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Share: Valuable Nuggets from TEDxTC


For those of you who aren't familiar with TED, at its most basic, TED is a nonprofit dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading. Back in 1984, TED got its start as a conference focused on bringing people together from the Technology, Entertainment and Design sectors. TED has since broadened its scope and has also made more than 900 of the best talks available at for free, where more talks are added weekly. Through the TEDx program, communities, organizations and individuals plan and coordinate TED-like events independently.

This past weekend, TEDx organizers worldwide hosted nearly 100 TEDxYouth events. In St. Paul, Minnesota, TEDxTC focused its event on mentors and the youth they inspire, supported by four speakers: engineering professor AnnMarie Thomas, social entrepreneur Greg Tehven, project maverick Solome Tibebu and everyday hero John Turnipseed.

All the speakers inspired the audience through personal stories. AnnMarie Thomas stressed the importance kids using their hands to become makers. Admitting that despite his successful career he had lost himself, Greg Tehven presented lessons he learned along the path toward rediscovering his identity. Solome Tibebu courageously shared her personal challenges in dealing with anxiety and what she did to help herself and other anxiety sufferers. John Turnipseed described his troubled life and what it took for him to transcend his family's destructive legacy.  

The theme for this TedxTC event was Play, Learn, Build & Share. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I found valuable.


  • For kids to play with their hands and use real tools, explained AnnMarie Thomas, is important for them to develop into the next generation of "makers." Thomas cited examples of successful designers, engineers and innovators, all of whose child-size hands were comfortable with shovels, hammers or screwdrivers. One way Thomas suggests we can develop future makers is to give each child a screwdriver for play and exploration. (See Thomas's talk about using play dough to demonstrate electrical properties here.)

  • Greg Tehven took a sabbatical—retired, actually, from his position with Students Today Leaders Forever, the organization he helped create—in order to rediscover his true self. He traveled in Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Kuala Lumpur and West Africa. Through his travels, he was able to connect with people, to relax and to have fun. One lesson Tehven learned through his experience: Planning isn't always necessary. Being open to possibility and being comfortable with not always knowing one's purpose can lead to experiences more rewarding than you can plan for or imagine.


  • AnnMarie Thomas stressed that in order to learn problem solving and innovation skills, kids need to experience creative, open-ended play that fosters confidence and knowledge required for measured risk-taking and inevitable failure that precedes success.

  • Greg Tehven outlined what he learned during his year exploring the essence of his identity: One is not merely one's accomplishments; one cannot rely only on oneself; planning isn't always necessary; service means doing little things daily; and letting go of perfection leads to self-acceptance.

  • Solome Tibebu explained that learning about and understanding her disorder helped her deal with it. Wanting other anxiety sufferers to share that comfort of understanding, Tibebu created, a source where teens and families can find accurate information, hopeful inspiration and a supportive community surrounding anxiety disorders. One in five people, reported Tibebu, will suffer from a severe anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

  • Seeming to seek a modicum of understanding regarding his past felonious behaviors, John Turnipseed explained, "Hurt People hurt people." Turnipseed wanted the audience to learn that a little bit of care and kindness can go a long way. "People can do amazing things," he imparted, "when someone's got their back."


  • AnnMarie Thomas asserted that designing requires experience building something and taking something apart. Legos, she cautioned, don't provide for innovation opportunities because all the pieces fit.

  • The impetus for Solome Tibebu to build a web site began with an "aha moment" she experienced working with a therapist and that was further realized during a summer camp experience.

  • It has been the kindness and caring of others for him—more than his education—on which John Turnipseed has built his success.


  • Via a video, Richard St. John shared 8 keys to success: having a passion, combining work + fun (work-a-frolics), being good at what you do, focusing, pushing yourself, serving others, developing ideas and being persistent.

  • Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos, via a video, shared that every little act of generosity and kindness, grace and courage matters. "Don't wait to start making a difference," Bezos urged.

  • John Turnipseed's final message was to share hope: "Be a hope dealer."

Overall, TEDxTC's Play, Learn, Build & Share event offered plenty of inspiration, motivation and food for thought. When video from this event becomes available, I will update this post with a link.

Update: You can watch John Turnipseed's TEDxTC talk here and Greg Tehven's talk here.

2nd Update: Solome Tibebu's TEDxTC talk is now available online.

Those of you who attended the event, what insights did you gain? What struck you as memorable and important? And if you didn't attend the event, what here has piqued your interest? Comment below or connect with me on twitter.