My TEDxVision: One Year On

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It’s almost been a year since the plans for TEDxClapham were first announced.  Now, just days after the final talk was released, it seems like a good time reflect on what has been achieved.

The Goal
To host a 1-day TEDx conference for 100 attendees that set out to:
1.  Prove that TED/TEDx talks can help to create tangible change
2.  Show that there is more to Clapham than it’s infamous night life
3.  100,000 video views in 12 months
4.  3 talks to make it to TEDx Editors Picks
5.  1 talk to make it to TED Editors Picks

The Numbers
Speakers: 17
Ticket applications: 300+
Attendees: 100
Video views: 120,000+ (First talk released 5 weeks ago)
Hours pledged to Clapham based charity organisations: 420
Talks that made it to the TEDx Monthly Editors Picks: 1 (so far)
Talks that made it to the TED Editors Picks: 0 (so far)

The Talks

JC Movember TEDxClapham GradLifeLondon

Click here for the TEDxClapham 2015 Playlist

Conclusion
Pretty good overall – everything we can control we have achieved. As for making it to the TED and TEDx Editor’s Picks, well that’s in the hands of the TED Gods in New York –  keep your fingers crossed! Ultimately, the true success of our event boils down to one question:

Can TEDx talks create tangible change?

After all, that seems to be the sticking point for TED’s critics.  I think this event has shown two things:
1.  Mix like-minded people with opportunity and you have are providing the perfect environment to create change.  420 hours pledged in 90 minutes by our audience isn’t bad!
2.  The most inspiring TEDx talks haven’t been written to inspire others but to challenge perception and issue a call to action.  Comedian, Dave Chawner’s talk on eating disorders is a great example of this.

Every talk should have a greater purpose and if TEDx organisers can keep this in mind when choosing their speakers, change has a really good chance!  Edwina Thompson used her talk to help influence key decision-makers in several European governments, NATO and Interpol prior to face to face meetings, it’s no wonder TEDx picked it up so quickly.

I’m yet to see or hear of a TED or TEDx event that has been solely responsible for creating change, but I do believe that running or speaking at an event can provide a powerful platform a) for change to be showcased and b) to aid positive change globally.

What about TEDxClapham 2016?
We’ve been overwhelmed by the support that TEDxClapham has received since it’s inception.  Our post-event reach on social media has exceeded 1.5 million and that will continue to grow with time.  The team is currently enjoying some well deserved r&r, but we are already in the early stages of planning next year’s event.  If you’re interested in being part of next year’s team, fill out this form and I’ll be in touch soon.

What to expect?  Think spring time, new theme, new format, new speakers and lots of surprises.  It’s likely to be a similar size to this year, so if you’re interested in applying for a ticket you’ll need to get in quick. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to get first movers advantage; if last year was anything to go by, they’ll sell out quickly!

For us, the most important thing is to make sure TEDxClapham 2016 is an event that’s like no other.  London plays host to some astonishing events in and outside of TEDx and we are going to have our work cut out to make it our most special event yet.  For now though, on behalf of the TEDxClapham team, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way, I hope we’ve done you proud.

Alex Merry

How To TEDx: An Introduction

Organising a TEDx event is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done. The last 12 months has taught me more than I could have possibly imagined.  We got a lot right in our first event, but we had to learn many lessons the hard way and some of those could have been avoided. TED provide organisers with little more than skeleton instructions and I am yet to find an easy to use content source for running an event.

Over the next few months, I will be writing a ‘How to TEDx’ series to bridge this gap.  With just one event under my belt I don’t claim to be an expert, but by documenting the lessons I’ve learned, hopefully organising a conference can become a little easier.  Along the way, I will be inviting other organisers to share their advice in guest posts with the goal of creating the most comprehensive guide to running a TEDx conference out there.

If you would like to feature as a guest blogger – fill out the form below!

My Catch-up With Captain Hindsight

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my first 6 years in the working world.  In that time, I’ve been lucky enough to have been an employee and an employer and one thing I’ve noticed is that graduates a year into work are much more desirable than those fresh out of university.  It’s a great way to avoid the entry-level mistakes that are made at another company’s expense.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of student and graduate employment, but year in year out, the same mistakes are being made by a new generation of people.

memestache.com_198594_1337979611

My chats with Captain Hindsight are always a pleasure and this particular meeting was summed up nicely by Judy Belmont:

‘Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know
now what seems so obvious in hindsight.’

