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How Events Like TEDxSeattle Come to Life: Blogs Worth Sharing

Tedx Stage Seattle


“We chase ideas, not speakers.”

That’s the goal of TEDxSeattle, says Lee Gibbs, co-chair of the speaker team. “Notoriety isn’t nearly as valuable to us as a new idea that will ignite our audience’s imagination and allow them to see the world in a fresh way.”

TEDxSeattle returns to McCaw Hall on November 18 with 14 local speakers who will address this year’s theme, “Changing Places.”

It’s easy to just invite big names, says Gibbs. The challenge for a successful TEDx experience is to find people who are passionate enough about an idea to share it in a compelling way.

SHW partnered with TEDxSeattle for the first time this year. Our Senior Vice President for Event Services, Lorie Thomas, recognizes the shared values the volunteer group has with our team: passion and hard work. In our 39 years as a company, we’ve seen it over and over: that Passion + Hard Work = Magic.

This year the speaker team did something different: speakers were required to self-nominate. The instinct was right on, as more than 200 people submitted their ideas. Between self-nominations and the team’s own professional connections in Seattle, the final selection of speakers come from a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds discussing everything from how to end child trafficking to the future of virtual reality.

Looking for sponsors to support the daylong event, the TEDxSeattle team focused on partners that would support both the national organization’s motto and this year’s local theme, “Changing Places.” Andrea Driessen, Partnership Team Lead, says it was important to work closely with each company sponsor to develop attendee experiences that provide a new perspective, and not simply sell a brand.  

 “No one is just sitting around waiting to write a check. We want to create value in our partnerships, and we work with those businesses for months to create engaging experiences that benefit them, but also feel more like a learning opportunity than a sales pitch to attendees.” For example, another year they worked with WSECU to have attendees evaluate their spending habits, starting a useful conversation with reps from the credit union and other audience members.

Andrea Driessen

TEDx is a series of independently organized events inspired by the TED mission to present “ideas worth spreading.” They are run entirely by volunteers; in Seattle, those are professionals who share a passion for sparking conversations that could drive meaningful change in a community.

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