TEDx Grand Rapids Library


Deep breaths.

The idea behind TED – short for Technology, Entertainment, and Design – is that if you had one idea to share with the world, what would it be? The main TED conferences are held in Long Beach, California and Edinburgh, Scotland, and consist mainly of TED Talks, speeches about 18 minutes in length that describe an idea the speaker wants to share with the world. TEDx conferences, like ours, are locally organized, and also consist of such talks. Our lineup included all sorts of experts in a variety of fields from comedy to medicine to heuristics. Usually, TED talks are usually given by experts; being a librarian, I am an expert at not being an expert. That’s the only thing I’ve got down pat so far, and I decided to take my talk in that direction.

One of the ways I prepared was that I researched TED’s speeches. I soon found that some were better than others, and they gave me some great lessons that I incorporated into my speech. One thing I noticed was that TED talks are mostly ‘big’ in their ideas, in that they speak of solutions and problems on a world, or at least large, scale. I wanted to do something small. Rarely do people talk about small steps people take to build themselves. I wanted to talk about those because thinking in small steps has improved my life in many ways. It has made the biggest challenges seem feasible. I was lucky in that I had good people to punch up this speech, in its final as well as its draft forms. I was, and still am, a member of Toastmasters. That definitely helped, but the biggest reason that I was able to do this off is because I believe what I said: all great things are built through small things, in small ways, over time. When you are steady you go far.

I always find it useful to remind myself of that. Especially when you have to speak in front of all your co-workers :). 

Find all the TEDx Talks from the GRPL TEDx Event, as well as a live music performance from the Soil and the Sun, here.


Business Librarian

One Response to “TEDx Grand Rapids Library”

  1. January 14, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    You impressed us all, Steve!

    This story by Anne Lamott that I read the other day made me think of you when you talked about breaking things down into steps:

    "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

    My new mantra….