There were laughs, tears, standing ovations and many a motivational quote during a series of lightning talks Saturday, on what was deemed by Raleigh City Council to be the official “TEDx Raleigh Day”.

More than 700 people attended the event either live at the newly renovated Nash Hall or at a livestream location, and the audience was diverse, with both families and those like myself who braved the event alone. Our expectations were high, as many of us had attended previous TEDx events or watched talks online, but the day didn’t disappoint. One attendee told me she wasn’t just “showing up to something, but to become a part of something”. 

I found myself with tears in my eyes at the close of numerous presentations, and I walked away with some lessons and insights that I found worthy of sharing with our audience here at ExitEvent. Here are a few:

Technology doesn’t just make lives easier, but increasingly, can save them.

New medical technology that can run without batteries may no longer be a thing of the future. Dr. Veena Misra of NC State University and the NSF ASSIST center spoke about the emerging technologies under development by entrepreneurial engineers in our community. The medical devices she presented to the audience were not powered by batteries, but instead by the body itself, specifically by its heat and motion. These devices will be able to use sweat to monitor biochemical status and blood sugar levels, and therefore to provide early detection of strokes and heart attacks. 

Misra believes that these devices will “become a seamless part of society, which allows for long-term continuous monitoring of patients”, and therefore, will change society.

Use failure as a way to change your perspective of the world. 

We all face failure in the pursuit of our goals—we get a resounding “No” just when we think we have achieved something. Dhvani Bhatia, a high school student from Apex, told the audience about her story trying to raise money for charity, but being rejected by fellow high school students who called her “a liability.” The only ways to deal with it are to cry, rinse and repeat (try again), or step back and explore a new option. She says that this simple change in perspective can make a world of change. After all, all the things we love today were the results of failure, the result of people being told no. 

Lean into discomfort. 

Bill Cummings and Darian Colbert are best friends, but their friendship didn’t come easily because they had diversity to overcome. Though both men are founders of successful nonprofits, Lemonade International and Cohesion Network, respectively, Cummings is white and Colbert is African American. They grew a friendship by listening to each other and celebrating their diverse backgrounds. This may be uncomfortable, they told the audience, but the best way to learn something new about the world and yourself and to see the beauty of diversity is to lean into the discomfort.