TEDx Seattle Organizers Meetup

Earlier today, Kartik and I skipped our first day of Fall Quarter classes to attend a TEDx Organizer meetup at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. If I had to use one word to describe the event, it would be Ignite.

Conversations were diverse- we discussed sponsors, speakers, developing dialogue, and more. Our group was equally diverse- the spectrum ranged from new, young TEDx Organizers like us and TEDxYouth@Seattle to experienced, older veterans of TEDxRainier and TEDxDU.The atmosphere was welcoming and engaging, the sandwich lunch delicious, and the campus breathtaking.

There’s incredible power in bringing together a small group of strangers with a common passion. Before today, most of us had never spoken to each other. But almost instantaneously the shared love of TEDx brought us together as a cohesive unit. You could feel the TEDx drive in the air - ideas were being tossed around like a hacky sack and discussions seamlessly flowed like a stream over smooth rocks. It was interesting to observe our TEDx meetup embodying the values of TED itself. TED prides itself with the tagline of “Ideas Worth Spreading”, and our meetup flawlessly demonstrated the TED spirit: those who put on events eagerly shared their thoughts and best practices while those who were new to TEDx supplied a steady line of questions. On the one hand, I was impressed the Gates Foundation was so supportive of TEDx and so eager to support us. On the other, I was inspired that it only took the small spark of a half-day event to stimulate the conversation and collaboration of the local TEDx community.

One of best topics that was brought up today was how, as organizers, we could take “Ideas Worth Spreading” and transform them into “Ideas Worth Doing”. We brainstormed how TEDx could be used as a vehicle for empowering action, and how our speakers could light a spark in the audience to motivate tangible change. But as our conversation developed, an even bigger topic emerged: Should the focus of TEDx be to inspire action?

Personally, I view the focus of TEDx not to inspire action but rather to share ideas. Action comes as a result of ideas. TEDx is beyond the organizers, speakers, and even the individual ideas. TEDx is about bringing together a diverse mix of ideas worth spreading, piling them up as kindling in the fire pit of our venue, and igniting them. Ordinary ideas are potent and may require caution. Ideas mixed in the fireplace of TEDx are dangerously flammable.

One of my favorite quotes is:
“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”
-Fred Shero
It could not apply more to TEDx. Today’s meetup ignited our collaboration of local TEDx organizers, as well as my own drive to make TEDxUofW an unforgettable and life-changing event. It’s my hope that, in April 2012, The Next Generation will ignite the hearts of others.

Written by Tim Tan, TEDxUofW Co-Organizer. 

Originally posted at http://www.tedxuofw.com/2011/09/the-next-generation-ignite/

TEDx Southern Cone Organizers Workshop, a recap
May 15, 2011,  Palermo neighborhood, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It is a chilling Sunday morning, and a few minutes after 9 am people start arriving to AreaTres, a co-working space we saw fit for the kind of meeting that is about to take place.
23 TEDx organizers from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are getting together to share their experience, knowledge, best practices and hopes of what an amazing TEDx should be.
Atmosphere is relaxed, and everybody looks sleepy during breakfast. Most of us don’t know each other, so as soon as caffeine kicks in we start to play a game:  we form groups of 3 - 4 people and in less than 10 minutes, we have to tell our team-mates what makes us famous, what’s the most unusual fact about us. We are amazed at some of the weird skills of other TEDx Organizers. After time’s up we get back all together and share with the other groups what we’ve just heard.
The atmosphere is now filled with good vibes and cheerfulness and we are ready to focus on what has brought us together this day: ideas worth spreading! So we get on with it. We split in groups again but this time to talk about common issues affecting sponsorship, speakers, communication and logistic of our TEDx events. The group dynamics is very fast paced and we find ourselves not only jumping from one topic to another, but also moving physically from one corner of the room to another. Still, we have plenty of time to discuss each of them, and after a couple of hours of sharing our thoughts we come up with many exciting new ideas.
It is time for a recess now and, as we are well past mid day, the sandwiches on the lunch table disappear in a blink of an eye as the horde of energy-requiring TEDx’ers discover them!
Finally, after dessert, we get back together to share our conclusions. Each team has to act out, in a funny way, the 3 ideas they liked the most. Everybody discusses, listens, suggests, and we all have some laughs.
So, after more than 6 hours of work/play we have come up with a dozen of great ideas and solutions to our problems, we have committed to perform actions to further increase the size of the TED community in our region, we have identified possible joint activities to improve the outcome of our TEDx events, but mainly, after this day, we have discovered that we all were … friends worth making!
Written by Julian Dominguez of TEDxRosario, Javier Yunes  of TEDxRosario and Gerry Garbulsky  of TEDxRiodelaPlata and TEDxRosario.

TEDx South Korea Organizers Workshop

South Korea is one of the most active TEDx communities —  70+ events have waved throughout the country since its first event taking place in last 2009 June.

On May 22, the second TEDx Organizers Workshop in South Korea took place in Seoul. And in this particular workshop, approximately 40 TEDx Organizers all across the country gathered to share their thoughts and ideas. While the first workshop in last February this year had focused on building mutual relationships and trust, meeting fellow TEDx’ers face to face, this time it was more about drawing the picture of collective future that we seek to create as Korean TEDx community.

TEDxSejongU presenting

The program for the day was made up of three different sessions. In the first session, licensees from 15 different TEDx events introduced their own event in 3 minutes. 

Lara giving presentation

In the second session, Lara Stein, Licensing Director of TED, gave a detailed presentation on rules and guidelines and on the TEDx spirit. It was short, yet extremely helpful, because it was actually the first physical contact between TED and TEDx’ers in South Korea. She has not only reassured the community that her TEDx team is open to any questions and feedback, but also made clear that it is TEDx’s vision that each and every one of TEDx event should collaborate with each other, trying to solve their own local problems. Lots of ambiguous questions were as well made clear for everybody who attended the workshop in following Q&A session.

