TEDxJacksonville – Doug Coleman – Organizer

In Collaborating by Mark Sylvester


The Hack: Find a great team. Never underestimate the power of a small group.

Doug Coleman, the organizer of TEDxJacksonville, is humble and unassuming, which belies his event’s impact on the city. He’s retired now, but hardly hanging around at the beach. Instead, he’s busy producing a Level 2 main event, Salons, TEDxLIVE, TEDxChange and TEDxWomen events. He was inspired by early TEDx events he attended because they were collaborative and optimistic. He and his team of 25, produce 6 to 8 events a year.

Doug talks a lot about the team. It’s in his hack, and it’s in a lot of this episode. He says his superpower is about collaboration, and really, it’s his skill in finding the right people to serve on the team. Towards the end of the episode, he talks about IKIGAI, which is a Japanese philosophy about the reason for being. It’s a guiding principle for him and how he selects people to join TEDxJacksonville.

Doug is committed to having TEDxJacksonville be a positive impact on the Community and does something very interesting at his event. They have a voting system for attendees, and one of the questions is, “Which speaker’s talk should we show to the Mayor and City Council?”

I call TED the hope of the world.”Doug Coleman, Organizer, TEDxJacksonville (Florida)

The Lightning Round

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

    Doug talks about attending the Grand Rapids ArtPrize in 2011 to find ideas, then going to TEDxMuskegon, which he says was a fabulously inspiring event, and full of ideas.

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

    His first was TEDxRiversideAvondale, and currently, they produce 6 to 8 events a year. He’s attended plenty of TEDx events around the country.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    He and the team produce an Annual Retreat to bond and learn. This speaks to his emphasis on the team and helping everyone understand their Ikigai.

  • What’s your Superpower?


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

    How much impact TED is having in the world. He says we’re in the trees as organizers and don’t see the forest.

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

    Keeping the events fresh and innovative year over year.

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

    In his humble way, Doug didn’t offer any advice. Instead, he said, “We don’t have all the answers.”

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

    Hosting a workshop for TEDx Organizers. They provide housing, a free lunch, and an invitation to the rehearsal for the main event.

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

    TEDxSydney, TEDxCapetown, then travel to TEDGlobal

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

    Form a great team. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

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