TEDxPasadena TRANSFORM was an incredible day filled with powerful speakers who transformed the way we think about so many things.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite quotes and takeaways from the big day:

Lauren Gibbs

Lauren Gibbs, TEDxPasadena Transform

Our first speaker of the day was Olympian Lauren Gibbs, who talked about leaving the corporate world and shared in a segment of her talk that she called “things Lauren learned hanging out in the back of a bobsled:”

  1. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you prioritize the things that matter to you.
  2. You have to ask for help. It takes a village and there are people who generally enjoy helping others. But if you don’t ask, they may never know you need it or want it. Big dreams and goals require support and resources
  3. Focus on the things you can control.

Timothy Alexander

Timothy Alexander, TEDxPasadena Transform

Timothy Alexander had the opportunity to play for any college in the country. But that all changed in 2006, when he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.

In his TEDxPasadena Talk, Timothy talked about how he transformed himself from that point in his life. After his accident he enrolled in college and ended up getting a master’s degree in communication management. He also became the first paraplegic to receive a football scholarship.

“I went from being the talk of the town because I was a star athlete to being the talk of the town because the doctors said i would never walk or talk again.”

Dana Budzyn

Dana Budzyn, TEDxPasadena Transform

After her first month of college at Lehigh University, 18-year-old Dana Budzyn went into septic shock and was put in a medically induced coma for a month. She went from being a third place junior volleyball Olympian and recruited college basketball player, to learning how to walk and function again. After one year and five major surgeries, the worst of her illness was over.

On Saturday she talked about people taking ownership of their data.

“Your digital life paints a picture of you. And this data the story of your life is more valuable and more in jeopardy than you realize…. If you are not paying for a product, you ARE the product. It doesn’t feel like we’re paying for these apps because we don’t pay in money. We pay in data.”

Peter & Adenike Harris

Peter and Adenike Harris, TEDxPasadena Transform

Father-daughter duo Peter & Adenike Harris took the stage to wrap up our first of three sessions of the day.

Adenike revealed that her stepfather had sexually abused her from the ages of 14 to 22. In their talk, Peter and Adenike discussed how road trips and the creative arts were tools they used to create deep intimacy and friendship to neutralize the distance and division that Adenike’s predatory ex-stepfather tried to instill as his legacy.

“I’m happy to say that my real father, this dude right here, became an integral part of my healing. Instead of shutting down and turning away from each other, we chose to turn toward each other. We chose to be well.” – Adenike Harris

Tracy Drain

Tracy Drain, TEDxPasadena Transform

Have you ever felt lucky to see lightning strike? NASA JPL systems engineer Tracy Drain shared that her mom made her feel lucky to witness such a phenomenon. On Saturday she talked about how taking the time to nurture and satisfy your innate sense of curiosity can enrich your life in a major way.

Jeffrey Bucholtz

Jeffrey Bucholtz, TEDxPasadena Transform

Jeffrey Bucholtz is director of We End Violence, a violence prevention social business that provides performances, educational materials, curricula, consulting services, and Agent of Change bystander intervention programming.

At our conference he gave a talk about the ability we all have to create meaningful social change, which he says is far more within our grasp than we often realize.

“Our action or inaction is the difference between inclusion and discrimination between safety and violence. Because when we dehumanize and disrespect other people, hurting them gets easier.”

Tim Hartley

Tim Hartley, TEDxPasadena Transform

After a woman he knew made a harsh comment toward the presidential candidate Tim Hartley was planning to vote for in 2016, he decided to start a project to invite strangers with opposing political views to lunch.

“This project of mine may not change the world any time soon. Hostility and rancor are alive and well in the united states and across the globe…. Still I have found this process has transformed my outlook. I’m less irritable and angry… my reactions to the news and stories online have become more subdued… but my responses to things haven’t been as filled adrenaline as they once were.” – Tim Hartley

Ashlee Marie Preston

Ashlee Marie Preston, TEDxPasadena Transform

In Ashlee Marie Preston’s TEDxPasadena talk, “Effective Allyship: A Transgender Woman’s Take on Intersectionality,” she talked about all of us advocating for each other to develop true allyship. She suggested that we take a number of steps to accomplish that including improving our listening skills, examining our intentions for allyship – why do we really want to be allies with someone? – and examining our our attitudes.

