x = independently organized TED event

Theme: ImPossible

Pittsburgh, PA, United States
April 3rd, 2011

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About this event

How can we turn the seemingly impossible into the possible? We challenge our speakers to give a passionate talk that explores challenges in their lives and how they turn challenges into opportunity. We think that hardships and challenges are what society thrives on. Breaking these barriers is what sets people apart and allows them to inspire the next generation.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Amber Rae
    Amber Rae is a creative catalyst and starter of meaningful things. She’s currently the chief evangelist of Seth Godin’s new publishing venture, The Domino Project. When she’s not spreading ideas and inspiring movements, she curates stories of change-makers and culture-shapers who take initiative at
  • Mickey McManus
    Mickey McManus is the CEO of MAYA design, an ubiquitous computing firm in Pittsburgh. As President, CEO and Principal, Mickey leads a highly skilled, interdisciplinary team that creates innovative ways to integrate information and technology into satisfying user experiences. Mick’s design awards include the 2005 Consumer Electronics Innovation Award, two Addy Awards for advertising and video production, the AIGA Communications Show Judge’s Choice Award, SuperComm 2000 Best of Show in Design, and the Exhibitor Award for Best Conceptual Design. His articles and work have been published in Innovations, Graphis, and Space magazines.
  • William Gahl
    William Gahl, MD, PhD is the clinical director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the US National Institutes of Health. Called a “super–diagnostician” by the University of Wisconsin School of medicine, Dr. Gahl leads the Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP) at the NIH and essentially sees patients who lack a diagnosis after years of visits to other doctors. He also studies very rare inborn errors of metabolism and recently encountered a disease so rare that he, essentially, discovered it. In 2011, Dr. Gahl received the American Medical Association’ s highest honor, the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service.
  • Michealene Risley
    Michealene Cristini Risley is the founder of Fresh Water Spigot. She has long been an entrepreneur who has created some of the largest deals in consumer products and the entertainment industry. But, entrepreneur turned activist, her most recent project was the film “Tapestries of Hope” which explores the rape and abuse of thousands of women in Zimbabwe by men under the belief that it will cure their HIV/AIDS.
  • Charlie Hoehn
    Charlie Hoehn is just 24 years old and has interned for Seth Godin, helped write and market the #1 New York Times bestseller, “The Four Hour Body”, and wrote the 30–page guide called Recession-Proof Graduate that’s been read more than 80,000 times, and is one of the top 10 most popular “career” Slideshares. He helped Ramit Sethi with the online marketing of I Will Teach You to be Rich (which hit #1 overall on Amazon, and is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller), and went on a 31-city movie tour with Tucker Max, shooting and editing funny videos to help promote I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. And this is just the beginning.
  • Luis Von Ahn
    Professor Luis von Ahn works in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. His research has changed the world. You know that annoying little anti–spam image thing (a CAPTCHA) that you have to type all the time on the internet to prove that you’re a human? Well, he invented that. His current research interests include encouraging people to do work for free, as well as catching and thwarting cheaters in online environments. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship, a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship, and a Sloan Research Fellowship. He has been named one of the 50 Best Minds in Science by Discover Magazine, one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business of 2010 by Fast Company Magazine, one of the “Brilliant 10″ scientists of 2006 by Popular Science Magazine, one of the 50 most influential people in technology by, and one of the Top Innovators in the Arts and Sciences by Smithsonian Magazine.
  • Jacob Cass
    Jacob Cass is a dedicated, passionate and influential designer who has recently emigrated from Sydney, Australia to NYC to pursue his career in the world of visual communication. Jacob has worked with clients such as Disney, Red Bull, Nike & Star Wars and although his skill set is vast, his major skill sets lie in the world of visual design, brand identity, brand strategy, UX, UI, new media design and print design. Jacob has a thorough understanding of social media and the latest web technologies which has allowed him to build up a strong personal following of over 37,000+ Twitter followers and 28,000+ blog subscribers. You can find Jacob on one of his three websites;, and
  • Jenny Blake
    Jenny Blake is an author, blogger, life coach, Googler and yoga teacher. She has worked at Google for over five years in training, coaching & career development. Prior to Google and halfway through her junior year at UCLA, Jenny took a leave of absence to help launch a political polling start-up company with her college professor and mentor. She returned to finish at UCLA in the spring of 2005. The experience of leaving school before her friends inspired her to start a blog,, which she has now translated into a book. Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want is a portable life coach for 20-somethings, filled with tips, quotes and coaching exercises to help people focus on the BIG picture of their lives…not just the details.
  • Paul Dateh and Ken Belcher
    Paul is an independent musician who has made a name for himself by being multi-talented artist. Youtube has been an outlet for Paul’s work these last few years as he is able to display his wide range of jazz, pop and hip hop renditions along with a musical comedy series entitled Violince. Ken is one of those people who was musical from the day he was born. He is an alumni of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music for jazz/studio guitar. He has spent his post-college years as part of several bands including The Jazz Three-O and Absolute Stereo with who he composes and performs original pieces. Ken’s independent works as well as his collaborations are testaments to his love for music. Amongst his current endeavors, Ken is the guitarist on his collaboration album with Paul Dateh, The Good Life.

Venue and Details

McConomy Auditorium
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA, 15213
United States
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Event Type (what is this?) University

This event occurred in the past.
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Organizer 39485

Matthew Childs
Austin, TX, United States

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Organizer 102701

Matthew Katase
Pittsburgh, PA, United States

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