TEDxPortofSpain – Keita Demming – Co-Organizer

In Collaborating by Mark Sylvester

The Hack: Pick the 3 things you must get right


Keita Demming, the co-organizer of TEDxPortofSpain in Trinidad believes TEDx is an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human. He also knows we have to be a little bit crazy to be organizers, especially when you are an expatriate living in Toronto and producing an event in your home country. He says he sees potential in things others don't see.

Keita wants to know how TEDx can have an impact on his island nation. "How do we make this country one of the most desirable places to be?" When I asked him if he was an activist, he suggested no, "I'm a citizen." Indeed. One who cares deeply about his country and its future. He thinks because they live on an island, it's easier to affect change.

TEDxPortofSpain might have one of the few Mother-Son Organizing teams. Keita's mom, Dennise Demming is deeply involved in the operations with him. Note: If you know of other family-run TEDx events, let us know, we'd love to have them on the show.

Structure is king. It gives you freedom."Keita Demming, Co-Organizer

Keita and team did something unique to promote their event. They asked, "How do we make TED more accessible to a large audience who may not necessarily attend our events? We take the event to them! “Mobile Connections” (Youtube video below) This was a simple idea: find a maxi (small bus) with a tv, rent it for a morning and show TED talks! What it blossomed into was something we could never have anticipated."

The complete post on TED.com is here.

The Lightning Round

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

    Keita has a Masters degree in Organizational Change and hasalways been interested in positive psychology. In 2007 he was asked if he'd ever heard a TED talk? He'd not, and was introduced to Martin Seligman's talk. That changed everything for him. He also went to the Doha summit and fell in love with the idea of being a TEDx organizer.

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

    From 2011-2016 he's been working to affect change using the TEDx platform to do it. He believes TEDx is about Ideas Worth Sharing and Ideas Worth Doing.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    Keita says the stakes are higher in his country. They have to deal with fundamental human rights issues and the level of corruption there is hard to ignore. They did a fun thing he talks about with the Maxi Taxi, as a promotion for their event.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Collaborating. With a Masters degree in Organizational Change, you can only imagine how gifted he might be in working with teams. He says the studying he did helps him manage tensions and conflicts. He suggests you find the passions in each team member, then delegate accordingly.

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

    How much education he has to do about TED, as most people have not heard of it.

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

    The dragon he continues to chase has to do with pushing the ball up the hill. "Will we have enough resources to get the ball to the top? And can we influence policy?"

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

    Use Basecamp as your project management tool. And study the concept of a Team of Rivals (see Doris Kearns Goodwins book on Lincoln and how he built his Cabinet.)

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

    He's working on succession planning and slowly pulling back. He's been doing this for seven years now. Note: This is something I'm hearing from a lot of organizers.

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

    He'd like to go back in time to visit TEDxRumallah. It was done in three locations simultaneously. Amazing story.

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

    Pick the three things you must get right. What must you have, and what would be nice to have. Understand the difference and create a sustainable budget.

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