The saying goes that “nobody plans to fail, they just fail to plan.” Having grown up in California, earthquake country, all my life I’ve heard about preparations for “the big one” and after the tsunami that hit Japan and caused the ongoing Fukushima disaster, we who live in the tsunami zone need to be even more prepared for disasters.

I was reminded of all of this at Friday night’s TEDxSantaMonica event, which was held at Cross Campus on Colorado and 10th. This was a TEDx salon, which is like the major TED events, but the speakers aren’t live, the event is a curated selection of video presentations, and then the audience engages in some old time conversation and socializing.

TED Talks, for the uninitiated, are 18 minutes or less of a well-crafted speech that is an idea worth sharing; TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.

Born in 1984 the conference has grown over the years in both size and reputation. Today, most public speakers, authors and entrepreneurs are trying to figure out how to get a TED Talk because they have such a wide appeal and carry an imprimatur of authenticity and approval.

Top TED Talks are viewed tens of millions of times, which leads to book sales, paid speaking gigs, consulting contracts and anything else you can imagine coming from the exposure of your name and ideas to millions of people.

For example, Brene Brown is a vulnerability researcher who studied shame and how it affects our lives and relationships. Her talk has been seen more than 22 million times. In her follow up talk, she says that she was mortified that maybe 600 or 800 people were going to see it; she had no contingency plan for 6 million, let alone the now 22 million.

TED Talks are funny, painful, emotional, entertaining, educational and enjoyable. I watch them on a regular basis thanks to the TED app on my iPhone. Because they are time limited, well crafted and curated, the information is succinct and I know that I’m not locked in to a long, boring, monotonous speech that would be great to fall asleep to.

The more intimate TEDx events are local productions and our leaders of TEDxSantaMonica are Grant Graves, John Bates, Sharon Bates, Nataly Carranza and Adrian Roup, and a hearty band of volunteers like Ilya Klinger who help put on the events. This month the theme was Prepare, and in that vein the American Red Cross was on site with a display. The city of Santa Monica’s office of sustainability Joel Cesare was on hand, and Grant Graves was dressed for the event theme in a hard hat and red warning vest to talk about the need to prepare for disasters.

Master of Ceremonies John Bates, is a professional coach ( who helps people improve their presentation skills and make their speeches TED-worthy. He is a wonderful presenter himself, having trained for NASA, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Boeing and many other major corporations. John is a great friend of mine, and because he believes that everyone has something to share, he created an online training program of his highly sought after boot camp. For a limited time, he is sharing it with people for only $97 if you use the promo code bootcamp100. I’ve attended many of John’s boot camps, and seen the amazing changes in people’s comfort level on stage, and that translates into more effective communication.

To be a good communicator is important not just for sales people, but for everyone, because the essence of good relationship is relating, in both directions. The speaker must convey a message, but the listener must be able to receive the message. One of the many things that John teaches, is that to get to the core of someone, you need to tell a story that is emotionally relatable – that means you have to have the emotional vulnerability that Brene Brown speaks of, and tell people what you believe and why, which is what Simon Sinek shares.

On Friday, there were videos about the secondary shoe market for Air Jordans, and on the reproductive habits of corals. They are not at first blush interesting, engaging or funny topics but became so as they were delivered.  The speakers shared their love of the subject, and related that love to how the topic affects the world. After the speakers shared their stories, the live participants shared their thoughts and feelings, and were brought closer to each other as a community. To join this community you apply here to be invited:

This is the point of TED Talks, ideas worth sharing need to be shared so a community can be built.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.