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The Road To TEDxColumbus

Depending on your level of understanding and experience with TED Talks, I’ve decided to devote my blog over the course of the next few weeks to sharing with you the process that has landed me on the list of speakers at this years TEDx event in Columbus.
 
About this time last year, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Nancy Kramer (Resource/Ammirati) and sharing with her my passion for effecting change in the world of youth sports. With Nancy’s incredible reputation for success, I was hoping to gain some strategic insight on how to best go about impacting this segment of our sports culture. At one point during our conversation, Nancy looked at me and said, “You need to do a TED Talk.”
 
Knowing the impact and reach that TED has, I was certainly flattered that Nancy felt my story was worth sharing at this level. It wasn’t long after this meeting that Nancy made the introduction to her partner at TEDx, Ruth Milligan. Ruth is the engine that makes TEDxColumbus fly.
 
After meeting Ruth last winter, I was offered the opportunity to take a speaking course with Ruth over a 12 week period last spring. Having been a collegiate coach for so many years, I can tell you that I was very comfortable with public speaking. This was different. Ruth put us through a program that truly made you think (& squirm) and forced you to look at sharing your story in a whole new way. The TED way. I’ll just say this, Ruth is the rock star of storytelling!
 
The next step to be considered for a spot as a speaker at TEDxColumbus was to file an application, and to include a short video on your subject. Not nearly as comfortable producing a video as I am in front of an audience, I found this task a bit more challenging. With the video due by June 30th, my month of June was packed with soccer camps, coaches from Italy visiting, and the need to get 160 children registered and carded for fall soccer. It was crazy.
 
I decided that I would wait until the last week of June and produce the video while on vacation in Colorado. This was a sound plan in every way except one. It worked well with my schedule and peace of mind, but failed to take into account the extreme elevation and the impact that it had on my breathing. At 9,500 feet, I was appalled that my video showed me gasping for air with every breath. It was not a work that I was particularly proud of. Once all of the applications were in, we were told that the committee would meet in early August and we would be notified shortly thereafter as to their decision. I remember getting my email from Ruth, and being absolutely elated that I had been selected. What a great honor!
 
The next challenge for me was to determine what I should select as my topic. With so many issues at play in our world of youth sports, I was truly anxious about where to go with this. I needed to determine what the question was that my audience most wanted answered. What was the “take away?” Because I so passionately want to impact change, I want my talk to inspire, provoke, and most importantly, disrupt the way we look at things as it pertains to our current system.
 
We have just begun the coaching sessions with Ruth (there will be three), and they are like counseling sessions....lots of self examination. Ruth truly knows how to get you to step back and assess the process. In the back of my mind, while I am a bit scared, I have this overriding calm and confidence that Ruth will not allow me to fail. Failing has never really been an option anyway.
 
Please stay tuned as I delve deeper into the topic and the process of producing what I hope will be an incredibly compelling talk on November 20th, with a hope of continuing the conversation at many levels.
 
- Steve Locker
 

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