I can barely believe that TEDxPeachtree 2012 is tomorrow. Ten months of planning, persuading, evangelizing and plain ole executing is all coming to a head in about 18 hours. While I have been involved in the three previous conferences, this would be my first year as co-organizer. [Essentially translates into: "she's one of two 'throats to choke' should anything untoward happen."]
I won’t lie. The journey has not been easy.
TEDxPeachtree is not just an annual conference, it’s really a state of mind and a community of individuals who share that state of mind. It is about curiosity, respect, integrity, diversity and wanting to make an impact. It’s about ideas and those who can think them. It’s also about those who can help see them to fruition. I wouldn’t want to short change my colleagues by saying that this is a definitive list but I do believe that when distilled, these represent the tenets of TEDx that majority of our community identify with.
In the last 10 months, my fellow TEDxPeachtree volunteers and I have experienced highs, lows and moments of pure “transcendence.” There were many firsts.
For the very first time, we are charging for admission. Many late night phone conferences were had before we arrived at this decision. But at the core, we knew that for TEDxPeachtree to be sustainable, we had to be willing to let our community vote with their wallets. And you did. In spades! Tickets were sold out two weeks ago.
Our community’s belief in the ideals of TEDx ensures that TEDxPeachtree will continue beyond me and the current slate of amazing volunteers. It ensures that we and the subsequent cohorts won’t be forced to say “Yes” to corporate interests and self-promotion. Yes, this scenario happened this year for the first time. And it happened at the offices of multiple brands; brands that you know. Brands that should know better. A good friend consoled me by saying that this display of crassness is a validation of the credibility of the TEDxPeachtree stage within the TEDx brand.
The continued support from you the private individual and commercial entities is what will help us preserve what is special and unique about the TEDx experience.
Despite the challenges, transcendent moments abound, particularly in the last 10 days.
Mark Sorensen answered our “Mayday” for graphic design assistance last Wednesday (6 short days ago) when things fell through with our incumbent partner. Upon agreeing to the challenge this last Tuesday night, Mark was on a helicopter the next day taking aerial shots of the city! He turned a bad situation into a good one and thanks to him and his team, we have event collateral and an event program. You’ll see Mark’s amazing handiwork in the livestream (the speaker backdrop) and at event day (posters, badge, etc.).
It wasn’t until last Friday that we learned that Buckhead Theatre couldn’t provide Wi-Fi access to attendees! Fellow board member Bill Schnitzer spent many frustrating hours talking with multiple engineers, companies and the venue. Things were looking pretty dire until local entrepreneur and startup gadfly Sanjay Parekh sprinkled his magic dust on the situation. Outcome: Attendees will have Wi-Fi access at the show. As an aside: Parekh is a personal friend and has given a TEDx talk at TEDxEmory.
The spirit in which Mark and Sanjay gave of their time and expertise is what community is all about. There is an entire community of individuals just like them who make TEDxPeachtree happen every year since 2009. It is this community that I am grateful for. It is this community that I continue to serve for as long as it/you let me.
Jacqui Chew is a TEDxPeachtree co-organizer. When not working on this, she can be found being inspired by and helping startup founders pursue their vision. You can reach her at @jacquichew | http://www.facebook.com/launchaid |www.ifusionmarketing.com.