27 Aug 2014

A Summer Unlike Any Other

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By Sarah Renee Garner on August 25, 2014

This summer was unlike any other summer. This summer I was able to embark on the most amazing journey that has ever taken place in my life, and that journey was interning at TEDxSMU for 10 weeks. Interning at TEDxSMU has truthfully been one of the greatest experiences that I have ever had. Instead of wasting two and half months of my life away, I was doing something resourceful for such an amazing organization, and having fun while doing it.

Not only was I apart of TEDxSMU, I also was a part of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering- which is amazing because I am strongly considering majoring in biomedical engineering. During the time in the engineering school, Erin (the other amazing intern) and I helped make sure that all of the Lyle Engineering Summer Camps were running smoothly. We made name tags, we served lunch, we took pictures, and we basically made sure that everything behind the scenes was running smoothly so that Heather and Christie didn’t have as much stuff to worry about.

Overall, when I first started TEDxSMU, I came in as a 15 year old girl who didn’t know the first thing about putting on a huge conference or camp. I didn’t know that it was appropriate to provide speakers with some sort of gift to thank them for participating. I also didn’t know that as soon as one conference is over, it was time to start planning for the next one. I also didn’t know that getting feedback from camps was important, and I also didn’t know that you counted inventory before and after. Those are all physical things that I have learned. However, I wasn’t mentally prepared for not automatically knowing how to do something, and having to research it. I wasn’t mentally prepared for doing something wrong. The amount of “I’m sorry’s” that I gave Heather and Christie probably made them want to pull their hair out. All in all I just wasn’t prepared to fail. However, I learned from the wise words of Greg Needel, that “this may not work”, but that’s ok! There is always room for growth and improvement.

Therefore, I have learned saying “I’m sorry” or being upset about a problem doesn’t fix the problem.  Actually fixing the problem, fixes the problem.

Side-note: I would just like to thank Heather Hankamer, and Christie Pearson, for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. I will always remember it, and I will carry it with me throughout my entire life. Y’all are truly the best bosses that anyone could ever ask for.


24 Jul 2014

The Rookie

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By Blayke Drury on July 21, 2014

My involvement in TEDxKids@SMU Auditions 2013 started out as a fleeting idea, a suggestion from my Academic Decathlon teachers to take a topic I’d prepared for competition and put it out there for people to hear. I was both shocked and honored to receive an invitation to present my topic, and anxiously counted down the days until the conference.

Sitting like a giddy child in the Green Room, I allowed the sound of bustling presenters and casual conversation to wash over me, as I finally felt the significance in being a part of the convention. There was an energy in that room like no other, as we all prepared to share our ideas and passions with the audience. Walking into the auditorium, I felt my face flush, my heart racing as I took in the room, seeing for the first time all of the people who had come to hear us. “What if I bore them?”, I thought. “What if I forget my intro. or trip onstage?” My nerves were quickly forgotten as I listened to the presenters that preceded me. I became enamored with their stories, sitting not as a presenter, but as an inspired audience member. When it was my turn to go onstage, I held on to that awe I’d felt listening to the others, and set out to inspire that in someone else. I jumped into my talk, a look at the physical and emotional side affects that lying can have on an individual, and what this means for the future. Before I knew it, my presentation was over, my last slide gone. I stood there for a moment, holding my breath and desperately hoping for applause. The audience’s clapping muffled my audible sigh of relief, and I quickly returned to my place offstage, happy to once again be on the other side of the exchange. Being a rookie presenter and audience member, I was both astounded to hear the other presenters’ messages, their stories and ideas, and honored to be in a room full of young people looking to be enlightened and inspired. That experience was like nothing else.

For anyone hoping to submit a video for this years TEDxKids@SMU Auditions 2014, I encourage you to be yourself! Don’t be afraid to have a silly attention getter, or a relatable topic. You’re talking to kids just like you, so don’t try to give a stuffy dissertation full of words that you’d never actually say. Make it a conversation, keep it comfortable, and above all, choose an idea that you yourself are entertained or inspired by, one that you can’t wait to share with an audience!

