TED Talk

Ted Talk, Kelly Brichta

Photo by Kelly Brichta

A few weeks ago, I spoke at a TEDx event on the CU campus. TEDx events are locally organized TED talks, which follow the TED structure. To give some context as to why this evening was both a stressful and liberating checkpoint in my life, I need to tell a little story.

The year was 1999. My family had just moved from Parker, CO to Estes Park, a scary, vacant place where nothing happened other than elk pooping in the street. Or at least that’s how it seemed to a nine year old. Within my first few weeks of school in Estes, a fundraiser presented the opportunity for kids to win a shiny red bike. Every kid’s dream, but not mine. When the loudspeaker announced I had won the bike, I buried my face in my arms, started crying, and ran to the school office. Moments later, my parents received a call from the school office – “Paige is here in the office bawling. We’re not sure why, she just won a bike.” As the shyest kid in school, I wanted nothing more than to blend into the wall. But instead, the intercom drew everyone’s attention to me. I was humiliated.


A few things to note, for the record. I hated that bike from the moment it became mine and refused to ever ride it. I only sat on it once, probably because it presented a rare opportunity to sport my tweety bird helmet. I eventually warmed up to Estes, and am now incredibly thankful that my parents moved our family to such a beautiful place that made me who I am today. Estes led me to climbing, which slowly coaxed me out of my shell. Thankfully, because I remember hearing years later that someone once considered talking to me at a comp in iso and a friend responded with “good luck talking to her, she’s so shy she probably won’t even respond”. Great.

The point is that standing in front of an auditorium of silent people staring at me is basically my worst nightmare. But when asked to present at this TED event, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. So, I prepared my speech and practiced a bazillion times in front of my brother (so that incase I passed out from fear moments before the event, the more outgoing Claassen sibling would have the presentation memorized enough to carry on).

And to my surprise, it was fun. I didn’t pass out, or fall over (which, I should add, would not be failing – see talk below), or loose my place, or run to the school office crying. Three cheers for growing up and progress!

Also, I wrote this little piece for Sportiva LIVE about my projecting process on To Bolt, check it out!

0 responses to “TED Talk”

  1. Peter says:

    Enjoyed your TED talk, and the story here is one I can identify with… I was rather shy earlier in life myself, and put a lot of energy into hiding all the jerking and twitching my body is wired to do. The last thing I ever thought I’d want was to perform anything in front of an audience, but after discovering how connected to music I was, and how incredible making it felt, I was left with little choice: either perform or be one of those perpetually frustrated people haunting the music stores. So perform I did, and along the way gained confidence, some great friendships, and plenty of road stories. It gets easier with practice, but I occasionally do still get a little twinge when I step out in front of an audience…

    • Peter, I just realized I hadn’t responded to your comment – I’m so sorry! I read every bit long ago, but just returned. It’s definitely scary to put yourself out there, but it’s inspiring that you continue to perform. I’m glad to hear it gets a little bit easier as time goes on, even if that twinge does come back now and then. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Eric O'Rafferty says:

    Well done! Your wisdom is advanced beyond your years. What really made this for me is the story behind the story. It shows you completely walked your talk in a venue that was totally unrelated to climbing. It really adds to the authenticity of Fall ≠ Fail.

    By the way, I first heard about you via your Enormocast episode. Thank you for sharing your talk.

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