Behind the scenes: how TEDxNewYork finds (and creates) magic in the city

It's a bustling, excited vibe among the TEDxNewYork staff at the moment with audience applications open for the 2016 event! And while it's not quite as chaotic as a Mad Hatter's Tea Party just yet, things are definitely ramping up for our adventure into this year's theme: Down The Rabbit Hole. And this year has such an exciting line-up of speakers; we hope you'll join us!

Among all this work we took ten minutes with Thu-Huong Ha, one of the TEDxNewYork co-founders, to ask her where exactly this adventurous theme came from.

Why are we going 'down the rabbit hole' this year?

If you’ve got a curious mind, you probably know what it's like to lose yourself down rabbit holes, be that spiraling down an internet research hole or giving yourself over to questions that don't have answers. To that end we want our speakers to take us to their nerdiest extremes. We've selected a fantastic list of speakers that won't be afraid to take us somewhere unexpected, to really show us the underbelly of their work.

What can the 2016 audience expect?

We hope you'll get lost on this overpowering journey with us, and by the end, come out almost disoriented with all the exciting things that you've just learned about.

How did you choose this year's speakers?

We think as editors. Even though this is a volunteer project, all year round we’re listening for things that we think people don't know. We're not trying to put people on stage that you've heard from a thousand times, a CEO who does the rounds at all the tech conferences in New York.

We look for people who have very strong ideas, not just celebrities.

You guys sound like you're in the know. How do you do this?

We always have our ears to the ground, and as a team we avidly devour information. And quite frankly we love New York, so we’re out and about going to events. We also talk to our friends. There are lots of areas of knowledge I don't know about, so I consult experts. That includes smart friends, people who work in sectors of the city I know nothing about, and asking past speakers who are deeply rooted in their fields and know about people who are up-and-coming.

What makes TEDxNewYork unique?

People put on TEDx events for any number of reasons: to meet like-minded people; to get their ten best friends in a room watching talks and discussing them; to celebrate the local community.

Some of those goals are very important to us as well, but we really focus on the strength of the program. It sounds obvious but it's not every organizer’s goal, which is perfectly OK. We've had 10 million views from our first event alone, and that's because we focused so hard on the outcomes of talks. We wanted them to live online for a global audience and to resonate with lots of people beyond those in the room.

We want to shake people out of their routine. The fact that we’re not an industry conference is a huge strength of our event. You're not going in order to learn the secrets of your own profession; you're going to realize that there's a lot more than what you're working on, and that's an amazing thing.

If the event can ever so slightly change the way that you approach two or three things in your life, that can be quite powerful.

Final words Thu?

If you come on this journey with us, we promise you'll learn something new and feel different by the end.