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TEDxFargo Preview: Seven Featured Speakers

TEDxFargo Featured Speakers

Photos special to Fargo INC!

By Nate Mickelberg and TEDxFargo team*
*This article was produced as a partnership between Fargo INC! and TEDxFargo.

The TEDxFargo team is crafting our community’s ninth TED event, which will be held at the end of this month on July 26 at the Fargo Civic Center. The day will be a chance for our community to share ideas and experiences as the team brings another world-class event to Fargo.

There will be local, national, and global thought leaders who will be sharing their ideas on the main stage to help solve challenges and create possibilities. The idea is to empower people to be solutions-oriented, believing that ideas can change the way the world works. So come listen to new ideas, find a topic you’re passionate about and then take action to enable those ideas. And ask yourself a simple question, “How will I go forth?”

Here, you can meet and get to know the 24 speakers a little better.

Juliette Watt

Juliette Watt

#GiveBackToYourself

Speaker Bio
Born and raised in London, Juliette Watt was a stunt horse rider for MGM Pictures and later a London Playboy Bunny. She spent the next 20 years performing a one-woman show in cabarets worldwide, and in the early ’70s, moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where she lived for four years during their vicious civil war. Moving to New York City in her 40s, she thrived as a soap opera scriptwriter, winning two Writers Guild Awards and a nomination for a Daytime Emmy. Later becoming a pilot, she flew rescue missions in New Orleans, saving more than 6,000 abused and abandoned dogs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She’s currently on a passionate mission to help guide those who have lost themselves in who they’ve been for everyone else.

Preview your TED Talk in one sentence.
My talk is about compassion fatigue, also known as secondary traumatic stress disorder, which is the emotional and physical burden created by the trauma of helping others in distress.

If you weren’t in the career you’re in now, what would you be doing?
I’ve just started my speaking career, which I hope will lead to more speaking engagements on compassion fatigue all over the world. Through one-on-one coaching, I help people cope with this debilitating syndrome and guide them to reconnect with who they are, since many have lost themselves in who they’ve been for everyone else.

What was your biggest professional failure?
In 1969, I was hired as the opening act for Des O’Connor, a famous variety performer in England — huge deal! I was an aspiring cabaret singer and convinced that it was only a matter of time before I would be famous and Liza Minelli would just have to step aside!

The gig was in Glasgow, Scotland, in a very fancy nightclub. I was fired during band rehearsals before the show. The manager of the club fired me because I wasn’t a good enough singer to open for such a big star.

I remember sitting on the floor as my legs had crumpled under me. Des was a dear friend, and as I sat sobbing, he knelt down beside me and said, “Juliette, I can walk into the manager’s office right now and make the call, and you will go on tonight. I’m the star. They will do what I tell them. Do you want me to do that?” *Very long pause as I slowly realized what the right thing to do was.* “No,” I said, and Des smiled and patted my shoulder, “You just made the most important decision of your life.” And he was right.

Who’s a leader you admire?
Maya Angelou. Not the leader of a country but nonetheless, a woman who was a great student of leadership. As the Washington Post said just after her passing, “Maya Angelou understood what it takes to have the courage to lead; who had close affiliations with some of the most well-known world leaders of her lifetime; and who could articulate the virtues of courage, steadfastness and truth as only a poet can do.”

What keeps you up at night?
I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety. What keeps me up at night is irrational panic — scary thoughts and heart-stopping worry about things that usually never happen and/or don’t even exist. I battle it every day.

How should attendees “Go Forth” after your talk?
I want the audience to leave knowing, first and foremost, they are not alone. Compassion fatigue creeps up on you and can take away your life. I want them to have the first few steps to start to recover their “why” and instead of emotional and physical exhaustion, they will feel more hopeful and energized with a new plan for life. Relieved, excited, and inspired, I want them to finally see they are the most important person in their life, and today they were seen and heard.

If I had a walk-up song “Rise Up” by Audra Day
Read this “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham
Passion cause Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas
All-time favorite TED Talk “The power of vulnerability” by Brené Brown
Essential daily routine “Being with my animals. It grounds me and gives me peace.”

