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2015 Speaker Spotlight – Jill Perry-Smith

2015 Speaker Spotlight – Jill Perry-Smith

How would your level of creativity differ if you had different friends? How would your critical thinking skills be different if you had different co-workers? Dr. Jill Perry-Smith’s work in organizational psychology and informal social networks delves into the possibility that who you know directly influences your ability to achieve creative and innovative success.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering she went to work for Exxon, managing refinery projects. While working for the energy company she began the part-time MBA program at Pepperdine University. The combination of working with traditionally introverted engineers and taking organizational psychology courses led her to thinking more about the power of social networks for critical thinking and creative skills in the work place. Perry-Smith states, “I found the topic to be fascinating given my work as an engineer. I consider engineers to be creative problem solvers but are not generally considered to be very social.” It would seem that these highly lauded job skills are not determined by the size of your social network, but by who you select as its members.

The idea of using your social network as a muse might sound like an odd one. The theory does not mean that growing your list of Facebook friends will make you the next Monet. In fact, that type if social network isn’t what the Emory University professor means at all. She believes that while we are more connected than we have ever been before because of the reach of the World Wide Web, these relationships don’t always create the quality connections that we need to get our creative juices flowing.

On the concept of “social,” Perry-Smith believes:

Being social can mean many things. My focus is on relationships and social interactions and which ones boost our creativity. As someone who doesn’t consider herself to be highly social, I cringe at the idea that we need to talk to many people and flow in and out of various receptions and gatherings with many people I do not know. So, my work reveals that this is really not necessary to boost creativity.”

TEDxPeachtree 2015 will explore the theme of “Ripple” and examine examples of ripple effects. Perry-Smith comments, “I think of a ripple as an effect that spans out widely beyond the initial force that started the ripple in the first place. I hope that my work will cause that type of carryover effect beyond the conference. I hope that as we think about our interactions going forward, my work may prompt a slight adjustment that may yield important new outcomes – like creativity.”

She describes her upcoming November TEDxPeachtree appearance as, “Interesting, novel and research based.” This will be her first TED talk and she looks forward to sharing her ideas with the audience and the opportunity to discuss those concepts with them afterwards. No doubt quite a few conversations will be had that will inspire creativity and innovation for both attendees and speakers alike.

Buy your tickets for TEDxPeachtree 2015 today by clicking here. View one of Dr. Perry-Smith’s favorite TED talks by Susan Cain on the power of introverts by clicking here.


Maria Pinkelton is the Senior Communication Specialist for Cox Media Group – Technology. She lives in Decatur with her husband and son, along with a fine collection of craft beer and size 11 shoes. 

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Dana Barrett will add her signature spark to TEDxPeachtree 2015!

Dana Barrett will add her signature spark to TEDxPeachtree 2015!

Dana BarrettWe are incredibly excited that media personality Dana Barrett will be bringing her spark to TEDxPeachtree 2015 as emcee for the show.

Dana is known for her high energy, smart and engaging interview style on the Dana Barrett Show on weekdays at 9 a.m. on biz 1190 AM WAFS in Atlanta. Barrett previously also hosted Atlanta Tech Edge which airs on NBC 11Alive on Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

“Meeting fascinating authors, innovators and thought leaders from various industries on my show each day is a professional perk,” said Dana Barrett of her popular daily morning show on 1190 AM WAFS. “I am honored to be asked to emcee TEDxPeachtree this year and can’t wait to meet all the speakers.”

TEDxPeachtree licensee Jacqui Chew was recently on Dana’s show.

With 38 days to go, there are about 100 tickets left. Visit for tickets and a full list of speakers.

Event Details:

Date: November 13, 2015

Time: 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Where: Midtown – Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive Atlanta, GA 30332-0468

Regular Rate: $139

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2015 Speaker Spotlight – Kirk Bowman

2015 Speaker Spotlight – Kirk Bowman

There are countless nonprofit organizations around the world that strive to do good work. Their success in gaining awareness and effecting change in the communities they serve varies and because of this many of them fade just as quickly as they were created. What gives a nonprofit staying power?  In addition to strong local leadership, the nonprofit supporter and catalyst Rise Up & Care think that it has a lot to do with a high level performance mindset.

The concept of high level performance that pulses through Rise Up & Care is an organizational business model that can be applied to any group no matter their mission or area of expertise. The theory is that a group of people with specific roles and complementary talents and skills are aligned with and committed to a common purpose. The group then is able to consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovative ideas that in the end produce superior results. After they have targeted charity organizations that work in this fashion Rise Up & Care supports them through enhancement grants. In addition, they use film as a medium to promote these charities and tell the stories of the lives that are forever changed by work that they do. Through high quality short and feature length documentaries they share the message of these inspiring leaders and their work.

