24 Talks at TEDx San Antonio on October 18

Editors Note: I attended TEDx San Antonio last Saturday. This was my third TEDx “main event” experience (not counting several “community” events like watch parties and Salons). Here is a report on my experience.TEDxSA

TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design. The tag line is “ideas worth spreading”. Do a quick search of YouTube and you will find many 20 minute TED talks on virtually any topic you can imagine. TEDx indicates the event is independently organized in the style of the parent TED. The main event is a day of talks (some are shorter – most are about 20 minutes) around a particular theme.

 Ideas in Action

This year’s theme was “Ideas in Action”. Everything going into the event had a purpose. The set design was intended to be a call to support the San Antonio Food Bank safoodbank.org. There was a bookstore, breakfast, lunch (a food truck extravaganza) and an after party. The talks were held in 3 sessions of roughly an hour and a half each. There was a media studio that enabled you to record your thoughts about the experience.

The Emcees kicked off the festivities. First, Rackspace exec Chis Cochran welcomed us. And then came the parade of 20 live and 4 recorded (by my count) TED talks. Here is a summary:

  • S.J. Murray taught us the elements of story design.
  • John Lewis Lambert showed us how Improv can teach us to have each other’s backs
  • Leeza Dhalla made us understand what it feels like to grow up in the US (20 of her 26 years) and be an illegal immigrant
  • Leo Lopez III gave us a rundown on the new drug trade – prescription meds for common ailments sold at the Flea Market
  • Oscar Munoz introduced us to Colonias and we learned the third world exists inside the US Border (and it is mostly populated by citizens)
  • Cindy A Sebek – turned her love of wine into a fundraiser for hunger
  • Mark Bezos (recorded) – All acts of courage matter, no matter the size
  • Kori Ashton made art and told her mother’s amazing story
  • Tom Thum (recorded) – demonstrated some awesome beat boxing
  • Harry Max offered us a framework for pragmatic thinking about things called “problems”
  • Steven S Vrooman showed us how the contents of Social Media are really the same as standard conversation
  • Trevor Muir showed us how project-based makes learning come alive for students
  • Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri introduced us to hackathons and challenged our view of hacking
  • Luz Cristal Glangchai explained why/how girls are discouraged from STEM education and offered fixes
  • Rhonda M Martin taught us about the consequences of destructive leadership and challenged us to learn/teach followership
  • Fonda Cox/Eric Anthony Dorsa shared his insights learned from coming out as both gay and a drag queen
  • Pliny Fisk III (recording not available) – healthy habitats for where the populations are very dense
  • Laurie Ann Guerrero – San Antonio Poet Laureate showed us what she has learned from her city
  • Mitch Hagney described the promises of urban farming
  • Clara Brenner made the case for Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing, especially at the seed level
  • Thomas Schlenker updated us on the diabetes epidemic in the US
  • Suzanne B Scott spoke for the San Antonio River
  • Ze Franc (recorded) gave us the Human Test
  • Chaco & Brance gave us a taste of Borderland Blues

Why go instead of just watching the YouTubes?

  • Experience the presence – There is something intangible about seeing these talks live.
  • Step outside your circle of comfort – You tend to search for the recorded talks only in areas where you have identified interest. A day at TED means hearing speakers that you would not normally watch. Last year, for example, I heard a slackliner talk about intuition vs. fear.
  • Meeting the speakers – I talked with most of the speakers informally after they got off stage. You get to express gratitude. You get to ask questions, You get to connect!
  • Hall Conversations – The people that attend TED events are smart and think outside the proverbial box. They offered even more ideas!
  • 2 months ahead of the YouTube – It is typically 6 weeks or more before the talks are available online. If you want to be on the cutting edge, you need to be at TED.
  • It is gratifying to interact with “fellow travelers”


An event of this magnitude takes a massive amount of planning and work. I cannot say thank you enough to the organizers. I was able to speak with/thank Susan Price and the 2 emcees, Molly Cox and Victor Landa. I owe the other half dozen members of the TEDx San Antonio leadership, the dozens of volunteers and the host, Rackspace a hearty THANK YOU!

I will have a lot more to say about many of these speakers’ ideas in future weeks. Are you going to a TED event in the next year?


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