Writing a TEDx Talk

by Sarah Brown

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 7.44.38 PMRecently, I had an opportunity to deliver a TEDx Talk at Wilmington, DE’s TEDxevent.  I was thrilled with the opportunity to talk about how everyone can be happy, successful, and understood in their key pursuits and how each major decision is an opportunity to increase happiness.

Then reality set in.  I had never done a talk like this before.  The format was all different.  How was I going to get these ideas across in 15 minutes?

And then there was the little problem of the cameras.  All TEDx Talks are recorded.  That scared me.

What to do:  I had to eat my own dog food so to speak.  What in this pursuit would make me happy, successful and understood in the process? So here is what I did:

  1. What would make me happy?  Having sufficient time to think this through thoroughly and to do adequate research.  This plays to a real interest of mine—research.  So I allocated 1 hour a day to think about the topic and to do research.  I did this in a 21-day period of time, so that it could become like a habit. So, yes, my preparation was about 21 hours, almost 1.5 hours per minute of talking, and after 21 days, it had become a habit.
  2. What strengths did I bring to the table?  First I prefer to be structured and the talk format played to this. I could and did use my natural tendency to approach things in a logical structural way to organize my talk.
  3. What did I need?  I needed direct feedback from others.  So I chose coaches who would be blunt with me.

And then I followed my own process over this 21-day period of time:

  • KNOW.  I generated a lot of knowledge, reduced it down to something I thought would work.  And I did it on paper.  I wrote a lot of scripts.
  • TEST.  I then sent it to no less than 5 others to review it and provide feedback.  And then I rehearsed the actual delivery with 5 individuals.
  • GO.  After each test phase I wrote down what I needed to change, changed it, and then rehearsed it again so that I was sure I got it.

I had butterflies for 3 days before the TEDx Talk and for the first 15 seconds on stage. And then I was fine—confident in my message and my preparation.  It was then just like any other workshop.

So, now I am getting feedback from others.  Among other things, I need to smile more.  That will be the topic of my next 21-day process.  I am sure there are other opportunities for me to refine the message and its delivery, and I am counting as a blessing everyone’s contributions to that.  Send me your thoughts at [email protected]. Please visit the Know Thyself Guides website to learn how you can become successful, happy and understood in your career and your own life.



The Power of Needs

There were 9 of us in Madrid yesterday.  We had a great day exploring this great city on foot, on bus, and from the many street cafes.  We would separate into smaller groups as we visited museums, with some going to the Prado, some the Thyssen, some Reina Sofia.  We ended up having chocolate and churros before heading to Estacion Chamartin to board our overnight train to Sarria.

There was virtually no food at the train station.  There was no food on the train.  This is not a recipe for energizing someone with hypoglycemia, especially after eating all that chocolate.

Our quarters were quite cramped and not large enough for even the meager luggage of a few pilgrims.  And it was hot as we all imagine Hades to be.  When the 9 of us rolled off the train (2 of us while the train was starting to move onto the next stop) onto the dark platform at 6:45 in the morning, we were a grumpy lot, a bit disorganized and quite lost.  Not one of us had slept during the 8-hour journey.

We managed to find our hotel, but there were no rooms for us.  Since it was still dark,  the pilgrims had not yet left for their onward journey.  In small packs we wandered around the city hunting for coffee and food like stray dogs on the hunt for anything edible.  I suspect we looked a bit like stray dogs as well.  Once fed and hydrated we found our way back to the hotel where our rooms and beds were waiting.  A nap became the next priority.

Upon awaking we strolled around the city and took some walks on the camino-practice walks with our equipment,  deciding what we would carry with us for the rest of the journey starting tomorrow.  We were thinking a bit clearer now that we had had rest, food, and water.  And we were talking with each other with helpful suggestions.

I got a stark lesson this day on the power of basic needs in our lives.  When they were not met,  it was about all I could think of.  When they were met,  I could focus more on interacting with and helping others. I could also begin to think about the spiritual journey we were all embarking upon.

It is the same with our needs when it comes to interacting with others.  My Know Thyself Guides (r) preferred style is to interact one on one or in small groups.  I can do the big group thing, but it does create stress, so it helps if i can get some time away to recharge.  Imagine large group interactions constantly for days with the additional stress of lack of food, water, and rest.

