Two years ago, at the inaugural TEDxFIU event, international relations major Philip Koenig asked the audience: “Can a 12-year-old be a leader?” With the right opportunities and training, the nonprofit he started in high school, Leading Miami, showed the answer to be a resounding yes.
Fast forward to today, when Leading Miami now has 50 mentors in seven middle schools in Miami. Koenig is a senior at FIU, graduating next May. In two weeks, he heads to Chicago, where the nonprofit is expected to launch its program early next year as part . He is currently looking for the next executive director to carry the torch of Leading Miami while he continues with the organization as a board member. After graduation, Koenig hopes to work in management consulting and eventually plans to continue his education in business school.
Koenig remembers his TEDxFIU experience fondly. A pre-event pep talk from President Mark B. Rosenberg and his first practice talk with TEDxFIU organizers – “They just ripped my speech apart. …I learned so much from that.” – stand out in his memory, but it was a fellow speaker’s words that he refers to most often.
“I remember speaking to Dr. Pedro Greer, and I was very nervous,” says Koenig. “He simply said, ‘Just relax, smile and put your chest out, and people will love you.’ Simple advice, but it really helped. Every time I make a speech publicly, I think of his words of advice.”
Watch Koenig’s TEDxFIU 2012 talk: