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  • I mean what a treat but also kind of scary to go after Sark and then T-Bird,

  • they were amazing, thank you! Whoo!

  • (Applause)

  • Okay, so before I get into my presentation,

  • what I'm really curious about, given that this is TEDx for Women:

  • How many women out there think that women are key to our global sustainable future?

  • Raise your hand. Whoo!

  • I do too! That's pretty much everybody in the room!

  • Okay. Well. Good news.

  • For many, many years, I've built and sold a number of companies,

  • and as they've mentioned I hosted a show at CNBC,

  • and I've been fortunate to do a number of different things

  • in my life and in my career that have been a lot of fun for me.

  • And people have always asked,

  • "Ingrid, how do you make the impossible possible,

  • how do you do this?"

  • And I've never felt like I really had a good answer

  • because I thought, well, you just kind of do it.

  • And after years of really kind of doing it,

  • there really is an art and a science to it --

  • an art and a science to making the impossible possible.

  • Today, we're going to talk about the art,

  • because I dare to say, that the science piece,

  • which I'd love to talk about at some point as well,

  • without the art, it really is almost impossible

  • to make the impossible possible.

  • And the reason that this is important now,

  • is because the last company that I built and sold last summer,

  • it was a green energy company.

  • And when I was doing this company, last fall,

  • I really stopped and said,

  • "Universe, what is it that I need to do next?

  • What do you need me to hear?"

  • And I really clearly heard,

  • "Ingrid, everything that you've been doing in your life to date

  • has been leading up to where you're going to go now."

  • We need to create a global sustainable future.

  • And the only way to do this is through a new set of eyes,

  • and that's the eyes of women.

  • And what you're called to do is to do everything in your power

  • to empower a billion women by 2020.

  • So, I knew that everything that I was doing then,

  • from that point forward -- and that was just a year ago --

  • my business, my policy, my TV initiatives,

  • everything needed to line up towards this vision.

  • But the other thing was, I realized that,

  • well, that's great, that the things I'm involved in

  • all moved towards that vision.

  • But what happens if I'm not actually doing my part to share my story,

  • and reach out to other women,

  • who are exactly like me and I'm exactly like them,

  • and help them understand the power of possibility, the power of belief,

  • and the power of turning the impossible into the possible.

  • So, I want to share with you three things today,

  • and the first one talks about: The Power of Belief.

  • When I was in the 4th grade,

  • it was really interesting because the principal called my parents up,

  • and called my parents for a meeting.

  • And they said, "Hans and Joan," my parents' names,

  • "Dr and Mrs Vandervaldt, your child,"

  • at that time the language they used, I was failing out of school.

  • And they said, "Your daughter is not only learning disabled,

  • but we believe she's retarded."

  • -- is the language they used. I was retarded.

  • (Laughter)

  • And my parents, thank God for my parents,

  • didn't believe what they said -- thank you dear God.

  • And they said, "This cannot be."

  • And the principal said, "She is.

  • And she is failing, she doesn't listen,

  • you know, nothing's going right, we can't do anything with her,

  • we absolutely don't know what to do with your daughter."

  • Well, thank God for my blessed parents who said, "We do not believe you.

  • And we believe she has possibility.

  • And we believe that there's something else going on here,

  • that if we invest a little bit of time and effort,

  • maybe we can figure it out,

  • and maybe we can actually turn this little girl around."

  • So, my parents found a special school,

  • which was many, many miles away from our home.

  • And they somehow got me to go over into this special school.

  • So, the school I was in had four classrooms [each] in one big room,

  • and I couldn't really hear very well.

  • This classroom, or this school, had one classroom per room. Okay.

  • It was many, many miles away from our house,

  • and my parents went back to the principal and the school board and said,

  • "Hey, our daughter, we've gotten her over into this school

  • and if you look at the rules,

  • she lives far enough away from this school to deserve busing to get to the school."

  • And the principal and the school board said,

  • "Impossible. Not happening.

  • She's the only one from this area that's being sent over to that school.

  • We can't afford it."

  • And my parents were thinking, well, how are they going to do it.

  • Because my dad was working, my mom's taking care of all of the kids.

  • How are we going to do it?

  • They found a loophole in this whatever the laws were, whatever,

  • and they said, "No, she deserves busing."

  • Lo and behold, first day of 4th grade.

  • I go out of my front door,

  • my parents say the bus is going to be here to pick you up.

  • So, now I know, in the 4th grade, I'm going off to this special school.

  • Well now, the bus comes and picks me up.

  • And the kids -- I'll jump forward and then I'll tell you the story --

  • the kids in school were like, "Ha ha! You were the short bus kid!"

  • And I was like, "Actually I wasn't,

  • because the school had run out of the short buses.

  • So, what they sent was a long yellow bus.

  • You know, that fits like 65 people on that thing.

  • And I was the only one on it!

  • (Laughter)

  • Whoo! It was awesome!

  • It was totally awesome. Because the bus driver,

  • he became my best friend.

  • And get this, he was like --

  • you can imagine, a 4th grader, pretty small --

  • he was smaller than I was.

  • He was African-American, and his name was Shorty.

  • (Laughter)

  • Shorty and I had a lot in common. We had issues.

