Students host eight guest speakers for TEDx campus event
THE SANTA CLARA
May 12, 2016
Seasoned Silicon Valley experts and Santa Clara students stood under the Recital Hall’s bright lights on May 10 and gave talks encouraging the audience to change their outlook on life.
During a three and a half hour long series of TED talks collectively titled, “Paradigm Shifts: Thinking Outside the Box,” eight speakers stood in front of a red and white sign that read “TEDxSanta Clara University” and discussed topics ranging from male emotions to millennials to Silicon Valley business models. All but one of the speakers had a direct tie to Santa Clara.
Changing the World Through Coffee
Junior Mac McOsker’s speech about millennials was arguably the biggest crowd pleaser of the night. He left the audience in stitches after using coffee as a metaphor for confidence and making tongue-in-cheek remarks about Kanye West’s appeal in his speech.
McOsker said that although millennials are the most criticized generation in history, they are on track to “(become) the most educated generation of all time.” He said that millennials vote at a rate higher than any other American generation at our age. In addition, they are changing the way we communicate, altering the way that society sees the world and are the first generation to collectively support LGBTQ rights.
“Kanye believes in Kanye so much that he compares himself to Jesus Christ. Who does that?” McOsker said. “Kanye spent three summers of his life locked in his room, cranking out five beats a day until he had what he believed would be an incredible album—the “The College Dropout.”
He said that millennials love Kanye because he reflects the “millennial mentality,” in which people believe in themselves deeply and have the motivation to go out and succeed in life.
“I don’t care if you wanna be Harry Potter, if you want to be a professional baseball player, if you want to be a socialist, or if you want to compare yourself to Jesus Christ,” McOsker said. “I’m here to tell you that with enough coffee, anyone can change the world.”
Why Technology is Not Silicon Valley’s Real Innovation
Jack Lazar, a Santa Clara alumnus who attended the Leavey School of Business and is responsible for taking companies like GoPro and Electronics for Imaging public, spoke about how Silicon Valley is not successful because of the technology that companies produce, arguing instead that these companies are enormously lucrative because of their business plans.
Lazar said that GoPro’s success had nothing to do with the actual technology the company sold and that it was “an innovative approach to the market” that set the company apart from others.
He said that the first GoPro devices were not designed nor engineered by the company itself, they were built by third parties. However, GoPro shot high quality viral videos of people ziplining, mountain climbing and doing other thrilling high adrenaline activities with their recording devices, which catapulted the company into the stratosphere.
“You look at it and say, ‘Wow, I want a high quality video like that, I want to capture and share the most important moments in my life,’” Lazar said. “We had this revolution and people wanted to buy GoPros, so it became a billion and a half dollar company.”
He suggested that the dot-com bubble bursted in the early 2000s because people were pouring capital into companies that lacked business models. Innovative business models, Lazar said, are the reason why 37 percent of all venture dollars were invested in Silicon Valley since 1995, which peaks out at over a quarter of a trillion dollars.
“The key point I was trying to get across is that we live in this world of technology and it’s not about the technology, it’s about the people,” Lazar said. “If you cultivate the right values, if you build teams and if you accept people, not only when they succeed, but when they fail, you will be amazed at how much innovation will come out of that.”
Santa Clara alumnus Adam Dorsay, a psychologist with a practice in San Jose, spoke about the danger of males hiding their emotions and failing to address them.
He began his speech by introducing the paradox of a man at the peak of his career with his own family, but who is deeply unhappy inside. Dorsay said that it is incredibly common for men to lead highly successful lives, but to be extremely out of touch with their emotions at the same time.
“I have a privilege of working with really smart men who don’t have a similar ability to tap into their feelings,” Dorsay said after his speech. “I feel for their pain and when I work with them, I’ve seen them get a lot better over time.”
Dorsay said that throughout childhood, boys are more emotionally expressive than girls, but are taught to suppress their emotions to conform to societal expectations. He said that when young boys are told not to cry and confront their emotions, they end up numbing themselves through behaviors like watching too much television or eating excessively. He said that this could translate into more self-destructive behavior later in life, such as drug and alcohol abuse.
However, men can make small steps towards becoming more emotionally healthy by identifying their emotions to feel more in control of their own lives.
“Being a guy and a father of two boys, I really love to see men tap into their emotions and live more intelligently and more powerfully through them,” Dorsay said in an interview with The Santa Clara.
Stigmas Surrounding Autism
Tess Miller, a senior psychology major who created Santa Clara’s first autism research project, talked about the stigma of autism and the pressing need to debunk the myths surrounding the disorder. Miller said that society tends to view people with autism as belonging to a lesser class of people, rather than as individuals diagnosed with a medical condition.
She said that it is incredibly destructive to autistic children if their parents buy into religious or cultural myths about what causes the disease, such as that bad luck can make a child autistic. She added that this can lead parents to distance themselves from their child, preventing the child from thriving and receiving the best care possible.
After her speech, Miller said that if children with autism constantly hear negative comments about their condition and are marginalized from society, it prevents their minds from expanding and keeps them from reaching their full potential.
“They go from a growth mindset to a fixed mindset and we don’t want that for these kids, we want them to always know that their ability is something they can change and that they can strive for more,” Miller said.
A group of Santa Clara students organized the event and convened as early as fall quarter to kick off the planning process. Students Grant Margerum, Peter Hession, David Sly, Daniel Byun, Viet Doan, Colleen Devine and Alexandra Cotroneo planned the event.
Contact Sophie Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.