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

My Instagram

Bittersweet month but so much gratitude to my team at @onedayswages. January marks a major transition as 2 of our 3 full time staff move on to their next chapters.

@melissasarapack (2nd from left) has been with me for nearly 4 years - first as our Development Director and then our Communications Director. This was her 2nd stint with me as she was my Live Music & Art Director at @QCafe many years ago. Thank you, Cush, for your friendship and commitment. You embodied our values and it kept moving us forward.

@philipkeeton (far left) has been with me for nearly the entirety of ODW. That's a long time. We've had our shares of ups and downs but  he's one of a kind. He was my right hand person that provided great leadership for our scrappy team of staff, volunteers, and interns. PK: Brother, you're gonna be missed but so excited for your next season. I didn't say this enough: I appreciate you. Thank you. And I hate Alabama football.

Changes are tough but it's also an opportunity for introspection and going deeper. I'm excited to introduce our next Ops Director next month and we're still looking for the right Communications Director. And Kenzie: What a gift to have you on our team.  Thank you. Be humble.

The world is bigger than your view of the world. And certainly, God is much bigger than your view of God.

#RedwoodTrees
#Deeper #RootsMatter 41 years ago today, our family immigrated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea. I was six years old; the youngest of three sons. My father, when he was also six, fled from what is now known as North Korea. Just recently, he shared with me that he and some of his family had been in a refugee camp when war and violence broke out on the Korean peninsula. It's emotional thinking about what my brothers and I went through coming to a completely foreign country. It wasn't easy. And then, I think about what my parents had to go through:

They fled their homes near Pyongyang which also meant leaving some of their extended families.

They experienced unfathomable hunger and poverty.

They experienced the pain of war.

They immigrated again to the United States as adults with minimal resources and a handful of English words.

All in hopes that their children would have the opportunities that were never afforded to them.

I'm thinking of my brothers today. I'm thinking of my parents and honoring them for their sacrifice and tenacity. And finally, I'm thinking of refugees and immigrants all around the world that are yearning for family, peace, hope, and opportunities. Don't reduce Martin Luther King Jr. to a yearly quote on social media. Live out the dream. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Confront evil. Be a truth-teller. Seek justice. Love mercy. Pursue reconciliation. Build bridges. Love your neighbors. Forgive your enemies. Pray unceasingly. Live a committed life of peace, love, and justice.

The God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today.

Be brave. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's the full context of his famous quote: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." An important word for the Church...

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