22 Jul 2014

TEDxSMU on McCuistion TV

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The TEDxSMU team was thrilled to be invited to talk TED and TEDx with Dennis McCuistion on McCuistion TV. Joining the discussion in front of a live audience are:

Jim Young: TEDxSMU Steering Committee. We first heard of TED Talks from Jim Young, a seasoned TEDSTER. Jim is passionate about TED and the stories and ideas it inspires. He gives us the inside story of how TED , Technology, Education and Design started in 1984 as a fantasy dinner party centered on these 3 areas, with some friends talking and some listening. It grew from a simple, local concept to a global, complex one. From its initial start, 6 years later attendees paid $475 to attend. Today TED attendees eagerly pay 20 times that amount.

Heather Hankamer: Director of TEDxSMU and TEDxSMU Kids and

Jeremy Gregg: Chief Development Officer, Prison Entrepreneurship Program.Jeremy’s 2012,  thought provoking TEDxSMU (Southern Methodist University) raised the interest in the more than 7 million people incarcerated in our jails. He stated that a child who has a parent in prison increases their own odds of going to prison by 70%. Financially the burden costs us $74 billion in corrections. It got participants  attention.

Heather talks about TEDxSMU and the TEDx phenomenon,”a radical opening up of the TED format to local, independently organized events”.

On any given day there are 7-8 TEDx events somewhere in the world. Heather is particularly passionate about TEDx Kids which is gaining in popularity. Kids get to hear from adult TED speakers who value the audience and do not dumb down the content.

We hope you will enjoy watching and join the discussion!

16 Jul 2014

My TEDxSMU Triple Crown

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By Amit Banerjee on July 16, 2014

It all started with a field trip to the TEDxKids@SMU conference in 2011 with my English class. We were enjoying listening to the speakers while relaxing on giant bean bags. Suddenly, I hear this “If any audience members would like to introduce a speaker, please come backstage during the break for an audition.” An opportunity to be on a TEDx stage was not to be missed, so I rushed backstage where I got to meet the then TEDxSMU director Sharon Lyle and the hosts Kelly Stoetzel and Rives. The next thing I knew, I was on the stage introducing Tali Marx. I was exhilarated, couldn’t believe it was happening to me. The lights were on me!
My 2012 TEDxSMU experience was even more incredible. In recognition of my efforts to inspire philanthropy among youth through my magazine “Philanthropy Kids”, I was invited as a speaker to share my ideas that kids can be philanthropists too and that you don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist. On the day of the conference, outwardly, I appeared calm and collected. But 4 minutes before I was to get on stage, my body started shaking, my temperature dropped, I felt like I had amnesia. Lewis Warren played magnificently on the piano and I thought to myself “I have to follow that”. But as soon as I got up on the stage, adrenaline kicked in and I started feeling great. I remembered everything I wanted to say, and I knew that I was going to make a difference in these kids’ lives.
My role has since evolved to one of a Youth Advocate. At the 2013 conference, I helped Public City with their Message in a Bottle project. My job was to encourage every audience member to write a message that would then be put into these bottles and distributed around town. Volunteering was my way of giving back to the organization that brings such wonderful programs to us.

Audience member – check

Presenter – check

Volunteer/Team Member – check
This is what I call the TEDxSMU triple crown.


08 Jul 2014

My First TEDxSMU Experience

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By Heather Hankamer, Director of TEDxSMU & TEDxKids@SMU on July 8, 2014

October 10, 2009 was not a normal Saturday for me. That morning I was making my way to the SMU campus for what I thought was a typical full-day conference. From the first moment I arrived in the Owen Arts Center lobby I knew something was different. As the crowd waited for the theater doors to open there was energy in the conversations going on around me. Even though I only knew a handful of people in the room I felt very much in the company of friends.

That first TEDxSMU produced by Sharon Lyle shaped what I have come to appreciate as the ultimate conference experience. A day, an experience that is for passionate people from all parts of our community whose main goal is to share and spread big ideas.

