I’m still buzzing to say the least. I helped plan, curate, budget, ticket, coach and run this behemoth side project. The final attendance count for TEDxBoulder was 1803.
Not bad for an all volunteer team. I flew in from Zurich for the event and am now on a plane to Latvia for a conference and have some time to write down a few thoughts.
I’m incredibly proud of the team that put it together. Ad hoc fully trusting distributed leadership somehow worked. We put on a 1800 person event as a buch of hobbyists. Think about that. George Morris is one hell of a coorganzier.
What didn’t we do that we should have? How did we sound on stage? Did we forget anything. This is something we have worked for months on, I think a few small things fell through but overall, a well put together event.
One of the best things about the event is that the speakers and audience tries to match the quality of TED talks. This, however, is a train wreck as some attendees thing that every talk needs to live up to the multi million dollar budgets and heavy curation of the TED.com videos. Not all talks are posted online from the biggest and best conference in the land and they do nothing to refute this myth. A typical conversation goes a little like this:
“I thought it would be all about science, just like TED.com”
“There are all kinds of talks on TED.com and even more that go on the TED stage and don’t make it online”
“Oh yeah, and they heavily edit the videos as well.”
“Well, you should be more like them with all the money they give you.”
“This is an all volunteer event.”
“Well, I was just expecting what I saw on TED.com, I like their formula.”
“It seems like you are saying that you like watching Football but I think you only watch the highlights.”
How do you build a great event when the mental model of the attendee is something that doesn’t even exist? We are not as good as a TED session (that you have never attended)? Remind me which is $10,000 and which is $30? You feel entitled to the $10,000 experience somehow, and we somewhat foolishly try to provide that.
I’m extremely proud of our event. I met Chris Anderson this year in Doha and chatted about TEDx and our event (last years brilliant Phil Plait talk was a bit of the conversation). Chris asked what he could steal from our event and I answered “our lineup.” I think our speakers gave world class talks and I mean that. I will defend that.
This is what I do for fun. I have the best seat in the house to a fantastic event. I get to watch the speakers prepare, grow, step up and put a distinct moment in their life. Backstage is quite hectic and fun. Towards the end of Saturday night Rob Drabkin was preforming an outstanding cover of Paul Simon and I was smiling with a full heart and dancing my ass off. Months of worry about what could go wrong and the event went off with fewer than a few bumps. I was happy like I can rarely remember. I didn’t care if anyone else wasn’t dancing, it was fucking magic. My Mother and Brother flew in for the event and that was special.
5. Still planning.
Believe it or now, we have already started for TEDxBoulder 2013. Slowly at least.
6. Thank You.
To all of you that helped with TEDxBoulder as an organizer, volunteer or fantastic attendee, I want to thank you.