Reflections on TEDxAFC – Pt. 1

Speaker Yasmin Zahra (Dairkee) Shah w/family and friends
Chief Executive Officer at SeenADriver I Division of Seenager, Inc.

Of all the speakers from 2014, right at the moment, Yasmin Shah resonates the most as my mother is alone in a nursing home in Maine. I am also feeling the loss of a “village” (or even “villages?”) after the isolation of COVID. Her talk corresponds with a few of the topics identified at the July 14th, 2022 Initial Transformation Discussion (more about that to come in Pt 2):

  • Building a Sustainable Legacy
  • Heart-Based Service
  • Civic collaboration
  • Diversity
  • Inner Empowerment

TEDx events are not just watching a bunch of inspirational speakers (though that is a key element!). It is far more about community.

– My reflection…

This story doesn’t really begin in 2014 though. It began in 2011 when I began working with TEDxAFC as the (volunteer) video producer. Subsequently, having been the video producer/editor, then director, then organizer of TEDx events over the course of nearly a decade, I cultivated a unique point of view about TEDx events, ideas worth spreading, and the power of appreciation.

I am compelled to tell some of the stories behind our events because honoring those experiences means expressing appreciation for all of the many amazing folks involved along the way. Throughout I received multiple gifts; learning and growing with a group of incredibly talented people (and witnessing their evolution since that time), earning the respect of local citizens that, frankly, I did not imagine even meeting before that time, garnering wisdom by listening to talks over and over as a result of what seemed like an arduous editing process at the time, leadership successes and oversights, relationship building 🥳 (or burning 😣) and, well, I am sure the list could go on.

Warning – Digression > To start with, I am eternally grateful to have quite accidentally fallen in with the TEDxAmericasFinestCity community through volunteering on a fundraiser for Team Rubicon in 2011 (whom I hold dear to my heart). I was lucky to volunteer with them at a local event recently (Greenville, CA) and found that they take civic as well as veteran volunteers now 🤘👷. I encourage you to check them out.

Where the lodge once stood in the historic village of Greenville, CA
Stacking 150+ year old bricks to save and repurpose in the new masonic lodge

Just as there was a rich history in Greenville, in particular of community, there is a rich history of TEDxAmericasFinestCity’s community that began over a decade ago. For me, it really came into full swing in 2013 when I became Co-Director alongside Amber Brandner and Thanasi Glavas.

2013 was the first year of true learning for me. I have a vivid recollection of participating in the brainstorming sessions that were held by Nathan Young with the purpose of collectively landing on a theme. There were upwards of 20+ in the room, the majority of whom were 10 years younger yet 10 years more educated in this space than I. Not surprisingly I still brought my back history and my coaching perspective to the table, insisting that we “rehearse” cold calls for sponsorship. People got on board. What I did not recognize at the time is that, yes, the fact that happened was part a reflection of my headstrong nature… but also and, moreover, the openness and inclusiveness that was natural to this group of people. Something I honestly became completely spoiled by.

Warning Digression #2 – Out of those sessions, the theme of the “New Narrative” emerged. This made sense following the previous year’s theme, “Renaissance”. After all, after a rebirth, doesn’t one need a new story? Post the TEDx event Nathan even carried this torch forward with his project, “The New Narrative”. It’s been great to be an enthusiastic spectator of his journey. Here he is in 2019 at Creative Mornings in San Diego.

As you may note, it is impossible to talk about TEDxAFC without giving a nod to the context and the people connected to its development…

Sooo… We got through 2013 – almost with flying colors. Except for that freakish Santa Ana that blew through carrying 90-degree temperature. Wouldn’t be an event without some complications lol 🥵🥵. Super fun in a raw warehouse space 😖. And despite this many people offered kudos for having held such an accessible community-based event 🥳🤗.

Brant Cooper; Author, “Disruption Proof”, “The Lean Entrepreneur”. The Lean Entrepreneur cruises at 50,000 feet with a view of the context we are operating in today’s economy…”
-Scott Case, CEO, Startup America Partnership
Painting in the break area. The vibe here really reflected the flavor of the Barrio-Logan San Diego urban neighborhood complete with skate ramp, painting, and great music. We had Brazilian-inspired food for lunch and everyone, from all walks of life, mingled and chatted.
Kim Woozy; entrepreneur, community leader, and advocate in the skateboarding community. Founder of MAHFIA.TV,  Women’s Skateboarding Alliance (WSA)Quit Your Day Job FilmThe Skate Exchange Tokyo, Skate Like a Girl, and Slmbr Party. In 2019, she advocated for California State Bill AB 467 (Equal Pay for Equal Play). 

Below I have listed just a couple of great speakers that have made a significant impact on the history of San Diego as well as the world at large. The full lineup can be viewed here.

In conclusion regarding 2013, not going to lie, setting up the entire raw warehouse space and all the logistics involved was a STRESSFUL situation. Many thanks go out to Christina Glavas for SAVING me with the PPT situation.

With that said, my biggest takeaway from that unrelenting and unforgiving day was when Reid Carr walked up and complimented me on my ability to keep smiling and staying positive in what was clearly a stressful experience. “Ahh, somebody noticed 🤩.” That meant 1000% to me. Funny how just a few words… Next: onto 2014.

END PT 1. PT 2 – 2014.

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