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Careers

"The Platform to Speak My Truth": Inside TEDxJNJ "The Platform to Speak My Truth": Inside TEDxJNJ

Back before the pandemic hit, Jerome Johnson Jr. delivered a sensational presentation at one of our TEDxJNJ events. His story illustrates how these unique events not only bring people together, but challenge them to grow.

Taking the stage in a t-shirt that read "unapologetically me," Jerome Johnson Jr. began and ended his TEDxJNJ talk by rapping lyrics he had written, opening with a description of what he was exposed to early in life in Philadelphia and closing with a celebration of who he is today.

Between these two raps, he chronicled the improbable journey—growing up in a challenging environment, dealing with loss, having to overcome educational and medical setbacks—that brought him to Johnson & Johnson.

For a spellbinding 17 minutes the audience sat electrified. When it was over, Jerome walked off stage to a standing ovation from the crowd.

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Jerome Johnson Jr., Service Lifecycle Management (SLiM) at Johnson & Johnson

Behind the Scenes at TEDxJNJ

Of course, Jerome’s exceptional TEDxJNJ talk didn’t come together overnight. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work.

Jerome explained: "I knew I needed to really show who I am as a person, and I had a lot of emotions to sort out. I had to revisit difficult situations from my life that I hadn't really dealt with in the past, mainly because I was so focused on achieving my goals."

Jerome developed an initial draft of the presentation, then worked with a coach to fine-tune it and add the finishing touch. He framed the revision process this way: "You have to really understand your content. You need to have the emotional intelligence to understand that this may be a lot of heavy content at times, so hey, let’s add some jokes to balance that out."

Hence rap lyrics, humorous asides, even a little shimmy—all were added to the mix.

As it happened, this period of intense preparation coincided with an unusually busy time in Jerome's life. He had recently debuted as an adjunct professor at a nearby university, and the syllabus for his course was still under development. Somehow, he made it work.

Looking back on his TEDxJNJ journey, Jerome had this to say: "I will forever be proud of the fact that Johnson & Johnson gave me the platform to speak my truth. I just didn’t realize so many people would care and be able to relate to it."

Johnson Jr. and the CEO of Johnson & Johnson

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Jerome meets with CEO Alex Gorsky

One of those people was Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson.

"It was crazy the way that went down!", Jerome said, laughing. "The week after my TEDxJNJ talk, a colleague introduced me to Alex at an event, and when I mentioned my TEDxJNJ talk, he said, very nonchalantly, 'Send me a link.' Which I did. He responded with a detailed email that pretty much broke down every part of my talk and what he took away from it."

Soon, they were emailing back and forth.

“He's really a great individual," Jerome said.

The theme for the night of Jerome's presentation was "Ancestry," but each TEDxJNJ takes a unique theme: "Break Free!", "The Color of Growth" and "Dare to Change" are examples from events held in Belgium, Japan and Mexico, respectively. But regardless of the theme, the goal is always the same—to help people connect, find inspiration and share the things they're most passionate about.

Share Your Authentic Voice With Us

All around the world, TEDxJNJ events are a way of bringing people together while at the same time challenging them to grow. So if you're looking for a career with a company where you'll be encouraged to find and share your authentic voice, we want to hear from you! Check out all of the ways you can join our team today.

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