4 Questions For A TEDx Organizer

by Kerri Jackson Case (kerri@mudrain.com) 116 views 

Salil Joshi is the founder of TEDxMarkhamSt, which takes place this Friday, July 24th at the CALS Ron Robinson theater in downtown Little Rock.

Talk Business & Politics contributor Kerri Jackson Case caught up with Joshi for a conversation on the upcoming TEDx event.

TB&P: For those unfamiliar with the concept, what is TEDxMarkhamSt?

Salil Joshi: TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local events are branded TEDx, where “X” equals independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

Watch any TED/TEDx video and you are met with an intellectual adrenalin rush, like the feeling that rips through you after a significant accomplishment. Except this time, the thrill is triggered by your imagination rather than a physical accomplishment.

TED and TEDx events are powerful because the organizers like myself, and the staff do not do it for the money or the fame — for which there is neither. We do it to make a difference. We have a passion for the TED mission: “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

TED, a nonprofit organization, has reinvigorated its audience’s appetite for knowledge by devoting itself to spreading ideas. This unique platform gives the audience an opportunity to throw away stereotypes or preconceived notions and appreciate the bigger picture.

TB&P: What made you decide to host this event in Little Rock? Why will people in Central Arkansas be interested? Will this draw visitors to the area?

Joshi: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, I began working with the TED organization in 2010 and co-founded one of the largest annual collegiate TEDx events in the country, TEDxEmory. With over 1,000 annual attendees, TEDxEmory has acted as an educational and networking platform that catalyzes unprecedented community-driven agendas in and around the university.

It is my hope that bringing a TEDx conference to Little Rock will accomplish similar feats for the city, and for the state of Arkansas. Injecting new ideas and honest, open dialogue into large communities is catching on worldwide.

For example, if you are working or in school, finding inspiration is the key to staying creative and generating ideas. As a society, we cannot complete tasks without such ideas, small or big, or without contributing to another individual’s idea. In short, without ideas there would be nothing to work with or on. TED talks benefit the community by serving as a genuine vehicle for learning and engagement in 5 key ways:

  • They gratify our preference for visual learning.
  • They engage the power of social learning.
  • They put practitioners in the role of teachers.
  • They enable self-directed, “just-in-time” learning.
  • They encourage viewers to build on what they already know.

This year’s event has drawn great interest in the Little Rock community, Northwest Arkansas and surrounding states. Selling out in the first year is evidence that the Central Arkansas community was hungry for an intellectually stimulating conference and event.

TB&P: Who will be speaking? What will they talk about?

Joshi: TEDxMarkhamSt Speakers and Performers include:

  • Minnijean Brown-Trickey: “Nonviolence Is…”
  • Karama Neal, PhD: “The Most Important Question for Promoting Social Change”
  • Celia Anderson: “Basketball: My Defining Moment. What’s Yours?”
  • Erica Swallow: “Building a World of Unstoppables”
  • Curtis Lowery, M.D.: “Using Technology to Form a Connected Healthcare System”
  • Stephen Canon, M.D.: “The Rolling Stones of Healthcare”
  • First Lieutenant Omon Fitzgerald “Fitz” Hill, USATC: “Putting the Neighbor Back-in-the-Hood! An Action Plan for a Civil Responsibility Movement in Challenged Communities”
  • James L. “Skip” Rutherford III, Dean: “Little Rock: Right Turns/Wrong Turns”
  • P. Allen Smith: “The End of Choice: Why Diversity Matters if Food Choice is Important to You”
  • Charles Morgan: “Things Learned the Hard Way About Being an Entrepreneur”
  • Anthony C. Johnson: “Innovation Without Invention”
  • Cotton Rohrscheib: “Biting the Hand that Feeds Us”
  • I. Barry Goldberg: “The Economics of Listening”
  • Lynnette Watts: “What Do You Know?”
  • Epiphany Morrow: “But Do They Pay Rent Though: My Life. My Stories. Our Fears.”
  • Reese Rowland: “Experiential Architecture for Children: Designing on a Bent Knee”
  • Chris James: “How I Overcame the Odds and Created a Career Out of Art”

TB&P: What speaker are you most excited about?

Joshi: I am excited for every speaker. I have taken the time to get to know each speaker on a personal and professional level. Each speaker will bring an exciting and thought-provoking talk to this year’s conference.