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Hacking the Red Circle
44 minutes | Nov 14, 2020
TEDxUCLouvain - Martin Nera - Organizer
Finding ways to be creative and stay connected to your TEDx Community during these challenging times of sequestering and dealing with a global pandemic can test even the most creative Organizers. When I read about our guest, Martin Nera of TEDxUCLouvain on the TEDx Organizers Facebook page, I was intrigued about their plans that involved virtual production, strategies to engage their Community - all while focusing on creating an experience. Their theme for the event was All-Knowing Generations. TEDxUCLouvain is a University event that has been in production for five years. It was started by 4 Ph.D. students and a 100 person license. This year they were supposed to produce their live event for 800 people in April, and due to COVID, elected to postpone until the Fall and see if things changed. In fact, they didn't, they got worse, however, Martin and his team used those constraints to guide their creativity. In this episode (and sorry for the long delay between episodes) you'll hear how Martin and the team focused on living into a few guiding principles. One, Change Expectations and two, "If you don't want to disappoint, you have to surprise." You'll need to listen to the show to get the deeper and profoundly interesting way those ideas manifested themselves. Martin explains that his audience of students' lives for authentic experiences and streaming pre-recorded TEDx Talks to dorm rooms was not the experience his team wanted to deliver. Listen as he explains how they decentralized the event into forty (40) locations of ten (10) people each, created and distributed a Knowlege Box to each pod of listeners, and how they activated each pod, the collective pods and individuals to deliver a truly unique experience and refined what a TEDx event could be. Congratulations to the team at TEDxUCLouvain and the impact they made on 400 people and how they delivered on the promises they'd made to their speakers, the community and their partners.
50 minutes | Jun 30, 2019
TEDxGaborone - Gomolemo Lolo Madikgetla Organizer
TEDxGaborone - Gomolemo Lolo Madikgetla Organizer by Mark Sylvester, Host
50 minutes | Mar 21, 2019
TEDxDonovanCorrectional - Mariette Fourmeaux du Sartel - Organizer
In five minutes of listening to Mariette Fourmeaux du Sartel talk about why she has spent the past couple of years going to prison every week to help create TEDxDonovanCorrectional, you will understand how her passion drives her to continue, overcoming obstacles every visit. Mariette deeply cares for the men at Donovan Correctional and taught me so much about the challenges she and the team face in producing the event. She quoted one of the men who told her, "In my 20 years of incarceration, I've never been treated as a human until now." Wow. After the wild success of TEDxDonovanCorrectional held at San Diego’s Donovan state prison, Mariette has transferred her passion for building resilient high-performing teams and authentic human-centered leadership – honed through two decades in corporate and start-ups – into the unlikely environment that is prison. She founded Brilliance Inside, a nonprofit program to transform prison from being strictly a container of violence to a creator of rehabilitation and peace. Before this, Mariette spent 17 years in business, developing cutting-edge technologies for world-scale problems, such as a cancer-detecting medical device in Paris, d.light’s solar lanterns for the rural poor without electricity in India and a new augmented reality technology at HP, Inc. She also grew up intertwined in the creation and expansion of her family wine businesses, starting at the ripe age of 6. Mariette is a true global citizen: born in France, she’s lived on four continents and has explored some of the most remote corners of our world. Finally, Mariette holds a double materials engineering and economics degree from Brown University and a Berkeley MBA.
48 minutes | Jan 24, 2019
TEDxCancun Monica Alba Organizer
Monica Alba is a force of nature and the perfect person to lead the team at TEDxCancun, located in one of the most beautiful places along the Gulf of Mexico. Cancun is only 40 years old, and unlike other colonial cities in Mexico, it is full of many nationalities, creating a diverse population. Monica is also the TEDx Ambassador for Mexico, and after the first few minutes of listening to her, you'll see why New York picked her for the position. She's sees the challenge of producing a TEDx in a city of 1 million citizens as a way to open their minds and inspire them. Her latest event was themed Resonance. She said these are the ideas that need to be heard; we want to have them resonate with our community. Her advice to other Organizers was simple; be open and vulnerable and share your failures. Be able to say, "I tried this, and it didn't work out..." and learn from it.
