TEDxUIowa Brought Wisdom and Surprises

By Grace Haerr, The Daily Iowan

If someone told me I would climb to the top of the rock wall at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center with one of the speakers following the TEDxUIowa event on Feb. 28, well, I would have worn something a little different. But I'm not sure anything could have prepared me for that evening.

Six guest speakers who have faced their own share of surprises and challenges took the stage Feb. 28 in the IMU Main Ballroom and shared their ‘idea worth spreading.’ The lecturers included Ken Brown, Avery Bang, Aly Olson, Willis Johnson, H.S. Udaykumar, Lorainne Williams, and Victor Saad.

‘These speakers all have the power to inspire and transform lives,’ said Tom Rockland, the University of Iowa vice president for Student Life.

Saad was my rock-climbing partner for an hour. He also founded Experience Institute in Chicago. The institute provides higher education to students through self-guided projects and coaching, so those individuals are, in turn, prepared to transform the world.

This self-made master’s program based on apprenticeship and experience was created in one year. It consisted of 12 experiences in 12 months that revolved around design, business, and social change.

Stories from the project were compiled into a book called Leap Year Project.

‘The more I shared, the more I learned and grew,’ Saad said.

I have a copy of this book now, and yes, Saad signed it.

In order to follow proper TED etiquette, videos were streamed throughout the program, showing past TED talks and presentation from other TEDx events (a feature I thought unnecessary — the lives speakers were interesting enough on their own — but educational nonetheless.)

In one of these videos, Seth Godin discussed the diffusion of innovation theory.

‘Remarkable ideas are ideas worth making a remark about,’ he said. ‘The riskiest thing you can do is try to be safe.’

Last year’s TEDxUIowa event allowed for only 100 people including the speakers and the workers; this year that number was doubled.

And based on the “remarkable ideas” I heard, the increase was warranted.

TEDxUIowa brought together different people from different backgrounds, each with a different idea. The only similarity: they all listen and act more then they talk. And apparently, this action sometimes includes climbing rocks.

The Strongest Quotes from TEDxUIowa 2015:

‘Quite often the best solution is the most simplest one.’ — H.S. Udaykumar, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the UI.

‘Get out of your comfort zone and embrace the differences that so commonly divide us.’ — Aly Olson, Miss Iowa and vocal-performance major at the UI.

‘When you care, you are present and willing to be accountable. So hold up your corner.’ — Willis Johnson, reverend of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri.

‘More than 1 billion people live in a walking world where their basic rights are denied simply because they cannot get where they need to be. That is what drives me every day. What issues drive you?’ — Avery Bang, CEO of Bridges to Prosperity.

‘Do your job like it’s a performance, invest in each other, and practice patience, kindness, and compassion everyday.’ — Lorainne Williams, owner of Café Dodici.

‘When no one helps, we stand by; when one helps, we are ready to make a difference.’ — Ken Brown, associate dean for UI's Undergraduate Program in Business.

Read the article: Baerr, G. (2015). TEDxUIowa brought wisdom and surprises. The Daily Iowan.

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