Smita Garg

Smita Garg

#InteGreat

Local Speaker

Speaker Bio
Smita Garg is a passionate community-builder. Having lived in Italy, India, United States, Zambia, Canada, and China, she understands the value of creating connections, investing in relationships and engaging with diverse peoples. This is reflected in her broad range of community involvements , including cross-cultural events, nonprofit boards and volunteer activities. Garg holds an MBA in international marketing from Temple University and is a recipient of the ATHENA Leadership Award.

Multilingual with an interest in culture, travel, and unity in diversity, she’s a strong believer in the difference that one person can make. She recently moved to Fargo with her husband, Adi. Their three daughters, Aditi (Chris), Avni, and Aneri — who live in Canada — are her inspiration.

Preview your TED Talk in one sentence.
In the context of a newcomer’s sense of belonging and a host community’s responsiveness, integration is better than assimilation.

If you weren’t in the career you’re in, what would you do?
Run a bed and breakfast. At least I like the idea. I enjoy entertaining, and this would be a good way to combine that with my interest of meeting people from different walks of life.

Who’s a leader you admire?
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. She is intelligent, determined and a sensible leader — not to mention she holds a doctorate degree in quantum chemistry! In today’s political climate, she is a voice of reason.

I would also say Daenerys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones”. Her rise from being a victim to an empowered leader is phenomenal.

What was your first job?
My first job was an entrepreneurial endeavor. I started my very own small-scale pasta-making and -selling business from home. I was born in Italy and wanted to share my love of Italian cuisine after I moved away. My first “paid” job was as an interpreter in five languages at a Canadian call center.

What’s a life hack you use regularly?
I try to stay positive. I am more efficient and willing to do something with an optimistic outlook. A quote I came across recently: “Things don’t happen to you; they happen for you.”

How should attendees “Go Forth” after your talk?
Invite somebody from a culture different than yours to your home for a meal, festival, celebration or conversation. Learn something new you never knew you never knew.

If I had a walk-up song “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas
Listen to this CBC Radio podcasts
Passion cause Anti-racism awareness
Favorite social media follow My three daughters
Essential daily routine A cup of milky Nescafé instant coffee and a few minutes of gratitude meditation

Jerry White

Jerry White

#Manopause

Speaker Bio
Global Impact Strategies CEO Jerry White is known for leading high-impact campaigns, three of which led to major international treaties: the Landmine Ban Treaty, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Cluster Munitions Ban Treaty. He shares in the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace awarded to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, having worked closely with the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

White served as U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, launching the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. He writes about how trauma victims become resilient survivor-leaders in getting up when life knocks you down. White co-chairs Global Covenant Partners, a nonprofit committed to reducing religion-related violence. He is a senior Ashoka fellow and professor of practice at the University of Virginia.

Preview your TED Talk in one sentence.
I will recount how hyper-performance is not the path to what we crave: unconditional love and freedom.

If you weren’t in the career you’re in now, what would you be doing?
You assume I have a career? What is that? I am plagued by a vain sense of vocation and a calling to serve humanity that is killing me.

What was your biggest professional failure?
Not mobilizing sufficient resources for a nationwide “Healthy Homecoming Campaign” for veterans to build resilience and community to counteract rising drug addiction and suicide rates in America.

If you could pick one person to be in the audience to hear your talk, who would it be?
An overachieving perfectionist en route to burnout, needing a quick injection of peer support to admit that workaholism is an addictive disaster.

What was your first job?
Paper boy (paid). Altar boy (unpaid). Hated them both. Later in high school: Usher at music circus tent — that was easy and fun!

Other than your TED Talk, what are you most looking forward to about your trip to Fargo?
Hanging out with Greg T.

