Mick Ebeling Profile

  • Ebeling's company, Not Impossible creates DIY, accessible, tech-based solutions for people around the world, and then powerfully tells their stories to inspire others to do the same.

  • With no experience in ocular recognition technology, Ebeling put together a small team of hackers, artists, and an NYU professor to create what Time Magazine called "one of the best inventions of 2010": the Eye Writer, an affordable device that enables paralyzed individuals to communicate and create art using their eyes.

  • Ebeling set up the world's first 3-D printing prosthetic limb lab in war-torn Sudan to help amputees regain their independence.

  • A popular TED Talk speaker, Ebeling's gripping narratives provide a fascinating blend of technology, human interest, and inclusion while showing organizations how to put skepticism aside so that they can accomplish the impossible.
  • Named one of the “50 Most Creative People” in the world, Mick Ebeling specializes in using imagination and technology to win small victories for humanity and inspire others to do the same. His non-profit engineering organization Not Impossible Labs invents open-sourced breakthrough technology to solve real-world problems. Ebeling’s leadership and life-changing inventions have garnered him numerous accolades including a Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award and a Wired Magazine Agent of Change Award.

    As Founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs, Ebeling is dedicated to ensuring that the company’s technologies are accessible to those who need them the most. At a time when the lowest prosthetic limbs in the market cost a minimum of $15,000, he was able to use 3-D printing to make a high-quality functioning prosthetic arm for just $100 in order to help children who had lost limbs in war-torn Sudan. He has also been highly recognized for his work on the Eyewriter, a device that allows individuals with paralysis to communicate and create art using only the movement of their eyes.

    Prior to creating Not Impossible Labs, Ebeling was a film, television, and commercial producer, whose works include graphics in the films Stranger Than Fiction, Kite Runner, and the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Despite having no experience in ocular recognition technology, he was inspired to find an affordable way for Tempt One, a Los Angeles based graffiti artist, to continue his career after ALS had paralyzed him. The project made Ebeling realize that in terms of advancing society, technology offered infinite untapped opportunities and that changing the world was much more possible than most people believe.

    Ebeling’s inspiring best-seller Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done is in its fifth printing. He has taken his message of “Help One, Help Many” to the TED stage, SXSW, and multiple leadership and technology events around the world. His work with Not Impossible has been featured in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and in stories run by Time, WIRED, Business Insider, the BBC, and CNET.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      Honored as one of the Top 50 Most Creative People and a Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award winner, Mick Ebeling is a film/ television/ commercial producer, philanthropist, technology trailblazer, author, ENTREPRENEUR and public speaker. Ebeling is CEO of Not Impossible, an organization that develops creative solutions to address real-world problems.

      Not Impossible Labs was founded on Mick’s firm belief that nothing is impossible. With no technical background in ocular recognition technology, Ebeling created Not Impossible’s first project: The Eyewriter. An open source, low-cost, DIY device, The Eyewriter enables individuals with paralysis to communicate and create art using only the movement of their eyes. Time Magazine named The Eyewriter one of the “Top 50 Inventions of 2010,” and the device is now part of MoMA’s permanent collection.

      Not Impossible’s latest endeavor, Project Daniel, now celebrates it’s 2 year anniversary. The subject of Intel’s “Look Inside” campaign, Project Daniel enabled Ebeling to fly to Sudan to 3-D-print prosthetic limbs and fit them for children of the war-torn region. He then left the equipment behind with trained locals to continue his work, thus creating the world’s first 3-D printing prosthetic lab and training facility. Arms are printed within hours and cost $100. Time Magazine said, “It’s hard to imagine any other device doing more to make the world a better place.” Project Daniel EARNED many awards, including the Titanium Cannes Lion, along with 3 Bronze Lions (Branded Content, Film, & Cyber), and 1 Gold (Product Design).

      Project Daniel has also won AICP’s Next Cause Marketing Award, the 2014 One Show Gold Pencil (Design and Intellectual Property & Products, tied for “Best in Show”), the 2014 Silver and Bronze Telly Award, and the 2014 Maker Faire Editor’s Choice Blue Ribbon (Creativity, Ingenuity and Innovation), and was among The Nominet Trust 100, and was nominated at the 2015 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards (Innovative 3-DIY). The work has been entered into the MoMA’s permanent film archives.

