Ellie Laks
“My Gentle Barn’ Learning To Listen!
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!


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
More Info | Get Tickets