Q&A with TEDxPasadenaWomen RISE speaker Steve Elkins

Tell us about who you are, where you’re from, what you do, and what makes you tick.

I am 66 years old and originally from Chicago but have lived in California since 1979. I have a degree in science and education and have had several “careers” in my life, all of which prepared me with skills and personality traits that, unbeknown at the time, allowed me to successfully pursue finding two lost cities. My longest lasting career was in the TV industry as a cinematographer and entrepreneur. I have now retired from the production business and am pursuing exploration which has always been a passion.

Trying to satisfy an unquenchable curiosity and being tenacious is what me tick.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

I’m really rather normal and perhaps boringly stable!

What inspired you to give a talk at TEDxPasadena Women RISE?

I enjoy telling my story plus I considered it a challenge to write a “script,” memorize it, and deliver it with no notes

Tell us about your talk for TEDxPasadenaWomen RISE.

I tried to compress a complicated 23-year adventure into an 18-minute story that would have the overriding theme that when we have an idea or opportunity we like, it is imperative to actually take action and not just think about it, which is all too easy to do. To accomplish something great takes unrelenting pursuit and constant problem solving even when it seems impossible.

What was your process like in preparing your speech for the big event? How did you choose what you wanted to share with the audience?

The process was personally very arduous.  Writing the speech wasn’t too bad but converting a rather prosaic text into conversational language took quite bit of time.  Thankfully, the support coaches provided by TEDx helped put me on the right path.

I personally underestimated that I could actually memorize all 2,800 words in my talk, which was a hindrance at times. I also realized that , at least for me, it would take an incredible amount of practice to achieve memorization and make it more conversational that rote in delivery.  I barely made it time-wise!  Believe the TED people when they tell you it takes A LOT OF PRACTICE to memorize.

I was asked to speak about my lost city project so I had to figure out the best way to do that in the time allowed and in keeping with the event theme.  My normal talks on the subject are 2 to 3 times as long so that was a real challenge.

What did you want viewers/listeners to walk away with after hearing what you had to say?

Anyone of us can influence the world if we take advantage of and act on ideas and opportunities that come our way.

What is a TED/TEDx Talk everyone should listen to and why? (Please provide a link to the talk!)

There are so many and I have only heard a few so this is not a fair question for me.

After having given a talk for TEDxPasadenaWomen, what project(s)/goal(s)/plan(s) do you have up next?

I am still pursuing my current project and hope to explore some new places I have identified.  My plans are to continue doing this as long as I am able.

Do you feel any differently now that you have given a talk? Do you see your life changing in any way?

I do feel relieved (of course!) and satisfied to have done a TEDx Talk. It certainly seems to be a “badge of honor” of sorts which garners respect. I hope it will help provide me with more opportunities to give more speeches and talks in a variety of venues.

It has also helped me with other speaking engagements as I learned better speaking techniques from the process itself.

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