Get To Know Your TEDx 2020 Speakers

Thursday, February 27, 2020
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About TEDx Phoenix College

Phoenix College is hosting our second annual TEDx event on March 4, 2020. Additional information and tickets can be purchased here
The topic for this year’s TEDx is Traditions. It is an introspective examination of what kinds of traditions are worth keeping and which we could consider discarding. To read about the three chosen speakers, to find an event schedule and more, click here.


We’re excited to be hosting three incredible speakers this year: Katie Hess, Charles Matheus, and Colby Martin. Each speaker has a unique angle on the topic of Traditions. Please read their stories below.

Speaker #1: Katie Hess, Speaking on “The Secret Language You Already Speak: Flowers"

katie hess

Katie Hess knows how to stop and smell the roses. Literally. She is a flower alchemist. “I've devoted the last 20 years of my life to the practice of flower remedies. After graduating from college, I lived outside the country for several years, spending time in countries in Europe, Asia and North America,” she says. “During my travels, I met an expert in flower remedies from Madrid, Spain; I studied with him and was inspired to bring my practice back to the U.S. I spent the first 10 years doing one-on-one consultations and the second decade teaching myself how to be an entrepreneur so that I could grow an international business.” 

Fifteen years ago, she began to go out into the wild to search for special flowers whose healing qualities we most need today, and since then has collected a library of over 200 mother essences from nine countries. In 2016, she wrote the book, Flowerevolution, which led to 20 Flowerlounge events in three countries. She started a podcast 2.5 years ago and now leads teaching tours around the world. 

“I'm devoting the rest of my life to educating as many people as possible about the transformative power of flower remedies,” she explains. “What I've devoted my life to has been life-changing for so many people. I want to reach more people with my message and vision -- as well as the beauty and joy of flowers. I want to inspire people to reconnect with their own wisdom and power, through reconnecting with flowers and Mother Nature.”

Katie’s TedX Talk will focus on the traditions of cultures that used flowers for healing effects or awakening, giving evidence and realization that there IS a communication between us and flowers. She seeks to lead attendees to a deeper appreciation of mother nature and the powerful healing effects of flowers and how each flower on the planet has a specific healing quality. 

The science behind the communication between bees and flowers sets the scene for insight into the history behind the traditions of using flowers as healing plus other transformational agents of change. “I will cover the studies about the exponential health benefits of forest bathing and how it can demonstrate 'floral wifi.' Also, how doctors used to prescribe their patients to drink dewdrops from specific flowers to boost their mood. In the 1930s, a doctor even created a method of bottling the dewdrop into flower remedies,” she says. “The audience will get a visual sense of how flower remedies affect people's faces, essence and vitality, leading to a sense that we are all so much more powerful than we realize and how flowers can amplify that to create worldwide happiness.”

Speaker #2: Charles Matheus, Speaking on "Redefining Strength for the 21st Century"

charles matheus

Charles Matheus doesn't claim to have developed the Four Gifts of Inclusion, Power-sharing, Cooperation, & Vulnerability. But he practices and teaches them. "They are simply a set of impulses and behaviors that I believe are hard-wired into humans alongside the darker more destructive tendencies like Power-grabbing, Zero-sum thinking, Repression, and Oppression," he explains. "I started trying to practice the Four Gifts via Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication (NVC) almost twenty years ago. Studying NVC was an attempt to improve my relationship with my then-partner and it showed me how even the most loving relationship can be tinged with a struggle for hierarchy and control. When I went to grad school to study education, I became obsessed with the realization that teaching can be just another way to oppress and control students. I felt very strongly that I wanted something different in my relationships with the young people in my classroom and out on the trail."

Matheus was motivated to study the principles of nonviolence and read works by Gandhi, Dr. King, Paulo Freire, and Nel Noddings and to apply their principles to his work with students. He also did a lot of personal growth and spiritual work that did two important things: One, it helped create a healthy ego that didn't require power over another to feel esteem and safety; and he discovered his capacity for grief and empathy, learning how powerful and positive he felt when he stopped repressing his own emotions. He discusses this more in-depth in his podcast, Rocket Feather.

"Then ten years ago, I became the Executive Director of a nonprofit and I immediately fell into the default leadership habits of hierarchy and invulnerability," he says. "Within a year, it was clear that exercising control and pretending to be a powerful, all-knowing executive wasn't working for my team or me. I nearly lost my job because I was creating stress and division rather than teamwork and ease. Fortunately, an executive coach introduced me to the works of Brene Brown and Simon Sinek. Sinek taught me how to seek relationship power rather than structural power, and Brown showed me how the practice of vulnerability is deeply brave and powerful." 

Matheus' hope is that he TEDx talk will unleash some knowledge and courage that the audience members already have to create some personal and social change. He believes each will walk away with the realization that they have always carried the Four Gifts with them and the motivation to lift up those gifts and share them with others. "I know from my own experience that the bit of extra work involved pays dividends in relationship with loved ones, with a better work environment, and with more fulfilling community. In particular, I am hoping the men in the audience take away the courage to really listen to women and children and stop trying to fix or control them. I feel really strongly about sharing the message around redefining strength. It seems to me that we must work together to make the shift away from the old traditions of power and hierarchy. I don't think we can build a sustainable world with those old traditions. I am really grateful for any opportunity to be in a room full of interest people so we can explore together the value and practice of a new strength that might help us survive and thrive in the 21st Century." 

Speaker #3: Colby Martin, Speaking on "The Forgotten Tradition of Sin"

colby martin

Colby Martin been a pastor in Christian churches for over 15 years now. He was born and raised in a conservative evangelical household. "I have been on both the giving and the receiving end of how the Christian tradition thinks about and talks about 'sin,' which is, all people are inherently flawed, do bad things (ie, they sin), and deserving of condemnation", he says. "This sort of thinking is destructive on both an individual and collective level. However, simply not talking about sin, or ignoring that we are finite people who have the capacity to harm one another, doesn't seem reasonable to me either."

It's because of this that he is interested in figuring out how we can think about and talk about sin in a way that leads us to more whole, connected lives. Where we are filled with compassion for ourselves and each other, not judgment and condemnation.

"After my talk, people should have an entirely different way to think about what sin is and how we ought to respond to people when they sin," Martin says. "Even in a post-Christian, largely secular society, we still tend to think of sin as moral failures deserving of condemnation. However, this doesn't have to be how we think about sin, especially once we consider where such a concept came from. Once we dust off the forgotten origin of 'sin,' we are equipped to see both ourselves and others in a new light, filled with compassion and understanding for the ways in which we miss the mark."

Martin says that if audience members come from a religious background, but no longer consider themselves religious, hearing talk of "sin" may be off-putting. "Similarly, if you don't have much connection to religion or religious language, hearing a pastor do a talk about sin sounds about as interesting as chewing broken glass," Martin says. "However, all of us (regardless of how we identify religiously), know what it's like to let people down or to fail to live up to our own standards for ourselves. We all know what it's like when others do or say things that wound us. And that is the space I'm interested in. How do we talk about that in a way that leads us to more connection, less division? To more love, less hate? To more compassion and less judgment? If we can hit pause long enough on our discomfort or disinterest with the word "sin," I think we can go to some really fascinating places."