What can I say but thank you: to the lovelies who organized the whole thing, who invited me not just to take part but to be the closing speaker;
To the giants pictured above and elsewhere, for letting me crash their party and speak alongside (more on each of them here)!
To my friends who've TED talked before, who coached my speech into something actually worthwhile. Bill Bernat's talk about "how to talk to your depressed friends" crossed 1 million views a long time ago, and his comprehensive site (how can you resist a URL like stayawesome.com?) only scratches the surface of all his presence has to offer. Paul Currington has MC'd TED events, coached numerous TED speakers, and produces Fresh Ground Stories, the best event of its kind for many reasons. Both of these friends regularly give talks that have the power to change lives. Let's be honest here. Without Paul and Bill and their expert ideas and finesse, so generously given, I wouldn't be where I am.
To the people close to me, who kindly listened as I practiced it with them, innumerable times– at different volumes, paces, in different rooms, with music playing, while driving, while facing different directions... We did everything. I wrote the speech down by hand from memory. I recited it while turning around. While whispering. Shouting. With radio and television going. While groggy and sleep-deprived. While hungry. While needing to use the restroom. The better to simulate the circumstances: you may not know that a scheduling snafu on my end resulted in my giving the TED talk just hours after landing from a red-eye flight from Houston!
And not merely after a night of no sleep, but two nights of no sleep– I was only down there for twenty hours, and red-eyed it both ways. Why, Nathan? Why do you do stuff like that?
For the love of art and life, and everything in between.
I'm grateful for every person on the TED team who worked to make things easier, let alone possible, for me to participate in spite of my ridiculous schedule. Gosh, I love these guys (meet the team here). What an honor to be on the receiving end of such care and enthusiasm. How could I not give them my all? Practicing the speech while showering, doing crunches, cooking noodles, parallel parking...
My speech is about being kind to strangers. The strangers running the UW TED were so kind to me they stopped being strangers almost immediately, and it's thanks to their good graces that any of this happened at all.
And of course, the final thanks must go to you, who took an interest, came and listened, or watched online. We exist because of you. You take the ideas of these wonderful speakers and germinate them out into the world, sculpting them with your own experience. We'd be talking to ourselves in empty rooms were it not for you. Thank you.
The speech will be online shortly. I'll keep you posted.
Also, my book lives!! A third printing has just been completed!! More on that in a moment. I'm off to pick up the boxes now...