No Rust Belt Inside the TEDx Red Circle

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Twelve hikers hit the point-of-no-return on a glacier in Patagonia. They had to decide as a group to keep going or turn around and head back to base camp. It was a crucial decision. If they went forward and had a problem, a rescue mission would be close to impossible and death could be an outcome.

What if they turned back? Would they regret their decision to back away from adversity and forgo a life-changing experience?

What if your checkpoint in Iraq was attacked by a suicide bomber? What’s the first thing you do to protect yourself and fellow soldiers? Spend time dreaming up ideas or immediately take action and fight back?

What if you or one of your children are victims of cyberbullying? What if it gets so bad that actions that can’t be undone are considered? What tools can you use to work through the situation step-by-step, day-by-day?

These are just three of the inspirational stories shared at TEDxYoungstown Saturday at the DeYor Performing Arts Center downtown. The audience was moved to multiple standing ovations as these brave and vulnerable souls shared their “what if” stories that inspired everyone in attendance.

Twenty speakers stood on the TEDx red circle at the DeYor, staying consistent with the TED theme of “ideas worth spreading.”

Speakers from here in the region, Colorado, Oregon and as far as Norway shared their stories before a sold-out audience. The event was such a success that the date has already been set for next year, Sept. 21, 2019.

Organizers encourage those who were not in attendance to go to and sign up for the newsletter. Talks will be posted in approximately six weeks upon approval from the TED organization. Here is a brief rundown of some of the key takeaways from the event:

Catherine Bosley, a former TV news anchor on in Youngstown and Cleveland, told her 15-year-old story of cyberbullying that is highly relevant in today’s social-media obsessed society. Unfortunate events can be captured very quickly thanks to everyone having a mini movie studio in their hand. A small action that’s been recorded and taken out of context can have massive implications. Anyone can fall victim, from a teen making a bad choice at a party to a mother having a brief meltdown at the grocery store. These poor choices can take on a life of their own, Bosley said.

During the talk, Bosley shared the first vindictive answering machine message she received just before hosting a Christmas party in 2003. Months prior, Bosley and her husband were letting off steam at a bar in Florida in celebration of the conclusion of a recent health scare. Bosley made an impetuous decision and entered a wet T-shirt contest. She did not know that a professional video recording was being made for sale by an Internet marketing company. Months later, the tape surfaced and her world – and job at WKBN-TV — started to implode.

Bosley shared how she made it through this gut-wrenching process. First, as painful as it may be, immediately confide in your family or friends, she advised. While they might be upset, you’ll need them on your side to get through the potential harassment. Do not go it alone. Second, take a break from social media and log off your accounts. Do not take a defensive posture and try to combat each and every comment. Lastly, remember that this, too, shall pass, she said. You will come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.

Monika Lutz from Boulder, Colo., shared a highly effective communication technique called “sound writing.”

“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that matters,” Lutz explained.

If you want your message to be heard and internalized, understand that people listen first for emotion and second for information. So the delivery is just as important as the words you use.

Darrell Wallace, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at YSU, discussed the vast potential of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

Wallace described it as revolution akin to the printing press where– like words on paper– this “personal and shareable technology can be used by the average person to make and share brilliant solutions.” he said.

3D printers are more than just custom manufacturing machines, they are “powerful and disruptive idea sharing machines that put great power within everyone’s reach.”  It’s possible to make tools of both a beneficial and disruptive — even harmful — nature, and it’s up to us to not suppress the potential out of fear of negative consequences, Wallace said.

The breakout speaker of the day was Roshni DiStefano of Youngstown. Her heartfelt talk about breaking the Rust Belt narrative scored multiple standing ovations. She posed the question, Are you stuck here, or do you live here?” What are you doing to make the most out of this amazing place? It all starts with you and your neighbors, said the 20-year resident of Youngstown who’s done her best to bridge the gap between Bocce and Bollywood.

The event was made possible by the TEDxYoungstown license holder, Greg Smith, chairman of Compco Industries in Columbiana, and his team of volunteers.

“We had an amazing committee, amazing coaches, and amazing speakers who worked hard for six months to have the privilege of entering the red circle,” Smith said. “All the speakers were chosen for the heart of their message. We hired Kymberlee Weil of Strategic Samurai to help them craft and deliver talks that have the ability to affect change in our world.” states Smith.

Attendees ranged from business and community leaders, students and families with middle school-aged children. At the conclusion of the event the audience lingered in the aisle and had the opportunity to chat with the speakers.

Michael D. Schrock, regional president of Chemical Bank, was inspired by what he heard.

“Learning is changing from top-down presentations to engaging videos and collaboration,” Schrock said. “The TED talk format is an amazing way to transfer knowledge, build emotional connections and spread amazing ideas. We can no longer afford to force square pegs into round holes.”

Pictured at top: Josh Allan Dykstra, CEO of Helios, was one of 20 speakers at TEDxYoungstown.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.