TEDxHouston 2011

TEDx Houston 2011 at Wortham Theatre University of Houston

This past Saturday, members of the Schipul team (Alex, Jonti and Ed) and I (Sarah) had the privilege of attending TEDx Houston 2011 at the University of Houston Wortham Theatre.   This was my first TEDx conference to attend in person’ having been a longtime TED video watcher and fan.

The conference asked all of us the question ‘Where do we go from here?”

First, all of us at Schipul want to give huge props to the Culture Pilot team and the amazing volunteers and sponsors that enabled TEDxHouston to run smoothly Saturday. Running a conference for a bunch of smart out-of-the-box thinkers is a challenge, and they were incredibly successful.

All of the speakers were amazing, and their speeches sparked new ideas that I scrawled alongside my notes from their presentations, including:

  • Dr. Robert Ness’s speech on Innovative Thinking in education’ I wondered to myself if evolution and creationism had to be two distinct concepts or if perhaps, life does have a plan to it and the diversity and struggles within ‘survival of the fittest” is part of the intent?
  • Micki Fine asked the audience the question ‘Where are we now?” and talked about mindful living.   As someone who falls asleep the moment I sit down on a yoga mat, (really’ ask me to sit still and 5 minutes later I’m dreaming), I loved that she didn’t just talk about how to meditate and slow down’ she gave me questions to ask myself like what matters to me most and how do I act from true intentions?

Here are three TEDxHouston presentations that struck a chord with me’ read on for other Schipulite feedback on this great event and check out all the TEDx Houston photos taken by Ed Schipul:

Kurt Podeszwa, Director of Camp for All

(Disclosure:   Camp For All is a Schipul client) Kurt spoke brilliantly on ‘How do we promote service above self?”   With an emotionally moving, or as Kurt would say ‘creates contact problems” presentation,   heshared his viewpoint that the work he does is ‘selfish selflessness” and that those who volunteer their time and energy ‘do not promote service above self, rather it is service because of what we get back from it.”

This discussion brought light to the notion that when we volunteer, we are helping those who make the real sacrifices’ the ones who take the real risks.   For Kurt, he was helping those children who had to deal with their scars, diseases, disabilities and keep living life joyfully.

Michael Holthouse, Founder of Lemonade Day

Michael Holthouse, a tech entrepreneur and founder of Lemonade Day, presented on ‘Entitlement: now what?”.   Entitlement and generation Y seem to go together nowadays and in a lot of ways, I suffer this plight.   Michael began by talking about economics and the great depression and welfare.   He used the parable of giving a man a fish versus teaching a man to fish to transition to how our society in America has created this sense of entitlement in our culture by not teaching our children how to do the work needed to succeed.

Lemonade Stands held at TEDx Houston 2011 raised over $600 that was donated to TEDxHouston!

Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs

After lunch, TEDx Houston presented a video of Aimee Mullins that was from TED 2009 entitled ‘Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs.”   It is difficult to believe that I not only had never seen this presentation, I had never heard of Aimee Mullins until Saturday.   Aimee Mullins had both legs amputated below the knee when she was an infant.   She has had to learn from the beginning of life to walk on prosthetic legs and she told the stories of 12 pairs of prosthetic legs she owns, including a pair that look like glass and a pair that adds 6 inches to her height.  Aimee ends her speech with a story about an evening out with friends. As Aimee walks into the restaurant wearing her extra-tall legs right after they were made, one of her girlfriends remarks “But you’re so tall!” and then “But Aimee, that’s not fair.”  Hearing how the conversation has now gone in reverse where the disadvantage doesn’t necessarily go to the disabled person anymore really changed the way I will think.

Some of the Amazing Women @TEDxHouston from Alex

The day started with a talk by Dr. Roberta Ness about the hot topic innovative thinking. Steven Johnson’s recent book brought this issue to the front of a lot of people’s minds last year, right after a Newsweek cover story told us that we are in the middle of a ‘creativity crisis” in America. As an issue that seems to pop up all over the place, this was a great way to start the day and get people thinking differently about how to answer the conference’s theme question: where do we go from here? Dr. Ness spoke about the desperate need for innovation and creation to solve the most pressing problems in our world (many of which we delved into deeper later into Saturday) and encouraged us all to break the frames that we use to see the world. It couldn’t have been a better way to set the tone for the day, as many of the subsequent speakers challenged us to ‘frame break” with them.

Angela Blanchard of the hugely successful Houston non-profit Neighborhood Centers challenged us to think differently about underprivileged areas in our city and throughout the world. Although we typically associate negative, broken images with these areas, Angela encouraged us to figure out what is working and build on these assets to make improvements. Like she said, nobody ever got into college by listing all their flaws on their application. The personal touch that Angela brought to her story is, I think, a hallmark of TED talks that makes these videos and conferences different and even more inspirational than those from many other events. The work that Angela and the Neighborhood Centers crew is doing in Houston, along with her story, had many of us close to tears’ sometimes also a hallmark of TED talks.

