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:

    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.

  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: #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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Paying respects. Learning the stories of the First Peoples of Australia at the exhibit at Melbourne Museum.  So painful and tragic what many have endured through the injustice of colonization here and around the world. Everyone loves the idea of reconciliation...not many understand the messy and arduous work involved of learning others' stories, truthtelling, confessing, repenting, dismantling, healing, and peacemaking. It may feel like a ritual but it was good to participate in this: The Justice Conference acknowledges the traditional owners on the land on which we meet – the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to all Wurundjeri elders past and present. #JusticeConfAu Whoa. Beautiful. Mesmerizing. Also reminded that while buildings are nice and have their place, the building isn't the church Let's fully welcome refugees. Remember, refugees aren't terrorists...they're the ones fleeing away from violence, war, and terrorism. 
Afraid? Me too. It's ok to acknowledge we're afraid since it confirms we're all...just...human. We're all afraid on some level especially when our culture seems to run on the currency of fear but as we live out our faith in Christ and more deeply embody compassion and love, fear begins to dissipate. It's also incredibly critical to know that agencies are implementing some of the most rigorous and thorough vetting ever. 
My family hosted a Somalian Muslim family from a refugee camp years ago through @WorldRelief. It was eye opening, challenging (especially with language realities), and yet, encouraging...and we hope to host families again in the future as they resettle in a completely new and foreign city and country. It's a terrifying experience. And while not a refugee, I remember the first few months as an immigrant when I was six years old. To this day, I remember the kindness of folks that helped us through that transition. Lift a prayer for me as I'm privileged to collaborate in ministry here in Melbourne, Australia. Meeting with local pastors, teaching at the Justice Conference (10/21-22). Then, preaching at the Bridge Church on Sunday  Pray that in preaching the whole Gospel from the Scriptures, I may honor God, point people to Jesus, and be sensitive to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Interesting. The holy bench. Wow. And in a blink of an eye, this happened. The nights might be long but the years go by fast. #ParentProverbs #WhatHappenedToMy13YearOldSon

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