I’m Roger Killen, the Founder of Get Inspired Talks Inc. (“GI Talks). Between 1980 and 2010 I built and exited from 10 diverse small businesses. I turned 60 in 2011 and cast about for a retirement project that would allow me to create a legacy. This was, and continues to be important to me because I don’t have children or grandchildren. Little did I know where my casting about would take me!
In 2012 I attended a TEDx event and fell in love. TED’s vision captured my heart. I applied to TED for a license to put on a new TEDx event called TEDxStanleyPark. I became a “TEDx Organizer” and on March 17, 2013 the first TEDxStanleyPark event took place in front of 100 attendees at The Theatre inside the UBC Campus at Robson Square in Vancouver, British Columbia. Its 13 talks evoked 1 standing ovation and an aggregate of 20,000 video views within 12 months of their release. This event taught me many lessons – mostly of the “what not to do again” variety.
I was chomping at the bit to produce my second TEDxStanleyPark event so that I could apply the lessons I learned from the first but in 2014 the TED Conference came to Vancouver for the first time and TED did not grant local TEDx Organizers licenses to run their events. On May 23, 2015 the second TEDxStanleyPark event took place in front of 450 attendees at the Granville Island Stage located on Granville Island, Vancouver. Its 13 talks evoked 7 standing ovations and an aggregate of 100,000 video views within 12 months of their release. This event incurred a significant financial loss mainly due to the capacity of the Granville Island Stage being only 450 seats. While I loved the notion of sharing fresh ideas with live and online audiences, I was not so keen on having to subsidize the event with my retirement savings. I felt that the only way to avoid having to do this was to “go big or go home.”
To cut a long story short, the third TEDxStanleyPark event took place on May 28, 2016 in front of 1,700 attendees at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. All 15 speakers received standing ovations. Their videos attracted over 1,000,000 views within 12 months of their release. This event ran at a small financial loss. If I had sold another two hundred tickets I could have achieved financial breakeven. With this in mind I booked the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for March 4, 2017.
The fourth TEDxStanleyPark event took place in front of 1,900 attendees. All 13 speakers received a standing ovation. Their videos received an aggregate of 2,000,000 views within 12 months of their release. The event operated at breakeven. My retirement savings breathed a sigh of relief.
At around this time it dawned on me that the events that I was producing were a blend of information and entertainment but they were not triggering significant action. In a blinding Aha moment I realized that ideas did not have to be end points but could be starting points for inspiring people to think differently and act bravely to address humanity’s pressing problems. My awareness of this potential was accompanied by a more practical realization: in order to elevate speakers from informational to inspirational they needed professional coaching. But who would pay for this coaching? I could not find professional speaker coaches willing to volunteer the amount of time that each speaker required to effect the transition from informational to inspirational. What I wanted to do with ideas – inspire people to take action – and was doing – “infotaining” people – were poles apart.
The fifth TEDxStanleyPark event took place on March 3, 2018 in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in front of 2,100 attendees. All 13 speakers received a standing ovation. In aggregate, their videos have received over 3,000,000 views since they were released in April, 2018.
I was now convinced that ideas, when used to inform AND inspire, could activate live and online audiences to take massive action and trigger positive social change. After the dust settled on the 2018 TEDxStanleyPark event, I began to consider the feasibility of launching a social enterprise that would supply open and thoughtful minds with a stream of high-impact short talks capable of inspiring and activating them. My early research results were very positive so I incorporated GI Talks and set to work designing systems to target and inspire caring and concerned optimists to think differently and act bravely in ways that would change lives, communities and, by extension, humanity itself.
GI Talks will not only “infotain” audiences but also inspire them to think differently and take action to trigger positive social change. To achieve this, GI Talks will produce a family of large, live events at which local authorities deliver inspiring talks. These talks will be seen in real time by live audiences and will then be formatted into videos and e-books to reach global audiences.
The first live GI Talks event took place on October 20, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. All 10 of our speakers received a standing ovation. The second live event is on October 19, 2019 in the Playhouse Theatre. An afternoon event and an evening event will be held on the same day and each event will feature 6 speakers. GI Talks expects its live audiences to be dwarfed by online (video and e-book) audiences.
In 2030, GI Talks plans to produce an average of 2 events in each of 400 major cities. These events will create 12,000 inspiring videos that will trigger over 1 billion grassroots actions and move the needle toward a better world.
There are many ways that you can help GI Talks. The biggest is to attend our live event on October 19, 2019. We look forward to informing, inspiring and activating you then and there.