TED in Denver

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TED Talks have been sparking interesting conversations since 1984 and, two weekends ago, Denver was host to the locally produced TEDxMileHigh, a regional spin-off of the larger TED program. The seminars originally focused on technology, education and design (TED) and have expanded to cover a wide range of fascinating topics. TEDxMileHigh organizers described the program as a showcase of “Colorado’s maverick thinkers and doers, risk-takers, athletes, entrepreneurs and innovators, activists for the environment, humanitarians and many more extraordinary people…”

At TEDxMileHigh, I was thrilled to spend a little time on Friday speaking at the Youth event focused on “kids” between the ages of 13 to 22. Presenters shared various viewpoints related to “Denver 2.0,” which was about our vision for the future of Denver and this region. As you can imagine, some of my discussion emphasized the importance of education as we try to create the economically vibrant future we all envision and, while I wasn’t the kind of person you would expect to see on the same stage as the slam poets Ken Arkind, Bobby Lefebre and Theo Wilson, it was fun to see how similar our messages about risk and reward can be.

My final message to this audience was about the importance of taking risks. In particular, I recalled some advice I received as a young girl: Know the difference between “loss” and “regret.” A loss is something we experience when we don’t get something we wanted—something we even worked hard to attain. It might be that we didn’t make the sports team or we didn’t get a job we really wanted. We get over losses. We talk about those losses with friends and move beyond them (often to an even greater opportunity). In contrast, regret is when we don’t go for something because we fear we may fail. Regret will eat away at you. My advice was always go for the win and deal with the loss. No regrets.

Then on Saturday, TedxMileHigh continued with this “Risk & Reward” theme. Presenters included psychologist Natalie Baumgartner, who talked about how to find your “fit” in the workplace; Woody Roseland, an inspiring young man who has survived cancer five times; Adam Lerner, director and chief animator for the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver who has to have the best sense of humor of anybody in the region; entrepreneurs Ryan Martens and Kimbal Musk; and many more. These engaging individuals all come from different backgrounds and perspectives, but the common theme was that in great risk comes great reward.

I left energized and excited about the people in Colorado working so hard to make a difference in so many areas of our lives. The presentation I was involved with on Saturday was about food—we ate on stage in front of those 1,500 people in the audience. The Kitchen provided the food—I assure you, it was delicious. What was even cooler, though, is that the only person at the table I knew was Mayor Hancock. With the others, we were just getting to know each other. The participants were Hugo Matheson of The Kitchen; Mayor Hancock; Allen Lim, trainer to Lance Armstrong and other cyclists; and Bianca Griffith, executive director of Sante Natural; and the discussion was moderated by Jeremy Duhon, who represented TEDxMileHigh.

It was a simple exercise in how easy it is to find things we have in common, to see shared values emerge and to enjoy each other’s company (even in front of a whole bunch of folks). I love Colorado for this camaraderie—how open and honest we are with each other no matter who is watching.

TEDxMileHigh is an ideal event for Denver and Colorado, because this region is a place where people are eager to learn from each other and to share their knowledge. Collaboration and innovation are common themes in the daily lives of Coloradans and, risk and reward is something we truly do value. It was uplifting to hear from so many smart people at this event and to exchange ideas that can spark movement and action.


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