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A TED-inspired Fall Meeting

Posted by Sofia Michelakis

a-ted-inspired-fall-meeting.jpgI was first introduced to the TED Conference about five years ago through some forwarded videos by friends. I was struck by the high-impact, focused storytelling aspect of the conference, especially how the majority of speakers told their story in a very accessible, conversational manner. At that time, I just regarded it as fun, and didn’t think about it in the SVP context. I recently attended TEDxRainier, and was again inspired by the number of encouraging, influential stories from real people in the Puget Sound community. However, without organized discussion time, I really didn’t talk with people in the audience (except those I already knew), which felt like a missed opportunity.

When first starting to plan this upcoming Fall Meeting, I thought back to a World Café format that we had at a Partner Meeting last fall. Unlike TED, the audience discussion was the focus of the evening, and we intentionally rotated people in the room so everyone talked to new people. The only drawback was that there was no real inspiration prior to holding the conversations, and no unifying theme around which people could engage in discussion.

Early this fall, I convened a group of partners to run an idea by them – what if we took the best of both worlds, engaging discussion prompted by provocative storytelling? Hence, the format for this year’s Fall Meeting was born! One reaction the Partners had to the idea was a fear about the eclectic nature of the typical TED conference just due to the nature of their many-faceted speakers. What we wanted was a theme – something that would tie all of the speakers together to make the discussion that comes after more enriching. What better way to describe SVP than the theme of ‘Creating Connections‘?

In our work and the work of our Investees, we do this every day; during the Fall Meeting, you’ll be able to hear from a number of our Partners about the many different kinds of connections we make all the time and the impact of those connections. When we approached some of the Partners we thought might make good speakers, they all reacted positively. In fact, every one we asked to speak said yes, which really surprised me, but was great confirmation that we were really striking a cord!

In planning the Fall Meeting, we wanted to capture what’s really important to the SVP community – inspiring people about what’s possible, providing opportunities for this incredible group of people to get to know each other, and engaging in meaningful discussion about how their philanthropy and connections can impact others. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a new idea or relationship generated during a table conversation creates ripples felt far beyond this Fall Meeting!

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