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Reflections from TEDxUniversityofNevada 2019


This year, TEDxUniversityofNevada was back bigger and better than ever. With a sold out show of more than 1,700 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center Feb. 23, 2019, 22 speakers and performers came together on stage right here in Northern Nevada to share their carefully curated, very big ideas with you. Read on to hear more about some of the favorite talks, ideas, and learnings from our various event volunteers, to include perspectives ranging from our emcees and backstage crew, to our event photographer, social media, and event-day volunteers.

What was your favorite talk, or what was the best idea shared, from this year’s event?

Chris Holloman: Once in a while someone will share something that rings profoundly relevant in your life. David Wise did just that. When he spoke of his mantra, “I cannot fail because it’s not my victory”, I felt a deep understanding of those words. In my own life, people have stood behind me and relentlessly supported me through massive upheavals and I now know that this new adventure I’m on won’t fail… because it’s not MY victory.

Katie Shive: My favorite talk was by David Wise. Here is a man who is young, successful and equally humble. His character runs deep and is a testament to his core values his talk was funny while giving you much to think about. I wish more young people had his humility and integrity. What a great example!

Brittany Silva: When Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic said “we need to stop focusing on how to get women equal to men, and instead figure out why we keep elevating incompetent men” it really hit a chord with me. I had never thought of gender equality from that standpoint before and loved the way he presented his idea.

Paul Klein: My favorite talk this year was Mitch Prinstein’s idea of how popularity affects our success, relationships and happiness. I appreciated the idea that being liked by others because of your contributions and character is more profound than social status, possessions or fame.

Frances Weiner: Larry Olmsted’s idea about eating whole foods. It’s such a simple concept yet can be so hard to do in today’s age of fast food and convenience eating. This is definitely a talk worth listening to! After all, we are what we eat.

William Wheeler: My favorite talk this year was from John Petrocelli on “bullshitting” and how it can impact our dialogue. In our current climate, being able to distinguish between truth and anything else is important. In addition to his talk being very entertaining, it was fascinating to hear about how one person’s “bullshit” can be mistaken for the truth.

Omar Ziadeh: My favorite from this year’s event was Michelle Rebaleati’s talk on Virtual Reality. Her ability to take such a technical and advanced topic that was likely beyond some audience members, and to articulate it in a way that everyone could feel connected to was amazing. TEDx 2019 was my fifth time attending, and Michelle’s talk was among the very best I have seen from the standpoint of making a topic relatable to the audience. I think the best idea shared was Tony Slonim’s belief that proactive health management was better than reactive health management. As the CEO of a hospital that heavily profits on reactive health management, it was amazing to see him continually reinforce the idea that it is one of Renown’s goals to make Nevada less reliant on that set of services.

How have you seen this event have a positive impact on our community?

Omar Ziadeh: I think TEDxUniversityofNevada has firmly entrenched itself within the calendar of all the annual Reno events that make Reno what it is today. More than that, it is the event where you can go not only to learn and laugh, but also to be challenged on how you look at different perspectives. I think, every year with this event, our community comes out with a group of people who are more informed and more open to different ideas.

Brittany Silva: This event brings together so many different kinds of people, companies and organizations in Reno. I love seeing everyone come together and discuss fun, interesting, and sometimes controversial ideas, being open to one another’s perspectives.

Katie Shive: I’ve been volunteering since 2015 and the event just gets better each year. The fact that the event grows in number year over year is a testimony to the impact the event has upon the community. The diverse talks increase awareness and encourage community action, which is the goal!

William Wheeler: I have seen this event make a positive impact on the community, through the discussions that I have seen on social media since the event. In particular, the ideas that people share at the event are being discussed and shared across many spaces, and it generates good excitement and exposure of our area to the rest of the world.

Frances Weiner: In so many ways! This event brings over 1700 folks together from all corners of the Reno/Tahoe area. It’s a day the sparks your enthusiasm for sharing ideas and stirs up great conversation among the attendees.

What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer for this event?

Omar Ziadeh: I enjoy all the collaboration and being apart of the mass preparations that are required of hosting this event. The four prior years, I was a spectator at TEDx. When you’re a spectator, you don’t quite appreciate the behind the scenes efforts that go towards making this event what it is. Being a volunteer for this event made me appreciate even more the fantastic group of people who come together to make this event a reality for Reno.

Chris Holloman: I’ve been involved with this project since 2014, watching it grow from the theater within the Joe Crowley Student Union, to the Pioneer Center of Performing Arts and now to the current venue of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. I see the production quality each year and it always exceeds the previous, and with each, comes increased attendance. This tells me that the word is out. TEDxUNR is the ‘go to’ event to start each year… speakers that represent our local community continue to draw their circle, and their presentations continue to stir conversations long after they walk off the stage. I love seeing the growth and excitement around it.

Brittany Silva: Being a small part of such a big, lofty thing makes me feel very proud and humbled 🙂

Katie Shive: I absolutely love volunteering for TedX. The core leadership team is absolutely dedicated to excellence and putting on a compelling event. All of the volunteers are friendly, involved in our community and passionate about giving back. Not to mention it’s so much fun!

Paul Klein: I enjoy being a part of an event culture of openness and willingness to listen. The shared spirit by everyone in the room that problems and challenges are solved by ideas and collaboration, instead of blaming and complaining, is truly inspiring.

Frances Weiner: I’m honored to be a part of such an amazing group of volunteers. We all share the common goals of sharing new ideas, supporting our speakers and making sure all attendees have a good experience.

William Wheeler: The one thing that I enjoy the most about being a volunteer is the opportunity that I have in making connections and other contacts through my work. It is a great way to get to know other people around the area and to show some pride in the efforts of our team to bring these ideas to the community.

Name one thing you learned this year that really changed your perspective.

Chris Holloman: As a member of the photography squad, there is not an opportunity to listen to the presentations in detail. I did, however, take away a realization that perhaps I’m not as open-minded as I could be in certain areas. I know that I lack extensive knowledge and education in certain areas that have ultimately led me to establish conclusions without true investigation. I think it benefits me to continue to find a willingness to listen more to new ideas and concepts, even if they fall outside of what society may consider acceptable…who’s to say there’s not an incredible playing field out there but we’ve been stuck in a box for too long.

Brittany Silva: The whole argument that whole foods are tastier, better for you and cheaper actually changed the way I grocery shopped that week! I would typically buy boneless skinless chicken breast, but I definitely bought a whole chicken.

Omar Ziadeh: For me personally, Tandy Aye was the ‘controversial’ talk that collided with a lack of knowledge that I had held. While I have always been completely open to transgender individuals, I knew so little, and as a result, made some assumptions about certain aspects of being a trans individual growing up. Her talk really pushed me to do more research and learn more.

In the coming weeks, videos from our 2019 event will be released. For the latest information, please check back on our website, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.