What’s a life hack you use regularly?
15-20-minute naps

Who’s a leader you admire?
Can’t pick just one. It’s an ensemble of mentors, role models and icons:

Dead: Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, King Hussein, Gandhi

Alive: Pope Francis; Barack and Michelle Obama; Oprah; Bryan Stevenson; Angela Merkel; and, mostly, my sage wife, Kelly Gammon White

Spiritual: Jesus, Buddha, Abraham, Mohammed, Mary Magdalene, St. Bonaventure

What keeps you up at night?
Excel spreadsheets and cash flow

How should attendees “Go Forth” after your talk?
Perform Less. Transform More.

If I had a walk-up song “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
Watch this “Wild Wild Country”
My passion causes Cure Violence and Synergos
All-time favorite TED Talk “I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much” by Stella Young
Essential daily routines Shaving and meditation

Hamse Warfa

Hamse Warfa

#LastMile

Speaker Bio
Hamse Warfa is the cofounder and executive vice president of BanQu, an award-winning blockchain software company working to connect the poor to the global economy. Warfa has worked at the intersection of community-building, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship for the past 20-plus years. He’s deeply passionate about changing the social and economic systems that marginalize and exclude people from opportunities to live their lives with dignity. Warfa is both a Bush Foundation and Ashoka fellow.

Give us a one-sentence preview of your TED Talk.
Creating an inclusive global economy and digital economic identity for the world’s poorest.

If you could pick one person to be in the audience for your talk, who would it be?
A decision-maker who wants to solve the global supply chain crisis by creating digital economic identity for the last mile. It can also be any individual who wants to contribute to solving the world’s most complex challenge: poverty.

Who’s a leader you admire?
Nelson Mandela.

If you weren’t in the career you’re in now, what would you be doing?
Policy-making.

What keeps you up at night?
Silo approaches, the lack of applying existing innovative solutions to solve societal problems.

Other than your TED Talk, what are you most looking forward to about your trip to Fargo?
Connecting people and businesses.

What’s a life hack you use regularly?
When I am spiritually active, I am more productive.

How should attendees “Go Forth” after your talk?
Use your heart and purse to influence the need for a paradigm shift when it comes to allowing last-mile individuals to build a recognizable, vetted economic identity, which is the base prerequisite for participating in any form of ownership or transaction in the global economy.

Read this “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership” by Ronald Heifitz
Passion cause Global refugee crisis and plight of women farmers
Pre-talk prep Pray
Essential daily routine Eat oatmeal
All-time favorite TED Talk “The danger of a single story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Pamela York

Pamela York

#FromHerToThere

Speaker Bio
Pamela York is a serial entrepreneur, investor and inventor who’s had successes in several industries. She’s the founding general partner of CAPITA3, an early-stage venture capital group focused on women-led companies in health sectors.

Previously, York pioneered three successful technology platforms and cofounded two high-tech startups with successful exits, Orchid Cellmark and Princeton Lightwave. She also led the University of Iowa’s technology commercialization foundation, where she oversaw investment in a 1000 technology portfolio, built a startup ecosystem from scratch, and led the formation of 40 startups that raised $150 million in financing with six exits totaling $200 million to date.

Pam is a cofounder of WEstartMN, which supports women in developing scalable ideas and startups; the board chair for CoreBiome; and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota. She has a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois.

Preview your TED Talk in one sentence.
As a venture capitalist, I’m helping entrepreneurs be more successful by understanding that success and failure emanate from an inner state of being.

If you could pick one person to be in the audience for your talk, who would it be?
Brad Feld. He is best positioned to ensure widespread adoption of this idea (I’ll be speaking about) in the VC and startup communities, which I believe would translate to more successful startups, investors and a better world.

If you weren’t in the career you’re in now, what would you be doing?
I love the intersection of finance and high-impact companies, so mergers and acquisitions would be a great choice for me. I also love the intersection of food and health, so I might start a company in food or the microbiome.

Who’s a leader you admire?
I’m attracted to leaders operating from a higher consciousness who are exceptionally well-positioned to execute on a big vision. Seeing the Dali Lama in New York City in 2003 was life-changing for me, and he’s since been a leader I greatly admire.

Other than your TED Talk, what are you most looking forward to about your trip to Fargo?
This past year, I learned that North Dakota has incredible energy around its entrepreneur and technology-commercialization ecosystem. It’s inspiring to be with people who see new possibilities and are delivering on them.

