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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Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter Happy Birthday, Minhee! I'm so grateful for you. You radiate faith, hope, and love.  No...you don't complete me. That would be silly and simply humanly impossible but you keep pointing me and our family to Christ who informs and transforms our lives, marriage, family, and ministry. Thanks for being so faithful. I love you so much. (* And what a gift to be in Korea together.)

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