      Project Daniel had over 1 Billion media impressions in a single year.

      On January 6, 2015 Ebeling’s first book, Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done, hit shelves. The book recounts his life experiences, The Eyewriter, and Project Daniel. Deepak Chopra calls it “the template for a new science of consciousness,” and Jillian Michaels refers to it as, “a road map to changing your life by changing the lives of others.”

    Mick Ebeling Speaking Videos

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    Mick Ebeling's Speech Descriptions

    Time and time again throughout his career, maker, and philanthropist, Mick Ebeling has proven that “impossible” is merely a mental barrier. The “accidental change maker” shows organizations how they can shake off skepticism and break down seemingly insurmountable dilemmas into smaller manageable challenges. From inventing the first 3-D printing prosthetic lab in Sudan to helping a graffiti artist with ALS regain the ability to create and communicate, Ebeling’s experiences will inspire others to embrace his motto of “Commit, then figure it out!”

    Mick has spoken on the TED circuit 6 times in 2011 and has been a featured pre-recorded speaker in various TEDx events across the globe. Currently his TED talk has been seen over 500,000 times. Mick’s message may vary, but his passion, contagious energy and belief in humanity are consistently inspiring.

    Mick’s audiences range from CEOs and ENTREPRENEURS to artists and schoolchildren, and his speaking topics include:

    Technology + Innovation

    Radical Collaboration

    Take a Hollywood producer, a NY professor, a fine artist and a hacker with a criminal record…Put them together and what do you get? A device that helped a paralyzed man create drawings using only the movement of his eyes. Collaboration comes in many form, some of them unexpected. In this talk, Mick discusses the tools necessary to become a stellar collaborator, and to recognize the traits of collaboration-worthy individuals for your next big idea.

    Making The Next Industrial Revolution

    Industrial Revolution 2.0—it’s the next turning point in human history and we’re right in the middle of it. Industrial Revolution 2.0 has been about the birth, adolescence, and young adulthood of the Internet. It’s been about communicating, relating, evaluating, and BUYING. From social media to the Maker Movement, this “revolution” has shifted the way we live, work, and interact with one another. It revolves around the newfound global accessibility to making our own solutions. Having created one of Time Magazine’s “Top 50 Inventions” with little more than $70 of over-the-counter supplies, Mick outlines the contributing factors that make this the most exciting time in modern history and how to capitalize on it for social and business good.

    Education + Business

    Teaching Innovation

    Everyone’s an innovator—but whether they know it or not is another story. Creative thinking takes place daily in business, family life and in relationships. Believe it or not, it can be taught. If we can teach our business leaders this process of innovation, our businesses can drive sustainable growth for years to come. Mick shatters the myths about what it takes to make a great innovator and provides useful techniques and solutions for teaching the art of innovation to improve your career and your life.

    Open Source for the Classroom

    “Creativity is as important as literacy,” says Sir Ken Robinson. If we can teach our children to innovate and the skills and process of innovation, we can give them the tools they need to achieve great things. Since every new invention is built on the framework of existing ideas, when information is shared freely between thinkers, radical new ideas can emerge at light-speed. Some of the most thought-provoking new inventions are coming from today’s high school and college students—due in large part to the unprecedented access they have to the research of their predecessors. How can we build curricula that stimulate today’s bright young minds? Answer: supplement the learning experience with open source ideas and technology.

    What it Means to be a Maker

    Contrary to popular belief, the Maker Movement is not just tech junkies in basements. On the contrary, it’s filled with artists, designers, writers, and thinkers. Makers are simply people who see a need for a solution and take the time to fill the void. Hacks, adaptations, and DIY innovation are the byproducts of regular people with creative solutions for everyday problems. In this presentation, Mick discusses the five core traits that make a Maker and how to develop those traits in yourself.


    Social Innovation thru Open Source

    Great minds think alike. And today’s technology connects great minds at the speed of electricity. In the pre-internet era, learning was largely predicated on, or a result of, geographical access to teachers and institutions. Today, due to our near-immediate access to news and information, it is nearly impossible to not be inspired and affected by what’s happening in other cultures, time zones and schools of thought. This access, and the natural human tendency to want to share information, is at the heart of the open source movement.

