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Movers, shakers, thinkers, designers, catalysts – that’s what Detroit has to offer, and that’s who gathered for the 10th annual TEDxDetroit last month, once again reminding me how proud I am to work in such a remarkable city. Walking into The Masonic Theater Detroit, I was ready to be inspired.

What I did not anticipate was that so many of the lessons would tie in with Franco’s core values. Though, I suppose it makes sense considering the TEDxDetroit series is what initially sparked Franco’s Detroit Inspires Me campaign back in 2016.


Each of us, like our city, has had setbacks. In the first session of TEDxDetroit, themes of persistence and empathy allowed attendees to work through some of these challenges and find inspiration.

Local media correspondent Roop Raj kicked things off by urging the audience to see the positive side of rejection and get back up after failure. Just because you’re down does not mean you stay there; it means you have a chance at a greater good.

Mahmoud “Moody” Mattan believes another way to stay focused on your goal is through technology. Moody uses virtual reality as a storytelling tool to connect to one another through the very human trait of empathy. As a PR professional, this really stood out to me. It is our job to tell stories that resonate with our clients’ audiences, and people care about people.

All it takes to change the world is an idea, and these individuals have plenty. Obstacles don’t have to stop us in our tracks, but instead can motivate us to find another way to succeed.


From being passionate about your work, to breathing fire and making things happen, the second session of TEDxDetroit was all about rising above.

Many speakers addressed this concept by discussing how to thrive by embracing change. In the name of forward motion, Trevor Pawl, a PlanetM innovative leader, is working to bring The Motor City up to speed with recent automotive breakthroughs. He shared his vision of Detroit in the year 2068, and let me tell you, it is nothing short of spectacular.

Detroit is abundant with knowledge. We have the resources; we just have to put in the time and energy, and say “YES!” to opportunity, just like Bob Waltenspiel and David Phillips say we should. Open the door and don’t be afraid to walk right in.

As so eloquently said by Mikhaella Norwood during her spoken word performance (one of my favorite moments from the day), “Open doors are before you…Arise, Shine… You’re not even acquainted with your best days yet.”

There was entrepreneurial spirit in the air as business and creativity flowed freely in both TEDxDetroit sessions. Great things are constantly coming in and out of Detroit, and each and every one of the speakers captured that.

Thank you, TEDxDetroit, for sharing remarkable people and innovative ideas with me and my city. I’m already looking forward to being inspired next year!

Tina Kozak leads Franco as president. Contact her at [email protected], or @tinakozak.

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