Today I am in San Francisco for the TED Women 2013 Conference. I am here because several months ago I was blessed to meet Pat Mitchell at the home of a friend for dinner where we spent the evening getting to know one another. Pat is the CEO of The Paley Center for Media. She was named to Newsweek’s 2011 list of 150 Women Who Shake the World and in 2012 was named by the Huffington Post one of the Most Powerful Women Over 50 and featured in Fast Company’s Special Report, The League of Extraordinary Women. She is a truly amazing woman and the two of us became fast friends that night. Pat then reached out to me to invite me to attend this TED Women conference and I immediately said yes. And so today I am here for the kickoff to the conference.
The opening session of the conference highlighted past TED Talk speakers and what has happened to them since giving their TED Talk. They showed highlights of the past actual talks these speakers gave and then they brought them out live on stage to be interviewed by Pat Mitchell. She asked them to explain how their lives have changed since their talks took place. What amazing stories were told! Here were a few of my favorites from tonight:
Tony Porter: Tony Porter is the co-founder of the nonprofit A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women. Tony gave a TED Talk about how as a 12 year old boy he was given the opportunity to rape a mentally handicapped girl when an older boy in the neighborhood called him over to his apartment and invited him to go into the bedroom with this little girl that didn’t have the mental capacity to say no. Tony shared how at the age of 12 he felt ashamed to tell the group of boys prodding him that he didn’t want to rape the girl because he was afraid the other boys would think he was weak or think he wasn’t a true man (his words), so he went into the room with her, shut the door, and waited a few minutes, then unzipped his zipper and walked out of the room zipping up his pants so the other boys would think he had gone through with the act. He regretted his feeling of being ashamed and the fact that he felt he had to pretend to do something horrible in order to keep his “man card”. That experience changed his life and he set out on a mission to educate boys that it’s okay to treat women with respect, rather than treating them like objects. He wants men to understand that they can be kind and good and still keep their “man card”. His life mission has become to stop violence against women. After giving his TED Talk his exposure grew by over 1,101,557 viewers. His ability to impact the world for the better has grown tremendously due to the exposure.
Angela Patton: Angela Patton set out to get a prison to agree to allow a father/daughter dance to take place in the prison for inmates who had daughters at home. She was tired of hearing stories of little girls that shared how much they missed their fathers who were serving time in prison. She approached the prison warden and convinced him to allow a father/daughter dance to take place at the prison, pink balloons and sparkling punch and all. The dance was a huge success and it brought the prison guards to tears to watch these prisoners as they traded in their orange jumpsuits for white shirts and ties in order to dance with their darling little daughters who came dressed up in their finest dresses. Angela’s TED Talk received over 385,193 views to date and that exposure led Angela to becoming the CEO of Girls For A Change, and the Executive Director of CAMP DIVA, a summer camp and after school program for African-American girls. Earlier this year she threw her second father/daughter dance in a prison and she is getting requests from prisons and prisoners all over the country to please do dances in their prisons.
With the help of media exposure, these two people, along with many others, were able to get their story out to the world and then leverage that attention to affect change on a much bigger scale. I loved hearing these great stories tonight and I am super excited to hear even more stories tomorrow. Thank heavens for People Who Change the World! Let’s all be one of them!!