What’s your biggest professional failure?
I was a cofounder of a startup company that raised about $50M in venture capital financing and, although eventually acquired, did not produce a significant return for the early investors who made the company possible. Although this is a significant failure, I actually consider my biggest failure to be a profound lack of confidence in myself until more recent years and all the impacts to my career that this has had. I’m now using those experiences to help women entrepreneurs become confident startup CEOs.

What’s a life hack you use regularly?
I keep my energy focused around what I want to produce versus living inside reactions to a situation or stressing about the obstacles. When entering new realms not fully understood, I take on being an experimentalist.

How should attendees “Go Forth” after your talk?
Use your fears and other information that your inner state of being can reveal to you as precisely the fuel required to grow as an individual or as a leader to produce significant unexpected results in life and in business, faster than you thought was possible.

If I had a walk-up song “Ray of Light” by Madonna
Check out Audible — transforms driving time into learning time
Pre-talk prep Focus on what difference I want to make and who I need to be to make that difference
All-time favorite TED Talk “Your Elusive Creative Genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert
My first job De-tasseling field corn
Passion cause River Valley Riders — provides therapeutic horseback riding to children and adults with special needs
Essential daily routine Meditation

Sadiyo Hassan

Sadiyo Hassan

#TimeToTransform

Local Speaker

Speaker Bio
Sadiyo Hassan and her family were refugees from Nairobi, Kenya, who were looking for a better life. As the daughter of a single mother who works night shifts at minimum wage while raising six children, Hassan says she’s only ever known a low-income life, so she took control of the one thing she could be held responsible for: her education.

Her drive for success in education has not only shown through her academic excellence, graduating valedictorian of West Fargo High School’s 2018 class, but also through her leadership roles in extracurriculars, inc luding in FIRST Robotics and three service clubs.

Through this journey, Hassan found her passion in engineering, which led to her becoming an early talent intern at John Deere and now an owner of a tech startup company (all before she graduated high school).

Preview your TED Talk in one sentence.
Transformative change through technology with our law enforcement is crucial to efficiently and effectively serve and protect our communities in a constantly advancing technological society.

If you could pick one person to be in the audience to hear your talk, who would it be?
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (N.D.)

If you weren’t in the career you’re in now, what would you be doing?
I’m currently going to school for computer engineering and business administration. If I wasn’t in this career pathway, I would see myself going into political science to bring about social change, ideally as an ambassador for the United Nations or something along those lines.

Who’s a leader you admire?
Malala Yousafzai. Her activism in education, equality and female empowerment aligns with my own passions greatly. I hope to one day become an impactful activist in those areas as well.

What’s your biggest professional failure?
Being too indecisive about what I want to do with my life. Sometimes, I spread myself too thin because I have so many passions to pursue and not enough of me to go around.

What’s a life hack you use regularly?
Ctrl + Z. Who doesn’t want something that allows you to go back and fix your mistakes instantly? I know it’s much needed in my life. Now, if only this applied to the non-digital world …

How should attendees “Go Forth” after your talk?
I want the lawmakers, governors, legislators and mayors — anyone in government who has influence over law enforcement — to invest in transformative technology to not only keep our communities safer but progressive with the times. I want citizens to be proactive and advocate for change within their cities to ensure their law enforcement can effectively serve and protect their communities.

If I had a walk-up song “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyoncé
Watch this Doctor Who
My passion cause UNHCR – The United Nations Refugee Agency
Pre-talk prep Walk around the venue/stage to get a better feel of the space — brings familiarity to ease my nerves
All-time favorite TED Talk “A tale of mental illness — from the inside” by Elyn Saks
Favorite social media follow Nicole Mattson
Essential daily routine Coming home after a long day of work/school and sitting down with food to watch Netflix/Hulu
My first job JCPenney customer service associate (still working there after three years)

Rich Karlgaard

Rich Karlgaard

#LateBloomers

Speaker Bio
Rich Karlgaard is the publisher and futurist of Forbes Media. His writing is known for its keen assessment of technology, as well as economic, business and leadership issues.

