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Think. Inspire. Go! 18 Simple Lessons I Took Away from TEDx

“Tammy, how would you feel about co-hosting TEDx?” Michelle asked.

I looked at Michelle at little stunned and replied, “I’m honored that you asked. Before I say yes or no, can you tell me a little bit more about what is involved with co-hosting?”

Michelle smiled and said, “Basically, you’d be introducing our speakers. It would be a lot of fun! Don’t worry, you’ll be great!”


I ended up saying yes, even though the thought of getting up on stage and introducing so many amazing, talented, and inspiring people scared the hell out of me. Public speaking isn’t my strong suit, but I’m always looking for growth opportunities and I knew this event was something I wanted to be part of.

This past weekend, along with my co-host James, I had the honor of introducing the speakers at TEDxCUPortland. I was a little nervous on the day of the event, but overall I felt relaxed and energized. Usually, I’m a ball of nerves before I speak in front of a large audience. So, the fact that I was relaxed, made me feel empowered.

We heard from a variety of folks, including: Sharif Abdullah, Polly Bangs, Tres Shannon, Blaine Fontana, Jefferson Smith, Dee Williams, Nick Caleb, Melissa Delzio, Neal Keny-Guyer, Dick & Jeanne Roy, Kelly Rodgers & Kelly Roy, Tim Smith, Chris Guillebeau, Prashant Kakad, Jeff Mapes and Mohan Nair.

The speakers inspired me, made me think, cry, dance, and have in-depth discussions with my friends. There was a lot to take in from the day and I’m still processing the content. However, I wanted to share 18 simple lessons I took away from the talks:

1. Never let inspiration end at wonderment, let it continue into action.

2. You can’t fake sincerity or authenticity.

3. Dream big and live small.

4. Practice gratitude.

5. Be humble.

6. Stuff isn’t important, people are.

7. Bikes and food carts can be used as a low cost business tool and a way to build community too.

8. Travel lightly, listen, and look for the bright lights in the crowd.

9. Figure out what excites you.

10. Figure out what bothers you and do something about it.

11. Dedicate one day a week to nature. Go outside and take hike, a run, or go for a bike ride.

12. Hope should be your highest vision of the possible.

13. Starting aligning your conduct with your highest vision of the possible.

14. Treat optimism and pessimism as distractions, but hold onto inspiration.

15. Observe problems, learn from others, listen, and take action.

16. Move beyond yourself and give.

17. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

18. Be vulnerable.

The photographs and videos from this event will be available online within a month. When they are posted, I’ll be sure to share them with you. Until then, leave a comment and tell me what your thinking about, what inspires you and what action you’re going to take.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Megan Swicegood May 16, 2011, 9:57 am

    I love this list. TEDx is such a great thing – giving local communities to experience great speakers and big ideas. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Tammy May 16, 2011, 4:43 pm

      Thanks for reading Megan! 🙂

  • Victoria May 16, 2011, 10:56 am

    I bet it was a great experience to be there and help! Can’t wait to see more pictures from the event!

    Two of your points really caught my eye – first, being outside. Weekends it’s easy to spend most of a day (or both!) outside – but sometimes weekdays it’s hard to remember to get out. Today I took a chair near the chicken coop and sat and watched my girls exploring the tall grass outside their coop. It was so fun to watch! It really keeps me in the present to observe things in nature.

    And the other point – ‘Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone’ – seems I’m doing that more and more lately, but it’s still a battle between “Take the easy way!” and “Face your fears!” I’m learning how to do the latter, one small step at a time. 🙂

  • K00kyKelly May 16, 2011, 12:48 pm

    An add on to #2… you can’t fake enthusiasm either.

    • Tammy May 16, 2011, 4:42 pm

      Ohhh that’s a good one. 🙂

  • Domestic Kate May 16, 2011, 1:12 pm

    I’m in awe of this opportunity you had! What a wonderful experience this must have been for you. I read your entire list, but really, I could have stopped at #1: “Never let inspiration end at wonderment, let it continue into action.” This is something I also firmly believe but also struggle with. My mind is full of wonderment, but I rarely act on it. Sometimes I don’t know where to begin; sometimes I have too much doubt. Regardless, people are never remembered for what they thought but rather for what they do. Our actions define us.

    • Holli May 17, 2011, 8:24 pm

      I really love your comment, and others as they accentuate this post.
      I get stuck just after wonderment where I try to sort out the how steps to see the inspiration in action. Not all the time though.
      On my mind:
      Getting ready to launch another blog to focus two passions…nervous about if it will click with others and succeed in they way I hope (a creative way for me to give back and help others through creativity).

      Thanks, Tammy, for sharing what you learned. And thanks to Kate for the added validation on #1 – I get stuck with this one too.

    • Tonia May 18, 2011, 10:46 am

      I would say that who we are motivates our actions. If our actions truly defined us, then every time we made a mistake, or learning experience, we would be defined by that mistake. Rather, know who you are. That identity will overflow into your actions. Sometimes you’ll mess up, but that doesn’t mean you as a person are a screw up. Just some thoughts! Have a great day!

  • Samantha Gluck May 16, 2011, 1:51 pm

    Loved this post! I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time and gleaning lots of information from your “Small is Big” theme. My favorites on this list: 4, 5, 6, 11, 16, and 17. I’m still working on number 8 (the ‘travel lightly’ part) — I always see the bright stars in the crowd and they seem to see me, but I’m usually literally or figuratively stumbling over all the accessories, various ‘over-the-top’ outfits I have brought (just in case), and other ‘adult security blanket-type things’. Traveling lightly has got to represent the most difficult thing for me in this list.

    Thanks for inspiring me — a copywriter with a higher purpose, but too many outfits!