47 minutes | Dec 30, 2018
TEDxLeicester Siddhi Trivedi Organizer
TEDxLeicester, located in the United Kingdom, is organized by Siddhi Trivedi, who has a unique story; she was born in Tanzania, educated in the UK and the United States and has lived and worked across three continents. Truly a global citizen. She started as the TEDxLeicester project manager in 2015 and is most proud of the work she and her team did in 2017, hosting the very first TEDx event inside a UK prison. The aim was to build collaborative partnerships to break the cycle of re-offending. She spends a good part of the conversation detailing the challenges of producing an event inside prison walls. I loved how she phrased what it means to be an organizer, and she said that through conversations she could build partnerships, and through them, she builds opportunities. She has a unique point of view about partners and finding connections for them as a result of being involved with the event.
46 minutes | Oct 19, 2018
TEDxBeaconStreet John Werner Organizer
John Werner is the Organizer of TEDxBeaconStreet, one of the top TEDx events that other Organizers would love to visit. In this episode, you'll learn why John and his event have been so successful, over 86 million views since 2010. John's very generous towards everyone that has helped him build a staggeringly connected community. John's been producing TEDx events since 2010 and is deeply integrated into the TEDx Community. He's on the TEDx Board of Advisors, was the original creator of TEDx Adventures with over 365 to date, and over 10,000 attendees each year. He's a part of the TED-Ed brain trust, and you'll soon learn his deep passion for education which comes across loud and clear in this episode. John is also a TEDx speaker, having presented at TED University, TED-Ed, and TED Global. He nominates TED Fellows. His career and experience are vast as evidenced by an extensive list of accomplishments, Fellowships, and Awards on Wikipedia. John's certainly a role model. This episode covers so much ground that you don't want to read about it, you want to listen. Hear John's passion, deep thinking behind making connections and how he let's just enough chaos into the system to make it all work.
53 minutes | Sep 30, 2018
TEDxWilmington, Ajit Mathew George, Organizer
Ajit George is the organizer of TEDxWilmington, located in Delaware. He is a bundle of energy, as evidenced by the fact his tribe produces 12 events a year, with 172 speakers and 164 talks. It takes an incredible amount of organization to manage the sheer volume of speakers and attendees. They've had 7.4M views of their talks since they starting producing their event in 2011. I learned so much from this conversation, as will you. Ajit talks at length about how they plan their event and salons, find speakers and manages a team of 70 volunteers. One tip is they have their speakers write a blog post at the beginning and middle of their journey to the red circle and one at the end. I took this to heart with my journey to TEDxFargo and kept a journal as a result of this tip. Another significant aspect of their organization is they will fund any member of the tribe (as he calls them) to attend another TEDx event. This includes attending TEDSummit or TEDfest. He sent two members of the tribe to TEDfest this year, which gave me a chance to meet them in person. He believes this exposure will help broaden their experience. They pay the registration fee and 50% of the travel. Wow. He makes it a point to visit every TEDx event in Delaware and provides support in mentoring, and even lends their letters to the events that can't afford them. He also welcomes referrals of speakers from other TEDx events around the country. We spoke about how they've been able to find such a volume of speakers for being in such a small city, within a small state. He attributes this to three things: - They are halfway between Washington, DC and New York City. It's only a 90-minute train ride. They are close to the airport and positioned centrally in the mid-Atlantic region - Delaware is what's called a corporate state. This means thousands of companies across the US are incorporated in the State of Delaware and have headquarters there. This gives them access to sponsors and partners. He believes that his contacts over 64 years of life have helped him develop and fantastic network. - His alumni speakers recommend new speakers. They have an unbelievable pool of available talent as a result. They have a Speaker Ambassador as well, to focus 100% on them. He believes these alumni are their greatest resource. Ajit says that his venue selection is specific in that they look for small, intimate spaces and keeps the event small on purpose. He says he likes to keep it a ratio of 10-12 attendees per speaker. This episode will inspire you. Please feel free to share it.
