TEDxYouth@Columbia – Kevin Rabinovich

In Organizing by Mark Sylvester

The Hack: Have your team watch one TED talk a day


Kevin Rabinovich has been working with TEDx since 2011 when he was 14. His story of how he's united 50 high schools in the state of South Carolina is inspiring. He started watching talks in the 4th grade and is now a mentor at 19. His event is TEDxYouth@Columbia.

He's the very example of on the job training, having worked on six TEDx events and being  the organizer for four years. He believes that producing an event by youth, and for youth, provides a unique opportunity for time-stressed students to share ideas. He says that there's not a venue for idea-sharing for this age group. We love their Idea Grant concept.

When I asked Kevin about his superpower, he wasn't keen on admitting one, rather he said, "I'm accidentally good at a lot of what it takes I guess." Right. Another organizer that makes me feel like a slacker. I asked him what impact the TEDx experience has had on his life, "I now realize how important ideas are to society, and it's gotten me to look at many different career options that I'd never have considered before."

We are all united by curiosity and hard work."Kevin Rabinovich - TEDxYouth@Carolina, Organizer

The Lightning Round

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

    Kevin started watching TED talks in the 4th grade. He wanted to go to a TEDx event at 14 but was underage, so had to wait until there was a Youth event. He's a natural organizer and a bit of a fund-raising hero, as you'll learn.

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

    He's been to nine events, including several when he recently traveled to the West Coast of the United States.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    It's 100% by youth, for youth. What they've done is phenomenally exciting. They've created a statewide forum for 50 high schools to have weekly IDEA Dialogues. Each school is provided a TED talk and study guide. These discussions get the TEDx message out to this age group and get them involved and hungry for more. From these schools, they pull students who then apply for and eventually attend the main event each Spring.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Organizing, however, he does think that he's 'accidentally good at' most of the tasks an organizer is responsible for. He loves the 'birds-eye-view' only available to the Organizer.

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

    "How receptive people are to youth, once the barriers are removed." The biggest surprise to me was when Kevin explained that there's no forum for the exchange of ideas, in their purest form, in a high school student's life. There's such a competition for mindshare between school, family, sports, social life and (the internet).

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

    Making sure that the entire experience for students was unique and designed specifically for them individually. He's focused on accessibility which extends to affordability but not exclusively. Access to ideas is a big concern for him.

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

    "Plan every single minute of the day and keep the session short, 35-40 minutes each."

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

    Figuring out the balance between accessibility and quality. Making sure that the quality (of everything) is high is paramount to him.

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

    TEDxWellington (Hey DK and Sarb, let's get on this!)

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

    Insist that every member of the team watches a TED talk a day. Period. They have bi-weekly update calls, hangouts or emails, with 15-20 minutes just to discuss these Talks and their impact on the individuals, what they learned and what they can apply. Cool idea.

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