All about connections at the TEDx conference

Amy Swanson, Staff Reporter

The annual TEDx conference at Oakland University will be unlike those previously held, following the nontraditional TEDx Salon format.

The gathering will host only three speakers.

Typically, TEDx conferences do not encourage audience participation during presentations, because the events are more about listening and learning.

“A TEDx Salon is smaller, less formal and less structured,” said Amy Rutledge, co-head of the event’s steering committee. “In fact, the hallmark of TEDx Salon is lively, interactive, focused discussions where attendees actively participate in the event/conversation. Think of it as a gathering with the smartest people you know.”

This year’s theme is connections. Each speaker has a link to OU and will delve into the importance of connections — whether to others, the community or oneself.

Joining the panel is Terri Orbuch, also known as “The Love Doctor.”

In addition to being a professor of sociology at OU, she is an internationally recognized and widely published relationship expert. She uses a simple and scientific approach in her advice, according to her website. Orbuch will lead a discussion on connecting with others and building successful long-term relationships.

Also speaking is OU alumnus Nicholas Kristock, former international professional soccer player turned entrepreneur and servant leader.

He has founded three nonprofit organizations, and is currently executive director of Fleece & Thank You, which allows donors to make comforting fleece blankets and video messages for children battling long-term illnesses. Kristock will focus on ways to connect to the community and make the world a better place.

Finally, sharing her uplifting journey is former Detroit radio host Lisa Jesswein, who has remained positive despite being a two-time kidney transplant recipient, cancer survivor and divorcee.

Jesswein will coach attendees on connecting with their inner selves, overcoming fears and navigating setbacks.

This will be the third TEDx conference hosted by OU. Previous conferences followed the traditional format, with a combination of speakers, videos and a lab area where people could get hands-on experience and access to new ideas.

Audience members should go into this event expecting to take part in meaningful conversation and learn something new.

“We want to engage our students into thinking about ideas they may never encounter in their classes,” Rutledge said.

The TEDx Salon is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on March 27 in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms.

Tickets cost $10 and go on sale March 1 at the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development’s service window in the basement of the Oakland Center.

The conference sold out last year and will be in a smaller venue this year, so those who are interested should buy their tickets early. For more information on the event, visit