TEDx Toledo offers variety of speakersWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
A renowned doctor, a teenage poet, a 12-year-old app developer and a flutist are just a few of the different people speaking at TEDx Toledo on Sept. 20.
About 20 people from various professions will offer ideas with the theme of “You Will Do Better.” The TEDx talks, occurring all over the world, are based on TED, a nonprofit that hosts 18-minute or less talks with the theme of “Ideas Worth Spreading” at its website. Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert are some of the speakers who have appeared.
Will Lucas, the local entrepreneur behind Creadio and thankyouaga.in, decided to organize the Toledo version of the event as a way to connect different industries.
“[TEDx is] bringing the brightest minds and best ideas together in one room,” Lucas said. He got the “You Will Do Better” idea from a sign he saw.
About a year ago, Lucas applied to host the event. After being approved, he formed a committee of five other community members, including Ashley Mirakian, the director of marketing and public relations at the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.
“We’re all in it because we love the concept. We love the idea,” she said.
Part of what Mirakian likes is the pace of TEDx events. “It’s like going to school but in short snippets,” she said. “It’s like continuing education for the Internet generation.”
Mirakian’s favorite TED talk is from Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, who discussed work/life balance.
“It was hugely inspiring and it was five minutes and I had something to think about for the next hour and a half,” she said.
Lucas’ favorite was Apple founder Steve Jobs’ famous Stanford University commencement speech, which was made available at TED.com. In it, Jobs famously said, “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Lucas also attended TEDx talks in Bowling Green and Detroit, which he found inspiring.
“We have a wide range of the best Toledo has to offer,” Lucas said. “We picked people who had incredible stories in the first place.”
“We sat down as a committee, and said, ‘Who is doing cool stuff around here?’ A lot of it was word-of-mouth,” Mirakian said. The committee also tried to get speakers of all ages and jobs.
Although the theme “You Will Do Better” is focused on Toledo, speakers have a lot of freedom. The speakers include Dr. Blair Grubb, director of cardiac electrophysiology at the University of Toledo Medical Center, who also wrote “The Calling,” based on the relationships between doctors and patients. Chef Michael Bulkowski, who used to run Revolver, a renowned Findlay restaurant that was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, will also speak, in addition to Jonathan Buchanan, a local kid who developed an app to help teach basic math concepts. Karen Ranney Wolkins, the executive director of the Toledo Botanical Garden, Anneliese Grytafey, the director of strategic initiatives for the Regional Growth Partnership and runner Matt Folk are among the other speakers.
Ryan Bunch, the performing and literary arts coordinator for the Arts Commission, plans to talk about how being encouraged to live as a global community may actually have negative effects.
Bunch, also a TED fan, said he is excited about the “You Will Do Better” theme.
“For me personally, it has been a theme of my life over the last 10 years, of finding yourself in a community like this and making your place special,” he said.
Like TED talks, the Toledo event will stream online. Check www.toledo.com on Sept. 20 for more information. It costs $100 to attend TEDx in person. Although there is an application to be in the audience, Mirakian said anyone who is interested should be accepted. TEDx Toledo is 1:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Health Care REIT Headquarters, 4500 Dorr St., Toledo. For more information, visit http://tedxtoledo.com/. There will be an afterparty at Ottawa Tavern.