TED Conversations

Rachel Miller


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What's your story?

Unlike a typical "question-answer" forum, I am deeply interested in learning the stories of people from around the world. There's no "right" or "wrong," just a space for sharing what makes you, you!

TED and TEDx speakers are given a literal stage for sharing their story, their passion. But what about YOUR story? And YOUR passion? Every single person - an official TED-talker or not! - deserves a platform for sharing their story.

Ever since I can remember, my parents have always said "You ask too many questions!" because I've always been a curious person (and especially a curious child - I bet my parents didn't think they would have to answer so many questions about, well, everything!). As an adult, that curiosity has turned into a fascination with learning about why we are the way we are, and how we get to where we are right now.

"What's your passion?" is actually a pretty loaded question. Because within it is history, hope, pain, experience, knowledge, and the list goes on. But by starting to ask ourselves what defines our "story" and our "passion," I truly believe that this is where our hope for a better future begins.

Maybe you're still figuring out what your passion is, or what it means for your own life. That's ok! I believe that by starting the dialogue about our story, the themes of passion unfold by looking in retrospect over our lives.

So, what's your passion? Where does your story start? And where is it now?

I'm excited to read your responses!


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  • Aug 3 2013: I was raised by my parents, an electrical engineer and a very religious farm girl from P.E.I Canada. Both had working class families that struggled with loss and incapacity of the father figure early in their lives, both believed in a good education, and both poured their lives over our family such that we might grow in the right direction.

    I played a lot of competitive team sports, fished, and did most things boys did at the time. Perhaps the most formative experience for me was working through the Scouting program. I rebelled against religion, and in place of what they were teaching, I found peace in the oath, laws and activities that were provided to me by the Scouting program. Scouting was formative.

    I always liked to design and build things, so I went into engineering, even though I was not a great student. I worked full time and eventually gnawed my way through engineering school. This was formative.

    Right after high school, I met and fell in love with a beautiful young woman who is now my wife. She is smart, genuinely believed in me, and loved me...with all my imperfections. Apart from feeling exceptionally lucky, this acceptance gave me a lot of confidence, and enable me to get past some self doubt, and realize some off the potential the childhood test scores indicated I should be able to achieve. The acceptance, love, and confidence she provided were also formative.

    Together we raised a family. I became a Scout leader and tried to raise my children to the same standards of love, patience, and mentoring that I experienced in my family and she experienced in her family. This was formative.

    I have continued my education as a design engineer, and now my passion is to see that the next generation of design engineers have access to an archive of the wisdom of past generations, the tools they need to successfully compete on the world stage, and the OPPORTUNITY to design and build their dreams in both the PUBLIC and private sector here in the United States.
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      Aug 13 2013: Robert, I am deeply intrigued by your description of realizations as formative. What has been the greatest formative experience thus far? Do you anticipate many more to come?
      • Aug 17 2013: Certainly the influence my parents had on me when I was very young, and meeting my wife when I was an adult.

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