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TedxMileHigh 2012 “Risk Rewards”

June 4, 2012 2 comments
TedxMileHigh emcee Jeremy Duhon

TedxMileHigh emcee Jeremy Duhon

TedxMileHigh was this Saturday and I know everyone who went would agree it was an incredible experience. I feel so fortunate to have heard all of these stories from the amazing Coloradans and Colorado businesses. To those of you lucky enough to attend, I know you’re attacking this week with renewed zeal with the volume on your heart turned all the way up like I am (yes, that’s a reference to the riveting slam poetry champ finale from Ken Arkind, Bobby Lefbre, and Theo Wilson).

The theme of this year’s conference was Risk Rewards. Maybe some of you–like those of you who are always have a pair of skis, some camping gear, and climbing ropes in the athletic salad that is your Subaru’s trunk–think you know what it could have been about. But, no, it wasn’t about the thrill of climbing Long’s, it was about the leaps of faith–big or small–that we can all take everyday to change our lives, our communities, or the world. Whether its finding a new job that makes you happier or supporting women’s rights in Israel.

Some of my favorite talks were…

Natalie Baumgartner (from RoundPegg) on “fit.” Natalie is a psychologist who has made a career of studying culture fit and currently works for RoundPegg. I was surprised to find out that a staggering 49% of new hires fail and 89% of the time it’s because they were not a culture fit. Changing jobs is a dramatic change for both the employees and the companies hiring them–both are taking a risk and hoping for the best. Natalie talked about the absolute necessity of ensuring that you are happy at your work by taking to time to ensure the place you want to work reflects and encourages your natural disposition and talents. She explained that, by the time we start our first careers jobs our personalities are established so we shouldn’t try to cram ourselves into a someone else’s box in order to “get by” at work. We spend the majority of our day and lives at work, so find the place that brings out the best in you. Leaving your current job might seem like a precarious step, but “it’s a greater risk to stay where you don’t fit,” as Natalie said. She found that companies that take the time to ensure that their employees mesh with the true culture of the company were six times more profitable and that the employees were much more likely to be happy and more loyal to the company.

Ryan Martens (from Rally Software) on bring your values to your work. When someone asks you how you’re doing, you should be saying “I’m doing well and good*.” Ryan gave and persuasive talk in investing in social enterprise, harnessing the power of business in order to create social change. Using your work as an outlet for your values, which should go hand in hand. He did a fantastic job in outlining the ways in which businesses can take simple steps to applying these steps in order to ensure that you’re getting the most fulfillment out of your work. (*Does anyone else always think of this skit when someone asks them?)

Adam Lerners from MCA and Mixed Tastes (formally The Lab). Adam gave an entertaining talk on his journey to work for the MCA and to create the internationally recognized Mixed Tastes lectures series.  Like others, he talked about the shift from wanting working towards the desire to impress others with a lifetime worth of intellectual accolades, to doing things for himself that matched his own interests— and how the latter brought him much more joy. Dropping the routine of semi-pretentious art talks of abstract ideas and obscure artists, Adam accepted a lecture series request from Belmar (a new suburban district being developed in Lakewood, Colorado) and decided to have a creative discussion on two completely unrelated topics. Like “Andy Warhol & Artificial Lighting” or “Bananas Foster & Emily Dickinson.” The program slowly generated more and more popularity while the Adam and his team felt like it was just fun. For example they started a series called “MISHUGAS!” that were recorded interviews of Adam’s Aunt Mirim and gags like offering gigantic sacks of rubble “free to new members!” Eventually the Mixed Tastes was being discussed nationally in the New York Times and had a joint project featured at the Pompidou Center in Paris. It goes to show, the reward can become so much more than the risk.

Of course there were too many good talks to describe in depth here, and I can’t do them justice anyway….Woody Roseland‘s fluidly motivational reflection on surviving cancer five times. Very moving philanthropic stories from Jeremy Bloom, Jessica Posner, and Laura Merage. An incredible violin performance from Kayvon Coffey and a musical performance from Gregory Alan Isakov, to name a few more.

Towards the end the atmosphere was so electrifying and momentum was building up so much so that we couldn’t help but give robust applause and rise from our chairs after each new speaker, the event capping off with the heart-stopping joint-performance from the three poetry slammers I mentioned at the top of this post.

I encourage you all to watch the videos of the lecturers that should be posted in the coming weeks. But in the mean time, just remember that the little positive changes in your life can compound to make big differences:

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