This past weekend my wife (Maureen) and I got the chance to attend the TEDx Memphis event that was hosted by the University of Memphis. Although getting up early on a Saturday morning was definitely a challenge, I am so glad we made the effort to be a part of this exciting event. The speakers lineup was impressive and represented a wide range of organizations such as Teach for America, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the EPIcenter (Entrepreneur Powered Innovation) There was a total of 16 speakers throughout the day (which sounds like a lot) but truthfully the event moved along at a really nice pace.
One of my favorite talks was given by Philip Mudd on “The Art of Thinking Backwards” Philip is a former Deputy Director of the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA and is the senior intelligence adviser at the FBI. His insights about terrorism were both fascinating (and disturbing at the same time) particularly when he pointed out that we (the US) will never really “win” the war on terrorism. He did put things in perspective that “statistically not knowing how to swim is more of a threat to children than terrorism.” I also loved Philip’s career advice: “Life is short - ask yourself what brings you joy?”
One of the most powerful points of the day (that continues to be a big issue in Memphis) was displayed on the TEDx discussion board which stated “Every time we talk about crime, we should have a survivor and a victim at the table.” Powerful stuff and makes a lot of sense to me! Another entertaining talk was given by Ned Canty with Opera Memphis who stated that “Opera is not broccoli , it’s a bacon double cheeseburger.” Ned’s presentation was eye-opening as he stated that “opera is at the intersection of words, music and awesome.” I also loved his comment that “I wasn’t born in Memphis but I got here as soon as I could.” What a refreshing remark and was really good to hear!
The last speaker was David Waters, a columnist with the Commercial Appeal newspaper who really knocked it out of the park with his talk on “No Better Place Than This” David was a long term resident of Memphis who moved to DC to work for the Washington Post for several years and then moved back to Memphis. He made a “spot-on” observation that “It’s a big world, where are you supposed to be? Where does your deep gladness meet the world’s deep need?” I hope it’s here. There is no better place” And he further stated that he made the decision to move back to Memphis not for an occupation but a vocation. Powerful way to end the day! All in all a lot of great insights and really looking forward to attending the TEDx event next year!