The Hack: Be shameless about not knowing all the answers and be relentlessly resourceful.
Cameron, a senior at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, California, decided that 100 people for his first event wouldn’t be enough. So, he went to the TEDSummit in Banff, which was a qualifying event, allowing him to remove the population cap. The event last year was sold out to 1,200 people from the Community.
He and his co-organizer, Eli Burch, volunteered to produce the second TEDx at Cal Poly after working with the team in 2015. He felt that there was so much potential and that it was a miracle he was able to find a way to Banff.
He believes in the Power of Community and attributes all of the kudos for the event to his hack, which was not pretending to know everything. Be transparent about not knowing all the answers, and be relentlessly resourceful.
The Lightning Round
Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.
He volunteered to work on the 2015 event and fell in love with the idea of eventually producing a TEDx at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center for 1,200. He’s currently getting ready to graduate and is focused on a startup that he’s keeping close to the vest.
How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?
One. And it was a big one.
What makes your TEDx unique?
Having a mindset that even though Cal Poly is located in a small Central Calfigorna town, the event should be produced in a world-class way. Every detail should reflect premium quality.
What’s your Superpower?
Organizing and Marketing. For organizing, he loved being able to bring everyone around a single vision – making the event world-class. For marketing, he has a knack for creative ways to draw attention to stuff. He tells a story about a banking company that pitched their services by freezing money in a block of ice, then telling people, “We won’t freeze your money.” That concept stuck with him. For instance, as a guerrilla tactic, they chalked red X’s all over campus, staying one step ahead of the school custodial staff.
What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?
Learning that most of the people, including the University didn’t think they could pull off the event. Note, they did.
Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?
There were two. Getting to the TEDSummit, which gave them license to boost attendees to 1,200 and working to get the venue. Apparently, even though the TEDx was branded Cal Poly, that didn’t make it any easier in negotiating with the on-campus event center.
What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?
Aim higher. Five stars are the best you can do right? No. Why can’t we go for six, or seven or eight or eleven?
Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?
After graduation, he’d like to stay involved. And no matter where he goes in life, he’ll have a connection to TED and TEDx.
What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?
The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?
Being shameless about not knowing what you’re doing. Being able to channel that into asking for everything you need and reaching out to the Community. My favorite quote from him was how he sees himself as being ‘relentlessly resourceful.’
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