Since 2009 TEDxSMU has grown and evolved. Not only do we engage our community with year round events like auditions and salons, we have added programs on campus at SMU to engage the next generation of thinkers.

On November 1st in the lobby of the Dallas City Performance Hall you might catch me standing by myself silently observing the conversations and interactions going on around me during a break. I’m reliving that epiphany moment from 2009. That moment when I realized I was lucky to be engaged in a community of passionate thinkers and doers in the city that I love.


01 Jul 2014

Bringing TED to SMU

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By Jim Young on June 29, 2014

High noon.  April 7, 2009.  Gloria’s on Greenville!  It all started there.  Geoffrey Orsak, then Dean of Engineering at SMU Lyle School of Engineering, attended TED 2009, his first TED Conference a month earlier. (I had attended my nineteenth.)
TED Curator Chris Anderson had announced at TED 2009 that TED was authorizing independently organized local TED-like events called TEDx.  The first TEDx ever would be held at University of Southern California in late March 2009.  Geoffrey and I thought that if USC could host such an event, then SMU could as well.  So, we began to plan TEDxSMU and TEDxKids @ SMU.

That afternoon, Geoffrey called Sharon Lyle, who was working in Austin, and invited her to come to Dallas and meet with him.  The following Monday, April 13, she had quit her job and moved to Dallas to become the Executive Director of TEDxSMU and TEDxKids@SMU.  Sharon, who at that time, had never attended a TED Conference, had just six months to plan and put on TEDxSMU and the first ever TEDx conference for youth, TEDxKids@SMU.  And…the rest is history!

Note from the Editor:  TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.”  It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community. Today there are 7,450 organizers all over the world.   There have been 10,228 TEDx events held globally with 777 upcoming events.


12 Jun 2014

My Roller Coaster

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By Howard Goldthwaite on June 12, 2014

Two years ago, I was a finalist for TEDxSMU but I didn’t win. It’s a lot of time and work to compete with all the writing and rehearsing, and you really put yourself out there for people to judge. It’s also a letdown when you don’t win, so I almost didn’t enter this year. But as they say in basketball, you miss 100% of the shots you never take.

If I had known when I applied that this year would set a record of over 170 applicants, I might have talked myself out if it. I figured I’d submit the core concept for my talk and worry about writing it if it got accepted. When I got the news that I was one of 11 finalists, I felt equal amounts of excitement and panic.

I thought about my last audition and realized it probably only appealed to people who were interested in the same things I am. Even though my talk this year was on a similar topic, I tried to give it more universal appeal that would resonate with everyone and offer inspiration to people of all types. I wrote and rewrote, then I rehearsed and rehearsed.

I went in with a few simple guidelines: I didn’t want to copy any other TED talk in any way. I wanted my talk to be uplifting, I wanted the audience to enjoy it, and I wanted to have fun giving it. Maybe that’s why it stood out.

The auditions were very well organized, they were sold out, the other speakers were strong, and the audience was very receptive. Winning was an unforgettable experience. As for the chance to speak at the big TEDxSMU event on November 1, it’s a huge honor. And I can’t wait! Plus, when the crowd is bigger, it’s like a bigger roller coaster to ride.

10 Jun 2014

My 6 Minute Experience

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By Allison Graham on June 9, 2014

Speaking last Thursday evening with a group of some of the top minds in Dallas proved to be a bit more intimidating than I initially realized. Firstly, all of the speakers were such titans in their fields and all had a firm grasp on their topics with several others presenting their ‘talk’ on multiple occasions at other opportunities.

I arrived at the venue a few minutes late, wanting to tweak the last few slides I had before I left the house. I raced into the venue with my USB and nerves gripped tightly in my hand and saw a good-sized crowd milling about. I introduced myself to several of the other presenters. I knew who some of them were because I took the time to research who I would be competing against. I stopped researching after the 5th person when I realized the entrants were some of the best in their respective fields and I wanted to keep my anxiety at a 3 instead of a 10.

