7 more Change Agents from TEDx San Antonio

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of my series about this year’s TEDx San Antonio. I felt like these folks were “in the boat with me” – sharing my Vision for a better World.

 Change AgentsTEDxSA

  • Harry Max is a veteran of many startups and a pioneer of the Next Economy. His best known (but certainly not his only) creation is the online shopping cart. Harry’s talk offered us a framework for pragmatic thinking about things called “problems”. The key is substituting more descriptive words based on the how difficult the solution and the impact of the “problem”. They are (in increasing order of impact and difficulty):
  • Issue – something with a definite solution
  • Dilemma – more complicated than an issue, a dilemma typically presents with 2 solutions
  • Predicament – a medium-level problem
  • Quagmire- a problem that gets worse as solutions are attempted
  • Extinction Level Event – these rare problems require planning
  • Trevor Muir wins my nomination for “Best Change Agent Talk”. He works within the broken, dysfunctional public education system to make a difference! He is a Michigan middle school teacher that showed us how “project-based” makes learning come alive for students. Instead of teaching facts and figures about history, he finds people living it to inspire students to do projects that make the subject come alive. For example, his students went to a nursing home and videotaped World War II Veterans about their experiences. They then produced a ceremony to honor those men and created DVDs for the Veterans’ families. It made the standardized test about the events of the Second World War a breeze.Trevor’s challenges:
  • To Teachers, find Comrades
  • To Administrators, give permission
  • To Society, Redefine the concept of Schools
  • Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri are two high school students that reminded us that a hacker in programmer terms is someone that produces clever/innovative code. They have conducted hackathons which are contests (usually lasting only a weekend) where teams compete to find the best solution to a particular problem. Here is their 5-point plan to “hack” a given problem:
  1. Find Passion
  2. Set aside time
  3. Surround yourself with like-minded people
  4. Gather resources
  5. Hack it!
  • Luz Cristal Glangchai explained why/how girls are discouraged from STEM education and challenged us to adopt a mindset that changes live:
  • Break free from stereotypes
  • Redefine failure as learning what does not work
  • Think like an entrepreneur.
  • Rhonda M Martin shed new light on leadership and followership. She warned us about the consequences of destructive leadership and described how it can poison organizational cultures. She challenged us to learn/teach followership. The key take-away was that followership is a role and it is not to blindly follow the leader but to serve the same goal.
  • Mitch Hagney is an urban farmer. He believes a host of new technologies is creating an opportunity to produce food in the derelict and underused spaces of cities. A 40 foot container can produce as much food as an acre of land with 1% of the water and a fraction of the energy. I spoke with Mitch extensively and my impression was a man with a passion for applying technological solutions to produce food in new scalable and sustainable ways!
  • Clara Brenner made the case for Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing, especially at the seed level. Her topic is an expansion of the ideas called “Techno-philanthropy” by Abundance authors Diamandis and Kotler. Some of her key points:
    • Investments for social good should focus on solutions that can be replicated
    • There is profit potential in social investing
    • The finance lifecycle is the same as any other startup.
    • Right now, the biggest need is for “Angel Investors” – those that provide seed capital to explore the idea

I look forward to watching, using and in some cases participating in the work these solutionaries presented!


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