I have come to learn, one of the really great gifts we can give each other is the gift of connection…and reconnection. There is so much that we can learn from and appreciate about one another. That process gives life greater value, greater joy, greater inspiration.
Life gave me another one of these gifts recently.
I can’t remember when or how Jami Edelheit and I first met, but I remember how her presence made me feel. She had (and still has) a way of energizing me. She made me laugh. She made me smile. She opened my eyes to different perspectives.
Jami has that effect on people. She is like a magnet, attracting others to dream, connect, and do. She is a leader and change maker who makes things happen in big ways.
TED, a global nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, is one of her passions. In case you are unfamiliar, TED began in 1984 as an annual conference on Technology, Entertainment and Design; and has since spread the power of messages and ideas to billions world wide.
Jami is the founder and director of TEDxCincinnati, bringing people together to share a TED-like experience. TEDxCincinnati includes its main stage event (that have been selling out) featuring TED talk videos, live speakers and performers to spark deep discussion and connection (details are below on its June 16, 2016 event); and a growing community. I served on the leadership team several years ago.
But her roots with TED go much deeper. They sprouted in 2011 when, as the public relations coordinator for a floating campus called Semesters at Sea, she developed a strategic partnership between the two organizations. When she got off the ship, the director of TEDx came to her with the idea of building a community in Cincinnati. That idea has touched thousands in our region alone.
Jami told me she is a TEDster, having gone to the annual global TED event, an event for which tickets are pretty difficult to come by. She also has the license for TEDx on Board, holding events on a yacht in San Francisco.
San Francisco, you ask? Well, when Jami is not conducting business, organizing events, selling real estate, or enjoying family here, she commutes to California – or other parts of the world, where she creates strategic partnerships to create life changing innovations. Chinese CEOs found Jami about three years ago and asked for her help in researching and finding them leading new technologies to invest in, license or bring back to their country. That work led to Google selecting her as one of 12 people chosen work with the social media giant in identifying and amplifying technologies that could impact a billion people – that Google project is currently on hold.
And, as if that is not enough, Jami also runs an international program at Stanford University called Future Xi (meaning Future Technologies) that identifies technologies and solutions.
Quietly, under the radar of many who know and admire her, Jami’s work is impacting the world in which we live.
I asked her a few more questions.
Lisa: Tell us about your very first job.
Jami: My first job was at my neighborhood Friendly’s Ice Cream. I started there as a dishwasher. Everyone began that way, and then when they found someone to replace you, you got to move up to being a cook, and then to an ice cream maker. I moved up to being a server from there.
Lisa: Where does your inspiration come from?
Jami: All of the people I am around inspire me. One is smarter than the next. I just look at the future and think, WOW! It is really all about the people you surround yourself with – whether they are friends, family, or people working on solutions for the world.
Lisa: How have your parents influenced you?
Jami: My dad is 93 years old now. He is a very kind, honest and loyal person who has never raised his voice. He is the most diplomatic, generous and empathic person and has been a stable voice in my life. My mom is 83, and has been singing and dancing and performing around the community for many years. I am so lucky to have grown up with their balance. From them I have learned about being empathetic, compassionate and seeing the bright side of everything.
Lisa: Are your children involved with TED?
Jami: Absolutely. Jordan founded TEDx at The Ohio State University in 2012 and founded the first TEDx in a prison. Now there are TEDx in prisons internationally and she helped mentor several of them. She has spoken at Harvard, Yale, Duke, and in Japan. My middle daughter, Carly, works with me on the TEDxCincinnati team. She is going to Ghanna for the entire summer to work on a public water project. And Michael was the director of TEDxCincinnati Youth for area high schools.
Lisa: You are such an incredible inspiration to all of us. What advice do you give others on experiencing it to the fullest?
Jami: Always be grateful and empathetic. Life is amazing and it is right there in front of you.
Before I wrote this, Jami emailed me this quote she found that she said spoke to her. “There is only one real choice in life, ‘be ordinary or extraordinary.’”
“I choose the later!!! I love to meet and learn from extraordinary people!,” Jami told me.
And speaking of learning from extraordinary people…after reading this, you just did.
TEDxCincinnati Main Stage Event ‘Leap’
Thursday, June 16 from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Cincinnati Masonic Center (315 W 5th Street in downtown Cincinnati)
For tickets, please click here.
With the theme, ‘Leap’, this year’s event will feature speakers on health innovation, education, wellness, biotech, technology, performances and more. TEDxCincinnati main stage events inspire innovation, thought leadership and visionary insight with speakers and performers on the main stage.
Network with other TEDsters at Innovation Alley before the main stage event. New this year, TEDxCincinnati and GCVA will have awards to recognize the hottest businesses, technologies, entrepreneurs, and funders in Cincinnati’s technology community & of course there will be happy hour!