36 minutes | Aug 20, 2018
TEDxShekhawati Masarat Daud Organizer
How do you prepare an event for 7,000 people in rural India from 4,100 miles away in London, and don't hit the ground running until a week before the event? In this episode, we talk with Masarat Daud, the Organizer of TEDxShekhawati, located about 150 miles west of New Dehli. There were so many challenges producing this event that you'll not want to miss a minute of this compelling conversation. Masarat grew up in Dubai and has lived in London the past seven years. She and her family produce this fantastic TEDx in spite of overwhelming odds in their way. For instance, they marketed the event by printing leaflets and going door to door and talking to hundreds of families about TEDx and why it was essential to the community. Did I mention, it's also Free! And a one-woman show. Wow. Yes, she produces the event by herself. She says that now, eight years later, she feels like she's just starting to scratch the surface. What surprised everyone was that the women in the village showed up. The venue itself, loosely constructed of tarps and fabric was itself a huge risk. What else was in their way? The entire concept of an event based solely on ideas is as foreign a concept as could be imagined. Masarat's driving goal is to accentuate TEDx' mission for education, diversity and bring ideas to the community, especially girls. Her vision is that more girls will start going to school. There's so much here to encapsulate in a simple abstract. You will appreciate one of her closing comments, "Maybe the impact of TEDx is event bigger than I thought!"
44 minutes | Jul 28, 2018
TEDxECUAD - Scott Mallory - Organizer
Scott Mallory is the lead organizer for TEDxECUAD. This is a university event held in Vancouver at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. This year was their second event, and the interview was just a few days after the event concluded. Scott talks about how art and design permeate everything about the event, so much so that Will Davis took many of the ideas presented and put them into his 2017 Innovation talk that he took on tour last year. Specifically, the Coloring Book (seen above) was something we've not seen before and indeed worthy of being called an idea worth spreading. Scott discussed how to manage a team of creative students who have tons of ideas and how those ideas create a new set of logistical challenges regarding implementing. As a professor, he uses the experience of working on the event to generate Teaching Moments for the students. He worked with the University leadership to get credits for students who worked on the event, as well as some tuition waivers (for this year at least). Great motivator. TEDxECUAD is a perfect environment for students on the team to learn about integrating their portfolio materials, high stakes work, the nature of feedback, working on teams, working with clients, collaboration, showcase work on a global, meaningful platform.
45 minutes | Jul 5, 2018
TEDxBuffalo Alexandra Opiel Organiser
Alexandra Opiel started at TEDxBuffalo as a volunteer, eventually replacing the original license holder and has run the event for the past three years. By days she's a project manager for a local Buffalo real estate development company, which is a perfect skill set to bring to the role of a TEDx Organizer. She naturally seeks out more responsibility, and it was this attitude that led her into the leadership position. Alex explains that they go about selecting a theme a bit different than I've heard from other organizers. They start by finding speakers, then once they have a full slate, they determine what the theme might be. They've had Perspectives, and Ignite as themes that have come out of this process. She says that they look for a vague term that is inspiring and lends itself to a cool logo yet doesn't lock them into a corner. Their event is under 600 people, and they've found a great venue that allows them to have a more significant event than their old location which only held 100 attendees. One of the things that they do differently is to hold the event on a weeknight instead of a whole day, then follow it with a great after party. I love that they have food trucks at the event to feed people during the break. The event starts around dinner time, and a Buffalo favorite is Pirogi's and BBQ and Vegan offerings. The food trucks allow people to buy what they want, and how much they want, so there's no waste. And doesn't add to the TEDxBuffalo budget. They've been able to produce the entire event for under $10K, and keep ticket prices to $20. This puts a challenge on the team to come up with a low budget way to create experiences. She says that it helps to have the event on a Thursday evening, which keeps costs down as well. She's surprised at how big the TEDx world is. Her experience at TEDxBuffalo, which focuses exclusively on Buffalo ideas, people, and food, had her thinking that TEDx was just limited to her city. This perspective changed dramatically when she went to TEDFest in 2017 and saw how vast the world of TEDx really is and how different everyone's events are, while still falling under the umbrella of Ideas Worth Spreading. TEDFest also opened her eyes to resources like the Hub and the TEDx organizers Facebook page.
