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A man wearing a suit and glasses stands on a stage. The text COVID-19 update overlays the image corner.
“I still don’t believe people have fully realized the three different crises we’re facing with COVID-19: a health care crisis, an economic crisis, and a financial crisis,” said Financial Advisor John Puthenveetil of Wells Fargo Advisors.
Photo: Ryan Lash/TED
Inside the Stagecoach
April 9, 2020

COVID-19 crisis brings TED Talk close to home

Financial Advisor John Puthenveetil’s call for better planning for crises — like COVID-19 — is part of a new series of TED Institute videos featuring Wells Fargo insights.

Before “shelter-in-place” or “social distancing” became everyday phrases, John Puthenveetil of Wells Fargo Advisors sounded the alarm warning people not to count on certainty in an uncertain world. With his internist wife and emergency room physician son both now on the front lines of the battle to contain COVID-19, Puthenveetil feels a bit of déjà vu about the TED@WellsFargo talk he delivered Feb. 5 at Knight Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina — weeks before the pandemic caused the cancellation of sporting events and other large public gatherings.

Jamie Moldafsky wears a black blazer against a grey background and is smiling.
Jamie Moldafsky
“Our partnership with TED created a unique platform to showcase the diverse perspectives of our team members and to show the power of learning from one another.” — Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing officer at Wells Fargo

In one of 13 talks delivered by employees of Wells Fargo and its affiliates — part of a yearlong collaboration between the company and the TED Institute — Puthenveetil highlights the 2008 financial crisis to argue for better “what if”-based scenario planning to meet future challenges.

Although concerned enough about developments in China and elsewhere to bring N95 masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes for his flights to and from Charlotte and Chicago, he didn’t know then that the next “what if — COVID-19 — would hit the U.S. with such speed and ferocity only a few weeks later.

“Though we say prevention is better than the cure, we don’t think and operate that way most of the time and engage in anticipatory learning that looks ahead,” Puthenveetil said about what the pandemic revealed after his TED Talk. “If change is constant, adaptability and agility become more critical so that we do not get constantly blindsided. I still don’t believe people have fully realized the three different crises we’re facing with COVID-19: a health care crisis, an economic crisis, and a financial crisis.

“Scenario-based planning was done for a pandemic like COVID-19, and that simulation showed the U.S. was unprepared,” he said. “While some of the scenarios are quite scary, and I am concerned for my family and all those facing this disease, I remain optimistic that we will get through this crisis, and hopefully learn from it.”

Puthenveetil’s talk — first streamed live to employees of Wells Fargo and its affiliates worldwide Feb. 5 — came 19 days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first COVID-19 case of unknown origin in California.

Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing officer at Wells Fargo Bank, said TED@WellsFargo showcased the talent and diversity of employees through their insights about workplace drama and conflict, mental health care for veterans, stress, DNA verification, relationship building, tech innovations to solve community problems, and other topics.

These talks join 402 others that have been viewed more than 230 million times since the TED Institute began in 2013.

The top image shows a woman on the TED Talk stage. The bottom image shows a different woman on the TED Talk stage.
Wells Fargo employees Stacy Penright, top, and Aeris Nguyen, deliver their TED Talks.
Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

“Our partnership with TED created a unique platform to showcase the diverse perspectives of our team members and to show the power of learning from one another,” Galloreese said. “Seeing team members bring their ideas to life through their compelling talks was a transformative experience for all of us.”


Watch the TED@WellsFargo talks

Visit the TED@WellsFargo page to see all the talks by employees of Wells Fargo and its affiliates.


TED Curator Cyndi Stivers said Wells Fargo is one of the largest global companies and brands the TED Institute has worked with to date in a group that includes several other large companies. She said none drew more employee interest in speaking than Wells Fargo and its affiliates.

“The nearly 900 applications we received from Wells Fargo affiliated employees was the largest response we’ve ever had from a company,” Stivers said. “It’s exciting for TED to travel the world and find amazing talents hidden in big companies like Wells Fargo.”

Stacy Penright, a business initiatives consultant with Wells Fargo’s Targeted Sourcing Recruiting team, seized on the TED@WellsFargo opportunity for professional growth and shared steps to avoid workplace drama.

“I enjoy exploring what’s going on everywhere to take advantage of new ways to grow myself, learn more about the organization, and be able to meet new people,” she said of why she decided to apply to give a TED Talk.

“I had to write the speech, research the speech, practice, and deliver. Communication is my skill, inspiring is my goal, and motivating is my purpose. I was given the amazing opportunity to enhance each of those on that stage.”

Aeris Nguyen, a learning and development facilitator with Wells Fargo Bank, whose talk on DNA authentication stemmed from having her own identity stolen, said the TED@WellsFargo experience transformed her from a shy person into one willing to share her ideas with the world. “TED levels the playing field for everyone,” she said. “You don’t know what you are capable of. Now I know: I can do this, world!”

See the TEDBlog for more on all of the TED@WellsFargo Talks or visit wellsfargo.com/TED for additional information.


Read other featured stories in our special section,“Wells Fargo responds to COVID-19.”


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Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. CAR-0420-00487

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