Inaugural TEDxChapmanU: Icons, Geniuses, and Mavericks

  Memorial Hall Straightened

When looking at our speaker opportunities for this inaugural TEDxChapmanU, we found them to fill one or more of these three descriptions. Looking back at TED 2007, this was their theme, too. It is still one of the most talked about TED conferences in history, so we felt a strong pull to launch Chapman’s first TEDx event with the same strength and thought-provoking theme.


So what do these three labels mean, exactly? We’ll break it down for you below:

  • Icon: a person so well known for their beliefs, their work, their leadership in certain industries and categories that their name can almost replace the subject.
  • Genius: a person embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight.
  • Maverick: a person who is willfully independent all the time, under all circumstances. They take risks that conformists shirk at, and push harder seeking challenges that others feel are ‘insane’.


As part of the registration process, we asked attendees to answer the following question: “Who is an icon, genius, and/or maverick that has impacted your life?” Below are some of our favorite responses:

  • “Neil deGrasse Tyson because he seems to live the way that I intend to - exploring life and helping others in any way you can; plus, he has an awesome sense of humor!”
  • “Someone who is one-of-a-kind; who has bucked convention and gone their own way even though they may have to go it alone.”
  • “General Charles Krulak – served under him in Desert Storm. He is a great man of character and integrity.”
  • “If someone like MLK counts, then he is my number one hero… I saw the Dalai Lama speak recently and he is on a level all his own… I am grateful for what Steve Jobs left the world… I am so inspired by so many others that create amazing projects.”
  • “My father, because no matter what business or personal setbacks he’s had, he always returns with more vigor.”
  • “Julie Blunden. A true leader and pioneer in the world of solar policy-making. She has inspired me to want to make my mark in the world of solar, as one of the few women in this industry. Inspired.”
  • “My father Herbert Chambers, innovator and mentor, taught me to not be afraid if I didn’t know how to do something, but to have the confidence that I could figure out the solution or know how to find the resources to make it happen.”


Are your wheels turning yet? Who’s an icon, genius, or maverick in your life? Let us know in the comment section below!