TEDxVictoria 2014

Reflection

After each of the first three TEDxVictorias I was so energized and excited that I was compelled to write about my experiences immediately. Memories, moments, and thoughts would flood into my conscious mind after the event and it was all I could do to try and capture some of them for my summary.

This year was different. I felt the opposite of energized following the event — this year I was beyond exhausted. When I finally had a moment to stop following the event I crashed. I was too tired to write about the event. I am drained.

I also needed time to think about the event. Four years of full time volunteer work – thousands of hours of not-so-spare time – and what had I really accomplished?

The plan

The fourth TEDxVictoria was also my second time out as the Creative Director, and while I am technically leading the whole event I did make a large effort in 2014 to mentor and empower my team into taking more of the event into their own hands.

We cut back on meetings this year, limiting ourselves to just one meeting a month for the core team, usually over lunch or dinner. Each of us have such busy lives juggling successful careers, relationships, families, and other projects in addition to TEDxVictoria, so I wanted to make sure that if this event was going to take up our time, it would be less obtrusive on our schedules by also being a time we ate a meal.

For our core team, this worked wonders for our schedules. Our schedules were freed up a great deal. But there were flaws:

  • By only meeting once per month, if anyone missed a meeting that meant they wouldn’t meet with the team for months. Life takes precedent over volunteering (as it should!) but missing meetings hurts a lot more when there are not as many of them. This is a difficult hurdle at times for any volunteer organization.
  • Volunteers outside the core team felt neglected – by meeting less frequently we were fracturing our community.

To counter those points, here were our benefits:

  • One meeting a month is easier on our schedules.
  • Decisions are made far more easily with smaller meetings.
  • Meetings are more productive in a smaller amount of time.

This taught us a lot. The biggest struggle was that our initial core team was a couple people too small. 1-2 more people more (making it a team of 7-8 core) would be ideal.

Everything was easier this year

Contrary to what I mentioned above, everything went better this year than it ever had in previous years. TEDxVictoria operates like a smoothly oiled, well made machine.

This is the benefit of having an exceptional team of people who work well together.

The event ran like clockwork. We only had two people go over time slightly, which meant that we had to cut TED videos for those sessions, but the schedule was tight, the event ran on time, and we delivered the best lineup in four years with the best talks.

This was the first year we’ve received compliments not just on the quality of the talks, but on the order in which the talks took place on the event day.

So many things went well that I can’t even think of how to list them.

The crash

About 10 days after the event the adrenaline wore off and I hit a wall. My body gave out. I got sick for what essentially turned out to be the entire month of December.

This is why when you work on large scale projects, you make damn sure you have downtime after. Don’t do what I did. Don’t go back to work the next day and continue at the pace you were working at because it’s an unsustainable pace. Working on TEDxVictoria is like having another extremely demanding full time career on top of my other career, always consuming my spare moments and hours.

I’ve only been doing this for four years. There are other TEDx events that are on their fifth event this year, going on to their sixth.

Despite this, I am already planning 2015.

Highlights

I’m not going to get into reviewing my own event’s talks. TED Talks are so subjective. The talks are all online now, so you can check them out for yourself.

My favourite part of this year’s event was watching my team members succeed. Their efforts make this event happen, and their successes were my biggest joy from this event.

Now it’s time to plan my last TEDxVictoria.

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