Q&A with Tim Freeman, Emcee of TEDxMarkhamSt 2015!
Tell us about yourself. Who is Tim Freeman?
I’m an Arkansas native, Marine Corps veteran, entrepreneur, and a believer in the people of Arkansas. I am CEO and Co-Founder of Hark, a Little Rock-based media company creating and licensing original content about the entrepreneurs and creatives of the southeast. I’m also a designer and partner at Polis Design, a North Little Rock-based furniture design company that I co-founded in 2012. Most importantly, I’m a husband, a father, and an overcomer.
My story isn’t all that unique. Some successes, some failures. I love my family, I love my city, and I love the people here. I’m committed to serving.
Why did you accept this opportunity?
I was honored to be offered the opportunity to serve as emcee for TEDxMarkhamSt. I have a lifelong love for the City of Little Rock, and TEDxMarkhamSt is a unique and important opportunity to share the ideas and talent Little Rock has to offer with the world. Serving as emcee also provides me with the chance to make connections and build valuable relationships with some of the best and brightest influencers and thought leaders in our community.
When did you first learn about TED and how did you first hear about TEDxMarkhamSt?
I don’t recall the exact year, but several years ago Apple ran an advertisement that included TED. I was intrigued, so I investigated this mysterious organization featured in the ad, and discovered all of these great minds sharing ideas, showcasing new technology and inspiring thought. I immediately identified with the concept and mission of TED. Idea exchange – even when we disagree – is critical to the advancement and liberty of all people, and TED has provided a critical forum for facilitation of idea exchange.
I met Salil Joshi in February while filming an episode of one of Hark’s programs. I was immediately aware of Salil’s gifts and energy, and we became instant friends. He shared with me his desire to bring a TEDx event to Little Rock, and in May he asked me to serve as Master of Ceremonies for TEDxMarkhamSt.
Have any favorite TED/TEDx videos?
I do have one favorite that stands out. In 2013, 17-year old Sam Berns of Foxboro, MA spoke at TEDxMidAtlantic. Sam suffered from progeria, an extremely rare genetic disorder that accelerates the aging process in children from birth. Progeria only affects about 350 people worldwide. Sam’s talk was entitled “My Philosophy for a Happy Life”. In Sam I discovered a remarkably centered, well grounded and positive young man. In a largely cynical era, and in spite of his challenges and difficulties, Sam radiated positivity and love for life. His talk was incredibly moving. Unfortunately, Sam passed away from complications associated with his disorder in 2014.
What is your favorite part of TED/TEDx events?
TEDxMarkhamSt will be the first TEDx event I’ve had the opportunity to attend in person, so I’m looking forward to learning more about the associated events and behind-the-scenes activities the events offer. In general, I greatly enjoy the discovery process TED and TEDx events facilitate. It’s impossible, in my experience, to fail to come away with a new or different perspective, or learn about a subject one might not be intimately familiar with if you spend much time at all with content produced by TED and TEDx.
How have you been involved in the Little Rock community?
Service is one of my core values.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life. I’ve always been fascinated by and drawn to the opportunity to bring ideas to life through entrepreneurship. Given that experience, I contribute as much of my available time as possible to supporting and helping other startup entrepreneurs and creatives in Little Rock and around central Arkansas by volunteering consulting or design hours, or making needed introductions as I’m able to.
During the spring and summer of 2014, I worked with local community organizers, relief organizations and churches to organize and assist with cleanup, relief efforts and rebuilding in Mayflower, Vilonia and Ferndale after the April 27th storms that devastated those communities.
Do you think TEDxMarkhamSt, or TED Talks as a whole, are important to the community?
I believe anytime you have an opportunity to bring a community together to share ideas, and then take those locally shared ideas and broadcast them with the world in an organized and compelling manner, you’re creating exceptional value for that local community. To my knowledge, no other organization does that quite as well as TED and TEDx.
My company Hark was founded on the idea that the creatives and entrepreneurs of the southeast represent a tremendously overlooked and underserved reservoir of talent and opportunity, with there own ‘ideas worth sharing’. Hark’s mission is to serve that community and tell their stories. In many ways, TED and TEDx events serve as a standard and inspiration for the idea that by sharing our stories and ideas, we elevate our communities and open doors for opportunities that may have otherwise been left undiscovered.
What are your expectations of Little Rock for the next 5 – 10 years?
After graduating from High School in 1994, I left Little Rock to join the Marine Corps. When I returned in 2002, the city was almost unrecognizable to the one I grew up in. I was amazed how much it had developed and grown. That growth has not only continued over the last 13 years, it has accelerated. There’s a sign in North Little Rock that reads “Great Cities Make Great States”. I believe great people make great cities. Right now, Little Rock has a strong base of progressively minded entrepreneurs, creatives, developers, investors and leaders who are leaving their mark on our city in ways most of us might not have been able to imagine just 20 years ago. In the next 5 years I believe Little Rock will become a key hub for entrepreneurial and creative activity in the southeast, and nationally within the next 10, because we have been fortunate to become home to so many great people.
The TEDxMarkhamSt Master of Ceremonies is a one-time opportunity. Do you have any thoughts or advice for next year’s MC?
I may be able to better answer this question after July 24th, but the advice I feel comfortable offering now is relevant every day: be a servant.
Do you plan on staying involved in TEDxMarkhamSt next year?
Absolutely! I would love to be offered the opportunity to speak, but if I don’t have that privilege, at a minimum I’ll be in attendance. If there is a capacity in which I can help TEDxMarkhamSt succeed in it’s mission, I’m on board.
Any final thoughts?
I’d like to thank Salil Joshi, the TEDxMarkhamSt committee, and all of the event sponsors and speakers for allowing me this opportunity serve the organization and the City of Little Rock by inviting me to emcee this event. It’s a rare and unique opportunity and I’m humbled by the invitation.