Earlier this year at TED Active, 60+ TEDx licensees from all over the world came together a day early to share their TEDx experiences and connect with each other. The day started with an interactive workshop at a special desert location and finished with an evening TEDx reception. We quickly saw that when you get a group of TEDx organizers together, even the bus ride to and from the desert was abuzz with energy.


During TED Active, TEDx organizers from Asia organized a dinner to focus on regional collaboration. One of the ideas we discussed was a rotating gathering of organizers to experience each other’s TEDx events and cities and create a similar kind of cross-fertilization as we were experiencing at TED Active.


Later, thinking about the dramatic setting of a TEDx at the Great Wall of China, we thought it was a unique opportunity to get the regional gatherings started.

Despite a short timeframe, in the TEDx spirit of quickly prototyping ideas, we got a critical mass of 12 regional organizers (including TEDxBeijing, TEDxGreatWall, TEDxShanghai, TEDxGuangzhou, TEDxYUE, TEDxTaipei, and TEDxTokyo), plus Lara Stein (on a multi-event tour including TEDxTokyo and TEDxSydney) and a special guest from Kenya, Maasai Elder William Tumate Ole Siara.

And just like at TED Active, things immediately got into high gear on the bus ride out to the Great Wall and never really stopped. We stayed together in the lovely Great Wall Courtyard with communal rooms for twelve on each side and Richard immediately launched a pillow fight.

After a big lunch at a village restaurant we went for the first of our many visits up onto the wall. The combination of the location and the immense scale of the structure itself, winding across mountain ridges as far you can see (impossible to adequately describe in words or even pictures), invites contemplation. So we took a period to think about our visions for TEDx, writing and drawing a map to share with the group, followed by a lovely champagne toast at sunset .

There was also a lot of focus of AFT/AFI (Action Following TED Talks / Action Following Inspiration) as many organizers are very interested in helping the incredible inspiration generated at TEDx events translate into local action. Conversations continued around the fire back at the courtyard until late into the night.

The next day at TEDxGreatWall we learned more of the intriguing history of the wall from William Lindesay, OBE, the official spokesperson for the Great Wall, who has dedicated his life to its preservation. We learned that of the mind-boggling 8,800+ kilometers only some 43 kilometers are in good condition. That evening we could not resist an evening visit to experience the wall at night.  And much later that evening, impromptu plans to sleep on the wall developed, with 10+ of us rallying for a not to be missed experience.

The next day was one of my favorite experiences, hiking a fascinating section of the wall and finishing with a high speed zip line ride over the lake.

As we headed back to Beijing, our sleep deprived but deeply satisfied group not only continued to interact, but a subset who were not flying out right away was not ready to separate yet. We arranged to continue the adventure together, starting with a late lunch at a very cool restaurant and art complex created by Irsi Hsu’s relative, 1949 The Hidden City. Detailing the  rest of the evening would take an entire new entry.

For the final day, a smaller group had the pleasure of experiencing Richard Hsu’s Beijing, a special tour of his favorite places,  which became a moving design session. The larger group then reconvened for our final time together before flying out, exploring Beijing 798, a huge creative industries complex, on a beautiful spring day. It couldn’t have a nicer way to wrap out our time  together.

Overall, we came away feeling that it was such a rich experience on so many levels that we definitely want to continue gathering organizers around various TEDx events in Asia. And we wholeheartedly recommend you try it in your region! 


Todd PorterTEDxTokyo 



(Other Organizer Impressions)


Jason Hsu, TEDxTaipei

It was really nice meeting you all. There are many memorable moments—the slumber party on the great wall, the sunset, the map, the champagne, the shao-ling martial arts, the conversations, the never-ending Bob Marley song that’s stuck in my head, the dormitory and the fact we can check emails through wi-fi at Great Wall is crazy. 


We are back in Taipei and fully charged. We will send you all an invite to our event in July and hopefully you can all make it. 

let’s keep the energy going and conversations flowing and look forward to seeing you again very soon.


Richard Hsu, TEDxShanghai

my take-away impressions from TEDx Organizers Gathering at the Great Wall

- great gathering of minds, powerful that a few of us to have gotten close, a special group of old and new friends with similar drives, motivations, dreams, a chosen family of sort and dependable supporting system being formed

- talks + nature is a great formula, the forces of the place is magical and forever memorable

- truly distant outside voices and thinkers really awakes our senses and makes us re-think about ourselves, our lifes, our value system (I so enjoyed time and conversations with William Tumate Ole Siara)

- intense, positive social intentions

- we bid each other goodbye over 8 different times, I have not experienced a group of grown men and women who did not want to part / separate, we kept findings ways to meet up


what inspired me:

- strong hearts, minds, energy and determinations of many

- desires to do good in China, for China

- the TED spirit


Action Following Talks / AFT:

- TEDx and TED must not give direct pressure for actions, but those of us who feel strongly that the energy, enthusiasm and talents that grow to the end of conferences will be sadly wasted if we do not try to encourage participation, support systems to some good worthy ideas

- ideas worth sharing, ideas worth embracing


strong deep memories felt (separately will try to post a companion photo collage):

- first toast on the Wall

- jumping with William

- sitting around lunch expressing our favorite TED talks

- mapping down our missions and dreams

- haikus at sunset

- “no women, no cry” around the campfire

- Apple moments – Iris, Ina, Lara

- energy around the fireplace

- waking up at 4.07am on the Great Wall

- the peacefulness of everyone on the morning Wall, each in their own zone, very silent

- moment the sun came up, from behind part of the Wall

- William carrying the wood for the old woman

- Jason’s refusing the purchase of the photo book

- conversations and exchanges on the long bus ride

- Beijing design tour

- 798 art tour

- one more goodbye

thank you all, for these moments. I hope to stay in close touch.

very best, 

James Flanagan & Samantha Wright, TEDxBeijing

Hi everyone,

It was great meeting and spending time with all of you. This is what we would love to see available online for TEDx organizers from around the world as key-takeaways from the event.

Why should I attend a TEDx organizers gathering? 

1.             To build a community of regional organizers. Meeting and spending time together is critical for developing a meaningful network of regional TEDx organizers.

2.             To share region-specific knowledge.Bringing people together in one place over several days is helpful for fleshing out shared experience and extracting region-specific takeaways.

What is the value of developing a region-specific TEDx network?

1.             Providing a system of mutual support.

2.             Facilitating the sharing of region specific knowledge. “No need to reinvent the wheel.”

3.             Enhancing the TEDx brand localization in the region.

4.             Creating a network of TEDx events to further the impact of each one. In other words, leveraging each event as a local platform for all others.

 Key Takeaways from TEDx Great Wall gathering:

It was a good idea to hold a TEDx organizers conference around another conference. This is because it offers an opportunity to have everyone look at the same event and reflect. It provides a tangible reference point for discussions about best and worst practices. This is important when thinking about localizing the TED brand to the region.

It was a good idea to find an inspiring location. This facilitated meaningful reflection, offering an opportunity for busy individuals to take a step back and think about big questions and creative solutions.