68 minutes | Apr 23, 2018
TEDxKazimierz - Richard Lucas, Organizer
Richard Lucas is a British businessman and social entrepreneur. He has lived in Krakow for more than half of his life, having grown up in Oxford. He has been involved with TEDx as a speaker, sponsor, and organizer, with TEDxKazimierz since 2015 and other TEDx events since 2010. Kazimierz is the Jewish district of Krakow and provides a fascinating cultural context to the TEDx event. Richard says that he curates Talks that focus on community building, offering ideas that are coming out of Kazimierz, for Kazimierz. Richard wrote extensively about community building, and I immediately shared it with our team, you may want to do the same. Richard's life is steeped in TED. He has attended Summit, Global, various workshops and visited the TEDx in Capetown. One daughter is the licensee for a TEDx in Soctland, the other is helping at TEDxWarsawYouth, and his son is a magician who performs at TEDx events as well. Richard is deeply involved in the entrepreneurial community and promotes a modern renaissance of technology and innovation in Europe. Having met him in person at TEDFest2018, I can attest to him having an abundance of energy, required for all the things he's involved in. Richard believes that as a licensee you're gifted, free of choice, to work with one of the top brands in the world and that TEDx is a way of making the world a better place. I was taken with his philosophy of the user experience. "They arrive at a different world than they were expecting." This episode is rich with quotes, and you'll want to have a notebook handy to capture ideas for how you can make your event more engaging, and as Richard says, "Get it right from the start!"
54 minutes | Mar 17, 2018
TEDx Sydney Fenella Kernebone Head of Curation
Fenella Kernebone is the Head of Curation for TEDxSydney, responsible for leading the programming for what has become one of the most significant TEDx events in the world. She also curates the youth program, TEDxYouth@Sydney and TEDxSydney Salons. Fenella manages a team of over 20 curators and producers dedicated to spreading great ideas and strong stories in fields including science, technology, arts, business, and design. Fenella is also a noted television and radio presenter and producer, MC, interviewer and writer with a distinguished career working in arts, music, design, and culture. She started as the host for the TEDxSydney Livestream for three years before becoming Head of Curation. She’s one of 250 volunteers at this massive event. This episode is perfect for any organizer who’s deeply involved in curation, as she goes into all the tips and tricks, as well as how to manage the process in depth. This episode is a must listen for anyone that’s trying to figure out where to find speakers, and how to keep getting amazing speakers year over year. I was particularly keen on learning about their FAST IDEAS concept. All attendees are encouraged to participate and get their idea on stage. There’s a separate team that works with them to get to 8-10 finalists who get a thirty-second spot on the red circle, with the audience voting by applause for who the winner is.
