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Jackson native fullfils dream of giving TEDx Talk

Mark Kamp, the CEO of Millennia Productions and author of the best-selling book “Opportunity Rocks,” was a speaker at the TEDx-UNLV event. Submitted photo

Jackson native Mark Kamp, who works as a professional speaker under the name Marvelless Mark, was able to fulfill his goal of giving a TEDx Talk during the TEDxUNLV event on Jan. 27 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Kamp said the challenge of creating a TEDx Talk was completely different from his usual keynote speeches and required him to start from scratch.

“For a keynote, the frame of your message remains pretty much the same and then you customize according to whatever group or organization you are speaking to,” he said. “This is coming up with something new and hopefully unheard of.”

TEDx events are planned by independent organizations like UNLV and feature talks meant to inspire local audiences similar to TED Talks. Speeches from TEDx events are later shared on the TED website to a global audience.

“With TED, they don’t necessarily have really big audiences, but that video is put out for the whole world to see for the rest of your life,” Kamp said. “There’s no editing and there’s no redoing the audio – they put it up just as you delivered it. If it’s a really amazing idea that catches on and goes viral, you can get millions and millions of hits.”

Kamp said his speech, titled “The Secret to the Ultra You,” is expected to be uploaded to the TED website sometime in the next three months, after it has been reviewed to make sure it meets TED’s quality standards and guidelines.

“The whole purpose of TED is to unleash a big idea into the world,” Kamp said. “I’d accomplished a couple of things and was mapping out what was next on the bucket list. I wanted to see if I had something to say or an idea to unleash into the world through a TEDx talk.”

Kamp said the first step to doing a TEDx talk was to come up with an idea for his speech. He said it was a several month process of brainstorming and researching with a TEDx coach to come up with the idea behind his speech.

“It took several calls with ideas,” Kamp said. “We were brainstorming and throwing around different ideas. Then I read a book about alter egos and how people will use them to try to accomplish things or when they’re scared.”

Kamp said he was fascinated by the idea of people using fictitious personas, similar to superheroes, to succeed during sales presentations or to leave their comfort zone. Kamp said he started doing research into the psychology behind using alter egos and found out about the technique of self-distancing.

“Self-distancing is about stepping back and instead of becoming a fictitious person, you’re able to shine the spotlight or find the best qualities of yourself and bring those to the surface,” Kamp said.

Instead of focusing on alter egos, Kamp created the term “ultra egos” to better reflect the idea of self-distancing. Kamp was able to use his own life in the speech, talking about the Marvelless Mark persona that he created while still in southeast Missouri and continued to use as a headliner and author in Las Vegas.

“I was in radio in the Jackson/Cape area and my name was Marvelless Mark,” Kamp said. “As I was doing this research, I realized that Marvelless Mark was my ‘ultra ego.’ Mark Kamp was this shy farmboy who graduated Jackson High School as the president of the FFA, but Marvelless Mark wasn’t afraid to push the envelope and do things that were newsworthy.”

In addition, he used the “ultra egos” of famous musicians in his speech – such as Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.

Kamp said the process to getting a TEDx Talk included being accepted by a city or organization hosting a TEDx event. “Some of the events have themes or are related to their geographical area,” Kamp said.

He said he was happy to be chosen to for an event in Las Vegas with a “Vision to Victory” theme after around seven months of sending applications. “It was great because I didn’t have to travel and I was able to have some of our local supporters and friends in the audience,” Kamp said. “It was a weekend where I wasn’t booked, and I had plenty of time to fine tune the speech and rehearse.”

Kamp said he had never rehearsed and practiced any other speech as much as he did for the TEDx event, adding that he even practiced his speech at a nail salon and his gym. “I wanted to know the speech so well that any kind of distraction in the audience or backstage would roll off because I don’t get a second shot at this,” Kamp said.

The speech was professionally filmed at the UNLV’s concert hall, and Kamp said he continued to rehearse his speech in the restroom before going on stage.

“When I actually delivered my speech, all the rehearsing paid off,” Kamp said. “It was flawless and we got a standing ovation, but the really cool part about it was that I got text messages from friends in the audience and a couple of emails from strangers who said they found value in my presentation and how they were going to try to make changes in their life.”

Kamp said he hopes the speech will receive a similar reaction when it is posted online. “If my 12 minute talk can help others achieve their goals and change the way they think, that’s a great gift and a blessing to give to the world.”

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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