Below are the minutes taken from the meeting, if the contents of your next chat are different to mine, then this article has been a success:

Mid-week drinking etiquette
There are few things more exciting than going out for drinks on a school night; it’s naughty and everyone knows it. After all, isn’t the best business done at the bar?!  Things will probably get pretty loose and my personal advice would be to sit back, enjoy and let nature take it’s course.  As long as someone senior is more intoxicated than you are you’ll be fine.  However, when you wake up the next morning feeling like you have been scraped off the bottom of a shoe, be sure to follow the office hangover etiquette guide below:
1.  Get to work on time at all costs.
2.  Get your head down and crack on.  If you prove you can work hard and play hard, it will impress.
3.  If you’re lucky enough to still be drunk when you arrive, ride the wave and use it build some momentum.
4.  No mention of the hangover, you’re not at university any more.
5.  If none of this is working, go and hide in the toilet for as long as you can get away with.

How much are you actually worth?
Your salary is a reflection of the return on investment that you will bring to the company/social enterprise/charity you work for.  Whether you are in sales, administration or human resources, ultimately you have an impact on the bottom line.  So when the time comes to ask for a raise, don’t expect to get one unless you can show your employer how you will maximise their return on investment in you.

Learn to manage up
Relationships work both ways and while it might seem like a role-reversal, you can and should manage your boss.  Here are some simple ways of doing this:
1.  Manage expectations; under promise and over deliver. It is all too easy to get carried away with an exciting development that hasn’t yet happened.  Bosses don’t like nasty surprises, so while it might feel good to get some praise in the short-term, it won’t feel nearly as good as when it’s happened.  This is a fast-track way to becoming the most reliable person in your team.
2.  Keep one step ahead by pro-actively scheduling in meetings with your manager.  If you own the meeting, you own the agenda.  As with any meeting, all attendees should know what they need to have prepared and make sure there are clear outcomes and action points.
3.  If a project is looking like it may veer off-track, have the foresight to recognise it early and the guts to tackle it head on (yes that means tell your boss!). Sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich and hoping everything will miraculously sort itself out will only make the matter worse.  Instead, bring solutions to the table and don’t dwell on how it wasn’t your fault.  Your solutions may not always be right, but you will be approaching it in the right way.

How to write an email
Obviously spelling and grammar must be perfect, but something equally as important is tone.  It’s so easy to misinterpret an email and doing so can cause unnecessary friction with the recipient (this incidentally, is probably responsible for the unfortunate increase in work emoticons 😩🔫).  Business is built on relationships, so put personality and feeling into your correspondence and check that nothing will be misread.

Don’t forget your manners
If something is paid for by the company; don’t just take it for granted.  I’m not just talking about the jaegerbombs your manager bought you on Thursday night, what about the qualification your employer has paid for to aid your development, or the client lunch your boss invited you?  If you enjoy the perks, appreciate them and remember, givers gain.

Everyone is replaceable
If you work for an SME, the chances are the skill set that you build will become more and more specific to the company that you work for.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are irreplaceable and that no-one else could take your place.  Don’t get complacent for two reasons:
1.  If you don’t produce the goods they can always train someone else.
2.  You will stop pushing yourself and where growth stops, decay begins.

Pick up the phone!
If you’ve been given a task that involves people remotely, don’t waste time waiting for them to reply to an email; pick up the phone and get it sorted there and then!  Use emails to confirm action points.  You’ll finish projects faster and build relationships quicker… win:win.

Your manager isn’t always better than you
You have been employed because you are seen to be the best person for that position, just because your manager used to have your job, it doesn’t automatically mean they are better at it.  Markets change, paradigms shift and as a result the challenges will rarely be the same.  Ask for their advice, but don’t expect them to have a magic solution for every problem that comes your way.

Working Overtime
Many companies will expect you to work well above and beyond the hours you are contracted for, especially if you’re heading for a career in finance or law.  In fact, they’ll even offer incentives like free dinner or a taxi home if you are working past a certain ungodly hour of the night.  Think that’s unfair? Yeah probably, but if you are lucky enough to be in a job that you enjoy, you’ll be willing to give your time to it.

Don’t chase the brand
One of the biggest misconceptions of finding employment post-university is that the graduate job market is a saturated one.  Countless articles in the press describe how applicants are competing against hundreds and sometimes thousands of others for one position.  This is rubbish, there are jobs everywhere. The problem is everyone applies to super brands like Google, Accenture or GSK without any knowledge of the job they are actually applying for.  There are incredible opportunities everywhere and my happiest friends work for companies that I had never heard of at university.

