TEDxYYC Meets TEDGlobal: Stories and Lessons from Geneva

Hi Josh! Welcome back! You’ve recently returned from the TEDGlobal Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. How cool is that?

How did you score an invite to attend such an awesome event?

Hi Robin, and thanks! Going to Geneva for TEDGlobal was a once in a lifetime experience for sure. First – of course – Geneva is an absolutely beautiful city – and it was a special treat to visit so close to the holidays, with the streets, shops and restaurants decorated in wonderful alpine Christmas cheer. The Conference itself was also an incredible experience. It started with two days of pretty intense TEDx organizer workshops – over 500 TEDx event organizers from over 80 countries around the world and representing close to 1100 TEDx events were invited to attend. The TEDGlobal event itself was a day-long classic TED-style event – 9 speakers over the course of the day, I think – and it was wonderful. Such a fantastic array of speakers talking about everything from bio-robotics, to the world food shortage crisis, to art history, to economic theory – some real heady, but thought-provoking stuff.

As a local TEDx event organizer, I was invited to apply to attend. I thought it would be an incredibly cool opportunity, so I did – and as fortune would have it, I was selected to attend and represent TEDxYYC.

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What is the purpose of TEDGlobal?

TEDGlobal travels the world and is slightly more international in nature. The full TED format is maintained, but with a wide-ranging roster of speakers and performers for a day of inspiring sessions. That is the TEDGlobal event itself. Then of course, as I’ve mentioned, the conference for TEDx organizers is a bit more robust and allowed for the exchange of ideas from TEDx events all over the world. During those two days, we sat in both large and small scale seminars covering all sorts of topics ranging from team organization, to speaker curation, to finance oversight and everything in between. We also were able to take part in a number of small group workshops, where we were able to delve a little deeper into specific topics that we organizers wanted a little more discussion on. One of the most fascinating aspects of this participation, was to share with and hear from other groups who may have had similar challenges to our own, and talk about the solutions they came up with.

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What was your favourite moment?

Hard to pick just one… it was honestly all the little moments that I was able to share with people from all over the world who share a passion for making a difference in our communities. I met people from Athens who shared the socio-economic realities that they face that challenge their event. I met people from London who talked about starting their event in an effort to try and address racial and class issues that face their community. I talked to people from former Soviet states that utilize their TEDx events to both discuss and try to heal tensions that still exist in their communities.

These are the things that I will take away from the experience. TEDx organizers from all over the world face different challenges, and get involved for different reasons, but they all share a deep love for their communities, and they get involved in a way that they feel can help improve the lives of their friends and families.

 

What ideas are you bringing back to our own TEDxYYC event?

That TED is in fact a Global effort. It is very simply a medium to share and spread ideas – ideas worth spreading… and while that is a wonderful tag line, it also happens to be a very powerful truth. More specifically, I have some amazing ideas about how to work more effectively with our TEDxYYC team; we are an amazing team of people, but of course there is always room for improvement, and I’’m excited to try and put some of these valuable lessons learned into practice here with our event.

 

Maybe most importantly, did you score some sweet swag?

Hahaha… to be honest, no not really! I have a badge from TEDGlobal>Geneva with my name on it, and I think that’s pretty cool, but that’s really about all we were given! And of course, Switzerland is very expensive so after buying a couple $15.00 pints of beer and a $90.00 fondue dinner, not much was left over for swag I’m afraid. Perhaps I’ll go back someday… as a matter of fact, I’m almost positive I will.