By: Anna Zeng

Last Sunday, Mission San Jose High School held TEDxMSJHS, a student-organized independent TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in which speakers condense important ideas and experiences into eighteen-minute talks. The event, organized by Seniors Brian Hou, Merry Mou, and Andrew Han, drew a variety of speakers to MSJ to speak about the conference’s theme, “Synergy.”

TED is a non-profit organization dedicated to opening up dialogues and spreading ideas. Since its first conference atPalm Springs,California, in 1984, TED has organized conferences bringing three sectors of innovation together in a collective gathering of learning and discussion. TED officially holds two annual conferences, the TED conference inPalm Springs,California, and the TEDGlobal conference inEdinburgh,Scotland.

The TEDx program was created to give local communities, schools, and institutions the chance to independently run a conference that upholds the values of TED and carries the TED brand. The “x” in TEDx denotes that the TED-like event is independently organized in the spirit of TED. This is the first time a TEDx event has been held inFremont.

The event on Sunday was divided into three sessions, each with a variety of live speakers as well as videos from previous TED and TEDGlobal conferences.

To begin the day, Richard Sekar, founder and CEO of a personal server broadcasting company, spoke of a path towards an early retirement by going for start-up companies, working up to eighty hours per week, collaborating with others, and giving back to the community. Following Sekar’s talk, Robert Fuller, a global authority on rankism (segregation based on status and rank rather than physical traits), introduced rankism as “what somebodies do to nobodies. Rank is not the issue, but the abuse of rank is,” says Fuller. He urges students to work towards the removal of rankism behavior. After a break, Steven Johnson’s 2010 TEDGlobal talk “Where Good Ideas Come From” shows that many of our historical breakthroughs actually come from the coffee shop, where ideas mingle to shape the world of the future. The final speaker of the session, Kim Silverman, Apple’s Principal Research Scientist and a Member of theAcademyofMagical Artsbased inHollywood, led the audience through a journey of magic tricks to reveal truths in our everyday lives. Ideas were combined and remolded in his masterful card tricks and final trick, the Thread of Life.

MSJ alumnus Kevin Wing, renowned television producer and winner of two Emmy Awards for journalism, started the second session, effectively opening up a dialogue within the audience about their future. Zach Weiner, the creator of the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal web-comic, spoke in a video about his devotion to and love of mathematics despite his English degree. Ana Rowena McCullough, co-founder and CEO of the Quest-Scholars program, spoke about seven steps to “Aim at Life” for success, encouraging students to be proactive, energetic, and dedicated to whatever they put themselves into. Gagan Biyani, also an MSJ alumnus and co-founder and President of Udemy, taught students to put in the right amount of effort in the right places by being passionate and realistic. He took special care to mention that GPA and standardized tests scores matter, but not as much as previously thought; Biyani reminded students that time is more valuable than money at this point in life.

Bill Zarchy, a photographer, writer, and instructor, kicked off the third session with clever insights paired with ingenious clips of his work. It included an advertisement in which a piano is dropped overhead without special effects, the official tour of the first Apple retail store with the late Steve Jobs, and video documentation of life in the White House. He said, “It’s not about the gear, it’s about unleashing creativity.” Roy Chin, an avid inventor and engineer of medical devices, gave the audience a crash course on success. “You’ve got to fail fast,” he says. Chin emphasizes staying on track and not doing things the “beautiful way,” as that will always lead one away from the main goal. He values discipline and hard work, but mostly encourages passion, commitment, responsibility, and no whining. “The road is never straight,” he said, “[because] success is overcoming crises. You’ve got to love what you do; otherwise, you better not do it.” Stacey Kramer was featured through a 2010 TEDGlobal video, in the talk “The Best Gift I Ever Survived.” She talks of a brain tumor that revealed to her the wonders of life, making the case that the best gift you ever get might not be so pretty. The final speaker of the day, Charlie Hoehn is a writer, videographer and an online marketer. “The 4 Mistakes You’ll Make in College” dispense indispensable knowledge about the secret traps of higher institutional learning. Hoehn hopes that MSJ will stay passionate and realistic by working on what “you really care about.”

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