Polar Bears, Sarah Palin, and Pie Charts — Erika’s TEDx Boulder Talk

erika napoletano tedx boulderNot a bad headline, right? Read on.

Many of you have already seen the slides from my talk at TEDx Boulder 2012. Now, I know I’ve been quite the tease on showing you the video from my talk. Today, my teasing and your patience (and persistence) pay off. I was notified last night by the event organizers that the video for my talk is now online and ready for sharing/viewing/masturbating to.


Nevermind about that last part. Or maybe…

OK — so I wrote a post about my experience at TEDx Boulder right after the event. I also posted a blog over on the website for my book about the video release today. Before you watch the video, I’ll ask a few things (because I’m a greedy bitch, that’s why):

  • None of this would be possible without YOU, my audience. Never delude yourself into thinking that opportunities like a speaking engagement, book deal, magazine column, or a TEDx talk come along to people who don’t have the support of their community. There isn’t a day that goes by that I forget this simple, yet powerful fact.
  • I was in the company of nine other amazing speakers on September 22. You can view their talks via this link. Authors discussing what we can learn from bees, fire chiefs who made me reconsider the power of imagination, a biophysicist who helped build the Blade Runner’s legs that you saw in this year’s Olympics, a cancer survivor who changed the way I breathe, a fantastical geek who lives Open Source, a man who is internationally-renowned for his advocacy for the climbing community…all this is in that link and more.
  • If you like the talk, share it.And I don’t make that request selfishly. The most rewarding part of this talk is the feedback I receive from people who felt something new after having seen it. The emails from people I’ve never met that landed in my inbox. The only goal for a TED talk (ever) is to inspire people to feel something. So if you like it, here’s how you can share it and spread the word:
    • LIKE it on YouTube. It’s the thumb thingy. Clicking it is like seeing Awesome on the roadside hitchhiking and pulling over to give it a ride.
    • Leave a comment on YouTube. People are sharing how they felt after seeing the talk — your thoughts and experiences can help someone else.
    • Share the video. You know how to do that.

Now, here’s something that most of you probably don’t know: HOLY SHIT, ERIKA HAS A SOUTHERN ACCENT!

It’s true. Let me tell you the story.

I moved from the US to Japan in 1999. While over there, I taught English. Hell, who doesn’t want to learn English from a redheaded, blue-eyed American? The damnedest thing happened when I started teaching, though: my students couldn’t understand me. First, I had this funny accent. Secondly, I spoke too fast. So, having a degree in Theatre, I was well-acquainted with methods of altering my speech pattern. I quickly sterilized my speech pattern, slowed it down, and seems I never really stopped with the completely unaffected newscaster style of speech. That is, until preparations for TEDx Boulder came along.

I’ve always referred to myself as a two-margarita Texan or a twenty second Texan. Get a cocktail or two in me or drop me in front of someone with a twang and SHOOlawdy — bless your hearts and oh-my-stars-and-garters just start flyin’ like sparklers on the Fourth of July! The preparations for my TEDx talk were, without a doubt, the most mentally taxing process I’ve ever endured and my brain couldn’t do everything. So, I started slipping into a drawl again. Daily. Regularly. And shit howdy, wouldn’t you know it? Seems I’m from Texas after all…

And I like it. You’ll be hearing much more Texas from me in the future.

So for now, enjoy. And if you decide to masturbate to the video…er…let me know which parts riled ya up. Can’t let shit like that go to waste, now.

If you’re reading this post via your email, click here to watch the video online.


This might be one of my favorite TEDx talks of all time. Wow.  Clapping in my tatami room now.

I tried for years to fit into the sea of Japanese into meetings, but I'd always be foreign.  No matter how well I speak Japanese or try to dress the part or try to fit in.  I'm clearly different.  Painfully different. 
I chose to be me.  I get crazy looks as I whizz into meetings on my skateboard.  Love it? Then you'll love working with me.  Think it's not professional?  We may not be the best fit and you'll try to ask for discounts.  My value is being me.  I go against the sushi grain. 
I share with Japanese about the honor of being true to yourself.  Where the nail that stands out gets hammered down, you nailed it like an artisan to create a masterpiece.  

Thank you.


Am sending the link to both my kids and also will make an effort at being more un popular ;)

Angi Harper
Angi Harper

I just got around to watching this even though I was waiting for it to be available - stupid travel kept me busy. Anyway - totally worth the wait!


This is really powerful stuff... I've forwarded the link to this to the email of my 7 month old baby girl with the title "I hope this link is still around when you're old enough to understand it."

Heather Rouillard
Heather Rouillard

Holy hell your blog is difficult to read for a red/green colorblind girl. I can't see the links! AHHHH! Yes, it's very sad that I can't see how red your hair is either. I am a redhead too....I think.

Jefferson Hunt
Jefferson Hunt

Watched the video at 4:15 am,yes I go to work that early. I was wired and inspired. Will you please never stop. You are better than any coffee for a mega start to the morning. Thanks PS forgot to sign in where did that dog avatar come from?


  1. […] Writing expresses in both the above quote and the one below from her TEDx talk she posted on her blog the other day: From a very early age, we are taught to turn down that honesty knob and turn up the […]

  2. […] was a time last year — just prior to TEDxBoulder, actually — where I was on the road for 22 days straight. I had 72 hours in my own bed and […]