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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

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Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother. I love all the free amazing views in our Evergreen State. #RattlesnakeLedge

my tweets

  • Someone tell Steph Curry that he's the MVP because he's playing a lot like me in my rec league. || 8 hours ago
  • .@SeattleQuest recently hosted Kenneth Bae (Prisoner 103). He was detained in DPRK for 735days. WATCH his testimony: vimeo.com/167680426 || 1 day ago
  • RT @seattlequest: Suffering is a short cut to God's heart. Even if your circumstances don't change, God is always w/ you. - KennethBae http… || 2 days ago
  • Oh Lord, You love North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Congo, Nigeria, Turkey and ______. You love the nations. Give us Your heart for the world. Amen. || 3 days ago
  • Please remember and pray for Pastor Lim Hyeon Soo who was sentenced for life in North Korea. goo.gl/VvuyQs https://t.co/XonidqDlhb || 3 days ago
  • If the grass looks greener on the other side...stop staring, stop comparing, stop complaining & start watering the grass you're standing on. || 4 days ago

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