TED@UPS: What If We Abandoned Abandonment?

See Monica Johnson's vision of a claimed world.

Monica Johnson connects abandoned funds with their rightful owner. As the founder of That Girl is S.M.A.R.T., a nonprofit that mentors young girls, Monica strives to help others reach their potential – so much so that she wonders what our world would look like if people claimed what belonged to them.  

Learn more about this important issue by watching Monica’s talk from TED@UPS 2016 below, and then check out our conversation with Monica about her experience as a TED speaker. 

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

TED is an amazing organization with distinctive and imaginative ideas that I immersed myself in every day. I believe that one day I would stand on that stage next to those red TED letters.

It’s surreal! The TED team became part of my family.

The entire experience was very surprising and enlightening.

It was breathtaking to understand the development process and the amount of time required to structure, streamline and perfect the thought-provoking idea into something that would affect so many people.

[Also on Longitudes: How Asking ‘What If’ Will Lead Us to Tomorrow’s Innovations]

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

My main goal was to help people reclaim themselves and recognize the value within us all.

I believe that we each have an amazing blueprint. We must both spend time acknowledging our inner-self and connecting to it.

I wanted the audience to understand that just like that $58 billion dollars of unclaimed funds, a person’s value has the same worth. Some funds seem small. Some funds seem enormous.

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My main goal was to help people reclaim themselves and recognize the value within us all.

Some funds we sort of know about. Some are a total surprise.

Just like people, they come to us from every possible direction, and with every possible back story, however, each one has the right to be claimed.

Finally, with clear conviction, we must abandon abandonment.

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

Preparing for the TED talk intensified my mission to help people find their treasures within themselves.

Although I’m an Unclaimed Funds Manager, my passion for connecting people to something discarded has been fueled even more by my personal experience of being unclaimed and abandoned as a child.

Giving the TED talk was a constant reminder of the truth of my mission and my passion on this earth. I was created to help those who have struggled to find their own value. To do this, they must first reclaim themselves.

Meeting new UPS family and sharing such a personal moment with all the other speakers created a bond that I’ll never forget.

I’ve been so touched and overjoyed by the positive responses from my fellow UPSers about my TED Talk.

I am so blessed to be a UPSer for 25 years and counting.

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

Find a little story about a gigantic idea, and go for it!

Your strength and innovation will shine through. You can accomplish anything.

You will dig deeper inside of yourself and grow enormously.

TED@UPS is an opportunity that can change your life.

You’ll leave the land of the familiar and pursue the hidden treasures within.

Yes, you can! goldbrown2

Click here for Monica’s bio.



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Monica Johnson is a manager of escheatment and unclaimed funds for the Corporate Tax Department at UPS.

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