For nearly a decade, a huge part of my life has been devoted to a pro-bono endeavour of producing the community TEDx events here in the capital.
The decision to cancel this years event really hurt—read the full announcement here—as the 2021 event was going to be my last and boy I was aiming to go out on a high (with a 2,000 person event plus some wicked delegate experience ideas to boot as well).
Then explore new paid opportunities which align to my skill set and serves my individual purpose regarding enabling people to find and have voice through delicious learning experiences.
Am looking to work with kind humans who reach beyond their grasp and have complex problems to solve—I like intersecting disciplines, leading on collaborations and crafting outcome-based connections through content creation.
Big words for basically saying making cool and complicated stuff with nice people!
Let me know if you are in need of a DK-shaped human to assist in any creative project directing / producing.
And I will continue to offer and deliver speaker coaching (one-to-ones and group masterclasses) for select clients as well as developing out the fourth Creative Leadership NZ 2021 conference for the end of the year.
Again, this project is totally self-funded and wouldn’t be possible without these amazing collaborators:
All episodes are shot and edited by the wonderfully talented Jono Tucker, Empire Films. An extremely diligent and personable soul who has added a polish to the resulting video which I never could’ve achieved, thank you Jono.
Hosted at Xequals, a centrally based web development agency who provide us with a kick-ass office which totally gets kitted out for the shoot. Thank you Alex Matthews for being so gracious with your space.
Last night was the first of five TEDxWellington speaker coaching sessions with these people:
Being surrounded by impressive souls (full bios) was a much needed reminder of the innate brilliance of humans doing superb things (from an initiative to track human rights violations to how to build homes so that the materials can be reused, a programme to teach mindfulness to children to new technology to help diagnose breast health, from ethically built sensors to monitor the health of your home to an ongoing project which cleans our underwater environment, from teaching communities to cook on a budget to an evolving body positive programme for females, from championing the use of menstrual cups for system change to rethinking our criminal justice system).
To feel that warmness of hope and genuine awe seems rare these days in the global gloom which blasts through the news and our other media channels.
Devoting time to remind oneself that the world is not what the media tells you is a must for our mental health. So thank you TEDx for continuing to offer opportunities which lightens the soul.
As the theme launch video illustrates above, our theme has informed our ticketing approach this year as every one of our previous events have sold out and we receive many communications from folks who missed out. Add to that, TEDxWellington is going from a 1,000 person event down to a 200 as our 2017 venue is still closed for earthquake restrengthening, so, a ‘lottery’ system for the tickets is the fairest approach to take.
We will also extend the theme into the interactions on the day.
This year, 75% of our speaker applicants were female which is reflected in the final line-up of impressive talent:
A few weeks ago I had to share with the TEDxWellington leadership team that I needed to take a break. A venue had already booked for the 2018 event and we were days away from announcing. It was a tough but right decision to make.
For a little over 6 years I’ve been the licensee / creative producer for 5 main TEDx events here in Wellington, plus the two livestream TEDxWomen events and also 8 Salon evening events (which keep the community engaged in between the main ones plus celebrate the success of our previous speaker / performers). Every event has been sold out and all finances are run through the xWellington Charity (which was set up with myself and fellow trustees Helen and Hannah).
needing to pay the rent—as you can imagine producing events at that scale is a full time job in itself. Under the TEDx rules (see General > Funds) no TEDx and its organisers are allowed to make money as it’s a voluntary venture only. Very much agree and champion this, although, at the moment there are other things which need to take priority (like paying the rent sustainably);
reciprocal energies—on occasions we’ve literally had to expend so much energy just to get access to certain venues or to available dates that it impacted on other aspects of our endeavours. We were hoping for a growing support from certain sections of the community based on the demonstrative success achieved rather than diminishing assistance. Obviously, big learning opportunities for doing things differently to get different results, and another reason to take a break to reflect on future strategies;
continued impact momentum—with any growth you certainly don’t want to retract and the 2018 plans, due to some odd factors, meant we were left looking at significantly reducing the event size (which would have a massive negative effect on other areas like sponsor / partner agreements). As a capital city event we were hoping to continue the legacy building and I’m certainly not interested in leading something that is less.
Special thanks to the leadership team who have been so courteous in supporting my decision as it came so late in the day.
After a few months sights will be realigned for the 2019/2020 events and a slow run up will begin with new ideas / approaches to hopefully get to that desired different outcome.
Efforts will be made to gain support for a sustainable TEDx in the nations capital, a cornerstone in the calendar which uniquely amplifies the regions talent through the talks / performances / global platform, continue to build the social capital via the amazing community, plus proceeds to provides opportunities for the organisers to craft experiences that develop our city’s reputation as forward thinkers and audacious doers (and all the while developed / delivered by volunteers).
*financial support was received from a TEDxWellington sponsor for the first TEDActive to cover flight costs plus contributions from the charity towards attendance / accommodation costs also.
For the past 9 months TEDxWellington has been a massive focus of mine. Above are the final thirteen talks which are the highly public product of the event and which rock!
As the licensee, my job is to be across all aspects of development and delivery whilst ensuring all the rules are adhered to plus also build / communicate / inspire the volunteer delivery team to deliver upon the vision (on top of leading the speaker coaching as well).
The reason I devote so much of my time to such an endeavour which none of us get any kind of monetary remuneration for, is to give people voice.
There’s the obvious voices on the stage but also those in the audience who to come together and experience a TEDx event, then share as a community plus discuss and connect around the topics presented. There’s also enabling a core team of disparate strangers to collaborate and build something within the confines of the format. And finally, there’s the idea of giving a city an expressive platform to illustrate its own wonderful story (as most of our speakers / performers are always drawn from the region itself).
This year was all about scaling:
to a 1,000 person event
the team to deliver such a beast
in the complexity of interactions between all of the above
Along with my co-organiser Hannah, the learning and insights of what to do and equally, what not to do, also expanded in scale.
Even though nearly every external aspect of the event was a success, there’s always stuff to improve upon and do better, and there are many aspects to change and tweak for the next annual event in 2018 (with a few adjustment to trial with the upcoming TEDxWellingtonWomen event in November).
And as I start to reflect further and write up the review blog post for the event plus finish off the finer details like paying invoices, following up with partners / sponsors, ensuring all the speakers are happy etc., I can’t help but feel that twinge of excitement for next year, as hungry to revisit the theme of doing something unique like in 2016.
Was wonderful to celebrate also the voice and efforts of my collaborator and co-organiser of 2016 and current 2017 event, Hannah Wignall. Would also like to shine the light on the other actioneers in the TEDxWellington team who all give their time voluntarily to ensure the capital city and its community gets a fantastic event.
Thank you Mark for throwing your time and energy behind curating the voices and in effect the passion which makes this global event series such a success.
To be part of the TEDxWellington team who volunteered and put this together will remain a creative and significant high point in my life.
We started with an idea of trust which soon became a real action to be taken as more and more people (as part of building an event on this scale) had to be bought into the ‘inner circle’. Not one person let us down.
It was a year we intentionally stepped beyond our comfort zone, and:
sold out in 2minutes
tripled the amount of speakers / performer applications
doubled the livestream count
tripled the amount of volunteer applications
nailed something which has never been tried before with a TEDx event