When asked what he hoped would be the greatest impact with the audiences that Rise Up & Care serves through their work, the organization’s founder  Dr. Kirk Bowman responded, ” We hope to expand the number of young people whose lives are being transformed by our partners.  We also hope to inspire our partners, their communities, and the world through high-quality documentary films.”

When asked how Rise Up & Care came to be, Bowman says, ” I have participated in and witnessed failed charity projects around the world, leaving behind distrust, hurt feelings, and the carcasses of those abandoned or zombie projects.  I am a progressive academic in Atlanta and my best friend is a conservative banker in Southern California.  We had an open conversation for years about ways to improve the international charity model and we believe that we have a model that will multiply the effectiveness of project based international charity projects.  We decided to test our model, and Rise Up & Care is a 501c3 non-profit to implement our ideas.”

Bowman has a unique perspective on global charities through his research in political economy, inequality, comparative politics and interestingly enough – soccer politics. As the most played sport on the planet, Bowman has seen the game’s effect on the world and where it fits well with his other passions.

“I am a late bloomer and did not graduate with my BA until I was 32 and started my PhD at 34.  Academia is my 5th career, and I always seek out those areas of research that reside between traditional disciplines.  Having lived in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Argentina, I witnessed the powerful role of soccer on identity and identity is a major force on politics and society.  I founded and ran a non-profit in Fiji for a number of years, and recently my research and praxis dwells at the intersection of sports, politics, and development.”

While soccer and politics have a powerful ripple effect on our world, Bowman sees the work that his organization does as a different force, “My work does not cause ripples. What Rise Up & Care does is identify existing strong ripples with local leaders in developing communities and we help them amplify their ripples into waves.”

Come hear Bowman when he takes the stage at TEDxPeachtree this November and learn more about Rise Up & Care and what we can learn from the failures of traditional international charity models.

Visit Rise Up & Care’s website at and watch Dr. Bowman’s favorite TED talk by Jaime Lerner on innovative urban experiences in Curitiba, Brazil here.



Maria Pinkelton is the Senior Communication Specialist for Cox Media Group – Technology. She lives in Decatur with her husband and son, along with a fine collection of books, craft beers and size 11 shoes.

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TEDxPeachtreeSalon Poetry Slam Recap

TEDxPeachtreeSalon Poetry Slam Recap

DSC_3272Friday night was a first for TEDxPeachtree – we held our first ever live-lit event! The first (hopefully annual) TEDxPeachtreeSalon Poetry Slam was held at the Atlanta landmark Manuel’s Tavern.

We were overwhelmed with the support we received from the Atlanta creative community, and proud to have such spectacular talent on stage.  Ten excellent local poets battled it out in front of a full house.  

We kicked off the event with powerful TED talk by Lee Mokobe on what it feels like to be transgender. (If you haven’t already seen it, I would highly recommend taking five minutes to watch)

The event continued with our host Jason Mallory, and the sacrificial poet (a slam tradition) Zack Linley.  

Then it was time for the competition to begin.  The ten poets represented all ages, experience levels, backgrounds and life experiences.  Each poet spoke with his/her own unique style and voice.  They covered themes spanning love (for yourself, for others, and for family), hate (racism, bullying, and injustice) and topics ranging from ADHD to how to tell a girl you like her.  

We were lucky to have such incredible artists share their talents with us – Ashley Haze, Theresa Davis, Natalie Cook, Adan Bean, Anthony Gagliardi, Carter Deems, Maguire Wilder, Kavi Vu, Kyla Jenee Lacey, and Stephanie Morey.  

The field of ten was narrowed to five after the first round.  The poets were given three minutes to perform, and we ended up with a tie heading into the finals.  Instead of the predicted two person face off, three poets performed for a chance to win a spot on the TEDxPeachtree stage: Adan Bean, Ashley Haze, and Theresa Davis.

It was a very close race, but after a very moving poem about love and her relationship with her son, Theresa Davis was crowned the first ever TEDxPeachtreeSalon Slam Champion.  

Overall, it was an incredible event thanks to our wonderful volunteer team, the judges, the host, Manuel’s Tavern, the TEDxPeacthree board, and of course the delightfully talented poets.  

Hopefully we will be able to turn this into an annual tradition!  

Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson

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