Karlgaard’s 2014 book on innovation culture, “The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success,” made numerous lists for top business books of 2014, including Inc., Time.com, 800-CEO-READ and Huffington Post. His 2015 book, “Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations,” was hailed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. His next book is titled “Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement” and will be published in March 2019.

Karlgaard is an investor and participant in Silicon Valley. He started three organizations and is a Northern California regional winner of E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Karlgaard, originally from Bismarck, holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, and he and his family live in Silicon Valley.

A Few Thoughts on Late Bloomers from Rich Karlgaard

Succeed Early … or Else
If you take care of yourself — eat right, exercise, all that kind of stuff — you’ll have a good chance of living longer than your parents did. In fact, Millennials have a very good chance of living well into their 90s. So you have to figure out: How do you stay productive and remain a contributor throughout your whole life?

Oddly enough, (today’s) educational system and societal pressure are doing the very opposite. They’re putting more pressure on kids today by testing them relentlessly; putting tremendous pressure on where they go to school; and creating this impression that if you don’t do well then, you’re somehow going to go into the bargain bin of human existence. If you didn’t achieve early, then what hope do you have?

That’s the message that society puts out today — at a time we’re all living longer — and it makes no sense at all. (In my TED Talk), I’m planning to talk about the damage it causes and show how it doesn’t even comport with brain science.

Rethinking Cognitive Development
If you’re talking in terms of synaptic processing speed and working memory, those peak pretty early in people’s teens and early 20s. If you’re talking about judgment and empathy, those start to peak in your 40s and 50s.

There are some people who are fully functioning adults in the way they behave at 20 or 21, and there are others who don’t get there until their 30s. And not because of anything they could’ve done, really. Their brains are just unfortunate that way.

There’s something called executive functioning skill that clinical psychologists will talk about. It’s this idea of: What is the age when you can really plan ahead and aren’t so impulsive that you just do stupid things that get you in trouble? The average age for that is about 25. There’s a reason car rental companies charge a massive premium to rent cars to people under 25. They have determined, from their own facts, that people under 25 can be pretty irresponsible as a group.

Carson Wentz: North Dakota’s Poster-Boy Late Bloomer
I want to make a point about late bloomers that I think North Dakotans can relate to, and that’s Carson Wentz. Now, a really interesting thing about this latest Super Bowl: If Wentz had started and hadn’t been injured, I believe it would’ve been the first time that you had a Super Bowl where both starting quarterbacks were unranked as high schoolers. Not only did they not have a five-star ranking or a four-star ranking or a three or a two or even a one, they weren’t ranked at all.

Now, move beyond football to every endeavor, and you think about: Who are the equivalents of the Carson Wentzes out there, where the school system is un-ranking them? School has this simplistic idea that we’re either capable or we’re not, which overlooks all kinds of skills and passions that kids have growing up. They simply aren’t captured and recognized as having these passions and gifts, and a lot of them leave school demoralized thinking that, because they didn’t do well, they’re not going to have a successful life.

The Consequences
We’re squandering like crazy the talent that’s out there in America today, and it’s showing up in some pretty dysfunctional ways. Large segments of our society have basically given up. Large parts of the country have become very dysfunctional — opioid abuse, unemployment.

That’s why I think this is a real societal crisis for the country is because you have millions and millions of people who are demoralized. Maybe they haven’t articulated it that well, but they see that the world is changing and see that they’re falling behind. And yet, they’re just out of position. Their talent hasn’t been discovered, and they haven’t had the positive feedback loop that gives people confidence over time.

The ones who are lucky enough to do very well in school and get very high scores on their tests get into the good schools. It’s not that hard to get a job, and the rest of their life is pretty good. But the people whose weaknesses are caught out in schools and in the testing environment, they’re kind of out of luck. If we’re all going to live longer, it’s really vital that we not keep proceeding the way we’re proceeding.

What do you think?

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Written by Nate Mickelberg

Nate Mickelberg is the editor of Fargo INC! He holds his master's in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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