TEDxChristchurch – Kaila Colbin – Co-Organizer

In Curating by Mark Sylvester


The Hack: If someone wants to spend money with you, let them.

Kaila Colbin is the Curator of TEDxChristchurch (New Zealand) and TEDxScottBase. She’s also the founder of Missing Link and the New Zealand Ambassador for Singularity University, a co-founder and Chair of the non-profit Ministry of Awesome, and a force of nature. I learned a lot about Christchurch during our conversation and how she came to New Zealand in the first place.

In 2009 she did a talk at TEDxAuckland and was hooked on TED. She’d set a goal to speak at a TEDx and achieved it. She also set a goal to produce a TEDx in Antarctica and rallied other Kiwi TEDx Organizers to the cause. We interviewed Trent Yeo about his role in that enormous project. I loved her quote about that effort, “We married the hurdles of working in Antarctica plus producing a TEDx.”

You’ll want to listen as she tells the story of the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch that destroyed 70% of the city, just weeks before TEDx. I won’t spoil the surprise. How they managed the crisis turned into a talk that she gave at TEDActive in 2011.

Our job is to make people think.”Kaila Colbin, TEDxChristchurch

The Lightning Round

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

    She’s been producing TEDx in Christchurch since 2010 as a result of wanting to spend time with world-class speakers. She and her team also enjoy helping to make the world a better place.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    She feels that they’ve been able to create events that are appropriate and relevant to the context of New Zealand. The earthquake story is quite captivating.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Coaching and Curating

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

    How stupidly gratifying it is… and how it doesn’t stack up if you only measure ROI

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

    Having grown from 125 people to 1,250 people, a 10x growth curve. The dragon is called SCALE.

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

    “Just do it.” Producing your first event is an opportunity to be accountable to yourself.

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

    240 people, no theme. We’re stripping everything back to the core.

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

    TEDxVilnius in Lithuania

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

    For Level Two organizers, create a ticket category that is above and beyond the regular price (you may only sell a few), call them Donor or Champion tickets. It’s a way for people to contribute their funds instead of time when they want to support the cause, but are not a typical sponsor or partner.

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