SO inspiring. Jocko Willink's talk was also one of my favorite inspired talks from last year. From the minute he started speaking, I was at the edge of my seat.

●     Bret: Many inspiring talks for different reasons.

●     Alice: I found the music of Tim Snider to be extremely inspiring. I also was inspired by Kristin Stith and Paul Klein in their talk about average citizens changing the image of our wonderful city.   

What is the most emotional TEDx talk you've experienced and why?   

●     Paul: Nicole Hockley gave a talk at TEDx University of Nevada in 2015 about the murder of her 6-year-old son Dylan at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a father of two young boys, that talk absolutely devastated me. My heart still aches for her and the other parents. I was just amazed and inspired by her strength and resolve to do something to prevent further tragedy.

●     Amanda: Tyler Glenn's talk about how "I found myself when I lost my faith" was so sad, touching, and full of hope at the same time. I was deeply touched by his strong voice and powerful words.

●     Karen: Juan Lopez - he is honest and open and his talk was relatable.

●     Nicole: Nicole Hockley's talk was by-far the most emotional talk I've ever experienced. I think it's every parent's worst nightmare to lose a child. The senseless act of violence at Sandy Hook was horrifying and the fact that mass shootings continue to happen at a regular cadence, remains infuriating. I greatly admire Nicole's strength and commend her ongoing efforts to help prevent gun violence.

●     Bret: Elizabeth Smart was emotional for sure, but the Sherry McConkey talk about the death of her husband, the Leilani Schweitzer talk about the death of her son, Nicole Hockley on the murder of her son at Sandy Hook, Julia Picetti on the death of her daughter from a drug overdose, and Jill Toles on her childhood sexual abuse. On the humor side of emotion, Michael Jr. was hilarious.

●     Alice: Wendy Damonte, Jill Tolles, Sherry McConkey, Jo Harvey. I agree with Bret, Michael Jr. was hilarious!  

How has attending TEDxUniversityofNevada's event changed you?   

●     Karen:  I love hearing new and big ideas. It encourages empathy and critical thinking as well as an open mind and heart.

●     Alice: It's made me see things differently. Everyone has a story, some of those stories have a big idea worth spreading and we can all learn from each other. Even when I don't agree I see the person behind the idea and I know it took a lot for them to bring it to the stage. Talks like Samina Ali"s have brought information to me that I wouldn't have know.

●     Amanda: It has enlightened me and reminded me how important it is to gain new perspectives on issues big and small. It's also helped me grow as a person and to be a better member of the community.

●     Josh: TEDxUniversityofNevada has had a profound impact on my life and career. My first career out of college is a direct result of being a volunteer for this event. One of my  TEDx colleagues referred me to an open position for a local startup. I held a position at that company for nearly three years and gained skills and experience towards becoming a professional in data analytics. Outside of that, I've met people locally and from different parts of the country that have provided me valuable advice in leadership, strategy, entrepreneurship, and technology, just to name a few. What is special about being part of this team is the opportunity to meet people from a wide-variety of industries and backgrounds, who have very diverse worldviews. ​   

What TEDxUniversityofNevada talk has moved you to action and what did you do?   

●     Karen: All of the talks were inspirational. They moved me to volunteer for TEDxUNR.

●     Paul: Although it wasn't at TEDxUniversityofNevada, Joe Smith gave a talk at TEDx Concordia University in Portland in 2012 about how we use paper towels to dry our hands. If everyone used Joe's paper towel technique, we could save 571K pounds of paper annually. It's an enlightening and funny, five-minute talk that I think about every single time I use a paper towel.  

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