  • Jen May 16, 2011, 2:20 pm

    What Im thinking about…
    I am super excited because my husband and I are thinking about selling everything and living in a RV. We want the oppertunity to pick up and go as we please and think this would be a really neat experience to share with our 16 month old son. We also believe it would truely teach us to be the minimalists we aspire to. If you actually have no where to put the crap you cant bring it home 🙂
    What inspires me…
    The awesome minimalist blogs I’ve come across like this one and the freedom and relief I have felt as we have down sized. I actually really feel like my priorities are right on track now. My son will only be little once and I dont want to miss out. I hate fretting and spending my time tending to stuff when I should be enjoying my family and my critters. There lives are not endless so I want to be there for them and really value the time spent!
    How I’m going to do this…
    Lots of yard sales and visits to pawn shops and consignment stores. Visiting different RV dealerships and talking to lots of different folks to learn as much as possible about the ins and outs of this endever. Making sure not to get in a hurry and enjoy the journey, I want to learn from my stuff as I send it down the road to brighter pastures. Learning will help me really understand how I acquired it and why. If I can learn from it I can stop depending on it, its just stuff, it should have a use in some way to me or the ones I love and if not it needs to go!!! We also will spend time gettig the house ready to sell and paring down debt as much as possible. We have come a very long way in the last year and are excited to see where this year will take us. It seems like our life will be tied up more in stuff then we would like but it will pay off the closer we get to this new life style 😀

    • Tammy May 16, 2011, 4:39 pm

      Jen – Thanks for sharing! I’m so excited for you. 🙂 Do you read Man Vs. Debt? Adam and his family are doing something very similar. Be sure to check out his blog: http://manvsdebt.com/

      • Jen May 17, 2011, 6:20 am

        Thanks for the lead I will definitly check them out 🙂

  • Tess The Bold Life May 17, 2011, 4:53 am

    3 words…you are brilliant! I’m printing this out for further reflection and journaling. Brilliant. So happy you shared you experience.

  • Joshua Gordon May 17, 2011, 3:09 pm

    My wildly hot wife and I have been working hard on #1 (the inspiration/wonderment one) for a few months now. We’ve decided to work towards becoming a zero waste home. That’s our next step, the action grown from wonderment and inspiration (ala Bea Johnson, @zerowastehome), Tammy.

    Should be a grand adventure!

    – Josh
    aka @nonconformistpa

  • Robert May 17, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Rad. I’m really excited that you got to be a part of this. You’re doing a great job and sounds like you’re having fun. I’m proud of you.

    • Tammy May 18, 2011, 4:18 pm

      Thanks Robert. 🙂 It’s good to hear from you. I hope life is treating you well in California.

  • Paula May 17, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I really enjoyed these simple lessons. it sounds like you had an amazing time. You talk about public speaking not being one of your strenghts but it sure doesn’t reflect in your personality at all. 🙂 at least through your posts and videos. I look forward to reading your blog all the time and i always take something positive with me and try to implement it to my daily life.
    “Be vulnerable” sounds so simple but it’s so hard sometimes to just let our walls down and feel… “Travel lightly, listen, and look for the bright lights in the crowd” is something i’ve been trying to do in my life. Thanks for sharing this great post!

  • Sunday May 18, 2011, 4:35 am

    Tammy, you are such an inspiration. I’m constantly telling people about your blog and re-tweeting it, etc. You’re my heroine 🙂 I am currently in the early stages of scaling back and solidifying my “dream home.” My goal is to one day wind up in the Popomo (http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses/popomo/) on an acre of land somewhere near Portland, probably in Milwaukie. I want to do a tiny sustainable farm with raised garden beds, fruit trees, bee hives, a few milking goats, a few laying hens, and my dog. I want to “retire” on my farm at 35 (which gives me just a couple months more than 3 years to get there). This is a dream I’ve wanted since I was a child, but I never really thought it would happen. Now I’m making it happen and I have to say you were the kick I needed to just do it. Keep it up!! -sunday

  • traci sabia May 18, 2011, 11:54 am

    i simply love ur blog. you have inspired me to downscale alot in my life, from something as simple as cleaning a drawer out and decluttering to revamping my thought process when it comes to the kind of house i’d like to purchase with my husband and two children. i want to live minimally so that we can travel and enjoy every day we have together on this earth. my husband is in the navy and has traveled all over the world and has been to war 3 times, has done rescue during tsumani and katrina….that alone has opened his mind to what is really important in life.
    you stories and ideas have helopd us to do this. i thank you and look forward to your blog daily. you have also turned me on to other blogs as well and i thank you.
    i wish you and logan all the joys of life.
    your biggest fan… ~tra~

    • Jen May 18, 2011, 2:57 pm

      It is so good to see other millitary wives on here. It is so hard to find like minded people, everyone I’m around bandaids their stress with shopping and things. It is so frustrating if thats not your thing or interest. My husband and I are in the same thought process as you about what really matters especially after being exposed to so much suffering.

    • Tammy May 18, 2011, 4:17 pm

      Traci – Thanks for leaving a comment and sharing your story! 🙂 Best of luck to you and your family!

  • rob May 18, 2011, 6:52 pm

    I enjoyed TEDx Boulder last summer. By and large the speakers were awesome. Interesting list, BTW. Not 100% sure it’s *my* list, but there is an intersection set for sure.

  • Dee Williams May 19, 2011, 7:43 pm

    Tammy, you were amazing. I totally ‘get’ the public speaking thing (it is not my strong suit), but I have to agree with one of you posts that your fear didn’t seem to affect the way you connected people to speakers, and led the group from one speaker to the next to create a synergistic event. It was cool. I was happy to be a part of it and witness you ‘do your thang’. YOU are a rock star. Thank you for sharing your list. Brilliant!

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