A few weeks ago, after years of being asked and encouraged to do so, I gave the performance of a lifetime.
Like athletes before a big game, I prepared for months (arguably years) to step onto the coveted, round, red TEDx carpet. I wanted to be 1,000% ready to inspire and ignite a fire within every global viewer watching! The title of my TEDx Talk: ReDefining the Goal of Education. In many ways, preparing to give a TED talk feels remarkably similar to an athlete's journey. Just as athletes practice tirelessly to perfect their skills, I've poured countless hours into honing my craft, refining my message, and intentionally selecting each word to resonate with the audience’s hearts and minds. I reflected on 24 years in higher ed, created a new speech, THE speech, embraced vulnerability, and humbly stepped onto the red circle.
Can I be totally honest with you?
While I have given hundreds of keynotes to schools, regional events, state and national conferences, at the Reagan Presidential Library, and even invited to lecture at Oxford and Harvard, this was different.
I usually have a lot of slides…TED limits slides.
I usually speak without a script…TED wants a memorized script.
I normally keynote for 60-120 minutes…TED gives you 18 minutes – max!
Frankly, their storytelling formula was outside of my comfort zone…A lot.
It was a welcomed challenge.
Athletes push themselves beyond their limits, enduring grueling workouts, sacrificing comforts, and persisting through setbacks. In the same way, I've challenged myself to dig deep, confront my fears, and push the boundaries of my abilities because I know that real growth lies beyond our comfort zones.
Just like when I was training to run marathons (I’ve completed 5), we are coached to train our
body and mind to endure the long race. Similarly, I embraced the power of preparation for the red carpet. From researching extensively to structuring my speech meticulously, I've left no stone unturned. I visualized the moment countless times, imagining the energy and connection we would share once it was released. Ultimately, I kept my goal in mind: To create a dynamic and persuasive digital resource that can be shared in board rooms and dining rooms across the globe, helping to catapult education forward faster.
And just as athletes have their coaches and teammates, I've been fortunate to have incredible mentors and supporters by my side. I sought feedback from trusted friends and colleagues, solicited advice from fellow Catapult speakers with successful TEDx talks, rehearsed with my wife in our living room for weeks, and hired a speaking coach with TEDx expertise whose insights were invaluable. Their wisdom, guidance, and unwavering belief in my potential collectively fueled my determination and provided the strength to rise above any doubts. You know who you are. Thank you! And a special “thank you” to the Mt. San Jacinto College team for the experience and the opportunity to share “Redefining the Goal of Education” from their stage. Given my 18+ years working within community colleges, I could not think of a better venue for my TEDx talk than at a California community college.
So, my friends, I invite you to join me in celebrating the power of preparation and the unwavering pursuit of our shared mission. This isn’t just for me; it’s for us – and our students.
I’m told it will take a few more weeks for the talk to finish postproduction (it was a 3-camera set-up) and for the TED organization to review and approve it for their platform. You’ll be the first to know as soon as it is released. And I could really use your help to watch it, share it, and comment on the video (you know, to help the YouTube algorithm). More to come!