MBA students bring TED Talks to MU

Monday, January 30, 2012 | 9:16 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The famous TED Talks are being brought to Missouri by two MBA students in an individualized event, TEDxMU.

After meeting at orientation for the MBA program in August 2011, Aamer Trambu and Curtis Roller noticed that while there were numerous entrepreneurial events, most were focused specifically on business. They discussed the need for a different type of event, and they formulated the idea of bringing the TED Talks to MU. During Thanksgiving break, Trambu applied for a license. He got it.

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Trambu contacted Roller when they returned from break, and Roller jumped at the chance to be involved with the event.

"There were needs that weren't being addressed. There were no opportunities to share ideas in the community, and we wanted to bring them innovative ideas," Roller said. "We wanted to give people the opportunity to change and to make a difference."

Following a news release sent out Dec. 23, the TEDxMU team was flooded with responses from the community. Student Life, the dean of Trulaske College of Business, the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Crosby MBA program have gotten on board with the event. Residents of Columbia and mid-Missouri also offered to help in any way they could.

TED is a "non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Sharing." According to its website, TED believes in the power that ideas hold and their ability to change lives and even the world. They invite "the world's most inspired thinkers and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other." The resulting talks have been compiled on their website and they continue to hold two annual conferences.

TEDx is an offshoot of these annual conferences; each is designed to be self-organized and allow individual communities to create a dialogue similar to that of TED events, but on a local level. They have been popping up on college campuses across the U.S., including one at the University of Oklahoma on Jan. 27.

So many people applied to speak at the MU event that Trambu and Roller decided to extend the application deadline to Feb. 25.  "We want to make sure the talks are dynamic and engaging, and that the ideas are worth sharing. We also want to have a wide variety of topics," Roller said.

One applicant wants to speak about the challenges and rewards of raising a mentally challenged child. Talks like that are what TED is all about. 

The event at MU is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 14 in the Fred W. Smith Forum in the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Due to space constraints, only 100 people may attend, and each must apply for a ticket.

Applications, due March 31, are on the TEDxMU website. Anyone is welcome to apply, and they will be experiencing talks such as the  TED talk on starting a movement, which is noted as Trambu's favorite on the website.

There will also be a live stream of the event, which is capable of hosting 20,000 viewers. 

The theme of TEDxMU is "Collaboration for Innovation." Online, Trambu writes: "The event will be a melting pot for ideas, innovation, thinkers and doers. I want everyone who walks into the conference to walk out of it inspired with the belief that they have it in them to change the world, to make it a better place, to share, give back, and to grow."

Roller said he hopes that not only do people grow as a result of the event, but that the event grows as a result of the people. He wants to make the event annual, and has plans to create a tradition of TEDxMU.

"I want this to last long after I graduate," Roller said. "I want the culture of idea sharing and innovation to be perpetuated."

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