    The goal of this talk is to inspire participants to create change and solutions within their own classrooms and communities by learning how to be part of the open source community. Thru discussion and collective brainstorming, each participant will walk away with the foundation for their own open source project.

    Inspirational + General

    The Fallacy of “Impossible”

    Since the launch of the Eyewriter and Not Impossible Foundation, Mick has passionately studied the concept of “Impossible.” All the modern conveniences we see around us were once considered “impossible” by people who didn’t know any better. Synthetic fabrics, cell phones and digital watches (not to mention cars and computers) were all figments of the imagination until inspiration met execution and the impossible became a reality. In this talk, Mick dives deeper into “Impossible,” the underlying psychological affects it has on an organization, and how to overcome “Impossible” so true innovation can take place.

    Mick Ebeling on Speaking

    I am just a human being with a drive to try to help people, and I believe that everybody on this planet has that. It’s just a question of reminding them of that and waking that up within them.

    SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn or take away from your presentations?

    EBELING: I am just a human being with a drive to try to help people, and I believe that everybody on this planet has that. It’s just a question of reminding them of that and waking that up within them. It’s about showing people that they can go out and create systemic societal change, without necessarily needing permission, or degrees, or diplomas, or even needing other organizations to support them.

    SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particular memorable speaking engagements or unusual situations arise while on the road?

    EBELING: Every event that I speak at, I know that there’s something or someone special that I’m going to encounter. Without fail, I’ve always met somebody or multiple people who either have the potential to be affected by the work that we’re doing at Not Impossible, or can help us in the work that we’re doing. Every speaking engagement has been tremendous for us.

    Recently, I got a chance to speak to 18,000 of our nation’s youth at a massive coliseum event. I was able to have a good friend of mine, singer Mandy Harvey, who is a deaf, dive on stage to do a surprise guest appearance. It was really tremendous because everybody was very surprised and incredibly moved by not only her music, but her words as well. That was just a few months ago and it was incredibly special.

    I demonstrate over and over again in our initiatives that it’s the people of this planet who are going to make the change – not the governments and not any institutions, but the people.

    SPEAKING.COM: What type of audiences would most benefit from your message?

    EBELING: I think the message of Not Impossible is best represented in the demographic study that was done on Project Daniel. It didn’t matter if you were in elementary school, high school, college, or if you were a young professional, a parent, a mommy blogger or a grandparent. The story of Not Impossible resonates universally because it is about a belief in human potential. It is about people taking control of change for themselves. The movement of Not Impossible is about the power that we have as people to go out and make the change that has to be made. It’s not someone on stage who is just evangelizing or speaking words from the Pulpit, because I let our actions speak louder than our words. I demonstrate over and over again in our initiatives that it’s the people of this planet who are going to make the change – not the governments and not any institutions, but the people.

    SPEAKING.COM: What are your favorite keynote topics and why?

    EBELING: The keynote topics that are core to what we do. We talk about innovation, collaboration, positive disruption and change within organizations and in general. We also talk about the concept of artificial intelligence and machine based learning and how that affects some of the work that we do, which is a very popular topic right now.

    SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?

    EBELING: I don’t really see what I do as an “engagement.” I’m just really honored and blessed to be able to share with other people the work that we do and how we do it. My goal is that the people who have heard our mission do and make things that will help others and make the world a better place. I feel very blessed to be able to speak to people who I know are going to be able to carry that Not Impossible torch and go out and help people. Exclusive Interview with Mick Ebeling
    How to Change the World with Innovation Speaker Mick Ebeling
    In this interview, innovation speaker Mike Ebeling discusses:
    • His strategies for achieving impossible things.
    • Making a difference in people's lives with accessible technology.
    • What to look for in a potential collaborator.
    • How he went from being a film producer to a "punk rock engineer."
    Read the Full Interview

    "The philosophy of "Not Impossible" has far more to do with your desire and intention around what you want to change, than it has to do with any kind of training or education you might have. Our fundamental belief around innovation is that innovation stems from something that has to change rather than something that you're actually trained to change."
    - Mick Ebeling

    What People are Saying about Seeing Mick Speak

    Rating Entries

    “We were proud and happy to have had Mick speak about his EyeWriter project at CreateTech. It tied together the themes of our creative technologies conference in a wonderfully motivating way. It was the most authentically inspiring presentations I’ve heard in a long time.”

