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TedxTeen: Giving Back (Part 3 of 3)

April 17, 2013

A few weeks ago, the Business Matters team had the incredible opportunity to meet the speakers of this year’s TedxTeen conference, which was held in New York City. Twelve outstanding youth shared their inspiring stories of hardships, ingenuity, and ultimately, success. This week is the last part of our three week series on the TedxTeen speakers.

Our final set of TedxTeen interviews all speak about giving back to the public. Kristopher Bronner is only 18 years old and created a company that has unjunked candy. His product is sold at the same price and in the same location as the leading brands. Kris explains how Unreal Candy targets those who are already candy fans, encouraging them to find healthier options for their sugar cravings. By addressing the issue of childhood obesity in America, Kris offers a radical solution to food revolution. If they can unjunk candy, what’s next?

Our second interview this week is with Tania Luna, a self-proclaimed surprisologist. Tania and her team travel to different companies around the world adding surprise to everyday business routines. By implementing more adventure and unexpected challenges into the lives of employees, companies see more growth and innovation.

Our final TedxTeen speaker is Joseph Peter, the happiness man. A few years ago he traveled through Africa on the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour. He documented his journey, snapping pictures of pure happiness on people’s faces as sports brought them together. Joseph eventually crafted a unique book out of his pictures, and inspired the United Nations to recognize an International Day of Happiness, proving that happiness is a universal goal.

Our last interview this week is not with a speaker, but with the woman who made the TedxTeen conference possible. For the past four years, Jess Teutonico has curated the TedxTeen event, finding incredible youth from around the world to speak to other teenagers. Although she originally worked in fashion, Jess now leads three organizations that empower global youth. In our interview, Jess explains the extraordinary way that youth are changing the world with their bright ideas.

We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting all of the speakers from this year’s TedxTeen conference – we certainly did! We at Business Matters wish all of the wonderful people we met good luck in their endeavors and know that they all have bright futures ahead. For more information about TedxTeen, check out their website and Twitter.

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Kristopher Bronner

A few years ago, Kris, and his younger brother Nicky, experienced a situation quite like the one Jimmy Kimmel instigated two years ago – after a night of trick-or-treating, their parents took away almost all of their candy. Their reasoning? It’s unhealthy! Upset and wanting to prove their parents wrong, Kris and Nicky started to research what went into their favorite candies. What they found was shocking; artificial flavors, colors and things they couldn’t even pronounce. So, they started calling food scientists, asking them if they could try to unjunk candy. Many succeeded but their inventions didn’t taste quite like the candy bars we’ve all come to know and love. Until eventually, they met Adam Melones, a chef who worked day and night to create what is now Unreal Candy. Unreal Candy launched just last summer with huge celebrity endorsements. Kris and his family have created five different unjunked candies that are sold in stores like CVS and Target at the same price as the originals. Unreal Candy is not all about monetary profit, but about public health. It’s targeting people who eat candy on a regular basis, not just those who shop in organic groceries. Kris and Unreal Candy finally provide a solution to the question “why do the things we love hurt us the most?”

To watch Kris’ full TedxTeen talk, click here. For more information about UnReal candy check out their Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

Tania Luna

Tania Luna studies the science of surprise. Surprising? We thought so! Tania was inspired by her high school experience of assuming everyone from the rival school was stuck-up, unless when she met someone nice – they were just the exception. Tania and her company, Surprise Industries create and study surprising scenarios. Surprising moments, or when your brain experiences something unexpected, lead to change. Tania and her team provide surprising events to companies, explaining how an environment that rewards innovation, vulnerability, and going off the script leads to discovery. As Tania explains in our interview, stepping out of your comfort zone, especially with others, is beneficial. By creating surprising experiences for employees, they bond in the face of the unknown, making them stronger and more comfortable with one another. Adding surprise into the workplace may not fit for everyone, but for many it provides the necessary, and extremely beneficial, push away from routine and boredom.

To watch Tania’s full TedxTeen talk, click here. To add some more surprise to your life, check out Surprise Industries’ Facebook and Twitter.

For those of you in the NYC area, Surprise Industries hosts Mini Surprises a few times a month. Secret instructions will be emailed to you a few days in advance, but you won’t know what you’re doing until you get there!

Joseph Peter

There’s no way you can resist putting on a happy face when you listen to Joseph Peter. A few years ago, Joseph joined the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour through Africa. With his camera in tow, he documented the happiness on the faces of Africans from all over the continent. He was amazed at the power that sports had to bring people together and make them happy. When he returned home, he was inspired to collect his pictures and make them into a book – a Book of Happiness – hand-crafted and entirely unique. One was presented to Nelson Mandela in 2010. Since then, Joseph has installed the Happiness Factory in NYC, an oddly shaped building full of pictures from his tour. On March 20th, 2013, the world celebrated the first International Day of Happiness, which was recognized by the United Nations and inspired by Joseph’s project. It promotes “the pursuit of happiness [as] a fundamental human goal.” Joseph captures the moment of pure joy on people’s faces and asks us to question our definition of happiness. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make us the happiest.

To watch Joseph’s full TedxTeen talk, click here. For more information about Joseph’s journey, read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Jess Teutonico

Jess Teutonico is the woman who made the TedxTeen talks possible. For the past four years, she has been curating the incredible speakers at the conference, finding inspiring youth from around the globe. She strongly believes in the power of the young generation, discussing with us how they are special because they are able to bring attention to an issue and are committed to success. People are more likely to listen to the youth because they are surprising and impressive individuals who are fighting for what they believe in. This support allows them to develop into the leaders of tomorrow. In addition to the TedxTeen program, Jess also leads the Three Dot Dash organization, as well as her own foundation Under the Acacia. This association encourages sustainability to generate community activity in Kenya. Before she worked with TedxTeen, she was a special events and PR coordinator for fashion brands in New York City.

For more information on Jess, check out her website and follow her on Twitter.


All of our interviews would not have been possible without the incredible work of the We Are Family Foundation. We thank them for their generosity and giving us hope for a brighter future.