Karen and me at TEDx Phoenixville's Friday pre-party.

Karen and me at TEDx Phoenixville’s Friday pre-party.

Heidi:

On Friday and Saturday, Karen and I attended the TEDx Phoenixville events.  This included the pre-party on Friday night and the actual talks on Saturday.  I had a minor set-back on Thursday in which I hurt my back, so I was moving a little slow to say the least.  Against my parents’ will, I decided to attend the events anyway if I promised not to drive.  There were a couple of things that I did that enhanced my experience.

The first being research who the speakers are.   For me, this was akin to listening to the CD of a band before going to their concert.  It is so much more enjoyable for me when I know a little bit about what they do and have done in the past so that I have context for their performance.  I looked at their bios on the TEDx Phoenixville website and then did some further researching on their individual websites and youtube.

The second thing I did to enhance my experience was reach out to the speakers.  After researching them, I emailed all whom I could find contact information for.  This served two purposes, it let them know that I was interested in their work and it gave me motivation and reason to go up to them in person at the events on Friday and Saturday.  Unfortunately, because of my back, I was late to both events and could not meet every speaker that I planned to.  This makes me even more determined to not only go again next year and try to connect with more people, but also to network in other places in my life.  I’ve been bit by the networking bug.   Although I didn’t get to meet all the speakers I wanted to, I still met a wide variety of intelligent, exuberant, people who were inspiring in their own right.

The third thing I did to enhance my experience was take every opportunity that was presented to me on Friday and Saturday.   At the pre-party on Friday, there was a wall lined with balloons intended for picture taking.  Karen and I were offered the opportunity to get ours done and we both went without a question.  We picked up some props that were on the ground next to the balloons including hats, fake mustaches, and boxing gloves.   We weren’t afraid of looking silly and it sure paid off (see picture above).  On Saturday, I was offered the opportunity to go up to meet with all of the other students who were in attendance at the talks.  With a bit of hesitation at first, I went up and met a great group of students who were just as fascinated by the talks as I was.  This excites me for future TED talks and gatherings like this one.

I am so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to attend TEDx Phoenixville and am grateful for its intensely positive impact on me.  Sign me up for next year!

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