If you would have told me back on that August day of 2009 when Charlie Wollborg first called me, Terry Bean, to tell me were putting on a TED event in Detroit I’d be writing this review 14 years later, I would have told you no flipping way man. Charlie and I don’t have the sustained attention span to keep something rocking for that long. So who would have thought TEDx Detroit 2022 would be the 14th one.
And yet here we are.
I can tell you that it’s the diversity of it all that keeps me engaged.
I’m not talking about diversity as the buzzword it is today (and there was tons of references to and examples of it yesterday). I’m talking about the multitude of things that make up the event, topics that are on the stage AND people in the audience.
It’s really like taffy for your brain. There’s just SOOOOOOOO much going on.
Let’s start with the arrival experience
We dodged a serious issue since we had a hybrid indoor/outdoor event. On Sunday my weather app showed a 92% chance of rain on Wednesday. This was after I’ve been touting “it never rains on a TEDx Detroit day” to the board for weeks. And while it definitely rained before the event, it wasn’t raining much, if at all, during the day.
This is especially important to note since picking up the badges was an outside “under the tent” kind of experience. Fortunately we had plenty of capable volunteers to help get the folks all badged up. And to those who didn’t get their fancy lanyard, we’re very sorry that we ran out. That’s a blessing and a curse.
Once folks got their badge they were able to walk through TEDx Labs/Marketplace. This is a very cool spot that was curated by Anu Gopalakhrishnan. We had about 50 tables and there was everything from locally made tea, and cool Detroit hoodies to a bug exhibit, a live painter, and lots of cool tech including an AR video game and an even a solar power car that U of M students built and drove from California to New York.
There really was something for everyone there.
And if you didn’t like that, there will be plenty of folks hanging out the in the Aretha Franklin Jazz Cafe sipping coffee and chilling before the big day. There’s was tons of conversations and it seemed like plenty of old friends reconnected and new friendships were made.
The BIG TEDx in Detroit show started promptly at 9:30
I’m not able to give a recount of every single talk, because I didn’t see all of them. I will certainly highlight what I saw and share the list. I’ll also include all of the talent that hit the stage and do so in order so you can try to find them in this epic 8 hour live stream of the event (note there are 3 hours of breaks in the video).
The first act to take the stage was “Afro Moone”. She came out and played some “singing bowls” to help us set the intention for the day. You can see/hear about 30 seconds of that video HERE on my FB.
Next up was the fabulous Renee Walker who encouraged us to “burn bridges”. Definitely a unique take on some classic advice.
The President of the Music Hall (our venue) took the stage next. His talk started with a great video about all the amazing acts the Music hall has hosted and moved into the work he and other theater district folks have done since he arrived in 2006. Vince is a solid dude and great presenter who left us with a great impression of the future at the end of his talk.
Mujeeb Ijaz followed that and gave an incredible talk that traversed the history and future of electric vehicles. Did you know electric vehicles were a big thing back in 1910? They were growing right up until 1939. Mujeeb and his team at Our Next Energy are working on building a battery that will travel for ONE THOUSAND miles.
The next act was pure delight. There had to be a dozen folks from Triple 7 Magazine Roller Skating Experience out there getting their skate on. Such a weird and wonderful thing to see in such an iconic theater. It was so fun. How fun? Watch about 30 seconds of it HERE on my LinkedIn post. Of course I cut the video off before the ridiculously super cool stuff happened.
My pal Steve Lowisz from Qualigence International was up next. Steve delivered an exceptional TED talk that was tied to leadership and the subtle different between trying to inspire people and manipulate them. The distinction: Wanting something from people as opposed to wanting something for them.
Tim Finkel followed Steve. I didn’t catch all of Tim’s talk but it started in a most interesting way. Tim is a comedian and wanted to talk about grief. Not a super funny topic but judging from the crowd’s reaction it seemed to work.
Quinton Robinson came up after Tim with his first of 3 performances that day. That’s a TEDxDetroit first. I got back stage for the final 12 seconds of it to notice him wheeling off a steel drum. Rats!! I love the steel drum!
Unfortunately Kwaku Osei messaged he wasn’t feeling well Tuesday evening. So he passed on attending. We did get an email from his Wednesday afternoon that it is NOT covid.
Next up was Detroit area legend, Andy Didorosi. This guys is a trip who thinks REALLY big. He gave 10 tips on being a social media influencer. Then he added an 11th to forget everything he just said and go out be you!
My buddy Benji Rosenzweig and his daughter were up next. Ellah suffers from a rare disease as a result of being born without the bridge between hemispheres in your brain. Benji showed how they used music to help understand her non-verbal communications. Check out the 15 second clip on Benji’s instagram. This talk absolutely made my day. Love their family so much!!
Lunch and Labs
The first act ended almost as quickly as it started. At 11 (ish) we moved to phase 2. A nice two hour break from the action where folks could explore food from 4 great Detroit area food trucks:
- Coranados Southwest Tacos
- The Lobster Food Truck
- The sidekick from Hero Or Villian Sandwiches
There was a lot more fun and shopping to be had in labs too. If you’re looking for some cool art, check out the fractal work my friend does HERE.