As my nerves began to start to tingle and make an attempt to fray I grabbed a glass of wine to keep true to Heather’s main message which was, “to have a good time.” Having some restraint I stuck to the one glass of wine and started to mingle with the crowd before the event started. It was clear that the people in attendance were an incredibly interesting group with various backgrounds and passions.

It seemed, even the audience was packed with a celebrity crowd which activated the part of my mind starving for interesting and cultured people who just so happen to be incredibly friendly and generally excited to be a part of this event.

I was in the second group after the intermission so I had the benefit of listening to some pretty incredible speakers – masters of their ‘talk’. As each speaker made their case and sat down I felt the countdown to my turn.

Finally I got the tap on my shoulder to come on down and get the microphone. ‘Damn’ I thought to myself, I have to hold a microphone and a PowerPoint clicker. As PowerPoint is not my typical means of media, I was nervous I had to literally do two things at the same time – hold a microphone and click to the next slide. I took a deep breath, at least I didn’t have to carry a cafeteria tray – I am notorious for always dropping those when I least expect it.

My turn came to climb the stairs after I was so kindly introduced and the show was on. I chose to speak about a topic that seems to strike a cord with many people – regardless of age, “Social Media Makes Us Unsocial”. The general premise is that the overuse of various social media sites disconnects us from each other and the physical connections we once shared in person. Sparked by my continued notice of families going out to dinner each with their own headphones or distraction device got me to thinking. Are we so disinterested in one another we are isolating even the basic form of human connection which is family?

Narcissism is a plague that is preying on the insecure and we now find 2 generations that have never known a life without a cell phone or some instant connection to a world they may be physically in but mentally gone. No one is looking up and paying attention to the fascinating world around them. Want to know what the stars look like? Instead of looking up, we have an app for that.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Vining, Selfies, where is all of this taking us? We have a false sense of connection because we get constant pinging updates when someone posts something or we join a movement online by ‘liking’ them on Facebook but what are we really doing?

We are mad as hell at so many things but are we marching in the streets? Do we gather in crowds and by our sheer physical numbers make a difference? What are we really doing about any of it? Nothing. We no longer gather in the streets – we click buttons on pages and think somehow that means something.

Participating in TEDxSMU was the best thing I have ever done in my life. I felt electrified by the supportive audience and was humbled to have several people come up to me after the event to share their own social media story about their kids or their life. I was even more humbled when one of the presenters came up to me in the voting section to tell me he voted for me.

Certainly not expecting to win (shared win!) I was quite surprised when they called my name to step out. It was so exhilarating – nothing I have ever felt before.

I knew then and there that come November 1st I would have a presentation that will resonate with many audiences of all ages and raise awareness to explore changes we can implement together to keep us connected in person rather than by screens. In a large sense – use social media to make us personally social, find events that connect us in a real physical sense and not through a Facebook Avatar and impersonal electronic feeds.

I am looking forward most in November to give a real live TEDx Talk and consolidate a message that everyone can relate to and everyone can enjoy. I am excited to speak about Social Self Validation and a more in-depth overview of the social media phenomena and what it is doing to dissolve our connection to one another while making us think the complete opposite.

Having been a key creator of The Blair Witch Marketing Campaign, I know how easy it is to manipulate a global population but I had no idea – just 15 years later – how much we would all be sucked into the screens and away from each other.


Link my buddy Alex said I could use but realized I didn’t have enough time in 6 minutes – it was on Time Magazines website but sums up my topic extremely well:

This YouTube video I saw tonight:

I had not seen the last video link until tonight but am shocked to see 42M hits. I knew I had a topic I felt passionate about but it seems I am not alone – on a global scale.

13 Mar 2014

Spring 2014 Update

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It maybe Spring Break here in Dallas, but the TEDxSMU team is hard at work polishing up the website and planning our next events!

Check out our calendar for the most up-to-date information: TEDxSMU Calendar

Join us for a FREE simulcast of the TED conference from March 17 – 21! Register here: TED Live Tickets

12 Sep 2013

Connect with TEDxSMU!

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Click here to hear our story and connect with TEDxSMU!