How I Made It to TED

TED Picture.jpg

On 12/6/2016, a fateful day, TED published my talk on It changed my life. And based on the feedback I received, it also changed many people’s lives. Since then, the rejection talk has become a top 5 most viewed TED talk of 2017, with over 3 million views. Here is how it all happened. 

Have a dream

It has always been my dream to give a TED talk. You can do it by either being invited to speak at one of the main TED events, or having your TEDx talk chosen to be featured on Both are mystically hard. TED invites whoever they want, and less than 1% of TEDx talks get featured on

Be invited to a TEDx event


In July 2015, I was invited to give a talk at a TEDx event in Portland. I was a little reluctant at first, since I did three previous TEDx talks. While some were good, none was picked up by TED. But I decided to do it anyway, since it’s an honor to speak at TEDx and I was friends with the organizer.

Prepare for the speech


I gave my all preparing and rehearsing for the talk. It helped that I had become an experienced speaker by then, speaking at many events for the past two years. I used each speaking engagement as an opportunity to get better, honing my stories and takeaways. I also got feedback from live audience.

Giving my speech

I was the first speaker on stage that day. Being the first had its advantages and disadvantages. You aren’t bothered by speakers before you, but you could face a cold audience too. I made sure I slowed down, made eye contact, and spoke about a very personal story to draw people in. It went great.

The (non)wait

All TEDx talks are published on Youtube. So was mine in Aug 2015. After that, I simply moved on and focused on other parts of my life/business, because waiting for TED to feature you on is a dumb game. It almost never happens (<1%), and they never contact you until they decide to do it.


For the next 15 months, I never bothered to think about TED for above reasons. Then one day, I received a call from the TEDx organizer who said TED was interested. I still didn’t want to get my hope up. Finally, I received an email from TED to confirm it. It was one of the happiest days of my life.


On the day when my talk was published, I didn't know what to expect. Nothing really happened, except the views for my talk was comparatively high. But the next few months, everything happened. It became one of the most viewed TED talks of 2017, and generated a lot of discussions and feedback.


Not all dreams are fulfilled, especially the ones that are out of your control. But you can push as hard as you can. It took me giving 4 TEDx talks, over 30 hours of writing and practice, over 50 hours of live rehearsal, and publishing a book to fulfill my TED dream. Do your best and let God do the rest.