    -Chick Foxgrover, Chief Technology Officer, 4 A’s

    “Porter Novelli invited Mick to be our closing speaker for our Senior Leadership Conference. We wanted to leave our team full of inspiration. We wanted them to remember that the opportunities and challenges in our business are indeed possible and we can accomplish great things for our company and our clients if we commit first then figure it out. That simple act of “committing” is so powerful. When Mick talks about stories of helping people speak, to have the use of hands, to be able to paint again, these words lift up everyone and create an emotion that is long-lasting. If you are looking to inspire your team to greatness or see possibilities instead of barriers, then Mick Ebeling is the perfect person to elevate your conference.”

    -Brad MacAfee

    “Thank you so much for being a part of our Pride in Execution Meeting. Everyone was buzzing about your presentation and what a tremendous impact it had. It was definitely the inspirational message I wanted to close our ‘think differently” theme and meeting. Thank you for showing us the impact of helping just one person. I look forward to working with you again in the future.”

    -Traci Plate, Chief of Staff, GSK Consumer Healthcare

    “Thanks so much for suggesting Mick. He was just the break our attendees needed! His energy, passion, and dedication were thoroughly enjoyed by our attendees. He received a standing ovation and lots of questions afterwards.”

    – Susan Carroll, Morningstar

    “Mick inspired us with his message that anyone can make a positive difference right now.
    There was a standing ovation at the end of his talk, and more than a year later I still hear from people that Mick motivated them to do something meaningful, to act, and to
    make a difference.”

    – Eric Ewing, Microsoft

    “Mick Ebeling is “inspiring”, “life changing”, “the real deal”. He had 400 attendees hanging on his every word, captivated by his raw passion and drive to change the world, one feat at a time. If you are looking for a speaker who will elevate your meeting to the next level, he is the man for you.”

    – Aurora Tice,
    Director, Education, Consumer Healthcare Products Association

    “Mick was one of the most engaging and dynamic keynote speakers we have hosted. His message was well-received by our audience and even now, weeks after the event, I am still hearing people discuss Mick and Not Impossible labs within the hallways of our office.”

    – Katherine B. Okon,
    Goldman Sachs

    “I wanted to take a moment to thank you for being part of the Washington Ideas Forum. You added so much to the day. Your presentation stole the show. We’ve been talking about it non-stop. What a stunning example of how technology can change lives. Thank you again for your time and enthusiastic participation. My Atlantic colleagues and I all look forward to seeing you again soon.”

    -Margaret Low Smith,
    The Atlantic

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    Books by Mick Ebeling:

    Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done

    What if you discovered by accident that you could change the world? Mick Ebeling—a film producer by trade, optimist by nature—set out to perform a simple act of kindness that quickly turned into a lifelong mission. In the process he discovered that he could, indeed, change the world—and this fascinating new book shows how you can, too.

    On the cutting edge of the new “Maker Movement”—an outgrowth of the “hackers” of a decade ago—Mick Ebeling has found ways to create new, simple, do-it-yourself technologies to help people surmount seemingly impossible odds. With a bunch of nuts and bolts, a few jimmy-rigged web cameras and a coat hanger, he got a paralyzed artist drawing again; for less than a hundred bucks, he made prosthetic arms for a boy whose arms had been blown off in the war in Sudan.

    From the beginning, Ebeling has dreamed big, but that doesn’t mean his accomplishments have come easy. He’s had to deal with the little voice in his head we all recognize—the skeptical, disbelieving part that says, “Sorry, this ain’t happening.” Yet he found the courage to ignore that voice and move on. And believe. And get things done. The first result was the Eyewriter, which Time magazine called one of the “Top 50 Inventions of 2010,” a device that tracks eye movements and translates them into a cursor on a screen, then into paint on a canvas or a sculpture design. Later he travelled to the Sudan with the homemade prosthetic hand his team created and taught the locals to use the 3D printers—now every week another armless boy gets new working limbs and hands.

    Fascinating, inspiring, and bursting with optimism and new ideas, Not Impossible is a true testament to the power of determination. It will motivate you to accept the idea that all problems can be solved—and that you have the ability to change the world and make miracles happen.

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