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Is it Possible to Rethink “Unpopular”?

What do you do when someone comes to you and asks, “So, if you were to speak at this year’s TEDx, what would you talk about?” I’ll give you a hint:

Step 1: Crap your pants. It’s a trick question, the Kobiyashi Maru of speaking proposals, and there is no right answer.

Step 2: Instantly, a brilliant idea will come to mind. THIS TALK WILL BE BRILLIANT!

Step 3: Watch about 327 TED talks.

Step 4: Realize that your initial brilliant idea is much more Chia Pet than iPhone.

Step 5: Continue to freak out, even after they’ve accepted you into the speaker lineup. The freakout duration generally spans from about a week after you agree to speak until about 4 days after you walk off the stage at your event.

I’m frequently asked why I decided to write a book called The Power of Unpopular. My most common answer is that I feel we need to rethink what unpopular means. Some people get it. Others? Well, they do what others do. They don’t. And that’s perfectly okay.

On September 22 here in Boulder, Colorado, I was able to tell the story behind why I feel the way I do about “unpopular” at TEDx Boulder 2012 in front of an audience of more than 2,000 people (no pressure, right?!). And today, since you probably weren’t there, I’m sharing it with you. A few caveats before you hit the play button:

  • I shared this evening in September with 9 other incredible speakers. Without each of them, none of us would have had an audience to share our stories. You can see their talks via this link. Thank you to Shannon Paige, Don Whittemore, Jenn Rubio, Hannah Nordhaus, Nathan Seidle, Alena Grabowski, Tim Shisler, Christin Myrick, Bella Hudson, Avery Bang, Brady Robinson, and Rob Drakin for being a part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Events like TEDx Boulder, which happens to be the world’s largest independently organized TED event outside of the annual TED conference itself, don’t happen without incredible sponsors, organizers, and volunteers. THOSE are the people who make these things possible.
  • The audience at TEDx Boulder was amazeballs. They shared four hours of their Saturday evening with us. They laughed, cried, applauded, breathed, and they are the single most important goal for any TED event. Without them, we’d be speaking to a sea of empty chairs. So the next time you speak, think about thanking your audience. They’re worth it.

If you like the talk, hop on over to YouTube and give it a like. Leave a comment. Share it with someone you know who might be a fan of Sarah Palin, polar bears, and pie charts. But most importantly, maybe it’ll help someone you know change the way they think about “unpopular.”

If you’re viewing this via email, click HERE to wach the video online.

If you’d like to download any of the slides from my presentation, you can view the Flickr gallery here.

  • MightyCasey

    Holy shit, grrl – you ROCKED that. What a terrific disquisition on exactly how much #fail is contained in any effort to be a people-pleaser/popular! I’d rather be liked and respected for my ability to share the truth than have my ass cheeks powdered by lying toadies. Boo-yah!

    • The Redhead

      Thanks so much, Casey — I’m glad you enjoyed!

  • Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA

    My dear friend… thank you, thank you, thank you. You shared YOU and that is the best gift a guy could receive. Oh, and you gave this to THE WHOLE WORLD! Wow, you’re amazing.

    • The Redhead

      Thank YOU, friend. And I’m glad you enjoyed…thanks for taking a minute out of your day to watch my talk and share your thoughts!

  • Ryan Cox

    you’re so fucking awesome.

    • The Redhead

      Thank you, Ryan. You’re pretty fucking awesome, too :)

  • JamesHRH

    Slide 11 is v useful, taken in the context free Flickr gallery!!! Although I think it should be ‘Why I Swear so Fucking Much, no?

    • The Redhead

      Nah — I like the pie char the way it is ;)

  • AmyVernon

    Love your twang. ;) (Seriously, great talk!)

    • The Redhead

      Thanks, Amy! Twangity twang twang…

  • James Kelsey

    You deserve to be at a TED event (not that TEDx is anything to sneeze at mind you)… and if you DO get invited to TED… can I be your date? Your cute and mouthy and, well… being your date will be the ONLY way I’d get to attend a TED Conference. :-)

    • The Redhead

      Aren’t you sweet? (said in mah best Southern drawl)