TEDxBeaconStreet – John Werner, Organizer

In Collaborating, Organizing by Mark Sylvester

The Hack:
Find an architectural design firm who will take on your set design as a pro-bono project.


John Werner is the Organizer of TEDxBeaconStreet, one of the top TEDx events that other Organizers would love to visit. In this episode, you'll learn why John and his event have been so successful, with over 86 million views of their Talks since 2010. John's very generous towards everyone that has helped him build a staggeringly connected community.

John's been producing TEDx events since 2010 (Starting with TEDxBoston) and is deeply integrated into the TEDx Community. He's on the TEDx Board of Advisors, was the original creator of TEDx Adventures with over 365 to date, and over 10,000 attendees each year. He's a part of the TED-Ed brain trust, and you'll learn about his deep passion for education which comes across loud and clear in this episode.

John is also a TED speaker, having presented at multiple TEDx events, TED University, TED-Ed, and TED Global. He also nominates TED Fellows. His career and experiences are vast as evidenced by an extensive list of accomplishments, Fellowships, and Awards on his Wikipedia page. John's certainly a role model.

This episode covers so much ground that you don't want to read about it, you want to listen. Hear John's passion, deep thinking behind making connections and how he let's just enough chaos into the system to make it all work. One might also say that John is a Photographer masquerading as an Entrepreneur, TEDx Organizer, and Community Innovator. Look at his stunning images here, from around the world. Very inspiring.

Knowing this is one of the TED'xs most Organizers want to visit, check out their upcoming events here.

Note: The image above is TEDx Organizers at a Beacon Street event wearing the Red Sweatshirt that John talks about in this episode.

Let's get people out on the streets John Werner, Organizer, TEDxBeaconStreet

The Lightning Round

  • Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.

    John started producing TEDxBoston in 2010 and rebranded the event as TEDxBeaconStreet in 2012. The first year they had 96 speakers. What?? And John worked with each speaker personally. He since learned that was not a sustainable strategy and reached out for help.

  • How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?

    TEDxBeaconStreet has hosted 22 events, including the main annual event and Salons. For many of their events, they've had 4,000 attendees, but the theater only held 250 people, and they'd have 80 speakers over a weekend. People would cycle in and out of the theater throughout the weekend and watch the simulcast in the school gym. They've had over 600 speakers since the beginning and 40,000 attendees.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    Everything. It's 100% free. There's so much unique about this event that it was hard to nail down just one thing.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Organizing, innovating and being provocative.

  • What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?

    How being provocative and always innovating has helped propel the event to the global stage. One of the talks from TEDxBeaconStreet is poised to be the 5th most watched Talk on TED.com

  • Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?

    How to continually reinvent the experience for the community, the attendees and the speakers.

  • What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?

    Have people on your Leadership Team that have big networks.

  • Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?

    Smaller Salons, mini-events, and Adventures throughout the year. When this episode was recorded, he was looking forward to doing an event at a Zoo and Fenway Park.

  • What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?

    "Doesn't' matter. What matters is that Organizers get out and visit each others' events more often." 100+ TEDx organizers attendee his main event each year. He loves TEDx events in the emerging world as well.

  • The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?

    Find an architectural design firm who will take on your set design as an annual pro-bono project. ps. He has an entire show's worth of Hacks. I asked him to come back and do another episode!

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