Almost 5 months ago, a group of friends and I set out to do something that has never been done before: to hold the first Ted Expo at Fountain Valley High School. After a crap ton of planning and stressing, we pulled through and the event was a huge success, raising over $500 for the school’s senior class. Although Tedx felt like madness during its creation, the whole process had a sort of method to its madness, sort of. So, in order to decipher the confusion, I’ve decided to break down our innovation project into six action-packed steps. Enjoy!
Step 1: Gather Your Thoughts
In class, we considered the Ted Expo our innovation project. Which makes sense since innovation is the process of taking a previously existing idea (Tedx) and turning it into something new, something unique (TedxFountainValleyHighSchool). Now that we had a what, we needed a why. Why were we doing this? Why would students attempt to bring an intellectual adult convention to the high school level? We had one simple reason, because its never been done before. Nothing is more exciting than challenging the status quo. Kids just love to fight the system. With a TED license in our pockets, we set off to make one of the best damn innovation projects Mr. T has ever seen, and I think we did just that.
Step 2: Avengers Assemble
The team is everything. From the Avengers to the Justice League, the greatest forces the world has ever seen have always been co-operations of great individuals. You want the best of the best, people who are undefeated in their own field, and that’s exactly what we had. To start off, we had Mr. Felix, who was essentially the Nick Fury of our ensemble, overseeing the Tedx operation and handing out key pieces of advice when we needed them most. Next we had Harrison, the connections of the group, who assembled the team members and was also responsible for recruiting a couple of the key speakers. Steven, who was essentially the founder of the whole project, played a huge part in handling the TED license and making sure we didn’t break too many rules. Rachel, the ring leader of the group, kept the group together by making sure we were on task, spreading event awareness, and working to maintain an overall smoothness as the event unfolded. Tue was the Peter Parker of the group, creating the stage design, setting up recordings and photos of the event itself, and contributing a certain “homey” feel to the creation process. Hoang was the media man. He worked with Tue to publicize the event on BBN, he had the connections to get both the pamphlets and posters printed, and he officiated over the Senior Commission workers with Rachel. Brittany, the techie of the team, created the website, designed the pamphlets and posters, worked on the power point for the event, and maintained social media pages with other members. Finally there was me, the janitor. I basically just did any extra work that needed to be done, picked up supplies, bounced ideas off Felix, and worked with the other members in their specific areas. Oh, and Peter did some heavy lifting. Through the combined forces of each individual, we created one of the best teams out there.
Step 3: The Master Plan
Organization is key. Since we had to follow the TED guidelines step by step, it proved to be difficult when deciding venues, tickets, and press. In some occasions, we had to fight the system and break some rules. This including things such as seating more than 100 people by sneaking in teachers as “personnel” or using less than the proposed TED video time. We had a vision of how our event would be like, but the strict rules began to chisel away the details. We needed a Master Plan, or the basis for all TEDx events without the friff fraff. It’s the Reader’s Digest version of How to Plan a TEDx for Dummies. Find a simple venue. School. Find a simple way to sell tickets. Easy, just a will call list. Press? Just Baron News. After that, we could focus on the more important aspects of this project, which were the speakers. Although we also took the quick route to recruitment, it wasn’t easy finding speakers. We reached out to many individuals, but we were all met with the same apologetic response. With so many no’s, we decided to reach out to speakers we were acquainted and familiar with, such as Rachel’s father and Harrison’s uncle. They were phenomenal speakers, even though it was such late notice.
Step 4: Rebuild Your Armaments
The event went great and without a hitch. Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate. First, we had to clean up the venue and return things to their proper places. Then we had to answer questions for an interview by both the Fountain Valley View and the OC Register. We held review meetings to see what went well and what we could do better next time. We sent out thank you cards and gifts and by the time we finished, it was time to start planning the next event. We picked a date, March 21st, and we brought in some juniors to plan the event when we’re gone. Step 4 is essentially the repeat step for next time.
That’s all! Four fantastic steps to instant success with your innovation project. Although this was my first time planning an event, I believe these steps will hold up under any circumstances. Come up with a fresh idea and stick with it as hard as you can. Great things come from innovation and now you’re a part of the process. We made a TED event, who’s to say you can’t do anything better?