BY HAZEL REID
TED is a globally recognised organisation curating influential speaking events all over the world.
We caught up with Georgina Roberts, one of the wonderful people behind TEDxAuckland to talk about the 2018 event, the inspiration behind this year’s theme and her dream choices for future TEDxAuckland talks.
Can you tell us about this years’ TEDxAuckland event – ‘Off-Piste’?
This year we’re going back to basics; one day, 17 speakers, one iconic Auckland location. Come October 13th, Shed 10 will be filled with a thousand people from many backgrounds coming together to hear from a range of speakers that are just as diverse. We really tried to make this event as unique as possible – ideas that have never been heard, combined with performances by Auckland’s brightest creative talent, and vendors which are making products in new and exciting ways.
What was the inspiration behind this year’s title/theme?
Each year, the TEDxAuckland theme influences how we approach the event and the way we want our audiences to feel as they leave the day. We don’t want to be just like any other event, we want to break boundaries, create conversation, and venture into territories that have previously been unexplored. This was the inspiration behind the theme Off-Piste – it means going beyond the expected and saying f**k it to convention. We want people to leave the event feeling inspired to say yes to the things that scare them and to dream bigger than they usually would.
What is your favourite part about being involved with TEDxAuckland?
I just love the people we get to meet. It really is such a lovely and interesting community of people from around New Zealand and the world. It’s people who don’t just want to change the world, but who are out there doing the mahi to make it happen. You feel a part of something really special.
That, on top of the creative and close-knit team behind the event make the process so enjoyable – after riding all the highs and lows of event management you come out like a little (slightly dysfunctional) family.
Have you attended any of the other TEDx events across the world and do you have a favourite speaker you’ve seen (even online)?
I haven’t! But I can’t wait to – I’m hoping to pop over to Bali next year to attend TEDxUbud – I can’t think of a better place to hold an ideas festival! It’s so hard picking a favourite speaker – I really loved Pete Bethune’s talk from our 2017 event. You could feel every bit of passion he felt for the work he does, the energy in the room as he was speaking was amazing. I also absolutely love Sonya Renee Taylor’s TED talk The Body is Not an Apology – she’s such a strong woman who’s unapologetic and I just love that. And then one that always gets me in the feels is Catherine Pawley’s After Anorexia TED talk; there’s so many important messages for girls in this one!
If you could bring anyone in to speak at a TEDxAuckland event, who would it be and why?
That is such a hard one – I always feel like my favourite speakers are the ones I want to make friends with. I’d love Arianna Huffington to talk (mainly because she’s such a girl-boss), but I’d also love Sophia Amoruso, Dwayne Johnson, Obama, or Jane Goodall – this is basically just the TED version of the dinner party question, right?! I’d also be fascinated to hear from a CIA or MI6 agent – there’s something about spies that just intrigues me.
What does an average day entail for you?
So TEDxAuckland is just my side-gig at the moment. I’m also a student, an RA at UoA, and a magazine intern. So it’s a busy day – I wish I could spend all day working on TEDx, but at the moment, I’m usually rushing over to our office at Biz Dojo come 5 pm to listen to our speakers rehearse. But a typical day could include video calling speakers, editing talks, reaching out to partners and vendors, answering the public’s questions, organising marketing, writing copy and of course responding to endless emails. I can’t say I’m ever bored at least!
Best piece of life advice that you’ve been given?
The best piece of life advice I’ve ever been given was actually given to me today. I’ve been rushing around a lot lately, and have been saying “gosh, I’m so busy!” far too often. A good friend pulled me aside and reminded me that we live in a world with abundant time, we can’t run out of it because we create it. He said that it’s important to change our mindset when it comes to time, productivity, and stress. Time is a privilege that we can only ever really appreciate when we are in the present moment.
What would you tell someone who hasn’t been to a TEDx event yet and is thinking about attending TEDxAuckland this year?
I would probably geek out about all our amazing speakers, I think I do this everyday – I love telling everyone about who’s coming along. They feel like friends now, and their ideas just get me so excited! I would tell them not to look at the videos online and think that that is what they should expect, I would say not to let their impression of what “TED” is to influence their view of our event. Being an attendee at the event is such a different feeling to watching a talk online – there’s a sort of electricity being in the venue – I can’t quite explain the feeling, but it just buzzes, and I love it! There’s so much connection, inspiration, and learning which happens – it’s almost like being in a little bubble for the day. It’s a chance to expand your thinking and if you treat it right, an opportunity to create tangible change.
TEDxAuckland’s 2018 event is on next Saturday (13th) with a range of speakers including advocates, founders, teachers, doctors and an environmentalist. For more information and tickets, head to https://tedxauckland.com
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