How TEDxCharlotte unlimited me

by jon on February 17, 2013

I had just spotted someone I thought I knew but couldn’t figure how or why I knew him. So I walked up to this guy and asked, “wait a minute, do you do leadership development work?” He said “Yes, of course.” It was Mike Whitehead who is the CEO of my current company at The Center for Intentional Leadership.

I had never met Mike until that day at TEDxCharlotte 2011. I had been trying to figure out how I could follow my passion and told a dean at Davidson College about my ideas. He told me I should contact Mike, but I never did. It was like the universe had finally brought us together. So after that first conversation and several others, I went to work with Mike and pursue a career that allows me to fully live out my purpose. And I couldn’t be happier.

I will always be grateful for TEDxCharlotte. Of course I go nuts for all the videos and an amazing day listening to the most innovative minds in our city. However, even bigger than that is how the event brings together like minded people who think with unlimited possibility.

The theme this year was actually “Unlimited.” Like uncommon, remarkable, exceptional or even unusual. It was an inspiring day throughout that started with a rousing talk from J.D. Lewis from the Twelve in Twelve Foundation. J.D. traveled with his two boys around the world doing humanitarian work in 12 countries over the course of a year. He spoke about the the power of re-creating our own stories. And reminded us that the only person who usually limits us is ourself.

Charles Thomas from Queen City Forward had one of my favorite quotes of the day which was “let’s turn people less fortunate than us from deficits to assets.”


I loved hearing the authentic stories from Molly Barker from Girls on the Run and Robin Emmons from Sow Much Good. Molly gave a powerful speech about creating a new type of conversation in our country. One that starts with listening and compassion. She reminded us that at the core of leadership is authenticity and vulnerability.


I loved what Robin shared about how we have to take a stand for what is possible in ourselves. She reminded us that we are not here to live a scripted life. We are here to be seen, be heard and make a difference in the lives of others. She was awesome.


And it was tough to not be fired up after hearing the passionate speeches from Chad Henderson at NODA Brewery and Cassie Parsons from Harvest Moon Grille. I could on and on about the rest of an extraordinary speaker lineup.

In 2011, TEDxCharlotte put me on a path to just “going for it” with my life. There is something special about being in a room full of incredible, forward thinking people. When the day was over, I was completely charged up and energized. I think the organizers sure got it right, because I left feeling unlimited.





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