Category Archives: Attendee Profile

Meet: A TEDActive Entrepreneur

jasonjasonJason Lankow has a refreshing combination of humility, perspective and vision that makes an entrepreneur truly inspiring. At Column Five, Jason and his co-founders, Josh Ritchie and Ross Crooks work with clients to provide visual storytelling around their products, services, and missions via the revelatory infographic. They’ve even released a (stunningly beautiful) new book on infographics, Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling.

And if you’re wondering about the quote above, Jason wrote it himself, on the spot, after our interview:

“Surrender your old ways. Let the scales fall from your eyes. You are awake and everything is already perfect.”


How did you get involved in infographics?

Infographics came to play for us a differentiator. The New York Times’ digital team was a pioneer in the use of online infographics, but no one was using them in content marketing. Brands in marketing liked the perspective of treating a company blog like a publication, to provide more editorial value and show industry expertise, which contributed to the popularity of infographics. We were able to capitalize on that trend. We’re at the intersection of rising ports, with design for brands online, an influx of data, and the increasing treatment of blogs as publications and brand extensions.

How do you navigate your role as a co-founder now that you company has a solid foundation?

I was always in sales and business development, so I’m particularly interested in identifying opportunities for us to innovate and exploring new territory that isn’t a distraction from what we do. As you start thinking about how you want to grow, who you want to be and what you want to be doing, you realize you won’t be able to rely on the same exact methods, ideas, and thinking that got you to where you are currently.

This week, Chris asked Elon Musk how he built a space company and a car company at the same time. I think the real answer to that question, which I’m learning for myself, is that it’s all about your team and your ability to surround yourself with people who complete the package. You can be the pioneer or starter, but you have to know your own limits and when it’s time to get out of the way and let people who really thrive on execution take over. As a founder and leader, your team wants to see you jumping out there and doing big things, driving new partnerships and relationships, and even opening up new business lines. Our company isn’t about me; it isn’t about either of my cofounders. It’s just about getting this really great group of special people in the room, putting our heads together, and making shit happen.

What is something you’ve enjoyed about this week? What have been the highlights for you?

I really enjoyed working with the IDEO team and the Robin Hood foundation on the Impact project. That project, in addition to letting me meet awesome people and be bombarded with great ideas, gave me a sense of purpose for being here as well. It’s nice to see something tangible and actionable coming out in a relatively short time. Just observing the challenges and the breakdowns in communication during that process makes you realize how much that mirrors any challenge in any organization. It’s been a very special week with a lot of really “awake” people who are just open-minded and who just get it.

What’s something that you’re really curious about in your life right now?

As our company grows and we meet and develop relationships with more people, more doors are starting to open, and we’re starting to do big things. I’m really curious about how we can manage to stay focused while also remaining open to jumping over to another set of tracks in a sense. I’m always curious about how you balance that commitment to consistency and stability while still being able to be curious, innovative, and willing to try new things.

Can you share a conversation or interesting interaction you had this week that you found inspiring?

One theme this week that I think is really cool, that I’ve been enjoying on a personal level, is the idea of finding perfection in imperfection. There’s a fine line. You still dedicate yourself to excellence and to growing—but without this assumption that you’re somehow going to arrive at this place called perfection and never grow from there or evolve again. I loved how Phil Hansen, in his talk this week, talked about just enjoying your own growth and learning, and even being OK with stepping away from a particular area. Sometimes we can only realize that we’re limitless by being limited or having limits imposed upon us. It’s amazing to realize that we’re skilled in infinite areas of opportunities or ways to approach solving a problem.

You can follow Jason at @jasonlankow

Meet 3: TED Translators


Meet some of the amazing volunteer translators who’ve made TEDTalks accessible to people around the world. They’ve come from far and wide to make new friends, exchange ideas and share in the TEDActive experience.



Activator Role: Wikipedia Summit India Director

From: Pune, India

What has been your favorite talk so far?

My favorite talk so far is from the TED Prize winner, Sugata Mitra, because it’s a completely new concept. It’s positive disruption. It’s about bringing something new to society and the community, which could be revolutionary in upcoming years.

What’s something you wish that everyone at TEDActive could know about you?

That I love TEDActive – that’s a thing they need to know. They need to know that I love everyone here.

What’s something that’s surprised you so far this week?

People from 70 different countries under the one platform – that’s huge, that’s inspiring, that’s incredible. It’s like traveling around the globe in five days. To meet new people from different nationalities, from different cultures, different backgrounds – that’s something beyond my imagination.

What’s something you still want to learn or do before TEDActive is over?

Meet more and more people, and spend private time with each and every individual, so I can learn from their experience, their story, their culture, their country. I want to know everything about everyone.

What are you going to bring home with you?

I’m going to bring home with me a lot of positivity and energy, and I’m going to spread it to India.


Activator role: PanArmenian Network Head of Communications

From: Yerevan, Armenia

What was your favorite talk that you’ve seen?

It was about the limitations, creating. This amazing artist – Phil Hansen. I like his message. I’ve seen some of his work going viral on Facebook without attributions, so it was great that I got to know the artist.

What’s something you wish that everyone at TEDActive could know about you?

It’s actually really hard to describe myself in just a few sentences. My badge doesn’t say anything besides where I work, and it even doesn’t say much about it. And what I find interesting about this TEDActive experience is you never know what you might discover about the person you are talking to. You might be talking to someone with an amazing experience, a great inventor, or someone who has created something really impressive.

What’s something that’s surprised you so far?

