TEDx Yerevan 2012 – When Change is not a Choice

Early in 2012, I was honored to be invited to speak at TEDx Yerevan. TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is quite well know as the speaker series where, “Ideas Worth Spreading” are shared. TEDx is the official extension of the series, allowing the conference to spread geographically, and appeal to different audiences.

The TEDx in Yerevan, Armenia, though only held annually since 2010, had built a fantastic reputation. With an incredible organizer in Kristine Sargsyan, enchanting speakers like the renowned international journalist, Lara Setrakian (who correctly predicted to me that the experience would be life-changing), and the co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, and the gorgeous,  bleeding-edge TUMO conference center as stage, both the excitement, as well as the pressure to contribute meaningfully, were intense from the moment I decided to go.

The theme of the conference was ’embracing change,’ and I thought there could be no better topic to speak to from my heart than Experience Project, and how every part of why I started it, why it is needed, and why our dear users love it so much, had to do with us as individuals confronting that one constant in life– change. And particularly, the type of change that is generally most unwelcome, the change that is not a choice. 

I had an incredibly busy summer, with business travel, an insane schedule of friend and family weddings, so when it came down to booking the travel, it turned out I had all of four, yes four, days to travel to Armenia, participate in the conference, and return. I travel a lot, and even I was intimidated, mostly because I wondered uncomfortably just how intelligent I could possibly be after spending 17 hours in flight and having to wake up in a day to talk in front of hundreds of brilliant people.

So, long story short, I got there in one piece, set about 6 different types of alarms for the next morning (Armenia is +12 hours from Pacific Time, and oh was I paranoid I would sleep right through my talk), and got up on the stage I had anticipated . What happened after that is for you to judge, but looking back, being able to share my story in this environment was one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve ever had.