9 Things I Learned at TEDx Fort Wayne

Photo from the SPACES QUARTERLY Facebook page

On Saturday, I had the honor of being part of the inaugural TEDx Fort Wayne event. My presentation, “Accessibility: Fort Wayne’s Competitive Advantage,” focused on why I have chosen to stay here after moving from the greater Boston area–and how accessibility to time, money and people presents Fort Wayne with a great story to tell from a talent retention and economic development standpoint.

Thanks to Craig Crook and his team of volunteers, it was a tremendous experience for me as a presenter. It was also a great learning experience, with lessons that will stay with me for a long time, including:

1. Preparing for an 18 minute presentation is, in some respects, harder than preparing for a 60 minute presentation. There’s less wiggle room, and every word matters.

2. 18 minutes is enough. Did I say everything I could have possibly said about how accessibility is Fort Wayne’s best story, and its greatest competitive advantage? No. But I said enough to start the conversation without going on so long that the audience lost interest (or at least I hope not).

3. Whenever possible, go first. I didn’t plan on being the first (live) presenter at TEDx Fort Wayne, but it worked out great for me. I was able to exhale and enjoy the other speakers–enough to know that some of them would have been tremendously hard to follow.

4. Fort Wayne has some incredible talent. Not so much something I learned as something that was reinforced, but it was amazing to see it all come together at one event.

5. A clicker is better. I usually don’t use a remote clicker when I present, unless the venue provides one. I’ve just been too lazy/cheap to buy one, I guess. What I realized Saturday is how much worse it is to advance slides via your keyboard. Doing so locks you to your laptop and prevents you from truly being with the audience. That makes it less likely you’ll have their full attention. So, I’m buying one of these.

6. Craig Crook is a force of nature. This was a big event, with a lot of parts and pieces to coordinate. Craig and his team pulled it off beyond everyone’s expectations. Phenomenal.

7. Ideas beget ideas. One of the best things about Saturday’s event was that the idea sharing went well beyond the presentations. It seemed like everyone in attendance was inspired to think big.

8. It’s very likely I have ADHD. And, thanks to Rebecca Hession, I now know that’s not bad–just different.

9. Say yes, whenever you can. I almost had to say no to being part of TEDx Fort Wayne. I’m trying to get better about not spreading myself too thin, so giving up a Saturday morning in May seemed like an imposition. I also wasn’t sure my background aligned with the “social and sustainable innovation” theme. But when all was said and done, I couldn’t say no to a TEDx event. I ended up compromising, spending the first half of the day at TEDx Fort Wayne, and then getting home in time to see my wife and my son and get some things done around the house. I wish I could have stayed for the afternoon, but I’m REALLY glad I didn’t miss the whole thing.

Thanks to all the volunteers who made it happen, to the audience for being so gracious, and to the other speakers for setting the bar high. There’s no doubt that on Saturday, everyone learned that Fort Wayne has “ideas worth spreading.”

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5 Responses to 9 Things I Learned at TEDx Fort Wayne

  1. Don Kincaid says:


    You did a great job. I’m so glad you didn’t say no.

    You are right about the preparation time for a shorter presentation. It takes much, much longer to write for a an 18 minute address that a 60 minute address. And in the end, the shorter address is usually more powerful.

    Mark Twain said, “I have not listened to a bad speech to-night, and I don’t propose to be the one to furnish you with one; and I would, if I had time and permission, go on and make an excellent speech. But I never was happy, never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it.” (http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/06/09/twain-speech/)

    I encourage you to use the Accessibility presentation often, far and wide. It is much more powerful than the standard facts I hear from Economic Development pitches.

    Thanks again.


  2. ajjuliano says:

    Thanks, Don! I appreciate your support and everything you and the other volunteers did to make it a success. I’m glad you didn’t have to give me the red card!

    I’d be eager to share the presentation anywhere it would be helpful. I think it could make a difference in our talent retention and economic development efforts.

  3. I was so proud of you, Anthony. Your ideas on Fort Wayne really made me think. I’d bounced around in my head the thought that we’ve got a couple extra hours A DAY here in Fort Wayne than I had when I lived in Chicago. Never occurred to me that those 10 hours a week are the very hours that I use to read, to connect, to dream, to just “be.” Thanks for the clarity! BRAVO!

  4. ajjuliano says:

    Thanks, Chris. You and the other volunteers made my job easy. I really appreciate you all taking the time to make it a great event.

  5. Not sure how I missed this when it first came out but I stumbled on it today! Thanks for the shout out! I really enjoyed your talk, it was a great way to kick off the day! Hope you are doing well!

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