“When we look at our intentions, it holds us accountable … not only to others, but it also helps us reach our end goal. The next thing is to acknowledge that disproportionate realities exist.”

Bryan Kett

Bryan Kett, TEDxPasadena Transform

Bryan Kett talked about his experience with colorblindness and how perspective is relative.

“Your perspective is your own. You haven’t seen through anyone else’s eyes.”

He shared that with colorblindness, he’s struggled with buying produce that’s ripe and telling when meat is fully cooked.

He also shared that he used to determine what color crayons were simply by reading what was on the label. But his strategy became obsolete when Crayola introduced colors like tumbleweed and timberwolf.

(Fun fact: it took an entire team to pick out the outfit Bryan wore to our conference.)

Rene Sotelo

Rene Sotelo, TEDxPasadena Transform

Urologist Rene Sotelo gave a talk — in English and Spanish — about penis cancer and how we can prevent it.

Here are some stats and facts he cited about the cancer:

  • There are 26K cases globally per year
  • There will be 2K+ cases this year
  • Penis cancer is more common than prostate cancer
  • 72% of the affected are Hispanic
  • Hispanics develop penile cancer 11 years earlier
  • We have increased the survival rate for other cancers, like breast & prostate cancer, but the survival rate for penile cancer has decreased
  • Penile cancer is 6 times more comomon among men with HPV infection
  • 40-85% of patients with penile cancer have HPV infection Type 16 & 18
  • Penile cancer is 3 to 5 times more common among smokers

To treat penile cancer, sometimes partial & complete removal is necessary. Penis transplant is NOT an option. There have been a total of three cases. The first was performed in China in 2006 on a 44-year-old man.

Rene said we need to prevent penile cancer and see how we can improve the treatment to decrease morbidity of penile cancer.

Nancy Cahill Baker

Nancy Baker Cahill, TEDxPasadena Transform

Multidisciplinary artist Nancy Baker Cahill gave a talk called “Increasing Dialogue Through Drawing: Using Augmented Reality(AR) as a Tool to Create Equity and Access.

“Augmented reality allows for a public art experience that includes dialogue and responses in communities that have long been ignored or dismissed.”

“It turns out you don’t have to be solitary or tortured to make art.”

During her talk, Nancy cited a collaborative art project she did with Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, which serves formerly incarcerated individuals and former gang members. The project, called “Exit Wounds,” involved collages created by former gang-involved youth using a wide array of materials like photographs and billiard balls. Nancy then shot the works with a .45 calliber handgun – with direction from participants about where to shoot – and then painted poppy blossoms around where the shots were fired “to suggest that healing and hope co-existing with violence and despair,” according to her website.

Steven Butler

Steven Butler, TEDxPasadena Transform

Steven Butler gave us a guided tour to give us a different perspective of the dance and choreography process.

When he teaches his students, Steven wants his students to take away TWO things:

1) A more complex and nuanced understanding of music
2) To be able to express this through dance

He also suggested we use the following two tools when thinking about dance:

  1. Ask WHY before you WOW! (When you watch dance, try not to put so much weight on spectacles or tricks. Ask yourself, why: Why is this particular thing being used & how does it affect the artistic nature of the piece?)
  2. FREE your mind… this is alluding to making a purposeful shift of past ways of thinking. Try to find a new entry point to understanding. Maybe think about the process behind the movement or put yourself in the shoes of the creator. Or put yourself in the emotional mind space of the dancer.

“My hope is by sharing this process & simply giving you some new ways to view dance, this idea is permanently with you. And you can’t unlearn it. And maybe it’s changed something in your brain … that will transform the way you see dance from now on. So in a weird way, I’ve actually choreographed a shift in your thinking.”

Erika Jayne Girardi

Erika Jayne Girardi, TEDxPasadena Transform

We got to close the day with none other than with singer-songwriter, author, actress and TV personality Erika Jayne Girardi, who gave a talk entitled, “My Unapologetic Alter Ego: Living Life as an Exaggerated Figment of People’s Imaginations.”

“With Facebook and Instagram, it seems like everyone has an online persona. It’s a way of perfecting how the world looks at you.”

“It’s great to be outlandish … to acknowledge that side of yourself. But it’s when you harness that true power that the true success is unleashed. I’m glad I came out of hiding to liberate this persona.”

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