By Jim McCarthy Feb 3, 2012 0 comments

TEDxBroadway 2012 Reflections

It’s been a few days, but I’ve been traveling, recovering, and handling all the stuff that went to the back burner in the run up to the event.  Since last Monday in New York, I’ve had plenty of time to think about TEDxBroadway 2012, and I’m finally sharing those thoughts here.

My bottom line is this: it was a great day.  We achieved our primary goal with flying colors, which was to have a Broadway conference unlike anything else anyone had ever seen.  The theme (“What’s the Best Broadway Can be in 20 Years?”) was designed to get people thinking big and in broad strokes, and that’s what we got.  I loved, loved, loved the crowd and the energy you all provided through the course of the day, and of course, the speakers and supporting companies were huge heroes in getting this thing off the ground too.

Nevertheless, there were pros and cons to the day.  There were things I loved and things I didn’t exactly totally love, so let’s talk about both.

I loved the speakers.  We asked some really interesting people to do something very difficult, which is to go onstage and try to say something about a world that doesn’t exist yet.  By and large, I thought the content was very good and nicely varied between insiders and outsiders to the topic of Broadway.    Some of the presentations were truly exceptional, and more people will get to enjoy them when they go online later this month.  Next time around, we’ll start earlier and focus even more intensely on identification, selection and curation of outstanding talks from a really wide array of interesting people.  Although this was a big focus this year, we lost some opportunities to have some really interesting people on stage because we didn’t give it enough time, so next time around, that will be different.  I can’t mention any names there, but trust me, it’s a shame we lost a few of our speakers.

I loved the music!

I loved the location.  The New World Stages is an ideal setting for something like this because it’s a top quality performance venue and because the whole place is built with social spaces and functions like ours in mind.  The staff there is absolutely terrific as well.  I read a comment that it was ironic that TEDxBroadway was in an off-Broadway house and speculating that it was a cost issue, but nothing could be further from the truth.  We weren’t doing TEDxBroadwayHouses.  We were doing TEDxBroadway, the neighborhood in Midtown, and that includes all of it.  NWS was our first choice, bar none.

Like I said, I loved the crowd.  Not only was the place  packed, but the energy and appreciation of the crowd was great.  TEDx events aren’t for everyone and they’re not typical conferences.  As a multi-year TED attendee, my goal was to bring as TED-like an experience to this TEDx event as possible, and that’s less about taking on specific issues that are going to help you be 3% more efficient this year and more about broadening minds.  On the whole, I felt the group that gathered really understood and relished that.  I saw a lot of people who are eager to think in terms of designing the future rather than assuming that we’re fated to continuing the present, but with better iPhones.

I loved the coverage of the event.  This thing got talked about everywhere!  We’re delighted by the interest and hope that it translates into more and more people thinking about the issues the event was designed to raise.

I also loved the fact that we’ve got the germ of a community to keep this conversation going in a number of ways.  I can’t say anything much about that right now, but in weeks to come, I hope to.  People have been raising their hands to help since the event, and that’s very exciting.

We had a couple of logistical hitches, but given it was our first time out, I thought we handled them just fine and they didn’t put a major dent in the day.  I also wish we had gotten to show you some of the great TED talks we had chosen, so I’ll post those later in some place where people can see them.

Finally, I loved the amazing work of the people on the Situation Interactive, Davenport and Goldstar teams.  As I said on the stage, everybody working on putting this thing together also has a full-time job, but still managed to deliver a great event that I know is changing perspectives and influencing minds, based on the feedback that I’m getting from all over the place.  There was a ton of work getting this show together, and my metaphorical hat is off to the people who made that happen.

See you in 2013 or sooner!

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