TEDxCMU

I think I am now addicted to inspiration.

Today's TEDxCMU event featured speakers ranging from entrepreneurs to artists to musicians to writers. Actually, most (if not all) of them fell into more than one of those categories. In order of appearance:

Jonathan Fields A former attorney turned author, blogger, and entrepreneur, his talk (according to my own informal poll) was a audience favorite. The three questions he says to ask yourself when considering whether to pursue something you want yet fear:

  1. What happens if you fail, and how will you recover?
  2. What happens if you do nothing?
  3. What happens if you succeed?

Hint: the second option most often leads to a life of quiet desperation and lifelong regrets.

MK Haley A 16-year Walt Disney Imagineer, she recently joined the faculty at the Entertainment Technology Center at CMU. Apparently, she got tired of working for The Mouse. Key takeaways from her talk:

  1. Nap your way to success!
  2. What would happen if we all supported each others' ideas instead of shooting them down to stoke our own egos? Innovation, that's what.
  3. Never eat lunch alone.
  4. Thank your role models.
  5. Be a role model.

Jackson Chu This Carnegie Mellon freshman studies design (woo!) and gave a stirring performance playing two pieces on a Chinese violin-like instrument called an erhu.

RF Culbertson An entrepreneur and professor at the Tepper School of Business at CMU, he gave a  valuable and entertaining talk on the importance of personal investing. His closing remarks, delivered in rap form, ended with this parting advice: Don't "should" all over yourself.

Nathan Martin This punk/metal rocker turned suit-wearing CEO of Deeplocal Inc. delivered some of the best messages of the day:

  1. Think like an amateur
  2. Think like a deviant
  3. Solve problems without technology if possible

Yes to all three!

Chris Guillebeau A traveling writer, he is living the dream, as far as I am concerned. His talk was great, but I confess I spent much of it trying to figure out how to pull a John Malkovich on him so that I could live his life. I think he said not to pet crocodiles, but if you do, be sure to download a permission slip first. Err, I probably should have paid closer attention.

DS Company Carnegie Mellon student organization Dancers' Symposium entertained the audience with a modern dance number that involved a lot of arm waving and hairography.

Stacey Monk The founder of nonprofit startup Epic Change, Stacey shared a very personal life lesson that changed her trajectory from that of a power-seeking corporate leader to a proud follower - I want to say empowerer - of people who are doing amazing things in their communities with few resources.

Chase Jarvis This photographer, director, and social artist has an impressive body of work that speaks for itself. His main message: share your ideas. You benefit from implementing others' ideas anyway, so help the symbiosis happen.

For more detailed info, see the live notes posted by a blogger who was sitting next to me in the media room. (In case you're wondering, my media job was to take photos during the breaks for the school paper.)

I also enjoyed getting to know my seat neighbor, who is a traveling yoga DJ. He drives all over the country, booking gigs at studios and building his own business from the ground up. Talk about fearless!