Being immersed in the world of TEDxDetroit on October 2nd was an eye-opening experience that supplied all attendees with a hearty reminder of the endless potential Detroit possesses. The beautifully remodeled Cobo Center ballroom served as the perfect venue to hold a crowd whose energy buzzed with excitement and eagerness. The fun really began as the speakers emerged one after another.

New York Times best-selling author John Bacon kicked off the first session of speakers by focusing on two words: fear and passion. Fear is something we are all guilty of having, but Mr. Bacon wants us to drop it. Bacon urges us to drop our fears in order to get to our passion. Don’t want to write, need to write. He says “If fear drives you, you’re gone, you’re gone. If passion drives you, you will stay.” John urges us to push the envelope to accomplish our dreams. After Bacon’s speech, I was locked in at TEDx and enthused for the following speakers!

One speaker, Ishita Gupta, shared a story of a man who struck gold in California, but lost his fortune when he later returned to the site with bigger tools only to find that the gold was not where it was before. Digging deeper and deeper, he grew frustrated and left the area angrier than ever. Being so close to the gold but never actually accomplishing his goal, the man felt defeated and gave up on his plan. Another man who caught wind of the awaiting treasures traveled to the site and discovered a tremendous amount of gold a mere 3 feet from where the first man was digging. This story symbolizes the lesson of never giving up, because you never know when your big break could be just 3 feet away. When you feel angry and defeated, don’t quit. When you feel like you can’t go any lower, remember that rock bottom is the perfect foundation for building your way to the top.

Another speaker, technologist and visionary Jason Vazzano, talked on behalf of the interactive design company Vectorform to give the audience a glimpse into the future. Showcasing Vectorform’s wearable technology, Vazzano displayed the advances Detroit is making in today’s high tech world. With a bit of courage and the right resources, we can bring tomorrow’s technology to the people of today. This presentation was as entertaining as it was inspirational, and it really urged the listeners to ponder what is possible when thinking outside of the box.

Thought leader and motivational speaker Mary Lore offered something different during her speech. Lore is the founder and CEO of Managing Thought, LLC, which helps individuals and organizations develop self-awareness and change the way they think to attain long-lasting success. Lore’s speech was interactive, asking each person in the auditorium to turn to the person next to them and say, “Let’s build a tree house.” Ms. Lore showed the audience in real time that ideas and possibilities are endless. With a unique jumping off point, our creativity can soar.

The false image of a has-been city with very little worth and very little potential is unfortunately what comes to mind for many when they think of Detroit. After listening to the emotionally charged poetry sessions, talented musical performances, and enthusiastic speakers, I whole-heartedly believe that this sad description could not be further from the truth. The underlying message of several stories reaffirmed the fact that it doesn’t take a bottomless bank account to make a major difference in your community. In fact, most of the time all it takes is a healthy dose of passion and a truckload of determination. Once you’ve got those, the rest will follow.

If you had the opportunity to contribute to Detroit’s coming success and future, what would you do? How would you do it? What do you think Detroit can accomplish in the next 20 years?


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Brian McFawn (left) and Trevor Turner (right) both work for Airfoil, a high-tech PR and marcomm firm with offices in Silicon Valley, Detroit, London and Hong Kong.