It surprised me that a lot that people, when they see I’m all by myself or I’m reflecting on things, they come over and say, “Hi, how are you?” and introduce themselves and want to know about me. Since I am an introvert and I don’t usually feel comfortable approaching other people, it’s really cool that I can relax and just wait for other people to approach me.

What are you going to bring home with you?

I got a lot of ideas about event organization from TEDActive that I will definitely bring to my TEDx event. A lot of small things, like details that were nicely designed, that I could use in our event. I’m also trying to arrange my gift bag stuff to bring home to my team, to give everyone a piece of TEDActive.


Activator role: Mastermind School mathematics teacher

From: Dhaka, Bangladesh

What has been your favorite talk so far?

The [Coded Meanings] session, in its total. And John McWhorter, the LOL guy. I like it because it says language will evolve. It’s better to try understanding it, because if you try to protect it, it’s not going to work.

What do you wish that everyone at TEDActive could know about you?

That I give my 100 percent when I work. If I can’t give 100 percent, I feel guilty. Back home, I work almost 19 hours a day. This week is the first I’m getting six, seven hours of sleep per night.

What’s surprised you so far this week?

Over here you not only talk about the talks, you can talk about the people who are here. This is the thing I find amazing: You can go into any crowd and you can talk the way I’m talking right now with people. You just see your common interests, and right away can talk about it. It cannot happen in any other place; this is why TED is something different.

What’s something you still want to learn or do before the week is over?

One thing I want to do right now is to talk about my country, and what’s going on – the fight that we’ve fought for 40 years, and we’re fighting it still. If you read the story of Bangladesh, you will understand a bit.

What’s something you want to bring home with you?

When I came to the United States months before, my students asked, “Why are you going, teacher?” When I said to them that I was going to TED, they asked, “What is TED? Who is TED?” And I said, the first word you write in Google, you’ll find out what is TED. They came back and said, “How can we participate?” Now, coming here, I know how to guide them. Everyone’s stories inspired me. I have this plan that I want to produce 200 new translators by the next TEDActive. This way, one child is helping another.

Meet 3: People you may run into, literally

TEDActive Runners
Pictured From left to right: Alfredo Junior, Mohammed Abu Zeinab, Allyson Burns

The TEDActive experience is meant to stimulate all of your senses – body, mind and soul. While the talks, fun experiential spaces, bonding events and late night parties may feed your mind and soul, there are also plenty of opportunities for attendees to nurture their bodies with group health & wellness activities, including morning yoga, bike rides, hikes and runs. Meet three early birds who woke up for this morning’s run.


Activator Role: TINKOpp, TEDx Organizer, “StudEntrepreneur”, “BusAthlete”, Thai Boxer, Martial Artist

From: Doha, Qatar/Phoenix, AZ USA

Why do you run?

I’m about messages that empower your soul over your ego. Your ego is all about the physical – everything tangible, everything that has an end about you. When you wake up and start saying, no I can’t get up, that’s your ego. But your soul knows you need it, you need that run, you need that energy.

What are you most curious about?

I’m all about finding a way to unite people’s understanding of consciousness. If we are more global in the sense of becoming more conscious, then we’re in a better world. We were in the industrial era, then the technology era, then the data era, now we are in the spiritual era. Once we understand that there’s something divine in us, and we’re attached to something that’s physical and not divine … the more we can connect to that, the more we are closer to our souls. People who are more limitless in their energies are more clear to that. My truth is in finding a way to unite people on that discovery of consciousness.

What are you currently listening to?

Ed Shearing: You need me, I don’t need you.

Watch Mohammed’s TEDx Talk


Activator role: VP Communication, The Case Foundation
From: Washington, DC USA

Why do you run?

The long story: I was never athletic when I was growing up. When I was turning 30, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to do something I never thought I could do, so I decided to run a half-marathon. Considering I couldn’t even run the mile in P.E. as a kid in school, it was daunting. I started training, and that was my first of five half marathons. I’ve also done a couple of 10-mile races. I have found that running is a huge relief. I can use that time to  work out a problem in my head, to make my to-do list, to just listen to music and not think about anything, or to go running with a friend. And, it’s a challenge. It’s always still a challenge.

What problem were you working out in your head during today’s run?

I’m really curious about this idea of impact. How do you measure social impact and driving social change? How do you measure if you’re really making a difference on the ground… and is that really necessary? Sometimes I worry that we’re going to go from a world where measurement is too soft to where measurement is too scientific, and it’s not necessarily thinking about the fact that we’re dealing with people and human problems, so it’s hard to always put a number on those things. I’m really excited to learn more about the Impact Project with The Robinhood Foundation and find out how we can apply some of that to the work we’re doing at The Case Foundation.

Quick, what’s something interesting people may not know about you?

Well, according to my UP band, I walked/ran just under 23,000 steps yesterday.

What are you currently listening to?

Ho Hey by Lumineers


Activator role: Founder, The HUB Recife, TEDx Organizer

From: Recife, Brazil

Why do you run?

Mostly because I don’t like the gym, and it’s a way to exercise in the open air!

What is something undiscovered about your work?

At The HUB, we consider ourselves social innovators. We think innovation is the imperfect execution of the unknown. What we’re doing, no one else has done. We’re trying to change the way people work, people live, and people learn.

What’s your favorite thing about TEDActive?

The opportunity to meet and connect with people from different areas, multiple professions, common values and purposes, all together at the same space that is the starting engine to impulse these change makers all over the globe!

What are you currently listening to? 
Sambo’s Samba version of Sunday Bloody Sunday