Super-smart businesswoman Nina Godiwalla spoke in the afternoon about the topic of her book Suits, being a minority woman on Wall Street. Nina has a very specific and unique story, but her experience’s are common to many fringe and minority groups who find themselves in unwelcoming environments. The current that ran throughout her talk was that the small picture of her story was not the important part. What is important to Nina is clearly that men, women, old, young, all ethnic groups, etc. were able to read her book and relate to her experiences. Nina’s call to action at the end of her talk was to stand up and speak up whenever groups become exclusive of people for the wrong reasons.

I so wish that I could write about each and every talk I heard on Saturday; they were amazing and inspirational. Be sure to follow @TEDxHouston and check them out yourselves as they get posted. I think the conference’s theme speaks to the takeaway I heard from most of the attendees: Come to TED to get inspired, and then go somewhere from here.

Some TEDxHouston tidbits from Jonti

I enjoyed a series of off the agenda surprises, like speakers such as Hear our Houston audio Walking Tours and  Laura Spanjian from Mayor’s office for Green Houston. Laura outlined the success and future of Houston becoming one of the most green and sustainable cities in the United States. Previewing plug-in vehicle stations and Green Office challenges, she also has her sights set the goal of 100% curb recycling and increased renewable energy solutions for Houston.

Another surprise speaker and chef Justin Yu encouraged a stronger relationship between your food, humble exploration and culture to rediscover what is great about your own culture. Each surprise was part of a Hidden Gem theme building on the hidden gems of Houston.

Volunteers and Emcee Chris Johnson at TEDx Houston 2011 take a bow

Quack! Ducks race for non-profits

This past Sunday marked the 4th Annual Silicon Valley Duck Race. It’s a fun event held in Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos, CA where attendees get to sponsor an iconic rubber ducky as it floats down the lake. Ducks are sponsored for $5 a piece, and sponsors can win great prizes if their duck is picked across the finish line – anything from a Tahoe vacation to a gardening gift basket. There’s even a chance to win a million dollars! Sadly, none of my ducks were the lucky millionaire ones. That’s why I’m still here to write you this blog post.

The Silicon Valley Duck Race is not just an opportunity to have fun, it’s also a chance to do good. The event is coordinated on by the JewishFamily Services of Silicon Valley, but benefits a total of seventeen different non-profits and charities in the area. Typically the race sells out and all 15,000 ducks in the race are sponsored before start, but this year sales were sluggish. Leading up to race day only about 11,000 had been sold – a strong showing but another example for non-profits how overall giving is down. Media attention surrounding the low sales plus a gorgeous Sunday led to a last-minute push for a total of 13,502 ducks sponsored.

This ducky is usually on top of the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum

It was my first time at the duck race, and I really enjoyed it! I was most surprised to see the giant duck that resides at the top of the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum down at ground level. When I was first exploring downtown San Jose, I noticed this giant duck on top of a building and couldn’t imagine what for. Then it dawned on me – that had to be the Children’s Museum! It was really cool to see it up close. The duck race was such a fun event, and made all the better by the non-profit support. Plus a day in the California sunshine didn’t hurt either. I’m already looking forward to next year! Photos  from the Silicon Valley Duck Race are online at Schipul.com and you can watch the duck launch too!

NTEN 2011 Knowledge Share: Using Video to Raise Funds

This year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) was one for the record books. CiviCRM was a buzz, making open-source software the hero for a multitude of constituent management woes. Speaking of CRMs, have you ever heard of a SocialCRM, yep…it’s coming people! And of course there was Google, never one to show up empty handed, launching “Google for Nonprofits” with the most adorable chocolate bars in tow. There were so many new, and often misspelled, online fund-raising technologies being discussed that many might have walked away a tad overwhelmed.

So what’s an organization to do? What is the best way to raise money online?

One word – VIDEO. And let me tell you why…

While meandering around NTC, a session caught my eye called, “Videos that Raise Money” (See3 Communications). I like videos, and I like helping our nonprofit clients raise money so I figured this would be a win/win situation. Then BAM…statistics were thrown right in my face:

“In December 2010 ComScore reported that 85% of US internet users watched online video, 88.6 million people watched online video on an average single day and the average American spent more than 14 hours watching online video (ComScore, February 2011)”

Geez, whatever happened to playing outside, but I digress…

This data cannot be ignored, and with all of the inexpensive ways to produce videos, nonprofits need to utilize this growing audience to increase awareness and of course, increase online donations.

Ok, so where should an organization begin? According to the guys over at See3, fund-raising has a life cycle and video becomes increasingly relevant during each stage.

Video Fund-raising Life Cycle

Awareness & Identification

Get people to think about the problem and how your organization is dealing with it; and remember, simplicity can force someone to listen.

