Sunday, February 28, 2016

My TED Talk

A couple of memories from my trip to New York...

First of all the weeks leading up to the event found me up at three in the morning going over my talk in my head again and again. The major domo of the event, Jim McCarthy, kept telling us to stay to the allotted time, ten minutes. Practice your speech, time your speech, so you wouldn't run over. A little secret? I did it to time once.

Nothing like flying by the seat of your pants.

And speaking of flying, TED flew me up north. I sat next to a mother, with her nanny, and her five kids. Get this, the oldest one was seven. There were runny noses, bare feet and Thomas the Train games everywhere. When you don't have kids you look at a situation like that one way. When you have kids? You're more accommodating, more forgiving. Add in the fact that headphones on my iPod are a great thing and the two hour flight breezed by.

Okay, they flew me into Newark airport and the ride from there into midtown was eighty five dollars! The sound you heard was my jaw hitting the floor.  The toll for the Lincoln Tunnel was $15. One way. Boy, things sure have changed since I lived there.

After I checked into the hotel I went to dinner with my dear friend Howard and his dear as dear could be daughter, Elizabeth. We went to a restaurant on Madison Avenue and the chow was divine the company even better.

The next day was THE day.

I woke up at six and had gone over my talk three times before seven.  I left to go to the venue. New World Stages, y'all. I kinda was there first, all Virgo and nervous energy. The people I met that day were topnotch. We were taken out to the stage in groups to familiarize ourselves with it.

Now some history. How did I get there in the first place? An old friend.

I met Patch Canada years ago when she did PR for the Kennedy Center Honors.
They were on CBS and I covered them. That's how we got together.

We became fast friends.

Cut ahead to years later, I'd left CBS and had come to Orlando, where I had my stroke. I traveled to DC to visit friends and family and during my visit Patch sat and talked with me on a park bench.  She'll turn red when I say this but that's a sweet memory I'll cherish forever.

Okay, cut ahead again to the Fall of 2011 and Patch now does PR for the TEDx Talks on Broadway and asked me to be a part of it. I said yes. Well, outside forces caused me to cancel in January of 2012, and I knew I'd screwed up. I never thought I'd hear from them again.

Turns out I was wrong.

Cut ahead a third time and Patch reached out again at the end of 2015.  I couldn't say yes fast enough and that's how I found myself in New York, at the New World Stages and about to go onstage in front of 500 plus people.

Thats how it happened but there's more. Much more.

First of all the theme was 'The Best that Broadway Can Be.' I told them I didn't know that much about Broadway, I'm a News Man. They said it didn't matter, they wanted all kinds of ingredients in their stew.

18 speakers, or presenters as they called them, in all.
Alex Dinelaris, Erin Lavik and Guess Who
An Academy Award winner, Alex Dinelaris, who won for writing Birdman, kicked things off. He had a backpack full of old baseball glove that his dad had used, dvds that were important in his life, a notebook that he wrote a script in.

His father was a meat and potatoes kind of guy, who didn't really read that much. When his father was dying of cancer his son showed him a script he'd written and his dad told him it was the best thing he'd ever read.

There wasn't a dry eye in the place.

And then he reached into his back pack one more time and pulled out his Oscar.

Can you say Special Moment? I think you can. And that's how the Talks began.

There were three sessions of speakers, six each, and here they came. Each one telling their story, each one just flat out great.

Erin Lavik is a Professor of Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. That, my friends, is quite a mouthful. She sat next to me in the audience and talked all day like she would be awful. How, when she rehearsed no one laughed at her jokes, how she couldn't find her script. She convinced me she wouldn't be that good.

Au contraire. She was wonderful.

Erin had that audience in the palm of her hand. She compared acting to science. Talked about how she hated the phrase 'mad scientist' and why. She even said one of her team brewed beer and that would appeal to her husband. All great stuff.

Lindsay Croop did her presentation a bit differently. Lindsay dances ballet and is a member of Dance Theatre of Harlem. So she danced as well as talked.
Lindsay Croop, the guy with hair, and Lindsay's sister

She used the rhythm of the band onstage to set her up. The dancing helped her tell her story.


Did I mention she's danced all around the world? She has. Did I mention she was great? She was.

Boy, am I using the word great a lot.

So you see what I was following.

Finally it was my turn.

I was honored to be the last presenter, the Closer, as Jim McCarthy called it. All day there were people back stage, walking in circles, muttering to themselves, trying to memorize their talk.  I was in that bunch.

When they introduced me I ambled on to the stage.

And began.

500 people, three cameras, my power point, a clicker, and me.

I won't tell you what I said, you'll see when the video is done. I will say this, one of THE most special days for me.


After it was over they had a dinner at a very nice restaurant for all the speakers plus one. You got to meet husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, brothers and sisters.

The flight back was uneventful but I kept thinking of The Day with a big grin on my face.

Subscribe to my blog: Mark McEwen's World
Follow me on twitter: @mcewenmark
Like my page on facebook:
And also visit my website:

No comments:

Post a Comment