A Funny Thing Happened at TEDxSanDiego!

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

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After attending TEDxSanDiego last year and having a remarkable experience, this year I was looking forward to spending the day with a special friend or family member . The date was approaching and no one could attend this year’s event. It was hard convincing everyone that until you spend the day at this event will you not understand the benefits you receive by the end of the day. It encourages you to open your mind to new innovative ideas, along with close-up dialog with the speakers throughout the day. I wouldn’t miss this event for anything.

I had just one ticket for me, but the night before the event I won a ticket on Twitter, so I asked my husband Mike to come along with me. This was gong to be his first-time attending. I told him I can literally spend hours telling him about the event, but I truly believe you need to be there, be present to hear the beat of the music, hear the tone of the speaker’s voice, and just purely feel the resounding energy that comes from the audience . This year’s theme was Cause/Affect and it was  held at the Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall. He agreed to come with me, even though it wasn’t his type of event.

And this is the funny thing that happened at TEDxSanDiego!

Upon arrival to the event the first glimpse of anything was this incredible display of sitting clay figures at the entrance. Hundreds of them, 800 exact , were positioned like these pictured all over the campus. This installation was designed by Miya Hannan and Jenny Yoshida Park, called “Critical Mass”. They each had a message in a the red center of each character. 

We were all given one to take home and here is my gem!
The figures represented each person’s role as an agent of change. Questions were inside for the attendees to go out into the world and ask themselves and others to begin to create change in the world.

Quotes from Anne Frank, Leonardo da Vinci , Mother  Teresa, and Gandhi were inside my figure.
He rests with my collection of children’s books.


We entered a large auditorium with three of my fellow bloggers, and we happen to sit in the second row up front.
A pictured captured before our lunch-break.

Food Bloggers from left to right:  Lisa Dearen (The Gonzo Gourmet), Me, Mimi Holtz (Mimi Avocado), and Stephanie Weaver (Recipe Renovator)

After a brief presentation by Jack Abbott, the founder of TedXSanDiego, he introduced the first speaker, Matt Emerzian.  Matt’s presentation was called You Matter. His story was surrounded by the various effects his body had on the super busy work schedule he had for many years and how he managed to slow down and take charge of his life to make it “matter more”.

Half -way through his presentation, he looked over at our row and invited us up to the front to stand with him on stage! Us! (and remember Mike was sitting with us )

So, we’re up on stage and he continues with his talk, (by now I can’t remember a thing he was talking about or the answer I gave later on to his question as I gazed out into the audience of 800 people),

The question finally was spoken, “Why do you matter?” He handed the first guest a microphone as we listened on.

Mike was next.  He took the microphone and then it all went silent. SILENT!

I glanced over and he was all choked up! All that could go through my mind at this point was “Don’t look over there or else”, so I did!  Well, guess what? – I choked up-ugh!

It took a few moments for him to compose himself and he went on to talk about his work with homeless children at Casa De Amparo. It was perfect!

But by now I couldn’t remember a thing I was suppose to say! He handed over the microphone,  and I got through it and so did the rest of the group.

Now you have to remember this is streamed live around the world! All I could think about is my kids and their reaction to dad choking up on stage.

Matt obviously made an impact on Mike and the entire room with his incredible life experience. As we listened to several more speakers it was time for a short break. As we approached the center of the hall, Mike instantly became the star of the first half of the show! We were told the entire back room where the speakers sat didn’t have one dry eye in the group. Several people approached him, and I was approached in the bathroom by many women as well. Who would have thought my husband was so touched! Afterwards, Mathew visited with Mike and signed his book over to us- such a treat!


Matt talking to me about Mike and how many women come up to him and often comment on how their husbands react to his talks.

The first half of the program was called Cause/Belief. These presenters spoke about how belief in oneself, an organization, and humanity changed their lives. In these session everyone had a purpose for their new step in life and all the changes they had to overcome to become the person they are today. Some had experienced health issues, others had  uncontrolled circumstances.  Overall, Dr. Edith Eger’s remark hit me the hardest; ” “Nobody Can Take Your Spirit”.

The food was delicious this year, and their were many choices to make: from paella to sliders.

Mike enjoying the sliders…boy did that make him happy!

 Here, my fellow food blogger, Mimi Avocado, enjoying her spicy but delicious taco.

I saved the best for last, meeting Ken Blanchard and having the chance to chat with him for a few seconds!

His talk-away message for me was when on a project and you’re collaborating with another partner you must have essence first ( your relationship) and form later ( how your writing or developing it,details,$) .

TEDxSanDiego is coming again next year, and I highly recommend you attend it! Spend the day in your city relaxing and meeting some of the most creative and motivated speakers from around the world.

© 2012 – 2019, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matthew Emerzian

Mike and Mary,

It was such a pleasure meeting both of you. Thank you for your courage and vulnerability. I was truly humbled by it.

Now, when do we get to enjoy some amazing homemade Greek food?


2 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Thank-you Mathew for an incredible morning…you truly inspired us beyond measure!
You’re invited to our home anytime, for an authentic Greek Dinner.
We have enjoyed your book and recommend it to everyone we see…

You make the world matter!
Mike and Mary

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