My lesson today in Knowing Myself is to ensure that my basic needs are met so that I can be of service to others and learn what I need for myself.

When completing your Know Thyself Guide(r), you will learn:

  • What your NEEDS are
  • Your STRESS REACTIONS when your NEEDS are not getting met.

This is very important to understand when wanting to be Happy, Successful, and Understood.

Going to Know Myself


0-Pilgram photoI leave tonight with my fellow pilgrims to walk the final portion of Camino de Santiago in Spain. I am awed by all the support I will have, including the prayer support we have from our church who blessed us this morning and sent us off with this prayer.

We are all making this journey for different reasons. But the common themes are expressed in this prayer. “Your head does not know where your feet are leading your heart.” “You have a meeting to keep, perhaps with yourself.” By getting out of myself, and in the company of others, I pray to better know myself.


– Sarah


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Eating my Own Dog Food

Photo credit: BuzzFarmers
Photo credit: BuzzFarmers

There’s a not-so-appetizing phrase used in product development: “Eating your own dog food.” It’s slang, used to describe when a company uses its own product to validate the quality and capabilities of the product. Well, I am about to eat my own dog food. I am going to change careers and use my Know Thyself Guide® as a compass for change.

This might not sound like a big deal, but I have been working for big corporations for 37 years.   I have been a partner with my current company for 17 years.  I had a lot of responsibility leading a great global team.  I had an amazing salary and incredible perks that come with corporate life. But some things were missing—I was not happy. So, I quit my job and will be taking the next 21 days to read my Know Thyself Guide®.

Fortunately, I have studied my own Know Thyself Guide® carefully, and I understand that I need lots of time to think deeply about what I’m working on. I need focused time to plan where to apply my energies. I also love physical exercise. So, as I embark on new career challenges, I am going to take a pilgrimage.  A group from my church is going to walk a portion of the Camino del Santiago—the way of St. James—in Spain.  I will get the physical exercise I love and have plenty of time to think about how to focus my energies in the next decade. I do not want to minimize divine inspiration.  I think that I am more likely to be open to it when I am doing what I love.  So I anticipate some real insights from this journey.  I will record my thoughts, what I am learning about myself as a way to better Know Myself, in these blogs.

Of course, I’m taking my personalized Know Thyself Guide® with me. I am taking the new ePub version so I can read it on my iPad and with the new note taking capability, I can also record thoughts directly in my book.

Look for thoughts along the “Way.”


– Sarah


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The Fit that’s Just Right: Choosing a Career that Matches Your Talents, Strengths and Passions

We’ve all been there – you buy an article of clothing in the store. It’s expensive, but you just love it. Or maybe you don’t love it, but you really need it and don’t feel like hunting through a dozen stores to find something better. Perhaps you even try it on for size before you leave the store, yet when you get home and put it on, the fit is wrong, the color is awful on you and you can’t imagine what you were thinking when you bought it.

Choosing a career can be like that. The difference is that you can’t return a career to the store if it doesn’t fit, and you can’t shove it in the back of the closet and forget about it either. You can, however, educate yourself on how to get a better career fit and then exchange that too-small or over-large job for one that is tailor-made for you.

How can you do that? First, you need to learn about yourself. What are you truly passionate about? What in life captures and holds your interest? What are your strengths and how do they relate to your passions? Are there obstacles holding you back, and how can you get around them?

When you’re choosing a career, discovering the answers to these questions is as basic as knowing your dress or shoe size before you go clothes shopping. It’s essential you do your homework and explore size, color and style before investing your time and money in pursuing a career.

Sometimes, you need help in making a selection. You may take your wingman to the store with you when you’re picking out a shirt for your big date. Or, you sit down with your bestie and watch a few episodes of a fashion show. Better still, you work with a knowledgeable consultant in the store whose feedback and expertise can help you discover what looks great on you.

Just as there’s a perfect outfit for every individual and occasion, there’s a job out there that’s perfect for you. Think of a personalized me-book™ from Know Thyself Guides® as the career consultant who helps you discover what works for you. With the insight you’ll gain from taking our Birkman Method® questionnaire, you’ll be able to better understand the types of careers that will be a good fit for your passions, interests and strengths.

No one wants to wear ill-fitting clothes, and you should never settle for a career that doesn’t fit.