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    • I've never known what goes on behind the scenes when preparing talks for TED, and last night I got a reality check. I mean all of this positively, but I couldn't stop thinking of the employees of Amazon who say it's where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.

      My talk is November 23rd and last night I had to do a run-through in front of organizers and other speakers. Yikes, I was procrastinating for lack of inspiration. Panic time. @amacbean16 advised me that what's unique about me is how varied my life has been growing up on the streets, working as earth scientist, in tech, in photography. Her idea was to pick a topic that found a common thread with all those things.

      I took a look at the top 50 TED talks of all time and almost all of them have one theme that gets reinforced throughout the talk that universally applies to the audience.

      Your body language may shape who you are.
      The power of vulnerability.

      I came up with the title My difference is my superpower. The show organizer asked what the Hell does that mean? Not an auspicious start. Then I winged the talk with no visuals and at the end they said you could hear a pin drop. They said it has the potential to be on the main site.

      It's about how your unique experiences and characteristics — the ones that make you feel you're not enough — can be the things that set you apart, your superpower. I give three examples: one from growing up on the streets as I did, one from Steve Jobs and I giving the UNIX Expo keynote, and one from the photography of Carol Guzy, the nurse-turned-photographer who has been awarded 4 Pulitzer prizes for her photography.

      My question for you: is the title Your difference can be your superpower a better title? Is it a good title or does it suck?

    • I like the title "my difference is my superpower" but your second idea of "your difference can be your superpower" might pull people in.

      Two of your three examples are pulled from your life, but the 3rd is someone else's. With the different types of examples I think both titles can work. Yeah, I know, that's not helping!

    • Wow, un discorso per TEDX! congratulazioni 👏 "La tua differenza fa la mia superpotenza" è il miglior titolo per me, sei tu che fai il discorso, quindi è giusto!

    • I had received an invitation to the event on Lake Como this year but unfortunately I won't be able to attend. Read here If you are curious about it

    • I’d try to help, but my indifference is my superpower.

      Best of luck, though. 😁

    • A friend’s TedX talk recently surpassed a half million views so congratulations on being chosen to share your story.

      FWIW, both of your titles have merit, however, the first one presumes your authority to be on the stage: My difference is my superpower.  I think the three act structure of “my difference is a super power”, “their difference is a super power,” “make your differences your super power” is implicit with either title.

      Best of luck

    • This may be the non-native speaker in me, but the word "difference" in either title is something I stumble upon. Difference from what or whom, why, how? Some other word might express the idea more clearly, but most of the alternatives I could come up with ("uniqueness", "distinctiveness") seem to be overly complicated.

      Looking a bit further, I found and like "individuality", but I'm not sure if this is what you're going for, exactly.

      Then, I wonder if the phrase would work better the other way around. Instead of saying that "___ is my superpower", which leads with a term that might initially get a meh reaction, stating that "my superpower is my ___" leads with the most powerful (pun only somewhat intended ;)) word in that phrase, potentially leaving an immediate positive impression.

      Last but not least, I feel that both changing from "me/my" to "your" and from "is" to "can be" lessens the impact of that initial statement. I understand the wish to make this less about yourself, and more of a suggestion than an authoritative statement, but you shouldn't give in to that.

    • I have a different reaction. “Superpower” is really going to date your presentation. That word Is already too “ugh.” Can you think of a less jargon-y title? Something more timeless? You have such an amazing story!

      Edit: I wonder if you could shape the talk around a theme I’ve heard you mention a lot, and drop some references to Cake if you want. Something about “Having Hard (or Thoughtful?) Conversations” — hmmmm. You could easily weave in your thoughts about experiences with the mentally ill, working with Steve Jobs, and pulitzer-prize photography under a banner along that line...and still encourage people to see their unique vulnerabilities as unique strengths.


    • Fascinating. The word difference has been bothering me for awhile because it's vague. Does it mean my personality, ethnicity? When I told it to my wife, she heard difference as weakness and told her friends the title of my talk was My weakness is my superpower. Maybe that says something about her view of me: I am weak and she knows it too well. 😂

      (We met when I was 19, I had just been expelled from UC Santa Barbara for failing English 1A 3 quarters in a row, and she's the very first person on earth to whom I admitted I had a mentally ill mom. She has a BS in psychology and I became her project. Still am.)

      Anyway, someone suggested the title should be: Make your difference your superpower. I liked it when I first heard it, but then it began to fall on my ears as too self-improvement lala.

    • I have a different reaction. “Superpower” is really going to date your presentation. That word Is already too “ugh.” Can you think of a less jargon-y title? Something more timeless? You have such an amazing story!

      It's funny because I never use that word even though I hear it around here fairly often. I worry that it might not age well too.

      What I missed in my description of my talk is the end I made up on the fly as I gave it, that seemed to resonate. It went like this:

      When Greta Thunberg arrived in the U.S., I cringed because as an earth scientist I could imagine the criticism she'd face by professional spin machines: the science isn't settled, she's not a scientist, she's too young to know...

      When they chose to attack her Asperger's, I couldn't imagine what it must be like to be 16 and have criticism like that make headlines. At that age, I would have gone to my room and cried.

      She simply responded, my Asperger's is my superpower.

      (TED wants me to have a call to action after that line.)

      I may have been influenced by Lin-Manuel Miranda too, who knows?

    • Wow this is amazing Chris!! What an opportunity to share your story with others to help embrace what makes them unique in the crazy world we live in. I personally like "my difference is my superpower" as it personalizes the experience to the storyteller. And you have an incredible story to tell. I believe a significant flaw in all societies is the passing on what makes each of us valuable to ourselves, to one another, and to the communities we live in. There are so many lost opportunities it is hard to fathom the upside if our true value was tapped into. Can't wait to see the final presentation. You will knock it out of the park!!!

    • I second the sour opinion on the "superpower". It's a buzzword, for sure, and I have heard it so many times by so many people not actually having a second thought about what they actually mean by it, it chafes.

      It's easy to invoke superpowers, but what about dealing with them? Even at the comics level, it ain't that simple. And if you get a whole bunch of people with superpowers, you better be prepared :) (HHOS)

      I'll also reference The Boys as a recent great take on superpowers and their not necessarily or obviously positive impact.

      But other than that, congratulations on the talk and looking forward to hearing it. I have no doubts you will shine!

    • TED wants me to have a call to action after that line.

      This confirms my worst suspicions. TED has become a forum for amateur motivational speakers rather than a forum where humans share their stories...


      You and your story are better than that.

      Jus’ sayin’...

    • I’ve wondered about this myself. But it requires a new perspective, since it implies strength = success. We can all dredge up way too many stories/experiences when one’s weakness/strength turned out to contribute directly to failure just as often as to success. 🥴