Recapping TEDxSMU 2009

I’m not going to tell you every little detail of the event. Although maybe I should. I was one of the few people I saw taking any kind of notes, much less copious ones.

All in all, TEDxSMU was a well-run event, very consistent in tone and style with the main event held in Long Beach and all the more impressive for having been pulled off so quickly. (Six months from idea to execution!) Well spent day, although I’m not entirely sure just how the people at the big deal manage to make it through four days of this!!

Here’s my non-randomized experience with TEDxSMU:

Cool moments:

  • Podium JFK used when he did his man on the moon speech was there to illustrate the power of the individual to change things
  • Jill Soubule – singer with an incredibly wry sense of humor. (One selection? You Better Not Kill in Texas.)
  • Seeing what the new Wyly theater is going to be like (The group I sing with – The Women’s Chorus of Dallas – is doing its spring concert there with Lesley Gore as our special guest.)
  • Rives visual poem – Trespassing in New York City
  • Great food options and snacks (Hansen and Blue Sky drinks! Not a Coke, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper in sight. Wow!)
  • Polyphonic Spree – awesome!

Semi-quotable moments

Some people were just full of it. Completely. Talking about stuff that they really had no expertise in or providing very anecdotal evidence and guilt piles. And saying things they obviously thought were profound. Some were.

  • Bobby Haas – The price you pay for your inheiritance is the responsibility that goes with it.
  • Joshua Prince-Ramus – Lost art of productively losing control
  • Amory Lovins – Carbon fiber for ultralighting cars
  • William Abraham – Make an illuminating mistake
  • Aaron Reedy – Teacher should be more than just a conduit of information, need to bring passion
  • William Kamkwamba – We don’t need to wait for the government to do it for us (standing O from people who probably support the public option for health care)
  • Tanya Pinto – You can make a small change, don’t be scared by the statistics.
  • Turk Pipkin – If you are looking for a big opportunity, look for a big problem


  • The theme for the day should have been “all wet”. There were a large percentage of presentations around water issues or that brought up water as a segment.
  • To that same thing, in general, the mix of presentations could have been a little better. We didn’t see much from the soft sciences – marketing, psychology, sociology – and not really even biology. The event was organized by the engineering school at SMU and I wonder how much their interests slanted that. Arts were pretty much covered by performance, not by presentation. (OK – this is a real bitchy thing, I know. Having seen TED via satellite – so semi-live – you get a good sense of the way TED mixes things. I guess I would have liked more of that mix.)
  • Improv dance/music group. Let me just say it for everyone I talked to about it – huh? (Perfect opportunity for a short talk after to explain what was going on up there.)


The theme for the day was “What Would Change Everything?” My answer is always “nothing”. When we spend a lot of time looking for The Big Change, we miss all the small opportunities to make change along the way. Small change that adds up to THE REALLY BIG CHANGE. I wonder how many of the people at TEDxSMU will actually leave and change in any way based on what they heard.

We shall see.

Photo Gallery:

Question for the audience: How’d you get that scar? Come to the front, take the mike for a strict 30 seconds and tell us. Some good stories, some weirdness. Yes, bum us all out by telling us about your tumor.

Benefit of knowing the building. I found some peace on the couches at the bottom of the stairs. Headed there to eat my lunch (yes, being anti-social) and got to spend the time with speakers hanging out. David Gallo from Woodhole is quite the character.

I am the world’s worst phone camera photographer. But this is the stage for TEDxSMU. Great set-up and lighting. It’s tough to do much on the stage at Caruth because it’s so shallow, so kudos!

There were around 500 people expected, although I did see some empty seats. Sorry I couldn’t bring you to help fill them. (This is far over my normal limit of 8. 🙂

My first shot. Just wanted something to show where I was. The amount of technology they had going was pretty impressive. Major kudos to Sharon Lyle for pulling this all together in great fashion!
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