Kara DeFrias

Sr. Manager, Brand & Innovation Experiences, Intuit
San Francisco, CA, United States

About Kara

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Bio

Described by US CTO Todd Park as one of "the baddest of the bada.. innovators," Kara's passion lies in creating engaging experiences, both online and off. Her career has brought her to many exciting places, including the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and the White House. She was a member of the first class of White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, where she served as entrepreneur in residence reimagining the relationship between the people and the government from a technology perspective.

According to her 2nd grade report card, Kara “likes to talk. A lot." Which makes sense that this long-time Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) and former journalist would still be working in communications. Kara currently works at Intuit, leading brand and innovation experiences for the corporate communications team. She's also executive producer for TEDxIntuit, and has worked on TEDxSanDiego. Kara earned a BA from Elizabethtown College and graduated summa cum laude from Penn State University with a master's degree. Secret superhero identity: saving the world from bad PowerPoint, one slide at a time.

TED Conferences

TEDActive 2014, TEDActive 2013, TEDActive 2012

Areas of Expertise

Experience Design, Design Thinking, User Experience (web), Scripting, Event and panel moderator, Writing - Creative Content

An idea worth spreading

1) Always say yes. 2) Make your own opportunities - don't wait for things to happen. 3) Help each other shine.

I'm passionate about

Play. Tinkering. Exploring. Laughing, lots. Trying to make the world a better place by working on stuff that really matters.

Talk to me about

Designing great experiences, theatre, STRM

People don't know I'm good at

Carrying a tune.

My TED story

After being a big fan of TED talks for years, I finally got involved through the TEDx program in 2010 by directing the TEDxSanDiego show. I've been on that team ever since, now helping out in an advisory role. I loved the TEDx experience so much that I applied for a license to executive produce my own event at work: TEDxIntuit.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

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Kara DeFrias
Posted almost 2 years ago
As a TEDx organizers I wish there were this feature on ted.com/tedx. Please propose a suggestion or an idea around future functionality.
Looking at the site information architecture as it is now, it serves a couple of different masters: people who want to know more about TEDx, and those who organize TEDx events. I think a key question is: Should ted.com/tedx be about and for us, or for the public who visits TED.com? If the former, I think we have a lot of places we, as organizers, can access content to help us put on successful TEDx events. I'm not sure if how we do what we do needs to be on display to the public on TED.com. With the latter focus (having a great experience when visiting ted.com/tedx as a member of the public - not a TEDx organizer), I wish the focus was more on highlighting the talks (those "ideas worth spreading") like on the homepage of TED.com. Perhaps, in addition to the sorting features on the homepage, there's an added option of sorting by region, state or country. I'd still see there being About TEDx, Find an Event, etc.
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Kara DeFrias
Posted about 2 years ago
Improv Everywhere: A TED speaker's worst nightmare
At first, as we watched his talk unfold from the audience we thought, "Wow, the sound guy isn't silencing the Mac, weird." Followed by, "Okay, that's just unprofessional, come on TED, cut the sound." Finally, "OH! Ha!" :) Well played, Improv Everywhere, well played.
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Kara DeFrias
Posted about 2 years ago
Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice
I watched this via simulcast at TEDActive last week, and was moved to my core. What the video doesn't show you is how long the standing ovation went on and on. Bryan is a fantastic orator, and this TED talk, above most I've seen, should be shown in speech, debate and public speaking courses as a master class in storytelling and narrative.
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Kara DeFrias
Posted about 2 years ago
Keith Nolan: Deaf in the military
Of all the talks I've watched on TED.com, if this struggle Keith Nolan isn't "an idea worth spreading" then I don't know what is. I'm going to share it with both my personal networks and via the TEDxSanDiego accounts on Facebook and Twitter. I encourage you to help him raise his "voice" too.
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Kara DeFrias
Posted over 2 years ago
Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to re-engage boys in learning
Interesting idea in bringing gaming into the elementary schools. Gamification has blown up in the past 5 years both in schools and corporations. Love her points, and that she also anticipates the rebuttals. What I'm not completely sold on it that it's only boys that can benefit from this teaching methodology. Full disclosure: proud to have graduated from the Penn State instructional design program that Ali's part of; my masters thesis was on how incorporating gaming into corporate training and development increases retention and productivity.
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Kara DeFrias
Posted over 2 years ago
Frank Gehry: My days as a young rebel
Looked on TED.com to see how far back I could find a talk. Imagine my delight to find one by Frank Gehry from March 1990 - what a gem! Even seeing the old TED logo made me grin. Going to go back and start to watch some of the older talks now...
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Kara DeFrias
Posted over 2 years ago
Amy Purdy: Living beyond limits
To the folks who commented that this talk isn't worthy of the TEDx stage or TED.com: Working through adversity, sharing your experience, inspiring others to look beyond their (perceived) insurmountable issues? Now *that's* an idea worth spreading. Thanks to Amy for sharing her story.
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Kara DeFrias
Posted over 2 years ago
Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer
As someone who majored in English Education in my undergrand program, it makes me smile when I think of kids lining up at midnight to buy the latest Harry Potter book. Kids, staying up late to read? How cool! As someone who now works in technology, it inspires me that kids like Thomas are curious and build things just to see if they can. How awesome!
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Kara DeFrias
Posted almost 3 years ago
Malcolm McLaren: Authentic creativity vs. karaoke culture
I must admit, at first I was taken aback that this talk was 50 minutes; then I realized it wasn't a TED talk, per se, but a Best of the Web talk. Some folks have commented that it's too long, which proves his point -- in this day and age of compartmentalized, short-form everything, anything longer than 140 characters is seen as droning and too ominous a read. While McLaren blames karaoke and speaks more to unoriginality, in reality it comes down to the MTV, smash cut, 30 second chunks of information culture that's been building over the past 25 years. It's no wonder creativity is waning, when the only expectation when creating these days is to give a hat tip to the person who built something in the first place, then "make it your own, dog."