TEDxNaperville Arthur Zards Organizer

In Curating by Mark SylvesterLeave a Comment

The Hack: Don’t underestimate the power of your deeper truth – why you are producing the event.


Arthur Zards is the organizer of TEDxNaperville and has been innovating with his team since 2009. He watched TED DVDs he’d borrow from friends who attended in Monterey. Since then, he’s done two TED talks, been to 20 events, and last year hosted an Adventure with 350 of his 750 attendees participating.

Arthur loves sharing. He is just back from TEDGlobal and asked to take some Hacking The Red Circle flyers with him to encourage other organizers to join us. Thanks. His TEDx Engagement Project which is an open source collection of ideas for engaging audiences, is an excellent example of sharing ideas with other organizers.

He’s got a fantastic well of energy that comes across during this conversation. He’s also very motivated by creativity and building community. He suggests thinking about the experiential side of your event makes it unique in the community and can reframe what the audience thinks of as a typical TED talk.

We’re known for the very experiential, engaging event.”Arthur Zards, TEDxNaperville Organizer

The Lightning Round

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

    It started by watching the TED DVD’s in the late ’90’s and progressed to getting a license in 2009 – one of the first.

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

    20 TEDx events, including speaking at TEDActive and TEDxBeaconStreet.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    The experiential side of the event is very much a part of what Arthur and the team focus on – starting with adventures, then looking at engagement activations that will be captivating.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Curating. Arthur tells a great story in this section about teaching speakers the three values of a talk: multisensory, interactive and content. His skydiver story illustrates this nicely.

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

    How they can continue to push the envelope and be successful. Great story about balloon sculptures here.

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

    “We do a poor job of promoting ourselves.”

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

    Content is king (Watch Simon Sinek’s talk). You’ll fail if you try to please everybody. Remember, it’s YOUR show.

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

    His show the is the day before TEDxSantaBarbara (our show) on Nov 10th. He wants to position Naperville as a resource for the larger community.

  • 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?

    Don’t underestimate the power of your deeper truth – why you are producing the event.

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