Act 2 for TEDx Detroit fired back up at 1 p.m.
I was a little late getting back into my seat so I missed Deon Forrest the session opener.
I did get back to see local celebrities Roop Raj and Huel Perkins share an exquisite talk on mentoring. They have known each other since Roop was 14 and first told Huel he wanted to see more people who looked like him anchoring the news. 20+ years later, Huel recommended Roop take his spot on his retirement. So cool.
Sarah Welch spoke next. Sarah was a competitor on Bravo network’s “Top Chef” and is the chef at Marrow. I was in transit for most of her talk but again…based on audience reaction, it went well.
Michael Angelo Caruso got on stage and talked about what he learned while being in an 80s hairband. Michael is a presentation coach and gives a ton of great tips on his YouTube channel.
Quinton Robinson came up for a 2nd act performance and I think it was spoken word with some rap. I may be totally wrong. Dangit. LoL
Justin Turk gave an important presentation about STEM, Construction and the need for more African Americans in both.
I didn’t see all of Gail Perry Mason’s presentation but what I saw, I loved. I will definitely be digging it out of that video. For reference sake, she takes the stage at about 4:28:30 into the aforementioned video.
Daniel Martin had the longest talk of the day. But it was fitting because he had a lot of magic to pull off. He had to help someone read someone else’s mind AND make them disappear. It was a most fascinating moment. Might as well watch that after you’re done watching Gail’s talk 😉
Mike Geeter is a stand up comic who also lost his mother. He shared about being accepted into a program with Kevin Hart to do comedy shortly after his mother passed and being so bummed he didn’t get to tell her.
Stefan Tongur may have won the cool tech talk for the day. They’ve created a road that, get this, will recharge your car. Detroit had the first paved mile in the country over 100 years ago. Next year they’ll have the first road you can drive on to recharge your EV. How’s that for cool?
My girl Princess Castleberry came out on that stage like she was 7 foot tall which is impressive for someone who claims to be 4’10 (I’m thinking with shoes on). She lit up the place with her talk on breaking bad agreements. So powerful and a great way to close the second set.
Set 3 started at 3:30 and ran for 2 hours
We started with an introduction of the people who put this little shindig on.
After that monumental moment that lasted like 4 minutes, it was time for the first act to take the stage.
And I’m happy to report that first act was none other than the good Dr. Paula Ruffin. She gave an empowering talk about the silver bullet of wellness. Turns out there is one. Her talk is at about 6:11;20 in the video.
Due to celebrating the success of the Doctor’s talk I didn’t catch any of Sydney Davis’s talk. She looked great and ready behind stage.
I also missed the majority of Rochelle Riley’s talk. What I saw looked like a great lesson in teaching ALL the history of our country…but keeping it positive. Not for the purpose of more division, but more equity.
Jon Rimanelli came up next. I missed that too. BUT I know he gave a talk in 2017 and shared his vision for a passenger drone. His talk in 2022 showed his passenger drone as seen below. I know he closed a pretty awesome contract the night before.
Big Strick came out and dropped some conscious rap on us. I love conscious rap. We bonded after the show talking about KRS-One.
My buddy Ian Prukner came out and just spit fire about the idea of how we all have an equilibrium and we tend to settle back into what we’re used to. Good news, we can change our equilibrium.
Craig Degenfelder and Neil Dreisig from consumer’s energy shared something that was likely really cool. Evidently I watched a LOT more of sets 1 and 2 than 3 😉
I did catch a few minutes of Jacob Barr’s talk. I believe he said he was born with 7 different maladies. The obvious one was his hands/arms look different than most. He also mentioned being born without a butthole. Seemed like an amazing young man and had such composure.
I don’t have a guess on what Dion Walcott spoke on and I’m guessing it was great.
Quinton Robinson nailed the hat trick with a magic act. It was REALLY good. He’s a smooth cat and I’m looking forward to learning more about Flint STEAM Society soon.
I caught the last few moments of Jenny Feterovich’s and liked what I heard. Her wife is from Ukraine and Jenny is from Russia. They’ve been building bridges throughout those communities.
I really enjoyed Aya Waller-Bey’s talk about college admissions especially for minorities. She told a story about her essay being written about what she enjoyed. She was coached that would be good enough for U of M, but not the other schools she applied to. She then wrote about coming home to having a police raid. That gained her acceptance at top shelf schools everywhere. That’s jacked up. She’s super cool and was a great closing act for TEDx Detroit.
There were plenty of great talks that will make my highlight reel once the videos come out (hoping before year end). If you can’t wait to watch some cool stuff, check out this retrospective about my past favorites a couple of weeks ago.
When I had the idea to write this, I didn’t think the review would take 3 hours to write and be over 2100 words. I can write that as I’m sure nobody is still reading at this point. LoL If you did comment with your favorite moment of TEDx Detroit 2022.
And so you know, we’re already talking about how to make next year even better.