Business Students Deliver TEDxDePaul Talks

Three business doctoral students and an MBA student were among this year’s lineup of 11 TEDxDePaulUniversity speakers on May 1. Karen Bartuch, Tammy Higgins and Brandon Hendrix, who are currently pursuing degrees in DePaul’s Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) program, delivered a talk together on the benefits of humor in the workplace. MBA student Kevin Felisme delivered a talk on using economic development to reignite low-income Chicago communities.

During the third annual event, DePaul faculty, students and alumni gave talks and performances that centered on the theme “Reimagine” – topics that challenged the status quo, systems and standards of today. The half-day program featured  presentations that ranged in subject from forgiveness in the wake of an attack to rethinking the way listeners engage with music.  Fresh ideas about leadership, business, self-care and how we communicate were explored.

According to Newsline, a record-breaking 114 speaker applications submitted for this year’s event, a 46 percent increase from 2017. The selection committee chose applicants who introduced novel understandings or unconventional approaches that frame the theories, technologies and truths of tomorrow, and who are devoted to creating “ideas worth spreading” in 18 minutes or less.

Team Funny Business: Karen Bartuch, Tammy Higgins, Brandson Hendrix | DBA Class of 2018
“Funny Business”

How can humor benefit the workplace? That’s the question Bartuch, Higgins and Hendrix have been studying for the past three years as part of their doctoral research in the DBA program, titled “Funny Business.” During the TED talk, the speakers discussed their research findings and the benefits of humor – including increased resilience, organizational effectiveness, job satisfaction, team cohesion and psychological well-being. They also shared personal stories from their careers and discussed how humor has helped to diffuse tension, build camaraderie and work as a coping mechanism.

They also shared tips on how to use humor appropriately in different work situations.

Higgins, senior sales solutions partner for Orange Business Services, recommended a way to make meetings better for employees. “Start off your next conference call or web meeting with a brain teaser and don’t divulge the answer until the end of the call,” she says. “We’ve done this in a few of our meetings, and we’ve found that most people stay engaged until the end of the meeting when you get to hear the highly sought-after answer.”

Bartuch, who works as director of research and strategy at Sandstorm Design, also shared how to use humor at the beginning of a meeting, presentation or conference in order to set a positive tone. Hendrix, a data analytics specialist for the U.S. Department of Defense, provided advice on how to be memorable at networking events.

Kevin Felisme (MBA ’19)
“Reimagine Chicago: Power to the People”

MBA student Kevin Felisme delivers a TEDxDePaul talk
Kevin Felisme, an MBA student, presents his talk, “Reimagine Chicago: Power to the People,” at TEDxDePaulUniversity in the Lincoln Park Student Center.

During his TED talk, Felisme – who works at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a therapeutic residential facility for youth in Chicago – asked the audience to “reimagine the city of Chicago.”

According to a 2016 study, the University of Chicago found that five Chicago neighborhoods alone have accounted for nearly half of the city’s overall homicide increases, Felisme says. Those neighborhoods include Austin, Englewood, New City, West Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing.

Felisme also discussed the impact of unemployment and violence on these communities. Drawing from his own experience of living in a single-parent home in Manchester, N.H., Felisme highlighted the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck, and how violence can negatively impact a child’s brain.

He also talked about Chicago’s history of racist policies and practices of discriminating against African Americans, including redlining – when banks refuse to provide loans to African Americans who want to live in white neighborhoods – and overcrowded public housing.

To begin revitalizing these low-income communities, Felisme believes the “conversation needs to begin with economic development.” His idea is to develop programs, supported by either public or private dollars, that will allow neighborhood residents to own and operate businesses within the community.

“It’s always important to allow the people to be a part of the process,” Felisme says. Hiring people from the community and enrolling them in a unique apprentice program, he says, “ will equip employees with the knowledge and education needed to operate a business. I am thoroughly convinced that this can happen. I’ve got a lot to figure out, but in order to reimagine, you must think about what is currently impossible and find ways to make it possible, right?”

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