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It's time to talk

Julie Brock
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Such a simple formula.

Tap experts in a given field. Give them a starkly unadorned stage to tell their story or propound a powerful idea. Keep the talks short and sweet so people don't become bored and drift off.

And voila! Such has been the recipe that has made Ted Talks a global phenomenon. Now Rochester, for the first time, will have a local version of it, TedxZumbroRiver , featuring both national and regional experts in business. psychology, science, entertainment, medicine, comedy and art.

The event is Thursday, May 5, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Autumn Ridge Church, 3611 Salem Road SW, Rochester.

"It's more a focus on showing and not just telling," said Ben Creo, an organizer who spearheaded Rochester's Tedx effort. "It's not a bunch of really boring power points. There is someone up there being a storyteller, walking you through something compelling that's going to change how you see the world."


Creo said that TedxZumbroRiver will be the largest such program in the state and will feature 12 speakers, eight from the local area and four national speakers. It is expected to draw upwards of a thousand people.

Creo said the wide range of speakers and topics aims to provide listeners with stories and ideas that entertain, educate and inspire.

"This is going to expand your horizons," Creo said. "It's going to be boost your creativity and your innovation, both in your work and in your life."

Speakers include:

Kelly Leonard, creative advisor for the Second City comedy troupe, has produced shows with Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Amy Poehler. Second City's improv style became the inspiration for Saturday Night Live's decades-long run. Leonard will talk about improv comedy and how skills from improv can improve one's business and life.

Pages Matamis a nationally renowned spoken-word poet. He resides in the D.C. metropolitan area, but is originally from Cameroon, in Africa. An award-winning slam poet, including the 2013 Southern Fried Chicken championship, Matam will read some of his poetry and talk about being an artist and finding your creative voice.

Neil Stevensontrained as a psychologist at Oxford University. Today he is designer at IDEO, a product design firm where he has worked on everything from toy invention to education systems. As different as the projects he works on may be, creativity and the creative process is the common thread that binds them together. Stevenson will talk about ways in which people can boost their creativity.

Other speakers will include Brenda Dennis, director of sales strategy and planning for Cisco Systems; Tori Utley, an entrepreneur working in technology innovation and addiction recovery; Chris Schad, a certified master naturalist who sits on the Olmsted County Parks commission; Randall Munson, a master magician, comic ventriloquist and professional clown; Victor Montori, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic; Jim Maher, a scientist at Mayo Clinic and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Anthony Desnick, an architect, urban designer, and bike activist; Julie Brock, an educator who works to create more experiential learning opportunities, and Joyce Balls-Berry, assistant professor of epidemiology and program manager for the Office for Community Engagement in Research in the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science.


What: TedxZumbroRiver, a program featuring 12 speakers on a variety of topics.

When: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 5.

Where: Autumn Ridge Church, 3611 Salem Road SW, Rochester.

General admission tickets cost $47; $25 for students. Go to for tickets.

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