Kate McKenzie

TED Talk: Power of Positive News

In an age of negative news and increasing mental illness is it possible to pursue a positive alternative?  Kate McKenzie believes that peace both individually and internationally can only be brought about through sharing positive stories. So she founded Worldviews Project to inspire others to believe that positive change is possible by making short documentaries of people from nine countries over seven months.

Behind the Scenes

Want to help share positive news? Click here to see how you can be part of the journey.

The journey to giving this TED talk was intense.  It started when my partner, Leor, whispered something to me as we hugged goodbye before I left Canada to embark on Worldviews Project. He told me, “Remember to think about an idea worth sharing.” He believed in me from the very start and knew that out of Worldviews Project would come an important idea.  All the way through my journey he encouraged me to keep reflecting and to keep challenging myself to determine what I would share with the world when I returned.

When I got back I knew I wanted to share about positive news but I also knew that in order to really tell this story I would have to be willing to make it personal.  I would have to be vulnerable. It was terrifying to think that I would share the most personal aspect of myself in front of 1 000 people at a TED talk and eventually even more as it spread online.  I knew though that I needed to share this idea.  I knew more and more each day that sharing positive news had the power to change people and communities.  So I made the decision that I had to start sharing my positive story first to set the example even though it felt scary and vulnerable.

I was so fortunate to sit down with many of the TEDxYYC speakers including Rebecca Northen, David Cramb and Rollin Stanley to brainstorm ideas for our TED talks.  Their insight along with the TEDxYYC team of Lisa, Jason and AJ was immensely helpful as they helped me to draw out the most important parts of my story.  I made draft after draft of my talk and finally felt it was ready to share.  I had the amazing opportunity to work with AJ Demeurs who helped me take my talk and turn it into a story.  His wisdom and insight made what could have just been a lecture into a personal story that communicated from the heart.

I continued to write and was blessed to have so many friends offer to edit and help me including Leor, Bre and Kyla.  Their feedback was amazing.  I had the chance to really connect with my Dad too as he shared his wisdom and helped me to become a better storyteller. I also had the chance to sit down and share my story personally with so many friends who reminded me that they would be in the stands cheering me on the whole way through or there in spirit if they couldn’t make it for the actual event including my whole family, Graham & Amanda, Andy, Gerardo, Emily, Chris, Collette, Sara, Breanna and many others.

The process of writing my talk was so hard as I struggled through the depths of what it would mean to share something so personal.  I would be “coming out” in a way and I had no idea how others would react and how I would feel when I was done.  Would it matter to anyone?  I felt overwhelmed many times just trying to get the ideas out and to share something that I knew had changed my life and could have the power to change others’ lives too.

My administration team at my school encouraged me to take the time I needed to make this talk everything that I could.  They supported me and helped me to believe this idea was worth sharing.

My students encouraged me.  One of my students even came up to me before I spoke and told me that she knew what I was about to do would probably be pretty overwhelming and vulnerable but that she believed in me.  She told me that she, along with many other students, were already inspired by me and they knew that I would have something important to share.  I was floored, the maturity this student showed in her support of me was amazing!

As the talk drew closer, I felt panicked that I wouldn’t be able to memorize it in time.  I phoned my Mom, my sister Laura and my brothers David and Andrew all of whom helped me to laugh and encouraged me along.  My brother Andrew, who is an actor, was amazing at coaching me through how to memorize my piece.  He put me through a rigorous training process having me say my lines over and over until there was no pause between them.  I was waking up in the middle of the night reciting my speech, biking around town reciting my speech, walking circles around the kitchen table reciting my speech.  Without his help, there is no way I could have memorized it all. I knew I had to memorize it because I didn’t want to focus on the words I wanted to be able to get on that stage and share the feelings I had so that my passion in believing in sharing positive news would come through loud and clear.

The day of the event, I was so glad that Breanna had helped me to pick out an outfit so I’d feel awesome even if I was nervous as anything. My family came and sat front and center on the day of my talk along with so many of my friends who were scattered throughout the whole audience!  Many of them had traveled up to an hour and a half to be there for me. Josh Dueck, one of the other TEDxYYC speakers helped to remind me in the dressing rooms “to have fun!”  The whole TEDxYYC team and all of the tech crew worked together to make it possible for me to present and feel confident that this message of positive news would communicate to the waiting audience.

When I walked off that stage, I pumped my fists in the air because I knew I had given it everything I had in me.

Here is the next challenge, I am asking you to share this talk with everyone you know.  We need to share positive news.  We need to help fight back against an age of negativity and start creating a positive alternative.  Let’s make this message of positivity go viral!


2 thoughts on “TED Talk: Power of Positive News

  1. This story was great! To go from depression where it feels like there isn’t any hope to help others and tell the truth of what is really happening in other countries. It isn’t all negative and there are lots of lots of great things happening there too. I was reading about a young guy who recently went to visit North Korea and took pictures over there and the people were smiling and the children were laughing and playing in the fields. It wasn’t all about oppression and sadness and starvation. Yes there are some great monuments all over the country of their leader and the expense it cost to errect these monuments. The architecture in the pictures was amazing and I was surprised at how beautiful the country was. It gave me a whole new perspective on North Korea.

    • Thank you so much for sharing Colleen! What a great example. It’s so true. We need to have these perspectives to help us reframe what we hear in the news! Thanks for taking the time to write!

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