TEDx Fort Wayne returns in March

January 24th, 2018

By Doug LeDuc | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Joe Noorthoek wasn’t planning on staying when he relocated from Michigan to accept a job in Fort Wayne eight years ago, but a local event returning to the city in March after a three-year hiatus changed his mind.

“TEDx Fort Wayne, when I first came here, was one of the elements I used to make a connection,” he said. “I wanted to get to know the community and be among those who were catalysts for change and doing cool things.”

TEDx Fort Wayne attracts optimists who believe creative, generous, hard-driving, like-minded people can work together to make the region’s greatness inevitable. Craig Crook organized the event from 2011 through 2015.

Noorthoek, who is the founder and CEO of Mission 3 Media, valued the event, because “it helped me establish a network and make some new friends that I didn’t have because I was new to the area, and a lot of those friendships I made then helped me in a business venture I started as well. The connections I made while working on the TEDx team helped encourage me and give me some support and even some business when I started this venture.”

TEDx Fort Wayne returns for 2018 after a three-year hiatus. The idea-based conference is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 24 at the Manchester University College of Pharmacy, located at 10627 Diebold Road.

Noorthoek offered to help with the event after he heard his friend, Mark Hagar, might bring TEDx Fort Wayne back to the city. Noorthoek said he reached out for help with the upcoming event to a number of individuals he had volunteered with when it was organized by Crook.

Hagar is a founder and managing member of the Regional Angel Investment Network, which invests in early-stage, growth-stage and distressed companies that can demonstrate potential for superior profits and high growth. When he arranged to bring the event back to the city, he obtained a renewable license for it.

“It had been successful for five years,” Hagar said. “It had been well-run by the previous organizer. He didn’t abandon it; his career changed and he had to make some hard choices so he just discontinued it at the time. It was always very well-received.”

TED is owned by the nonprofit Sapling Foundation. The foundation says mission is getting new ideas out to the masses. The event began as the Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference, but its scope has broadened and is now well-known for its free, informative online TED Talk videos.

Smaller, community-based versions of its conferences, known as TEDx events, have taken place across the country, inspiring audiences with a mix of videos, performances and presentations of no more than 18 minutes.

TED Talk curators say 18 minutes is short enough to hold the attention of an audience while saying something that matters.

Curator tips for TEDx conference speakers have encouraged them to think big when preparing a presentation and “reveal something never seen before; do something the audience will remember forever, share an idea that could change the world.”

Hagar began looking into securing rights to organize the event in the city after hearing from several people that it was missed.

The event’s speaker nominations closed late last month. Hagar said he hopes to have most of its sponsors nailed down during the next four or five weeks. The committee will accept sponsors later than that, but to be named during breaks or promotional materials, they need to know several weeks in advance.

The first sponsor signed up for the event is Fort Wayne-based Sweetwater Sound, the nation’s top online retailer of music instruments and audio gear.

“We see a value in people getting together and hearing from people who have success so that they can learn about success and how to achieve it, learn about leadership, learn about, in this case, “Ideas Worth Spreading,’” said Christopher Guerin, the company’s vice president of corporate communications.

The commitment Sweetwater made last month to support the event is in line with its “general support of entrepreneurship, leadership and offering opportunities for younger people, people starting businesses, etc., to learn from people who have done it, have done it right and have been successful,” he said.

For the same reasons, Sweetwater has hosted in Fort Wayne the annual Global Leadership Summit telecast from Willow Creek Church north of Chicago, featuring presentations from well-known business executives, authors and researchers, Guerin said.

“The overwhelming part is the outreach of people who want to help,” Hagar said “We’re excited about that and are working with community groups and universities who have said they want to be involved.”

The event’s planning committee has chosen Resurgence for its theme, because “it is in line with some of the great things happening in northeast Indiana right now,” Hagar said. “It’s not just in Fort Wayne but in all the surrounding counties as well. The Resurgence theme has as much to do with attitude as anything else, as we’ve seen investment increase.”

The region is seeing tremendous business growth, infrastructure investment, talent attraction and quality of place initiatives take shape recently, he said.

“The whole ambition of this event is to help raise the dialogue and bring ideas to the fore that you may not hear in other ways. The slogan of TEDx is, ‘Ideas Worth Spreading,’ and that’s what we’re looking for,” Hagar said. “We’ll know we’re successful by the dialog that’s going on in the hallways between speakers and after the event.”

There will be a mix of speakers at the event from within the region and from outside of the region. Its planning committee expects to announce the speaker lineup soon.

In addition to accommodating volunteers, attendance for this year’s TEDx Fort Wayne will be limited to 100, in accordance with the agreement Hagar has with Sapling Foundation, he said.

To learn more about TEDx Fort Wayne, visit www.tedxfortwayne.com.

Categories Quality of Life