  • Anyways, so, Shorty drives me to the special school on the special bus

  • and it was, I'll just say, pissing off the school

  • that my bus is taking all this room, and we're blocking it.

  • So, they decided I need to have my special parking space.

  • So, what happened was:

  • I was the last to arrive at school,

  • just get her in last, get her off, whatever.

  • And then they gave me a special parking spot,

  • so that I'd be the first one to leave school at the end of the day.

  • So, I had my own special parking spot. Okay.

  • Well, then when I was in school and the kids were like,

  • "Ha-ha, this is the special kid, you're special," blah blah blah.

  • Okay, so, when I was in school,

  • they decided that I really did have issues, and I needed more help.

  • So, they gave me a tutor,

  • and that tutor would take me off to some special classes.

  • And they would work with me and train with me, and we'd try to figure out

  • what was going on with my learning disability,

  • and all the other things they were saying about me.

  • And through this whole time, you know, kids were joking with me,

  • they were teasing me, it actually --

  • you know, maybe I sort of lived in my own world,

  • I mean, people say that I do that sometimes.

  • But, you know, kids would tease,

  • and to me, I was like, "Wait a minute.

  • Here are my parents doing all of this stuff

  • because they believe in my possibility.

  • And here I am, going to a special school,

  • on the special bus, for the special kids, in my own special class,

  • had my own special parking spot.

  • I'm freaking special!

  • I am awesome!"

  • (Applause)

  • Not everybody thought that, but I certainly did!

  • But, here's where it all paid off.

  • Because in the 6th grade, they did figure out

  • that what the issue was, was I had hearing problems.

  • That once they fixed those hearing problems,

  • I excelled.

  • But I realized at a really young age,

  • not only the power of great parenting

  • and belief from a parent -- I'm not a parent myself, but really --

  • I understood the possibility of choice,

  • the possibility of believing in my own possibility,

  • and believing that I was special.

  • That's critical.

  • As women as we move out into living our fullness,

  • living to everything that we can be,

  • is understanding the power of our own possibility.

  • Casey talked about it a little bit earlier,

  • everybody's been talking about it.

  • It's been so awesome, I actually forgot I was supposed to speak today,

  • I was so into it.

  • And it's been incredible.

  • So, here we go with another story I want to share with you, though.

  • Because believing in the power of possibility

  • is critical to delivering game-changing ideas

  • that are going to change the world

  • and help us move towards global sustainability.

  • Certainly help us move towards empowering a billion women by 2020.

  • The next story is this.

  • When I built my first technology company, I had just come out of business school,

  • and I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

  • I had gotten an MBA in Entrepreneurship.

  • All my friends were getting corporate jobs.

  • That was not for me, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

  • I was in Austin, Texas.

  • Dell was there, the Internet was starting,

  • and I knew that if Michael Dell,

  • and if some of these other people, could build billion companies,

  • why couldn't I do it? I didn't know any better.

  • So, what happened simultaneously to that is this:

  • I realized that in realizing and believing in the possibility of that,

  • and being okay with the fact that I didn't really know

  • how I was going to build a billion-dollar company,

  • but I could figure out how I might get there,

  • I started thinking about what do I need to do.

  • And so I decided I need to get myself a mentor

  • who's done this before, that I can work with.

  • And the two people in Austin were Michael Dell,

  • and a guy named George Kozmetsky, who built Teledyne,

  • and he also mentored Michael Dell.

  • So, I decided, since Dr K, who was in his 80's at the time,

  • had done it himself, had worked with Michael Dell,

  • and he was the benefactor of the business school I went to,

  • that he was a good match for me.

  • So, I went to Dr K and I said, "Hey, I'm just out of school,

  • I want to build a billion-dollar company."

  • He took me on.

  • The reason he took me on is because I was ballsy enough to say

  • this is what I want to do, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get there,

  • and I don't know how I'm going to do it,

  • but if you'll help me, I will figure it out.

  • And he took me on, but here was the deal --

  • like I said he was in his 80's.

  • And he said, "Ingrid, I will work with you,

  • but you have to come and pick me up at 4 o'clock in the morning,

  • take me to the Holiday House, which was his favorite place,

  • to eat greasy-spoon breakfasts.

  • And the reason was, is because by 6 o'clock in the morning,

  • I would have to take him back to his office,

  • so he could get on one of his many private jets, literally,

  • and fly around the country to go see his companies.

  • So, that was the deal, and I took it.

  • So, at 4 o'clock in the morning, every month,

  • I would go pick him up from his assistant, Patty,

  • take him to the Holiday House,

  • and we would work on the business idea that I had.

  • At the time, the Internet was starting to kind of grow in popularity

  • and, you know, I saw a lot of people getting funded, and I thought,

  • "Gosh, I would love to participate in that!

  • And certainly I can build a billion-dollar company out of this!"

  • Well, long story short,

  • my father ran an artificial intelligence technology company

  • and that's actually where I get my real geeky side.

  • I love technology, AI, all that stuff.

  • And he and his team had developed a piece of technology

  • that they were using for defense systems.

  • So, what they were actually doing, is that here in the United States --

  • you know, those big helicopters you see in the news all the time,

  • like in the wars unfortunately? --

  • well, if people, if the army thinks something is wrong with these helicopters,

  • they ground them to look at them.

  • Every time they ground them, that costs $300,000.