TEDx Columbus: Risk

On November 4, several of us attended TEDxColumbus, Central Ohio’s annual locally-organized TED event. The theme of this year’s event was risk. TEDx 2016: RiskOver the course of about four hours, we were exposed to eighteen variations on that topic.

First, behavioral coach Eric Zimmer equated behavior change to the classic board game Risk, reminding us that the strategies you employ in the game can be effectively used to make lasting changes in our lives. The remaining presenters were broken up into a few different categories:

Not-so-risky ideas

  • Visual communication consultant Marshall Shorts reminded us that creativity comes in all colors, and exposed the glaring need to highlight and celebrate minorities in design and other creative fields.
  • Hospice worker Cathe Kobacker told the story of her mother’s death plan, showing us that it’s less risky to talk about your “death plan” than to leave it to chance.
  • Educator Rob Brisk spoke about how putting too much emphasis on standardized testing runs the risk of failing our children. Instead, he promotes measuring and monitoring student engagement, i.e., “the love of learning.”
  • High school students from the Arts and Collegiate Preparatory Academy danced and drummed while their classmate sang an original song—inspired by the shooting of his cousin by a police officer.

Working with at-risk populations

  • Charter school CEO Andy Boy explained how giving underprivileged students the chance to fail and try again sets them up for success later on in their lives.
  • Advocate Lito Ramirez’s personal story of how taking a risk on a pregnancy that could—and did—lead to the birth of a child with Down Syndrome changed the course of his life for the better.
  • Jennifer Kempton risked her life to escape from the world of human trafficking, and then founded an organization to help others do the same: Survivor’s Ink.
  • Refugees from several different countries told their stories of how they risked everything to leave their homelands in search of a better, safer life in Columbus, Ohio.

Risks in healthcare

  • Clinical pharmacist Debbie Goff explained how the risky practice of taking antibiotics “just in case” is leading to deadly superbugs like C. diff and MRSA, and how we need to advocate for ourselves by being antibiotic stewards.
  • Marc Levitt’s work with children born with cloacal malformations helped him realize that sometimes you need to risk a bruised ego to serve the best interests of your patients, and led to the formation of an integrated team of GI, Colorectal, Pediatric Surgery, Urology and Gynecology specialists.
  • Ethical hacker Stephanie Domas talked about her work reducing the cybersecurity risks associated with modern medical devices.
  • Radiologist (and Ohio’s first poet laureate) Amit Majmudar showed us how poetry is the art of risk by reciting several of his poems about race and intolerance.

Risky business

  • Game developer Chris Volpe showed us that the video gaming industry goes far beyond entertainment, and shared the great things that can happen when you risk letting children learn through video games.
  • Entrepreneur Mark Kvamme gave us a new definition of the word “fear” (Face Everything And Rise).

Mentoring risk

  • Performer Sile Singleton shared the story of how her grandmother empowered her to take the risk of being whoever she wanted to be.
  • Donte Woods Spikes challenged us to risk talking with young black men instead of about them, in an effort to make positive changes in our communities.
  • Finally, teacher and performer Stefan Farrenkopf took a risk by performing a song he wrote about—and during—the TEDx event.

We learned something from each of the presenters, but the biggest lesson we took away was that when you expose yourself to risk for something you believe in—whether it’s big or small—your reward can be worth the gamble.Speakers at TEDx Columbus: Risk

Jason Janoski

Jason Janoski


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