On November 15, 2010, in Events, Multimedia, Talks, by Josh Perlsweig

Over the weekend our class from Solebury School attended TEDxYSE (Youth Social Entrepreneurship): Unleashing Young Social Entrepreneurs in Washington, DC.

Organized by Ashoka’s Youth Venture, the event featured young social entrepreneurs (including 8  who earned their spot on stage through a national competition) as well as a few more seasoned social innovators from a broad spectrum of sectors. (See the full list of speakers here and catch the LiveStream.)

It was the first live TED experience for all 12 of us representing Teach2Serve. After an awesome day of listening and schmoozing with other like minded students and practitioners of social innovation, we left inspired by the passion and talent that we saw from each of the speakers.

Here are highlights from my day – TEDxYSE was way to awesome too cover in one blog post – I hope that it can happen again and you can all experience it first hand!

I was amazed by the performances from 15 year old founder and CEO of RandomKid, Talia Leman and violin virtuoso and philanthropist, Jourdan Urbach. I think even James Cromwell, the event’s honorary speaker, may have learned something about stage presence and commanding an audience.

Mohammed Barry and Heather Wilder both shared powerful stories and profound wisdom. Barry, living with HIV, works toward empowering marginalized people and confronting the stigma associated with HIV positive youth. For kids like him, “health is not everything, but without health, everything is nothing”. Wilder, an advocate for rights for children in foster care, seeks to bring hope to victims of abuse, concluding, “hope doesn’t mean success, but it sure helps guide you on the road of success”.

There was lots of talk about leadership: Rebecca Kantar, founding member of Minga compared leadership to a cupcake – it looks good (and is even made of simple ingredients) but when you bite into it, it’s a messy ordeal. She stressed the importance of on the job training and “learning by leading”. Ben Jervey, author and journalist, clearly gets the power of youth leadership, challenging that “politicians aren’t leaders, they are followers. We have to show them how it’s done”.

After facing a spaghetti and marshmallow construction project at lunch, we returned to the auditorium and learned some fascinating results from the simple team building exercise: kindergarten students out performing CEO’s? Yes. Yes, I would like to see a website called

Following the guidelines for content at TEDx events, the organizers selected a handful of prevously recored TED talks to share. Sir Ken Robinson’s “schools kill creativity” is a must see, as is Derek Sivers’ hilarious talk, “how to start a movement”. Check them out, along with marshmallow team building analysis by Tom Wujec, below.