TEDxSeattle – Phil Klein

In Collaborating by Mark Sylvester

The Hack: Make every day a TEDx worthy day


Phil Klein is a longtime TEDster, having attended, produced and managed several events. He worked for the mothership (TED) for a year and helped at TED2014 on the attendee experience. He's started with TEDxRainier, which is now a part of TEDxSeattle.

Phil is well known to the TEDx community, from his Google Hangouts for organizers, to frequent blog posts about TEDx and as a contributor since the beginning of the TEDxHUB.

He talked about mentoring, workshops, and something he calls Puzzled Wonderment. Phil's upcoming event in Seattle will be for more than 2,500 people, and he's finding his role as a member of the core-team, rather than lead organizer is a perfect fit. His focus now is on Salons and smaller events. He's recognized for developing the TEDx Global Gathering.

TEDx. It ends up being the best day of the year for so many people."Phil Klein

The Lightning Round

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

    Phil met TEDster Siegfried Woldhek at a Tech for Nonprofits conference. A year later, while living in Martinique, he went to TEDGlobal 2009, then spoke at TEDxAnchorage and TEDxTamaya and began attending TEDx events and returning to TEDGlobal. He then organized TEDxRainer and is currently on the core team that produces TEDxSeattle.

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

    He's done 12 and attended plenty, including Semester at Sea, BeaconStreet (lots of organizers are jealous about this Phil.) Port of Spain and one inside a Prison.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    Hosting salons for 150 people. More intimate venues, so he can curate exactly what is wanted and needed that is not being discussed.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Collaborating. Note: Phil was one of the first TEDx community advocates and has done a lot to bring us all together. He says, "I create a natural sense of belonging and convening. He was the one who produced the TEDx Global Gathering, which was featured as a TEDx Innovation (Read more about Innovations here)

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

    He would never have guessed how many and how deeply TEDx had impacted people's lives. He told a great story about booking his after-party at one of the events, only to find that it was double-booked with a Muslim student organization. His solution? Invite them to his TEDx and share the after-party. Perfect.

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

    "Every time you return to this dragon (TEDx), you see how extraordinary it is and was. However, no extraordinary thing can be done twice (Note: lovely meta-thought here). Once it's extraordinary, the next time, it's just original. So, keeping up with innovation is indeed a dragon."

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

    Surrender to the spirit of this magical beast. Think of TEDx as if it's a gratitude engine.

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

    Finding ways to generate more audience and community engagement with deeper experiences.

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

    TEDxParis, TEDxZurich, TEDxAmsterdam (get in line for this one), TEDxBrussels and TEDxKyoto.

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

    Make every day a TEDx-worthy day.

The volunteer team on stage at the 5th Avenue Theater, on the national registry of historic places, originally opened in 1926.

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