Ownership
Take complete ownership of every project you are assigned. For example, a networking event involves sales, marketing, administration, operations and finance.  It’s unlikely that your job description covers every area, but as project manager, the success of each ultimately falls on your shoulders.  Be thorough, delegate appropriately and leave nothing to chance. I was advised by Tom O’Leary, the former Curator of TEDxHousesofParliament, to hold ‘where is it going to go wrong‘ meetings with each sub-team – a very valuable piece of advice.

Take pride in the invisible details
One of Steve Job’s design philosophies was that every detail of a product must be beautifully designed, regardless of whether it was going to be seen or not.  The same applies in your job. Often it’s the attention to detail in your work, the bits that you think no-one will notice that make the external aspects exceptional.

Thanks Captain Hindsight! If you liked this but want some proper career advice, I would point you towards Careercake TV.  It’s founder, @Aimee_Bateman has won several national awards and I don’t believe there is anyone better. Her recent talk at TEDxClapham talk speaks for itself… Enjoy!

An open letter to journalist Martin Robbins

Hi Martin,

I’ve just come across an article called ‘The Trouble with TED Talks‘ that you wrote for the new statesman a few years back and thought I’d drop you a line. I am the curator of TEDxClapham and we had our first event in January under the theme ‘Creating Change’.

We received some stick from those that thought a TEDx event in Clapham was a step too far; which is probably something to do with the abundance of red chinos and the infamous night life that Clapham is often associated with. On a larger scale, there is talk on the internet that too many licenses are being handed out and that TED/TEDx talks have become diluted.

It took me 18 months and countless rejections to get my license, so while I don’t agree with the initial point, I do think the second one links to your article where you mention that many TED/TEDx talks lack substance. I agree with you to an extent, which is why our event set out to challenge this notion and show Clapham in a more positive light.

Our first talk is now online and thought you might like to see it. To give you some context, the speaker is sending the talk to key decision-makers in several European governments, NATO and Interpol prior to face to face meetings with them over the next few weeks. She is hoping to use the talk to help put serious pressure on them regarding issues in terrorism finance at the moment.

Hopefully it shows that when approached correctly, TED/TEDx talks can be used as an aid to help create positive change on a global scale.

Any comments, suggestions and feedback would be gratefully received. I look forward to hearing from you,

Alex

TEDxClapham – Who wants in?

One of the main reasons for writing the ‘TED Talks of Tomorrow‘ article is because I want to run a TEDx event that will make a lasting impact on the community and inspire those all lucky enough to be in the audience.  To be able to persuade just one of those figures to speak at the conference would be impressive.  However, if I can put together the right team, I truly believe we could create one of the best TEDx events that London has ever seen.

So, the journey has begun to create TEDxClapham; after all where better to have the event than the hub of graduate life?   Those that join the team will have the chance to meet with some of London’s future influencers, add several new strings to their bow and be a part of something that’s reach could easily exceed London.  There is no doubt that it’s going to be a journey full of highs and lows, a phenomenal learning experience and most importantly a lot of fun.

There has already been lots of interest, and unfortunately there is a limited number of places available, but in the spirit of TED, the opportunity is open to everyone.  Those wishing to get involved must dream big, have unwavering commitment and relish a challenge. If this is you, fill out the form below and I will be in touch with the next step within a week.

Aimee Bateman – TED Talks of Tomorrow

Aimee Bateman gradlifelondon.com

Aimee plunged herself into the world of careers from the moment she graduated; initially excelling in recruitment and now as the founder of one of the most respected career advisory companies in the UK – Careercake.com.  Her simple take on how to do what you love is brilliant; which is probably why she has been inundated with awards over the last 18 months.  Aimee has been on BBC television on several occasions and her careers advice has been featured across the UK’s national press.  She is one to watch out for in the future and she needs to get on that TED stage!

My search for the founders of TEDxClapham is underway – Make sure you click on the link to see how you can become part of the team!

Lucie Green – TED Talks of Tomorrow

Lucie Green banner gradlifelondon.com

As well as being one of the world’s leading experts on solar physics, Lucie is heavily involved in engaging with the public through science making her the perfect choice for any TED event.  She is part of the team preparing for the launch of the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter programme, which is sending a satellite out into space to conduct some pioneering studies on the Sun’s relationship with Earth. Lucie’s not a stranger to the big stage either, having featured on several BBC astronomy programmes.

My search for the founders of TEDxClapham is under way – Make sure you click on the link to see how you can become part of the team!