“It’s in Your Hands”www.tippytap.org

Solicitation

Go ahead and just ask; allow your donors to create social capital.

“Seriously, Serious PSA”www.malarianomore.org

 

Acknowledgement

Just say thank you.“The Boy Who Lived”www.uncultured.com

 

Engagement

Show your donors where their money went and how much it has helped your organization.“Prayer Answered in the Form of a Dairy Cow”www.worldvision.org

 

Stewardship

Let your donors know the bigger impact.“Stand With Haiti”www.oxfam.org


 

 

Check out the entire presentation on See3’s slideshare!

Kicking off the new Silicon Valley office with IABC!

The Schipul Silicon Valley web design office officially opens today, but in true Schipulite fashion, we just couldn’t pass up the chance for a party! Last Thursday we were proud to sponsor the IABC Silicon Valley March Madness Mixer, which was held at the gorgeous new Brocade Executive Briefing Center.

Despite the rain (yes, it rains in California, and in fact has been doing so since I arrived 2 weeks ago!) the mixer was attended by a large crowd excited to see old friends and make new connections. As an added bonus, local photographer Anne Knudsen was on hand to take new headshots for IABC members! Given that I was wearing the same dress my last headshots were taken in, I passed on this opportunity but kicked myself for it.

For two hours, folks mingled with the crowd, sampled a delicious assortment of snacks and tried a variety of Destino Wines. There were giveaways galore plus a tour of the new Brocade center and a look at all the hi-tech screen technology that went in to it. We’re talking about serious screens here folks – the kind that would put your neighbor’s Super Bowl party to shame!

An example of just one of the awesome new screens at Brocade

It was a great night and we couldn’t be happier to kick off our new expansion with a group like IABC. We’ve long enjoyed working with the Houston chapter and are excited about getting involved with the Silicon Valley and San Francisco groups as well. Much thanks to the entire IABC Silicon Valley board for welcoming us to the area, and to the wonderful folks at Brocade for hosting the event and being awesome in general. All these great folks making us feel right at home. 🙂

Check out more event photos online over at the SV IABC Facebook and Brocade Facebook pages!

Startup Weekend Houston

Houston Startup Weekend Sign

Start Starting Up!

Ever wonder how some business ventures get off the ground and get going?   Or maybe how you can go about getting your idea rolling?   Well, Startup Weekened does just that for developers, coders, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts who participate in several Startup Weekends world wide.

Houston Startup Weekend Group

“Build Community. Start Companies. No talk. All action.”

A great (and true) tag line for this growing non-profit organization that helps participating teams from all over the  world get their ideas from concept to launch.   Starting in 2007, the non-profit Startup Weekend has grown to provide about 120 volunteer based facilities for creative and entrepreneurial brainstorming sessions.

Houston Startup Weekend Presentation

Previous companies that have evolved from a Startup weekend include Cloudbot, Milton, iBuildApp and Pocket Tales.   In fact, there are tons of new businesses from all over the planet that have started at one of these 54 hour weekend community events.

Startup weekend is expanding and growing so fast for a reason.   First it’s an amazing non-profit that educates entrepreneurs and strengthens communities and all at an extremely affordable price.   Let’s face it, even the word “startup” is horrifying if you’re going it alone, but Startup Weekend provides a risk free, community environment to get things going and touch on what is and is not realistic. Basically, it’s help.   Help from great people who care.

Houston Startup Weekend Workshop

Startup in Houston!

What could be more awesome than Startup Weekends?   Oh, that there is a Startup Weekend Houston!   This past weekend represents the First Official Houston Startup Weekend not to be confused with the first  Houston Startup Weekend back in 2007 at Caroline Collective. The 2007 weekend was hosted by omnipresent Erica O’grady.

Houston Startup Weeked Sarah

The proud team of organizers of Startup Weekend Houston were the amazing   Sarah Worthy ,  Javid Jamae a fellow a developer; humble … the way all developers should be, Brian Cohen, Daniel Sommars, Katie Sunstrom and  Jerald Reichstein.  Jerald owns his business like most people own their notebooks.  He’s had at least one before, knows it’s powerful, but he spends more time enjoying it rather than being worried about it.  Or maybe I was most impressed with his personal rock climbing wall.  Either way, the mood at this event was inspiring.

Houston Startup Weekend

Along with Dozens of Houston’s creative and geeky go-getters, it was nothing less than a privilege that we  were able to be there.  Even more-so of an honor was being given the opportunity to contribute; our Creative Director David Stagg gave a small presentation on the important role a simple website plays in the discovery and positioning of your organization.

Houston Startup Weeked David Stagg

I look forward to next year’s event, I’m hoping to do more than just enjoy a Saturday morning. Be sure to check out photos from Startup Weekend Houston and David’s presentation.