Delray Beach joined the prestigious numbers of cities worldwide to host its very own TEDx conference: An independently curated festival of ideas produced under license with the global TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference.

The event, which included four sessions at the Delray Beach Center for the Arts, featured nearly 25 presentations from live guests, plus memorable videos from past TED talks. The topics were varied and unpredictable from one speaker to the next. Here’s a look at the enlightening and inspiring guests that took the Crest Theatre stage in the opening session, with selected moments from their speeches.

 

Motivational speaker Kandee G, creator of Nothing But Good News Media, opened the show with a rapid, rousing peaen to positivity.

“I remember the day when I realized everything was gone. I was in my home, and my little baby girl Katie was sleeping. I went to the refrigerator to get something to eat, and I opened the refrigerator and the only thing that was left was one jar of peanut butter. And I looked at that jar, and I made a decision that I would never be a victim of life’s circumstances. Regardless, I would always be victorious.

“So I took a look at this information I gathered, and I applied it wholly and fully. In a short period of time, I went from a broke, homeless single mother to building a sales team of the top 4 percent in the world. I went from a broke, homeless single mother to making more money in a month than, well, it’s crazy to see. I went from being at my last jar of peanut butter to traveling on a private jet to most places I go. I don’t say that, honestly, to impress anyone. I say that because I recognize that the information I have is teachable. Folks can learn it. Folks can take these principles and concepts and apply them to themselves and create the life they’re meant to have.”

 

Peppering her speech with pop-culture references to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Tomb Raider” and “Back to the Future,” Florida archaeologist Sarah Nohe presented an entertaining defense of her craft, in a state that is older than we may think.

“In archeology, the people that I work with tend to have one thing in common: That’s that they get super-geeked out about the things they find, and they tend to huddle over them and ooh and aah. And I’ll go and see what it is, and they hold it up, and it’s a dirty piece of broken pottery or a rusty nail. But the things we find don’t need to be beautiful. They need to have one supreme quality, and that’s that they lived longer than us. Someone’s trash or a modified shell that’s been left there for thousands of years tells us a story of people, and it means something. And these things that have been found in Florida tell us a story of 12,000 years.

“Even when you have the written history, archaeology is the best way to find out about the people that were living here. There’s a problem, which is that looters take some of the information out of the ground, and everything that they take, we lose the information about the people that were here. It’s everybody’s history, not one person’s, and it doesn’t belong on eBay being sold or on some person’s mantle. Each item tells a story about humanity, about a culture, about a person, and those stories deserve to be told.”

 

Musician, caricature artist and branding expert Bruce Turkell riffed on what a brand really is, and focused his lasers on two brands that worked wonders.

“A brand is not a logo or a trademark – it’s none of those things. A brand is what people think about you when you’re not around. And it’s why they buy what you’re selling, hire your service, or agree to your argument. Brands are just as important for first-time job seekers or lawyers in litigation as they are multinational corporations. So the question becomes, how do you build a powerful brand so you can accomplish what you want? And the answer is simple: It’s three words.

“When Apple came out with the iPod, if you remember the ads, they showed a silhouette of a person dancing, surrounding by brilliant color. The only thing you knew about the product was a white box and white headphones. They didn’t tell us anything about the product – they told us about a silhouette. Now, is the silhouette was a woman, it could have been you, your mother, your sister, your aunt, your neighbor – was Apple saying that all those people love iPods? No. They were saying YOU will love an iPod. When Barack Obama went for arguably the most important consumer product in the world, the presidency of the United States, he used three words that I think were the best ad line ever written: Yes we can. Yes: It’s positive. We: It’s inclusive. Can: It’s aspirational. And we believed it, and the majority of voters voted for him. But more importantly, 68 percent of first-time voters bought the brand. Because what Apple knew and what Obama knew was three words: Build your brand.”

 

Lugging a heavy suitcase onto the stage, motivator John Spannuth talked about the other kind of negative baggage we carry around with us:

“We all have an invisible bag that we’re carrying around. It’s not a suitcase – it’s the invisible things we carry around. The ideas that we’ll never use. The habits that we have. All of these things that are taking up our time and we’re not really using. One of my best parts of my baggage is being a workaholic. I would just keep taking on jobs and more jobs. I ended up sleeping two hours every night for one year. That was probably the biggest lesson I had regarding being a workaholic.

“My father was brought up on a Pennsylvania Dutch farm, and you know what that’s like. Wow, they work all day! Of course, my father worked hard: He’s go to work at the morning at 7:30 and come home at night at 10:30. So I knew that to be a success, you had to work all day long. So that’s what I really worked on – working all day long. But we need to think about reducing things that are no longer of help to us. What are they? Your bad habits? How can you help reduce them? What I’d like to encourage you to do is to live life to its fullest each and every day.”

 

Lew Crampton, an advocate in informal science education and president and CEO of the South Florida Science Museum, issued a dire prognosis of science education in America, along with a call to action:

“The state of science education in the United States today is woefully bad. At this point, according to a study that was done by the National Academy of Sciences, we are No. 28 in terms of the quality of science education in the world. We are No. 47 in terms of the proportion of college graduates who are in the sciences. Science is very important to our future, to our economy, to job development. The key to success in the world economy is innovation – innovation fueled by science, by growth, by what we learn in school. And what we learn in school, unfortunately, is not enough. My interest is in informal science education.

“We need to create a collective opportunity. Just suppose, for example, that we were to take all of the science fairs that are going on in our community, and if we were to organize them like it was March Madness – 64 teams, a whole series of playoffs, a Final Four, money, prizes, lionizing the winners and the parents of the winners, providing support, exhibiting the winning projects in a museum. What a shot in the arm that would be for science and for kids to get excited.”

 

Opera soprano Cynthia Makris closed the first session by discussing how she has lived her live with a full emotional spectrum of operatic grandeur – then she sang Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Memory,” to a well-deserved standing ovation:

“I’m a diva. I love huge gestures and I like to use superlatives. But I feel so happy and free playing big, and I never liked being small and feeling controlled. We live in a society which tends to compartmentalize us and often makes us feel like we’re small cogs in a big machine. We feel isolated. We don’t really trust each other, and we don’t trust ourselves, either. Guess what one way out of this misery is: Opera!

“I was only 20 years old when I heard my first opera aria. It was a student recital, and the aria was ‘Pace, Pace, mio dio’ from ‘La Forza del Destino.’ It means ‘God Grant Me Peace’ from ‘The Force of Destiny.’ The pianist started to play, and then the soprano started to sing. I’d never heard anything like it in my life. Then I started to notice that she was crying. I was crying. And I’d never felt so alive before. I was hooked.

“Opera gave me the chance to travel the world. I get to live and work with people from many cultures. But far more importantly, it gave me permission to crack open the shell surrounding my deepest feelings. I discovered there’s incredible freedom in exposing who you really are.”