TED@UPS: What If Mosquitoes Could Deliver Vaccines?

What happens when a problem becomes part of a solution?

Katie Francfort works with pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and donate products for humanitarian aid. After a recent trip to South America, Katie encountered a problem in dire need of a solution: how to supply temperature-sensitive vaccines to the world’s most remote locations. 

Katie shares her story in her TED@UPS talk featured below. After you watch the video, read our Q&A with Katie on her TED experience. 

Q. What was the most enlightening surprise from the TED@UPS experience and why?

There were several! One came from getting to know the other speakers and performers and hearing the range of things that people are passionate about.

Another was seeing that there are so many creative ways to tell a story in an impactful way.

Communicating your ideas clearly to inspire others is one of the most important skills you can develop.

Nothing fuels that cause more than the words you chose and how you deliver your message.

It was enlightening to work one on one with my TED coach to craft my story in an entertaining way and fascinating to see how the other speakers approached their topics with their own creativity.

One thing I’ll never forget is the intense energy that was in the room.

It wasn’t only the speakers who were eager to share their ideas and talents – the audience was equally excited to listen. It was eye opening to see how an event like TED can create that environment.

Q. What do you hope people take from your talk?

We have all heard the quote “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.”

Pullquote share icon. Share

You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. But what if you can be part of both?

But what if you can be part of both?

On a broad level, my talk was meant to get people thinking differently about how we approach problems.

We often put the problem in one bucket and look for solutions in another bucket, but sometimes the best solutions utilize an aspect of the problem.

It’s important to be creative, to use your imagination and to break away from conventional thinking.

After all, many of the best ideas were at one time considered crazy.

Regarding vaccine delivery specifically, I wanted to bring to light the struggles of delivering medical attention to underdeveloped communities around the world.

Finding solutions for people living in these areas is a huge opportunity for businesses, and if I inspired just one other person think about how to reach these communities, then it was worth it.

Q. How did giving a TED@UPS talk inspire you?

It inspired me to use my spare time more wisely.

Most of the speakers spent upwards of 380 hours developing our talks, which spread over three months, was like having a second full time job.

That time had to be pulled from other activities, which brought to light how much time I spend on insignificant things like scrolling through social media, online shopping and watching TV.

I realized that you can always make time for the things that are important to you and if you give yourself a goal and deadline, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Working on this TED talk also helped me remember my love for “creating” something.

It’s fulfilling to focus your time on a project that makes you proud. So I’ve tried to focus more of my free time on hobbies that give me that feeling.

For me, so far it’s been drawing and home projects.

Q. What encouragement would you give people thinking about giving a TED@UPS talk in the future?

You might not think you have an idea worth sharing.

I know because I felt the same way. But you do have a story to tell. We all do.

You just need to find it.

If you look at the talks that were given, the majority of them were inspired by everyday encounters, personal experiences or conversations and debates that you might have with your family or friends on current events.

My best advice if you are interested in doing a TED talk one day is to think about those encounters more deeply and write them down and make an outline.

Don’t wait until they start accepting submissions for next year to start thinking of a topic! goldbrown2

Click here to learn more about Katie.


Every morning, wake up to the blog that gives you the latest trends shaping tomorrow.

Katie Francfort is a Specialty Pharmaceuticals Marketing Manager at UPS.

Click the RSS icon to subscribe to future articles by this author. RSS Feed


We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of our content – just as long as you credit us. So we ask that you insert the following tagline when you use our content:

Reprinted with permission of Longitudes, the UPS blog devoted to the trends shaping the global economy.