31 minutes | Jan 12, 2018
TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool - Kiki Tolles - Student Executive Producer
Kiki Tolles is the Student Executive Producer for TEDxLagunaBlancaYouth, an event held here in Santa Barbara, California, home of the Hacking the Red Circle podcast. Kiki is a member of a TEDx production class this semester, led by Anna Alldredge, their faculty advisor. Kiki has the type of passion and energy that we've come to expect from other organizers and more pronounced in Youth event teams. She was first introduced to TED Talks by her teachers, and when the opportunity to produce an event, and be a part of the leadership came up, she jumped at it. With over 30 students on the team, they've been able to organize, develop and produce an event that's going to happen two weeks from the date of this post (January 31st, 2018). It's not unusual for a group of teenagers to create a TEDx these days; we see it all the time. However, for this team, they have had to work through some staggering logistical challenges since the most massive fire in the state of California started on December 4th, 2017 and burned until a few days before Christmas. Then on January 8th, 2018, the day they would have returned to school, the community was hit by devasting floods and mudslides. This event has separated students and teachers from the school and has made logistics very challenging. As of the posting of this show, the main highway connecting Santa Barbara to the world is closed for the foreseeable future. I love talking to first-time organizers before they've done the event, then circle back and have a cup of coffee afterward, to see how perceptions and assumptions changed in the meantime. Kiki said one of the primary motivations for her and the team is to put on something real, produce an actual event and leave a legacy for the school. As the executive producer of TEDxSantaBarbara, I invited Kiki and their executive team to the dress rehearsal for our event on November 11th. We escorted them backstage, into the production room, visited the green room, and they sat through a couple of the speaker's talks, hearing the coaches give last minute advice. It was eye-opening for them and gave them a good sense of the many moving parts it takes to produce an event.
40 minutes | Dec 13, 2017
TEDxChristchurch Kaila Colbin Co-Organizer
Kaila Colbin is the Curator of TEDxChristchurch (New Zealand) and TEDxScottBase. She's also the founder of Missing Link and the New Zealand Ambassador for Singularity University, a co-founder and Chair of the non-profit Ministry of Awesome, and a force of nature. I learned a lot about Christchurch during our conversation and how she came to NZ in the first place. In 2009 she did a talk at TEDxAuckland and was hooked. She'd set a goal to speak at TEDx and achieved it. She also set a goal to produce a TEDx in Antarctica and rallying other Kiwi TEDx Organizers to the cause. We interviewed Trent Yeo about his role in that enormous effort. I loved her quote about that effort, "We married the hurdles of working in Antarctica plus producing a TEDx." You'll want to listen as she tells the story of the 2011 earthquake that destroyed 70% of the city, just weeks before TEDx. I won't spoil the surprise. How they managed the crisis turned into a talk that she gave at TEDActive in 2011.
38 minutes | Nov 19, 2017
TEDxSantaBarbara - Mark Sylvester and Kymberlee Weil
Mark Sylvester and Kymberlee Weil have been bringing TEDx to Santa Barbara since 2010. They started with TEDxAmericanRiviera on 10/10/10, produced it again in 2011 then again in 2012. After a couple of years off, they produced two TEDxLive events, rebranded the local event as TEDxSantaBarbara and relaunched in 2016. Mark and Kymberlee have a great story about how they met and created a project that debuted at TED2003, which led to a software company that is still Mark's day job, in addition to podcasting. Kymberlee fell in love with helping people get their ideas out and onto the red circle and since 2010 has coached over 150 speakers, both for TEDxSantaBarbara and many TEDx events around the world. Kymberlee has been behind the microphone as well, speaking at the TEDSummit on Story Telling and in other venues around the globe. It was at the 2016 TEDSummit where Mark and Kymberlee learned that they're one of the few couples who work together to produce a TEDx event. (They'd love to meet more TEDx organizing couples at TEDfest in 2018!) One of the great things about hosting this podcast and producing an event is that we're able to share the best practices and fresh ideas we hear from others with our team, in real-time. As a result, we've added new experiences, team members and workflows to improve our event.
46 minutes | Oct 25, 2017
TEDxPorto Norberto Amaral
Norberto Amaral is the organizer of TEDxPorto, located in Portugal and formally known as Oporto. It's a long story. Norberto tells us about how they were not able to get into the venue until midnight the night before the event started, on March 31, 2017. The production crew worked all night and the opened for 1,100 people the next morning on April 1st. No fooling. They do something that we've not heard in all the shows before, which is to have a stand-up comedian do a seven-minute wrap up at the end of each session. This reminds me of Tom Reilly's end-of-TED comedic routines back in the early days of TED. Sounds like a lot of fun. Norberto is one of the organizers that loves being the host of the event. He says, "I put people on their toes and keep them uncomfortable - to make them rethink." He says he wants to lift the veil on the talk, and spark curiosity. He'll frequently stay on stage to ask one question to get more information from the speaker. Something this really buts a nice bookend on the talk.
