TEDx Makes Northwest Indiana Debut at County Line Orchard

On Thursday, November 13, 2014, a group of young leaders in Northwest Indiana hosted a special TEDx event at County Line Orchard, featuring speakers Blair Milo, Bob Bouwer, Brian Wesbury, Norma Williams, and Nathan Colwell to get audience members to think outside the box and hear their Big Ideas and to see the world a little differently.

Speakers talked about subjects varying from the economy to improving your community to the importance of standing out in the world of business. With the help of host John Cain, the event TEDx-CountyLineRoad was a great success

Below you can find our Live Blog recap of the event, where we talked to attendees, speakers and worked to capture the spirit of the unique, independently organized event.

A shout out goes to the TEDx-CountyLineRoad Committee, who over the course of several months worked diligently to bring the event to the region. Kudos go to Angie Williams, Celina Weatherwax, Dana Rifai, Dave Wellman, Eddie Melton, Jamie Wayne, Jason Topp, Jeremy Miller, Jonathan Peller, Matthew Glaros, Matt Saltanovitz, Ron Delhaye and Shellie Dell!

The debut of TEDx in Northwest Indiana is the basis for a gathering of 100 or so individuals looking for an outside the box mindset. Held at County Line Orchard, NWIndianaLife.com is grateful to be able to take in the unique event first hand. We will be live blogging, adding updates to this article regularly as TEDx shapes up.

Here’s a look at how the event is shaping up.

8:00 AM - All are in good spirits while networking, taking in complimentary drinks and looking forward to the number of speakers that promise to deliver outside-the-box thinking.

Find all the photos here! 

8:05 AM - Dave Wellman of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) says this is the result of “six months of hard work by incredible people.”

“It was a very challenging process that is going to result in a tremendous event today,” he said. “Ted is very demanding in what needs to be met for events that bear his name. We needed to meet those expectations to make this a top-tier event."

8:15 AM - Alex Ramos, an AP Psychology teacher at Hobart High School, speaks to us about his excitement for this event. He says he has been a TEDx fan for as long as the popular talks have existed.

“I utilize them in my lectures almost once a week,” he said, expressing his gratitude to Celina Weatherwax - his friend who was instrumental in organizing the event.

“She let me know once they were thinking about bringing it here to County Line, and thought I’d want to make sure I am here today,” he said.

Weatherwax and Matt Glaros, owner of Meyer’s Glaros in Schererville and another primary force behind bringing this to the region, also share their thoughts on the six-month process.

“It was a tedious process where we had to make sure we met all the guidelines required,” Weatherwax said.

The application process went through “many committees,” Glaros added.

“I think the speakers will all be phenomenal, but what we are really hoping people take out of this is more outside-the-box thinking.”

8:20 AM - The 100 who paid to be in attendance for this one-of-a-kind day in Northwest Indiana begin to move into the speakers’ room, all eager to take in what they have been excited about for so long.

8:30 AM - John Cain of South Shore Arts introduces the event with a bit of humor but also says “we’d like to create a relaxing environment here.” He introduces John Wesbury, the first speaker.

8:40 AM - John Wesbury, chief economist, is the first speaker - discussing interest rates, the economy today and from the crash of 2008. He says the economic recovery is a result of entrepreneurship.

9:00 AM - Event attendees take a 5-minute break to discuss the first presentation.

9:10 AM - After the break, Simon Sinek addresses the crowd on video, offering some great insights. John Cain calls the talk like “sex for the brain.”

“I feel like I need a cigarette and I don’t even smoke,” Cain said.

9:35 AM - Norma Williams, owner of Excellence by Design in Northwest Indiana, is introduced as event’s second live speaker.

“Passion is the fire that fuels our hearts,” said Williams, a native of Gary. “We all have to be our Brother’s Keeper - that’s the first step to get off that Island.”

“Will you inspire change, incorporate the gifts you have and be ready to help?,” she asked the audience.

Williams also added some wise advice for all walks of life.

“You don’t need to have a single role model to do the right thing,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a baker or a banker - you can make a difference.”

9:55 AM - During the next break, I talk for a minute with John Davies, managing director of the Society of Innovators at Ivy Tech of Northwest Indiana about the first two live speakers.

“They make us think and also give us permission to take a risk,” Davies said. “More largely, the role of a manager is not to prevent risk but to make safe for others to take risks.

“TEDx gave us permission in Northwest Indiana to take a bite out of the apple, to take a risk.”

10:05 AM - Attendees are taking their seats, awaiting the next speaker, Dan Pollatta - who will speak on video.

10:15 AM - After technical difficulties, the video was not played. Nathan Colwell then takes the stage. A magician by nature, Nathan performs a trick - making a woman believe felt something on her shoulder when there was nothing there.

10:19 AM - The Dan Pollatta video is ready to play and begins.

“We should invest more money, not less, on fundraising,” he said.

10:41 AM - Pastor Bob Bouwer introduced.

He talks about what each person’s “Wow” moment is, and the significance of that.

“What is wow about you,” he asked. “God gave you gifts and talents. Is it a skill, a knowledge? What is it? Discover that. And get better at that.”

He asks the many business owners in attendance “what is special and unique about your business?”

10:55 AM - Minutes before La Porte Mayor Blair Milo took the stage as the event’s final speaker, Eddie Melton - a member of the 13-person organizing committee that worked to put on #tedxcountyline spoke to me about his hopes for similar events of this nature to take place regularly in the region.

“The team did a great job in looking at the quality of leaders we have here in the community and identifying some who could speak on a wide range of topics,” he said.

He said some of the feedback, especially from those who could not be present on Thursday is that there should be “similar events here if not another replica TEDx event.”

The speakers thus far, Melton said, were “phenomenal.”

“Everyone has done a fantastic job, and these talks will certainly help people personally and professionally.”

11:05 AM - Milo presented a Disney theme to the final showcase.

“We’d like to create a happiest place on earth based on reality,” she said, posing three questions related to the feasibility behind that statement. They were: “Is it financially beneficial to do so? How would we go about doing that? and how can we do that in Northwest Indiana?”

She shared her talks with a pair of company CEOs - one of which indicated speaking to their employees and finding out “what makes them happy” has a positive effect on customer loyalty.

The other said that at the current economic rate, China will have more of a global market share by 2040 and that the United States needs to “grow its GDP” by producing more and creating happiness in the workplace.

As to why it’s feasible in Northwest Indiana, the La Porte Mayor said we “already have a leg up” through the Pathway to 2040 having already been identified.

“We have so many great things to draw from, the localness, diversity, sports complexes and parks in every community,” she said. “The Lakeshore is one of the best resources in the world.”

During the question and answer session following her presentation, Milo proclaimed the people of La Porte are the ones who inspire her and her time in the United States Navy is what installed her “sense of confidence.”

11:40 AM - Just before all attendees and presenters headed across the hall for a fabulous lunch at the popular Orchard main room, the 13 members of the committee organizing the event were recognized by Cain, who asked the audience: “Do you want to do this again?”

The answer, unsurprisingly, was a resounding “YES.”

Find all the photos here!