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On this episode of the Bourbon Friday Show, we had the opportunity to talk with Steve Sommers, Executive Director of TEDxGatewayArch.
Today, the Bourbon Friday Show welcomes Steve Sommers, Founder and Executive Director of TEDxGatewayArch. Join us to learn about how the organization started in St. Louis, their speaker series and their mission to spark deep discussion through Ideas Worth Spreading. Tune in every Friday at 4:30pm to learn about a new innovative startup or business resource in the STL community!
Posted by EQ – Entrepreneur Quarterly STL on Friday, August 16, 2019
TEDxGatewayArch—Creating a Community of Thought Leaders
In 1984, the TED organization (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design) began as a speaker series in the format of large dinner party events. Since their inception, they have been thoughtfully adapting to the changing tides of media consumption in order to best reach their audience. From the macro-scale of big dinner parties to large conferences, to shorter YouTube segments and hyperlocal TEDx branches, it’s hard to find someone that TED hasn’t reached yet.
The chapter began in 2013, and while there are around a dozen smaller TEDx organizations in the St. Louis Region, TEDxGatewayArch is the largest.
“The point of all of this really is to create a community … and our mission is to create an inclusive and equitable community of thought leaders,” says Sommers. To do this they curate multiple large events each year, bring new and unexpected speakers and subjects to their audience.
And when it comes to finding speakers for TEDx events, there never seems to be a shortage of talent or interest—last year alone TEDxGatewayArch had 180 applications submitted for a total of 30 speaker spots.
Once the applications are submitted, Sommers says that their team sorts through the applications and then hosts a pitching event for the chosen speakers. Which is when the training process begins so speakers can achieve that quintessential TED presentation.
“We have a training process that we’ve developed,” says Sommers. “It’s about four months long and we’ll train people in acting, breathing exercises, and body language—I mean it’s a lot of prep, 40 to 60 hours really, not including home practices.”
TEDxGatewayArch is hosting their next event called Crash Course at The Pageant on September 12. Based around the theme of entertainment, the topic will be teased out in the format of interviews, speakers, and performers who will all give their perspectives on issues that impact our region and ideas that can change our world.
If you are interested in applying to speak or volunteering with TEDxGatewayArch, you can visit https://www.tedxgatewayarch.org/ for more information.
As always, the Bourbon Friday team does their best to choose a fitting drink for the occasion.
The drink of choice was Huling Station Bourbon Whiskey by Old Dominick Distillery in Memphis, TN, and was selected because the Founder of the Old Dominick Distillery, Alex Castle, participated in a TEDxMemphis event earlier this year. Her talk was fittingly titled: “Whiskey: The Cure for Perfectionism.”