Eugene Cho

reflections on TEDx seattle

Last week, I had the privilege of being part of the TEDx event in Seattle. Along with giving my 18 minute chat about “The Story of One Day’s Wages“, I had a chance to soak in the various speakers under the following theme of the event:

This regional TEDx event will bring together great minds in creativity, scholarship, and entrepreneurship to discuss the possibilities and prospects of social development enhanced through information technologies. Inspiring projects and innovative leaders from Seattle to Cape Town will be showcased in this day-long conference.

Here are my 10 random observations & take-aways:

  1. I really had a good time. But I had another wardrobe malfunction. I was so concerned about my zipper that I actually came out on stage with my 3 button sportjacket all messed up.  Minhee was in the audience and she was cracking up. Embarrassing. #Fail.
  2. I was blown away by the quality of the conference. The logistics was top notch. Yeah, it was a  TED event [regional] so you expected it to be of high quality but when you actually experience it…
  3. I loved the diversity of the speakers on numerous fronts: Ethnic diversity (although there were no African-American representation and that was disappointing); age, and a good mixture of folks representing “big organizations” and small ones. It was great to share the stage with professors from University of Washington, Google, the Gates Foundation, Grameen Foundation, I Can Has Cheezburger, and lesser known but high quality enterprises.
  4. The quality of the speakers. They were all really good. I know that the mantra of the TED talks are for speakers to give the “talks of their life.” I don’t know if these were the “talks of their life” but they were, on the most part, pretty amazing.
  5. I was really honored to be invited – considering that ODW is less than six months old but I think it speaks to the impact we’ve been able to make through our strategy:  Human Relationships + Social Technology/Media + Vision.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time and wasn’t able to share about how this blog donated and helped raise $70,000 to underwrite the vision of ODW; and how we accidentally & virally created an “audience” of 1.1 million people in our Facebook Group and 700K+ in our Fan Page.
  6. Where was the Microsoft presence? I was really surprised. On a funnier note, I was taken back by the disparity of Apple vs PC users (leaning heavy on the Apple cult). The term “google” was used so many times during peoples’ presentations and conversations. The term “bing” was not used once. Long way to go, Microsoft.
  7. So much technology. Everywhere. Live stream, Twittering, Real time dashboards, Shiny gadgets, etc.
  8. The owners of  Theos Chocolate gave away free chocolate before their presentations. What a beautiful strategy to win over people’s hearts. #NotFair
  9. I used it several times during my chat and heard it in so many other presentations…I’m beginning to think that the new over-used word might be: “story”. But then again, one’s “story” is very unique and if there’s a word we should have permission to over-use, it might be this one.

Lastly, I was encouraged that they chose to invite me – knowing that part of who I am is a pastor and what I do is directly in response to my faith as a follower of Christ. Those two things don’t always sit well in the Seattle landscape and culture. While I was invited to share about the story of One Day’s Wages, many folks knew that I was a pastor since that was part of my included bio on the website.  And as I shared about the story and strategy about ODW, I briefly shared about my faith – not because I was trying to be deceptive and pull a fast one but simply because that’s part of our story.

Afterwards, I was more than surprised to hear numerous people ask questions like “What kind of church do you pastor?” and “Where is your church?”,  and my favorite comment:

“I don’t go to church and I’ll never go to church.  But, if I had to go to church, I’d go to yours.”

The reason why I enjoyed being a part of this event is that I very much enjoy this city and it’s people and culture. Seattle is my city as well and see it as a great privilege to represent Christ – even by the way of simply sharing our family’s story in starting a non-profit and non-religious organization, One Day’s Wages –

a movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty

Here are some pics from the TEDxSEA pool from Flicker:

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11 Responses

  1. dmbaldwin says:

    Eugene,
    What a great post! So proud that TED thought to include you. I believe you are right in observing the impact One Day’s Wages has had in such a brief time.
    Just a take on the embarrassing moments: Perhaps it’s God’s way of keeping you humble. They are funny for sure. Sorry to laugh at your expense.
    Blessings,
    Dave

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by eugenecho: TEDx Seattle was phenomenal. Kudos to the organizers. My personal thoughts & reflections: http://bit.ly/b3TQIc #TEDxSEA…

  3. That’s one of the things I love about you, PE, Your comfortableness being uncomfortable.

  4. Peter Chee says:

    I really enjoyed your talk at TEDx and am inspired by your passion with ODW. Keep pressing!

  5. Mike says:

    What’s a ‘bing’?

  6. Tim Reha says:

    Hi Eugene,

    We had a great time working with you at TEDxSeattle. Glad you had time to come back and chat in the social media area. I wish we had more time!

    Great work on stage. Cheers, Tim Reha

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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