TEDx Grand Rapids – Making Meaning of Connections

by Jennifer Miller on May 16, 2012

in Communication, Personal Effectiveness

interconnected peopleIt’s six days out from last week’s TEDx Grand Rapids event and I’m still processing.

TED events are well-known for their brief, powerful speaker presentations proffering Big Ideas (see my list of quotes from the 2012 TEDx Grand Rapids speakers).  Frankly, A TEDx event can be daunting—such BIG ideas, presented by people with amazing stories and credentials. The crowd is daunting—700 people who had to apply to attend.

It could be easy to feel small in such a sweeping context. Happily, it’s not at all that way . What’s great about a TEDx event is that if you pay attention, you’ll see unlimited opportunities to make a difference. My take-away from this year’s TEDx experience is that making a difference doesn’t always need to be the grand gesture. It can be a simple, yet meangingful one-to-one interaction.

For example, the event organizers showed a TED video clip of Laura Trice who talked about giving praise . . . and how, even though people crave praise, we think it’s not acceptable to ask for it. Laura reminds us, that it is ok to ask for praise. And it’s also super-easy (and FREE!) to give praise. One person can make a huge impact on the life of a fellow human being.

line of casually dressed peopleFollowing this idea of “making a difference” in small ways, I made an extra effort to create meaningful connections at each scheduled break and with all the people seated around me at the Civic Theatre. Here’s a quick run-down of some of my interactions, which shows the diversity of the people one can meet at a TEDx event:

  •  Jake – a Kendall College student studying furniture design, who asked me for career advice.
  • Jason – a recent WMU graduate, who’s looking to make a difference by going into fundraising.
  • Molly – a food truck owner  – The Silver Spork – I gave her tips on how to use Twitter to help promote her business.
  • Rick – we met in line waiting for coffee. I read his nametag and said, “I’ve hired you to work for me!” but we had never met in person. He peered at my name badge and said, “You’re right! Nice to meet you!” Three years ago, Rick designed graphics for my blog; up until last Thursday we had conducted business strictly by phone and email. This was our first face-to-face (and completely unexpected!) meeting.


By opening your vision about what it means to “make a difference”—be it simple career advice for a college student or dispensing social media tips to an entrepreneur, you can feel solid in the fact that you are making a difference each day.

You have the power to create connections every day. How will you make those connections meaningful?


You can hear more about my thoughts on creating meaningful connections at TEDx Grand Rapids in this brief interview conducted by Josh Leng on his Live at Five segment for WJRW Talk Radio last Friday.




photo credit: istockphoto.com


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jeri Devlin May 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Sharon Wright’s award winning film “Change for a Dollar” shows the difference one small action can make.


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