An independently organized version of TED Talks, called TEDx, is coming to Big Sky on Jan. 27. The second annual TEDxBigSky will feature seven hand-picked, inspiring people at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center. The speakers will share ideas and personal stories related to the 2018 event’s theme of “positivity.”

The 2018 event will feature a woman whose life was transformed by her mother’s death, and subsequent journey through her father’s Alzheimer’s; a Nepalese mountaineering guide; the founder of a media outlet devoted to uplifting news; the co-founder of an innovative technology startup company; a passionate outdoorsman; and special guest, musician Martin Sexton.

Stay tuned in to upcoming issues of EBS to get to know the 2018 presenters. EBS will feature Q&A interviews with the speakers in each issue leading up to the event.

Visit tedxbigsky.com for tickets, updates and to view all of the TEDx videos from last year’s inaugural TEDxBigSky event.


Cameron Scott

Cameron Scott is an avid outdoorsman. His top four passion pursuits are steelhead fishing, white water rafting, photography, and getting lost in the Cascade Mountains backcountry while searching for giant off-trail waterfalls. He is also a part-time river guide for Boundary Expeditions on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. When he can’t pursue his outdoor passions, he settles into his role as owner of Ollin Construction, a small custom homebuilding company in Bend, Oregon.

Explore Big Sky: Why do you think your voice is an important one at TEDxBigSky?
Cameron Scott: I have a very colored, textured past and have learned a lot of life’s hardest lessons in about the most challenging way one can. After finding sobriety I dove into a world of self-improvement that has led me down a number of helpful paths, such as yoga, meditation and breath work.

EBS: The theme of TEDxBigSky is “positivity.” What does positivity mean to you?
C.S.: Positivity to me means living life in gratitude, in seeing the glass as half full, always.

EBS: Can you provide an example when you witnessed the effects of maintaining a positive mindset?
C.S.: I began to see the rewards of living in positivity and living in my right path … My business started growing exponentially; my relationships are all based in love and compassion—the world just started to make sense.

EBS: What do you experience in your outdoor pursuits that has led you to devote so much of your life to adventuring in the wilderness?
C.S.: I think it’s the same for all of us that do it—it’s a deeper connection to self and an opportunity to come up upon obstacles in that outdoor world that force me to step beyond my fears.

EBS: What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to remain positive in the face of life’s challenges?
C.S.: Basically, the answers we look for are within us, so in order to find a solution to our problem we first have to realize we are the problem—and also the solution. When we’re struggling with the problems the world throws at us, we all have to stop and sit in our suffering and look for our answers.

EBS: A guest on a Boundary Expeditions’ river trip relayed a story about your Zen approach to fly fishing. Can you share more about your philosophy on the sport?
C.S.: Fly fishing to me is an art. It’s not about catching fish. It’s about the presentation, connecting to the water, feeling the entire ecosystem and immersing myself in that place. Then I make a cast. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be rewarded. When the presentation is over, I get the opportunity to try again.

EBS: How would you like the audience at TEDxBigSky to feel after hearing your talk?
C.S.: Inspired to step past their fears.

EBS: Do you have a favorite TED or TEDx program? If so, which one and why?
C.S.: [Justin Baldoni’s “Why I’m done Trying to be Man Enough.”] It was basically challenging men to step past the old ideologies of what it means to be a man in today’s society so that our female counterparts don’t have to stand up to protect themselves and say “me too.” 

Pem Dorjee Sherpa

Born in the remote Nepali village of Chyangba, Solukhumbu, Pem Dorjee Sherpa has summited Mount Everest twice, the second time with his then-fiancée Moni Mulepati. The couple became the first to wed on Everest’s summit of nearly 30,000 feet. A government-certified guide, Pem Dorjee has garnered numerous awards throughout his climbing career. In 2008, he immigrated to the U.S., eventually settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he lives with his wife and two daughters Pelzom and Mezel. Pem Dorjee is now the owner of a local fair-trade store called the Himalayan Bazaar, a global adventure travel business, and a restaurant featuring Himalayan, Nepali and Indian cuisine. In addition to his mountaineering and business achievements, Pem Dorjee has dedicated himself to improving the quality of life in his native village, especially regarding issues of healthcare, drinking water and education.

Explore Big Sky: What is your connection to Big Sky?
Pem Dorjee Sherpa: I was doing a trek in the Everest area and spent a night at a teahouse and [Bozeman resident] Peter [Schmieding] was there with a friend and daughters. That was 2012. Peter is helping educate [Nepali] girls who don’t have access to school. Peter said [his nonprofit, Tsering’s Fund] would sponsor 10 girls from my home town, and took them to Kathmandu to go to a private school. In 2015, the earthquake happened so our project got even bigger.

EBS: In 2008, you immigrated to the United States. What led you to make that decision?
P.D.S.: For better opportunity and [the ability to] make more of a difference [back home]. Also, I’m a professional guide in Nepal, and [almost] all the clients come from here, so I can talk to people and [help] more people back in my country.

EBS: What has been the greatest challenge of being a first-generation American?
P.D.S.: The most challenging has been [navigating] the legal [aspects]. Also, being a first generation, you don’t have any family members to help with raising children … you’re kind of starting from scratch. You also have a responsibility to look after your family and friends in Nepal.

EBS: In 2010, you completed the 3,100-mile-long Continental Divide Trail as part of a Rotary International challenge. What attracts you to trekking and mountaineering?
P.D.S.: Just the natural beauty … when you’re out there, you’re not thinking about bill payments. Your mind is so fresh, you feel so healthy. When you walk all day, you wake up and want to do it again the next day.

EBS: You are very involved in Rotary and other service-related projects in your home village in Nepal. Why is giving back to your community so important?
P.D.S.: Life is terrible there—we don’t have drinking water at home, we have to go to a small pond. … Education is the most important thing, especially for girls. In Nepal, they think girls are not important or useful enough to the community to send them to school. Even if one girl from one family [is] educated, the whole village can change. – Sarah Gianelli