38 minutes | Oct 16, 2017
TEDxOshkosh - Bethany Lerch - Speaker
Bethany Lerch is a former Fulbright and Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and was a speaker on the 2016 TEDxOshkosh stage. She spoke about avoiding the pitfalls of taking the wrong approach to international aid using examples from her time in Afghanistan. She served as a military advisor in Kabul, Afghanistan, from February 2015 until June 2016 and while there received a note from TEDxOshkosh inviting her to tell her story. She made a list of the four things she could speak on, and the curators selected one from her diverse set of life experiences. Bethany tells us a fantastic story of how she wrote her talk, by walking, for a month, across Spain. She trekked the Spanish Camino and memorized her talk one-step-at-a-time. She finished just in time to arrive on the TED stage. (Note: We don’t recommend cutting it this close for other speakers.) She’s the founder of able to, a non-profit also known as the Afghan Education Project, which brings women from Afghanistan to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to develop their leadership skills, then returns them to their home country. Able to is a project she runs in conjunction with local and regional Rotary groups and individual members.
46 minutes | Sep 25, 2017
TEDxIntuit Kara DeFrias Organizer
Kara DeFrias is a force of nature. She's been involved with TEDx since 2010, having worked at TEDxSanDiego and produced TEDxIntuit. She has many years experience producing big events, including the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Halftime show at the Superbowl, working with Sting, No Doubt, and Shania Twain. Wow. She brings that level of experience to everything she does including recently being the Director of Experience Design in the Obama White House. From 2010-2016 she worked on TEDx projects until she was tapped to work with VP Biden on the Cancer Moonshot Project. We talked at length about producing an internal TEDx program at Intuit and what it was like working with TEDxSanDiego. While there she was profiled as a TEDInnovation for her description of how they got 1.2 million social media impressions during the 2013 event. Click to read her top ten tips for creating a social media strategy for your event. Here's a fact you may not know. Kara created the show run-down worksheet (Excel spreadsheet) used by the majority of TEDx events. This is the item-by-item description of what happens during each minute of the show. This attention to detail is a lasting legacy she's given to the TEDx community.
47 minutes | Sep 21, 2017
TEDXNaperville - Arthur Zards - Organizer
Arthur Zards is the organizer of TEDxNaperville and has been innovating with his team since 2009. He watched TED DVDs he'd borrow from friends who attended in Monterey. Since then, he's done two TED talks, been to 20 events, and last year hosted an Adventure with 350 of his 750 attendees participating. Arthur loves sharing. He is just back from TEDGlobal and asked to take some Hacking The Red Circle flyers with him to encourage other organizers to join us. Thanks. His Engagement Project which is an open source collection of ideas for engaging audiences is an excellent example of sharing ideas with other organizers. He's got a fantastic well of energy that comes across during this conversation. He's also very motivated by creativity and building community. He suggests thinking about the experiential side of your event makes it unique in the community and can reframe what the audience thinks of as a typical TED talk.
58 minutes | Sep 14, 2017
TEDxKC Mike Lundgren Organizer
Mike Lundgren is a nine-year veteran of TEDxKC (Kansas City), having produced almost 40 events. His 2017 event sold out in four minutes. They enjoy one of the most spectacular venues for a TEDx, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. They entertain and inspire 3,000 people and have over 30 different activities for attendees at the massive afterparty. Mike says they have amassed over 900 volunteers, with 70 who are super active on any given event. They have an intense focus on the user experience, thinking about before, during and after as touch points to pay attention to. Even in the fantastic venue of a performing arts center, no seat is more than 100 feet from the stage. I love how Mike self-identifies as a 'DJ of ideas.' He also suggests they have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to creative input. His company VML has been the original sponsor and is one of the top Marketing firms in the region. They solve branding and communication problems for clients and pour all of that energy into TEDxKC each year. No wonder they sell out in four minutes.
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