About Grace

Bio

Grace Rodriguez lives by design. An inveterate polymath, Grace has cultivated over two decades of experience working with brands, government, technology startups, nonprofit organizations, design firms, creative entrepreneurs and a venture capital fund into a curious career of brand/business strategy + innovation consulting. On the side, she loves crafting playlabs that transform technology, social media, data and design into meaningful interactive experiences that connect with, delight, and inspire audiences.

Grace is passionate about community and innovation, and aims to nurture both as TED's Creative Director for TEDActive. She serves the City of Houston as a founding member of the Mayor's Innovation and Technology Advisory Board; as Co-Founder and President of C2 Create, Houston's first non-profit creative accelerator; as a Curator for TEDxHouston and TEDxYouth@Houston, and as a serial board member, volunteer, speaker and educator for local nonprofits. A sought-after speaker at SXSW, TEDx@TEDActive, TEDxSugarLand, HiMA IS Conference and the Texas Women Conference, her work has been recognized with the Texas Statesman Social Media Award, the Pegasus Award of Distinction for "Destination Houston" (Producer), and Houston Press "Best New Magazine" for Rice Addict (Editor). She is proudest, however, of her work behind the scenes to help innovative people and organizations refine and realize their Big Ideas, then transform their potential energy into sustainable kinetic ventures.

Languages

English, Spanish

TED Conferences

TEDActive 2014, TEDActive 2013, TEDActive 2012

Areas of Expertise

Brand Strategy, Brand Innovation, Brand Design, Community Development and Engagement, Design - Direction, Branding, Communication. Identity, Advocacy, Activism, Organizing, Multidisciplinary Synthesis & Problem Solving

An idea worth spreading

We can change the world through two simple steps: 1) Change our attitudes. 2) Change our environments.

I'm passionate about

Learning by doing. Driving innovation. Leveling playing fields. Attacking problems at their roots. Empowering people and communities to make change. Helping do-gooders achieve greatness.

Talk to me about

The Digital Divide. Social pointillism. Breeding edges. Creating a global army of problem-solvers.

People don't know I'm good at

Cards Against Humanity. Charades. Dance. Humiliating myself.

My TED story

...is in perpetual beta. It just keeps getting better. :-)

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

214365
Grace Rodriguez
Posted over 2 years ago
Does life really get better?
It depends on how you define "better." If you think "change" and "interesting" are better, then I would say "yes." Life continues to change and get more interesting as you experience more and new things. If by "better" you mean improvement in comparison to your current situation, however, that depends on how you approach life. "Improvement" is relative. If you have a positive attitude and believe you are the agent of your destiny, life will get better because you will do what it takes to get better. If you have a more pessimistic attitude and believe "sh*t happens" all the time, it would be difficult to imagine life getting better because you're primed to look for negative outcomes...which tends to make you overlook (and often steers you away from creating) positive outcomes. I believe in the former: Life gets better. But that's because I've convinced myself that everything I do/experience is a learning experience. Even if the results are not what I expected (or wanted), I try to learn from it and store that knowledge for future reference. (Sometimes it takes a bit of cursing to vent my frustration, but I eventually get to the appreciative part. It gets better. ;) )
214365
Grace Rodriguez
Posted about 3 years ago
"Morality" is an abused term/concept. Can you suggest a solid definition?
Morality is in the eye of the beholder. My suggestion for an "absolute definition of the term morality": It is a subjective set of principles determined by the people of a community, whether that community be defined by geography or culture.* I use "subjective" because what is considered "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong," or "beneficial" or "detrimental," depends upon the unique perspectives of the person(s) supporting an idea/behavior and the person(s) opposing it. I use "determined by the people" because morality is a human construct, akin to religion and politics and everything else that ventures into "categorical imperatives." And, "of a community" because what is "subjective" to a person is also influenced by the person's social, cultural and environmental context. However, my suggestion for an "absolute definition" is not absolute. I may learn something tomorrow that may change it entirely. Such is the dilemma of a person trying to encapsulate and mummify a concept as ephemeral as "morality." * I use culture broadly: There is a science culture just as there is an American culture or a tribal culture.
214365
Grace Rodriguez
Posted over 4 years ago
Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids
Michael: I wasn't being sarcastic at all, nor did I say it was impossible for a twelve-year-old to exhibit the maturity of an adult. I said it felt scripted. Joyce has said there was influence from watching TED talks. If you've ever spent significant time in Third World countries and met youth who have had to work instead of go to school, you may find your perspective of "kid wisdom" changed: the insights of a young person who has had to bear the responsibilities of caring for a family, or even for an entire community, is far different from one who has only experienced life through "education." The sense of authority I got from this talk is not perceived among younger people who have had what you call REAL life experience. When you must focus on procuring potable water or earning money for your family's well-being, the idea of "childish" doesn't even exist. Children don't have to "teach" adults, because they ARE adults.
214365
Grace Rodriguez
Posted over 4 years ago
Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids
Adora's talk mirrors - almost exactly - that of so many TED speakers, from the verbiage to the cadence to the physical delivery. How much of it is really "her"? Meaning, how much of her own personality has she been able to develop on her own, through her own genuine life experiences (at the ripe old age of twelve) to inject into her talk, versus what she's seen, heard or read? Watching this reminded me of "Good Will Hunting": people can achieve intellectual genius and be extremely well-educated at a young age, but "the great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas" (George Santayana). It feels as if the talk was coached and canned, not borne from the insight of having experienced both sides of the age divide. I understand we want to encourage high standards of excellence and achievement among our youth, but I hope it doesn't come at the expense of a sense of wonder, play and appreciation for real life experience.