The last session was group discussion, where 40 participants were grouped into 8 different tables and discussed three important questions inspired by Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk, as collective TEDx community:

  1. Why we do TEDx?
  2. What’s our vision? Where should we go?
  3. What we should do to go in that direction? What’s the exact things that we ought to act upon?

Participants were supposed to switch their table seven times every ten minutes so that they can visit all tables, and what’s been discussed among other people who’ve been on that table previously. Popping around tables during the session, participants naturally realized that there’s a lot in common in the way that why we do TEDx, how we do and what kind of future we want to create.

"It was such a great and excited moment with other TEDx Organizers in Korea! I was very impressed by their passion and vision. Through these coordination with all TEDx Organizers, I hope we would have opportunities to make our society and world better!" - Jooyong Moon of TEDxSinchon

"It’s hard to describe this wonderful experience in only 50 words, but I thought this was the pivotal point for organizers to come together and improve TEDx organizations in Korea. We came up with specific goals and plans, while we also had fun. I really enjoyed this experience and would love to do it again. " - Minae Kwon of TEDxYouthSeoul

"TEDx Organizers Workshop Korea was totally amazing experience for me to share the idea of "Ideas Worth Spreading"". - Youngjae Lee of TEDxBundang

"Every time I meet TEDx’ers, I got inspired so much! :-) It was an awesome experience to share passions and ideas about TED and TEDx events with other licensees. Lara’s coming to South Korea was also great! We’ve got clear answers/comments while communicating with her face to face." - Jihye Kang of TEDxEwha

TED is a such a potent tool to catalyze social changes, big and small, in local communities. It is already bringing impacts here and there, calling for brilliant hearts and minds around the magnet of TEDx in all places.

Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It was such a short but intense gathering in which we realized the potential power of TEDx community where each and every single member of the community is so motivated to make meaningful impact in society. In unity we can make better future!

TEDx Asia Organizers Workshop @ TEDxTaipei

Recently, TEDx Organizers from 11 different cities in Asia (Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia) descended upon Taipei for the incredible event that was TEDxTaipei. The event itself, whose theme was “Big Hope” and centered around nine questions for the future, featured talks by 20 inspiring speakers, including the former CTO of One Laptop Per Child, a spiritual guru from India, and native Taiwanese folk singers. We all walked away from the day-long event, our hearts and minds filled with wonderful new ideas - but that was only the beginning of the fun.

Jason Hsu and Kevin Peng, the curators of TEDxTaipei, organized a three-day tour of Taipei and surroundings, specially for the TEDx Organizer family, along with the speakers and other honored guests, including Salome Heusel from the TED office. The jam-packed itinerary, which left little room for sleep (but ample opportunities for coffee), consisted of:

Culture  - Though the entire trip was about culture (most of us were, after all, in Taiwan for the very first time), we got to experience Taiwanese culture firsthand through visiting a traditional tea house in the Maokong Mountains, enjoying a private performance by the drumming group U-Theatre at their mountaintop theater space, and touring the Flora Expo, which exhibited many elements of Taiwan’s natural resources and potential through its exhibits and pavilions.

Technology - Taiwan, as we learned, actually manufactures about 40% of the world’s consumer electronics. We had a chance to tour the campus of Quanta Computer, the world’s largest notebook computer manufacturer, as well as play with some of their newest technologies that haven’t yet hit the market, and discuss ideas with their CTO and other Quanta leaders. We also sat with the CTO of ITRI, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, a Taiwan-based international research group that whose ethos involves mixing scientists with designers and industry leaders in order to create new technologies for the market.

Development & Entrepreneurship
 - We met several local business leaders, such as Ping Chu, head of AVEDA Taiwan, and exchanged ideas of social enterprise and business ethos. We went to Field Office, an architectural station in the agricultural Yilan County, where a team of young architects work together to bring creative ideas for cultural buildings to the community. We talked to professors at local universities about creativity and entrepreneurship in education, and how to inspire the next generation towards prosperity and social responsibility.

Food - Our gustatory senses were constantly tickled by local delights, and we had a bit of everything - from dinners made of completely fresh and local ingredients, to Taiwan’s famed street food from the ubiquitous nightmarkets.

Decompression - Of course, no extended gathering in Asia would dare exclude karaoke, and we all had a chance to break the ice through mutual embarrassment and rousing off-key choruses of A Whole New World. A morning walk and yoga session in the mountains of northern Taiwan also helped get us back to our element.

TEDx (Ex)change - Our ultimate goal was to convene as a group of TEDx Organizers and share our thoughts about how we organize events in our own cities. We had structured discussions, sharing all of our questions and hopes for our own events, as well as our strategies for how to continue the dialogue. We all share the same goal that is embodied by TED, but we found that we also shared many issues in adapting our TEDx events for our own audiences, from the big framework such as how to make events more locally-oriented to the details of how to deal with language barriers between speakers and attendees, and having four wonderful days to spend with each other gave us the chance to understand how everyone made their own events work.

The best part? We all came away with over 30 new friends, confidants, collaborators, and now know expert tour guides when we visit any of Asia’s major cities. But it wasn’t just about us - even though we deepened our understanding and formed new relationships, the greatest takeaway was about how we all, as purveyors of TED and TEDx, hope to bring these sorts of experiences of idea and culture exchange to our own home communities, and to encourage these friendships and to spread the positive energy amongst our own peers. It was about how we’re all going to make the world a better place, one TEDx at a time.

Written by Cindy Wang