From poets and inventors to musicians and activists, the eighth-annual TEDxKC on Friday challenged attendees to “question everything.”
And in that questioning, 13 presenters offered an assortment of inspiring thoughts from which entrepreneurs can learn. Here are five takeaways from the event, which was hosted at the Kauffman Center of Performing Arts and presented by VML and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
“Invention is the alchemy that turns frustration into innovation.” – Mark Shaw
Entrepreneur and inventor Mark Shaw could not believe that humans put a man on the moon before we added wheels to suitcases. Although carrying a suitcase may work fine, it was the belief that something better was possible that fueled an idea to ease a burden of travel.
He asked the audience how often they have seen a product or idea on the market where they’ve thought to themselves ‘hey, I thought of that idea first!’
Shaw directly challenged the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality that’s common in society and that enabled wheel-less suitcases for decades. Shaw encouraged people to follow through with their ideas and to have the courage to make it happen.
“Life on our planet is the history of rule breakers.” – Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado
Evolution is the survival of the fittest. For entrepreneurs, it is no different. In order to succeed, you must be creative, smart, and forward thinking. And you can’t be afraid to break convention to differentiate yourself or to disrupt traditional systems.
A molecular- and neuro-biologist at the Kansas City-based Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado encouraged listeners to explore the depths of curiosity. If you don’t feel like a complete idiot most of the time, he said you must not be “sciencing hard enough.” Embrace your fears and try something new.
“It’s not just you or him or her — there’s actually nothing more difficult on the planet than another person.” – Stan Tatkin
Communication is critical. But as relationship expert Stan Tatkin told TEDxKC attendees Friday, it is nearly impossible for human beings to get it right. Also a couple’s therapist, Tatkin explained how our brains are habituated to a person after prolonged contact. As a result, we eventually take shortcuts to interpret a person’s perspective, often assuming that we understand.
Whether you are communicating with teammates, other businesses or customers, it is important to stay attentive and curious. Communication is difficult, and when we underestimate how much effort it takes to get it right, we are more likely to get it wrong.
When you face a personal conflict with a co-founder or spouse, Tatkin suggested to the audience that you physically change your perspective on the person — for example, stand face-to-face — to help prompt empathy and better understanding.
“With access to the right information at the right time, our healthcare system could be simpler, cheaper, and more effective. It should be, it needs to be, and I’m gonna stay mad that it’s not until it is.” – Michael Rea
Emotion can be a powerful motivator, and every entrepreneur knows the importance of determination when it comes to meeting goals.
When Michael Rea was working as a pharmacist, he learned that 30 percent of prescriptions that are written are never filled due to high drug costs. Rea said that the price of pharmaceutical drugs are rising four times faster than the wages in this country, and that prices have far more to do with luck than economic status.
He founded Rx Saving Solutions because he was determined to find a solution to this problem. He created an information gathering platform that now allows people in all 50 states to save money on drug costs within minutes.
Rea’s persistence serves as an example for anyone who wishes to create impact in their community. It is OK to care, and even to be mad. Rea exemplifies how to use those feelings as an advantage and fuel perseverance.
“People say that the hardest words to say are ‘I love you.’ I disagree, it’s ‘I need help.'” – Denise Lance
It takes a certain amount of independence to be an entrepreneur; many successful innovators refer to themselves as “self-starters.” But what is a self-starter to do when they can’t do it by themselves?
Disability rights activist Denise Lance delivered a moving personal testimony of what to feels like to be an independent woman while living with a disability that limits her speech and mobility. Many times, pride and ego can get in the way from a person asking for help when they need it. Lance encouraged people to have the courage to ask for help and the grace to receive it.
The value of vulnerability is often overlooked, and entrepreneurs can often benefit when humbling themselves to an ask for help.
Enjoy Startland’s photo gallery from the event by clicking on an image below to launch the lightbox. Photos by Bobby Burch.