2011_05 Sharon Lyle photography by Allison V. Smith


#5
Sharon Lyle will continue to be the top conversation starter in Dallas.

Sharon Lyle spent eight months planning for the second TEDxSMU conference. She combed through magazines and blogs looking for speakers, took suggestions from everyone, including her mother. “She sends me at least one a week,” Lyle says. “Mostly, they’re people she’s heard on Think.”

Because TEDxSMU hews close to the roots of the California-born symposium—“It was a fantasy dinner party of smart people,” Lyle says—her job was to get the speakers and the listeners in the same room, then step aside and let them talk.

So it wasn’t a surprise that, when the day came in October, Lyle was invisible. That attendees could only catch a glimpse—maybe the shoulder of her green sweater poking out from backstage when architect Joshua Prince-Ramus mentioned her name—meant everything was going to plan.

Lyle, the daughter of Bobby Lyle (as in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering), swore she’d never come back to Dallas. Before Geoffrey Orsak, the dean of her father's namesake department, called her to run the first TEDxSMU event, Lyle was in Austin and on her way to San Francisco, preparing to “make my mark on the world in education.” Orsak asked for five months. Then he’d help her go wherever she wanted.
“Of course, five months later, I was totally hooked and I loved it,” Lyle says. “There are amazing resources here. The next 10 years are going to be a really interesting time to be in this city.”

A big part of that is because of Lyle, who is readying for another TEDxSMU, as well as the Dallas debut of Slideluck Potshow, which is even more literally a “fantasy dinner party of smart people.” And another chance to start a conversation. —ZAC CRAIN