Why I TEDx: Breaking Down Silos

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Are you, like me, a fan of TEDTalks, those 5-18 minute videos where someone shares an interesting idea? TEDx events are independently organized TED events, and San Antonio has a top-tier TEDx program and community. We invite you to join our community to discuss ideas that matter.

I watched my first TEDTalk, Majora Carter's "Greening the Ghetto," online back in 2006. After that first hit of brain candy, YouTube served up several more talks, and I was hooked. In 2009, five of my friends joined me in establishing the TEDxSanAntonio community over breakfast at El Mirador, and it’s been an amazing ride.

San Antonio is filled with smart, creative, tech-savvy people, but they tend to operate in silos. When we started the TEDxSA community, we hoped that other idea-loving folks would be attracted to the TED brand and come out to talk and play.

And they did.

At a TEDxSA event, you’ll see corporate folks, entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, scientists, musicians, artists, dancers, and an array of people who do many of those things – Just the people I had hoped to meet when we started the community.

We’ve learned a lot over the years. Putting on an all-day event with 15-20 speakers, lots of interaction opportunities, as well as full video capture and livestreaming is tough, but rewarding. Our programming team has evolved an intricate process for selecting 15-20 talks out of a couple hundred applications and blended them into a coherent event. It also created a structure to help speakers practice, practice, practice, reduce, simplify, and make their idea powerful.

We learned to stop trying to “curate” the attendees in emulation of TED, and instead moved to venues that accommodate everyone who wants to participate. We learned to create dozens of events, large and small, to provide more opportunities for learning, interaction, and dialogue. We learned to put more time in the program for participants to mix, mingle, and interact – not just with the speakers, but with everybody involved. The people who attend our events have great ideas and are doing fascinating work.

Today, in addition to our seven all-day TEDxSA events, we operate a TEDxSanAntonio Women program, a TEDx Youth at San Antonio program for middle and high schoolers, a topic-focused Salon series, and TEDLive! viewing events. More than 150 speakers have taken the stage on the “red dot” to give the talk of their lives, and their videos have been viewed more than 2 million times.

We’re not perfect, and I’d love to hear your suggestions for making the events and community better. The volunteer-powered TEDxSA community is larger than ever, and we invite you to join us and break down some silos. I hope you’ll join us at our upcoming Now is the Time event on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Witte Museum.

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To see speakers and their talks, click here. To register, click here. 

4 thoughts on “Why I TEDx: Breaking Down Silos

  1. I’m interested in the breaking down silos talk. It happens I’m preparing to bog about this topic relating to the need for various groups in the city of Frisco to work together to accomplish things for common good. Preserving the character of the small town amid the fantastic growth is a goal. And a visual symbol of that heratige happens to be some historic grain silos.

  2. Great article on a great institution: TEDx, Susan! So glad you and your friends started it and we’ve been very happy to have been involved over the years. Looking forward to the best, most inspiring conference even for SA300. See you all then. All the best! Mike . Erin + Team 71

  3. Why does eerybody use the term TOP TIER in San Antonio? Sounds like someone who graduated from UTSA which uses the term top tier in all their adertising. I checked the Internet and did not find UTSA among the top tier uniersities. It is a good school but not top tier in endowment, number of Nobel winners aming its faculty. Next term used eerywhere in SA is “world class”. Again in checking the Internet I hae not for SA noted for anything “w0rld class”.
    Perhaps local leaders need to be confronted from the floor when they say such things. UTSA is top tier when it comes to the LOW percentage of students who graduate in six years much less four.

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