Wings Are Just a Detail – Lex Gillette at TEDxSanDiego 2016

With your eyes closed, imagine your highest potential. What does that look like? But more importantly, how do you get there?

“Sometimes in life, we’re afraid to take that shot in the dark,” says Lex Gillette.

For Gillette, dark has a different meaning than most. As a young boy he began losing his eyesight at the age of eight, which he eventually lost completely.

Despite this lack of sight, Gillette imagines himself “running, jumping, flying.” He’s holding an American flag on a medal stand where he’s winning gold, silver and bronze medals. He imagines himself “flying as far as (his) mind would carry (him).”

And that’s just what he has done. Gillette is now a four-time Paralympian and medalist who has four silver medals for the long jump, and is the only totally blind athlete to soar more than 22 feet in the long jump.

Gillette regaled the audience with stories of his triumphs at both the Paralympics and World Championships, which he said were a direct result of taking shots in the dark.

“Even in the blackest of blackest nights … never be afraid to take a shot in the dark.”

Lex Gillette Website

Lex Gillette on Twitter

Lex Gillette on Facebook

Simple LIne Break

Innovation Beyond Borders – Regina Bernal at TEDxSanDiego 2016

There has been a lot of recent attention on borders and building walls.

But the border area separating San Diego and Baja California, also known as the CaliBaja Mega-Region, deserves attention for a very different reason.

According to Regina Bernal, the number of people now crossing the border on a weekly basis between San Diego and Tijuana is more than double the population of the city of Miami. The combined GDP of the Mega-Region amounts to more than $200 billion, which would place the area in the top 50 economies in the world.

Looking beyond border lines on a map, the connection extends far beyond geography and economics. Bernal sites longtime San Diego company Taylor Guitars’ decision – 20 year ago – to design a new product production facility in Tecate as a game changer. This move required cross-border collaboration and employees on both sides work together as one company – they even play softball on Fridays.

As Bernal explains, “Entrepreneurs such as Taylor Guitars start their lives as pioneers.” And in similar fashion, the University of San Diego decided to launch the first bi-national student pitch competition, Venture Vetting (V2), in 2013.

In three years, Bernal, who is the Entrepreneurship Manager at the University of San Diego, said that the number of companies from Baja California who participated in the V2 competition increased 10 fold.

“It is our vision that one day we will not have a separate bi-national track,” said Bernal. “Instead we will have entrepreneurs from San Diego and Baja California working together to build and scale successful companies … we continue to demonstrate that by coming together we become globally relevant.”

Simple LIne Break

TEDSummit 2016 – Hope, Wisdom, Insight, Inspiration


Banff Kinnear Centre for Creativity and Innovation

It was an experiment of sorts, unlike recent TED Conferences in Vancouver, or the companion TEDActive conference which used to be held during the same time in Whistler. Instead of the daily dose of TED Talks (live at TED, simulcast at TEDActive) in two locations, TEDSummit 2016 combined some 50 live talks with a choice of 90+ workshops at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from June 24th to 30th.

This was also the first time that every aspect of TED was fully represented. From TED/TEDx staff, to past TED and TEDx attendees and speakers, TEDx organizers, TED-Ed Innovative Educators, TED Fellows and TED Translators. Nearly 1,000 people, representing 70 different countries, were in attendance, and as you might imagine, the conversations were rich with varying cultural, gender and age perspectives, yet all focused on the notion of Ideas Worth Spreading, and how those ideas could change society.

Juan Enriquez at TEDSummit 2016

Jen Brea at TEDSummit 2016

The live talks were held inside the Eric Harvie Theatre, and the speaker lineup was, in general, outstanding. Veterans of the TED stage (TED Speaker Juan Enriquez) were combined with many first time presenters (TED Fellow Jen Brea) in a series of 6 sessions, detailed in the TEDSummit program.

Lunch Discussion at TEDSummit 2016

Post-it Notes at TEDSummit 2016

Conversations happened everywhere, from communal lunches to the breakout sessions where ideas were made manifest by way of Post-it Notes spread across the exterior windows. The only downside was the fact that so many engaging topics were held at the same time. A sampling of diverse workshop topics:

  • The art of engaging conversation
  • More than one way to solve a social problem
  • Restorative communities
  • Confronting the refugee crisis
  • Discovering your signature story

The magic that occurred during the 6 days (4 days of TEDSummit plus 2 day of TEDx Global Forum) is hard to describe, but very much based on the combination of attendees from multiple TED factions, the many thought-provoking talks, and the numerous breakout sessions that provided a forum for discussing issues that affect society on a global basis. This was far more meaningful than just watching talks, and the conversations were much deeper and challenging as a result.

After 30+ years of TED, and 8  years of TEDx, it’s apparent that the goal is to use these platforms to affect social change in a more direct way, not just spread ideas that hopefully will cause such changes to occur. This is a tall order, despite the fact that TED videos are viewed over a billion times per year, and that the TEDx infrastructure now spans 3,000+ events each year. The point is, while millions of people are touched, the ability to move ideas to action has been out of TED’s hands. In the end, changing the world is up to us!

Mountain View in Banff

Bridge Across River in Banff

Catch all the visuals in the TEDSummit Flickr albums.