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.

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