Ellie Laks
“My Gentle Barn’ Learning To Listen!– Watch HERE.
3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018

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Meet the Speakers: Ellie Laks for TEDxWilmingtonWomen

I have wanted to do a TEDx talk for years and now I am finally preparing for it; it is a dream come true! Getting the invitation was pure elation as my head filled with ideas for my talk. It was as if each animal that I have ever known was asking for his or her story to be shared and asking me to pick them. I imagined to myself what I would say about each animal and how I would describe their tale, and then one animal rose to the surface, took center stage in my mind, and almost demanded that I share her story. “Karma” is the matriarch of our bovine family and has a story that people can really relate to, so it seemed fitting that her story would be the one worth sharing.

As I go over and over the talk in my mind, in the shower, in the car, before I fall asleep at night, I get more and more excited. Ideas come to me as to how to begin or end the talk, and it’s almost like me and Karma are in partnership as I feel her silently guiding me and inspiring me. As I stroke her soft fur and gaze into her deep soulful eyes, I pray that I do her justice, tell her story for the most impact, and change the way people see animals forever after. The truth is, that it’s really Karma giving this talk, and I her translator. It is her message and her life that I will be talking about, and I feel both elated and a deep sense of responsibility. May the weeks ahead bring clarity and focus, and may I deliver justice to Karma, her life, her family, and all animals that are counting on me to be their voice!

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the TEDx process: Ellie Laks for TEDxWilmingtonWomen

Being invited to speak at TEDxWilmingtonWomen is a dream come true and the process has been almost as delicious as giving the actual talk. From writing the very first outline, practicing that first talk, receiving notes, and then redoing it for the finished product, it’s been nerve wracking at times, but rewarding none the less. To me the process is like molding a big chunk of clay. At first it has no form, and no shape. But then the chiseling begins and from nothing, something starts to take shape. Little by little more and more of it emerges until what the message is, is clear and bright. And once the main shape of it is clear, the fine sculpting and small details becomes the focus. In the last few weeks while the main vision of my talk is now clear, tweaking small sentences and refining timing has been my focus. And getting feedback from the TEDxWilmington team has been very helpful. It is easy to have a story or vision in our heads, but to make it clear, in focus, and meaningful to others is the hard part. The hardest part of this process is making my talk crystal-clear to others, so they can see what I see in my mind. And I guess that is this last part of the fine tuning, even down to the last detail. When I watch inspiring TED talks now I’m reminded of the effort behind the scenes that goes into that one great moment. And it is evident that in all masterpieces, in all inspiring, life altering acts and masterpieces, tremendous refinements and practice comes first. I am tremendously grateful to partake in this experience, not just the finished product, but each baby step towards it!

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TEDxWilmington Ellie Laks, Photo by Alessandra NicoleReflections: Ellie Laks for TEDxWilmingtonWomen

I have wanted to speak at TEDxWilmington for years, and I knew that the opportunity would be very special, but I came away with so much more than I gave! Up until now when I have written speeches, I have asked my guides for help, meditated, and found the perfect words. Telling stories comes easy for me and I love engaging with an audience. But the TEDxWilmington process of writing the speech was so different, more grueling, harder, and more rewarding than ever before. Coming up with the core message, the outline, then flushing out the talk with feedback and several practices, helped me know my speech like the back of my hand, and I could recite it in my sleep. This polishing helped me have confidence on stage and allowed me to spend my focus engaging with the audience and really pouring passion and finesse into my stories. I will apply this writing method to all my talks moving forward and I am grateful for learning so much!

The TEDxWilmington audience was one of the warmest I have ever spoken for; the energy was fantastic, and it felt safe and inviting. I think that has a lot to do with the staff and other speakers. They were so generous and giving and it enabled each of us to shine brightly on stage, and in the room. I loved giving my talk and being the voice for animals but being inspired by the other speakers and sharing a room with some of the most innovative people in the world is something that I will cherish forever.

I had been thinking that to do a TEDx talk would be the pinnacle of my career, but the truth is that it is just the beginning. I left with my head full of ideas, my mind spinning with more stories I’d like to share about children and animals. I left with my heart full of hope, knowing that the world is full of people who are part of the solution, making the world a better place for all of us. And I left with my soul forever connected to the people who work so hard to make TEDxWilmington a place where ideas are worth spreading!

Watch Ellie Laks’ TEDx talk HERE.

TEDxWilmingtonWomen 2018, Photograph by Alessandra Nicole


Ellie Laks is the Founder of The Gentle Barn, a national nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted animals and heals people with the same stories of abuse and neglect. She is an animal welfare advocate, humane educator, and the author of My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal, and Children Learn to Hope. Ellie founded The Gentle Barn in 1999, where she develops programs to facilitate mutual healing and animals act as ambassadors of compassion to at-risk, underprivileged, and disabled children and adults. The Gentle Barn is home to more than 200 animals and has locations in California, Tennessee,and Missouri. Ellie’s goal is to open Gentle Barns in every state. READ MORE

3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018
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