Tiffany Gwilliam
“Women with Grit vs. The Third Leading Cause of Death” – Watch Now
3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018

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Meet the Speakers: Tiffany Gwilliam for TEDxWilmingtonWomen

The moment I received my official acceptance to give a TEDx talk, I was in complete and utter shock.  I had to read the subject line of my email “Your Official Invitation to give a TEDxWilmington talk in November” at least a dozen times.  It felt surreal.  The yoga classes I have taken over the years came in handy.  I needed to call upon those deep breathing exercises precisely at that moment.  Then a spectrum of emotions came over me.  Excitement, a deep sense of gratitude, to overwhelming feelings of sheer fear.  Even a degree of vulnerability.  Can I successfully empower the audience with my message as other TEDx speakers have with the delivery of their talk?   They make it look so easy and effortless.  Then I came to realize this was a defining moment.  No longer a question of can I do this, but I must do this.  I have a responsibility to stand on the red carpet and give this my everything.  A door has been opened with the opportunity of a life-time to hopefully help others.  I must walk through, embrace the intense feelings of fear as I allow them to become my motivator.  This will be the talk of my life!

I have learned nothing can truly prepare you for the magnitude of delivering a TEDx talk.  It requires the support of a village.  The process is intense.  I equate it best to a rollercoaster ride of many unexpected ups and downs.  One minute, there is a rush of excitement, next your nerves take over.  Quite a few drafts have been written, with more to follow.  I am committed to making every second count in the 10 minutes I have been allotted.    In the weeks ahead, I will be calling upon my village as they will prepare me to walk through the door, stand on the red carpet, and share my idea worth spreading on November 30th.

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the TEDx process: Tiffany Gwilliam for TEDxWilmingtonWomen

The TEDxWilmington journey is like nothing I have ever encountered.  The preparation process can be intense and rigorous.  When blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime to hopefully help others, you quickly forget the estimated 100 hours of work.  Instead, you willingly devote as many hours as it takes.  This is the talk of my life and the task is monumental.  In spite of my fears and nerves, I have a responsibility to give this my everything.

I am weeks away from delivering my talk about a topic I am passionate about.  In the more recent years, my family and I have encountered a number of health challenges.  It became my personal and uncompromising mission to ensure my loved ones and I received the best possible care.  I have been fortunate to learn how to navigate the healthcare system with success.  It is my hope that by sharing what I have learned, others will be able to keep their families safe from harm.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.   In order to begin decreasing the occurrences of medical errors, there needs to be an awareness and understanding of the challenges surrounding the problem.  This is a monumental issue and we cannot expect any one party to tackle it alone, especially physicians.  They need our help and it requires joining forces.  As powerful women, I know we are the ones to take on the third leading cause of death, begin decreasing medical errors, and spark the momentum of change to save lives.

When preparing a talk and making an ask of women specifically, who better to consult than fellow women.  Over a dozen of my close female friends, family members, and a professional writer have reviewed what I have written.  My supportive village will continue preparing me to deliver my talk, embrace my fears, and access my inner passion to take the TEDxWilmingtonWomen stage on November 30th.

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TEDxWilmington_TiffanyGwilliamReflecting: Tiffany Gwilliam for TEDxWilmingtonWomen

Health challenges that my family and I have encountered have led me to become passionate about the importance of the patient-physician relationship.  Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.  In order to begin decreasing the occurrences of medical errors, there needs to be an awareness surrounding the problem.  As powerful women with grit, I know we are the ones up for the task.

For days, I contemplated if I should apply to give a TEDx talk.  The ultimate deciding factor: is it worth reaching out of my comfort zone to hopefully help others?  The chances of being selected felt slim.  Remaining hopeful, I completed the application and hit the submit button.

Weeks later, an email appeared in my inbox and took my breath away.  The subject line in bold letters; The official invitation to give a TEDxWilmington talk in November.  Instantly, my heart begins to race.  I am in complete shock.  Then an overwhelming sense of deep gratitude, disbelief, and utter fear takes over.  A door has been opened with the opportunity of a lifetime to hopefully help many.  I have a responsibility to walk through the door.

Instantly, the process becomes intense.  Preparing a TEDx talk is a monumental task and cannot be accomplished alone.  It takes a village of family, friends, a speaking coach, and even a professional writer to provide constructive feedback.  Countless drafts are written.   Many hours are devoted to memorizing my talk and learning how to effectively deliver my message.

Finally, the day has arrived my village spent months preparing me for.  I wake up full of anxious energy.  To help tackle my nerves, I hit the gym.  I practice my talk a few times and work on the suggestions the TEDx Tribe provided at rehearsal.  It is comforting to join the 26 fellow speakers in the auditorium.  We support one another with words of encouragement, hugs, smiles, and laughter.  We have been fortunate to connect through this entire experience and have spent two days creating friendships that will last beyond today.  After all, we share a common bond that binds us as the speakers of the TEDxWilmington Women-Showing Up.

Now, the moment I need to embrace my fears, take the stage, and stand on the red carpet is here.  Anxious and nervous, I deliver my talk from my heart.  When I finish, an immediate sense of peace and relief washes over me.   I am hopeful that my talk has empowered women to establish strong patient-physician relationships with their doctors and to become powerful advocates for their families.  These are vital tools that will help decrease the occurrences of medical errors and begin tackling the third leading cause of death.

Watch Tiffany Gwilliam’s TEDx talk HERE.

TEDxWilmingtonWomen 2018, Photograph by Alessandra Nicole


Tiffany Gwilliam is a graduate of Lafayette College with a BA in psychology.  She is a mother of three children, two daughters and one son. Tiffany and her parents are cancer survivors.  Her oldest child was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease at eight-years-old. As a result, she has become passionate about the patient-physician relationship and is a powerful advocate for her family.  Tiffany has appeared on Sirius XM on the business of Health Care show to discuss the patient-physician experience.  She has co-written a blog post for the NEJM Catalyst; Patient Care Depends on the Patient-Physician Relationship. Tiffany has been a repeat guest podcast speaker on Pediatricchat.org. READ MORE

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