November 25, 2014 Mitchell Derrey

Along the way, in the eleven
months of planning for TEDxRainier 2014, I
experienced a particularly special moment during one of the
speaker rehearsals. Kathleen Macfarren, a speaker with an elegant talk on deep
listening, paused for a moment to ask us, “Why do you do this?” I chuckled as it was the very
question that I had asked myself on my drive to the rehearsal. One by one, we
all gave our answers. Bo Roth who was responsible for helping the speakers develop their talks
said, “It’s all about the people.” Anna Boynton, a masterful speaker coach,
said, “It’s all about the people.” Co-curators Phil Klein and Elizabeth Coppinger agreed. We all
agreed. TEDxRainier is a unique labor of love where we get to meet, work
with, and connect with amazing people doing amazing things. As a team, we have
the pleasure of growing friendships through collaboration. There is a lot of
laughter, some tears, and of course, some heated moments–all parts of creating
something larger than ourselves.

Then, I think about the
many teams that come together to make the
event happen. The people that live behind
the curtains of the stage that you will never see. “Why do we do this?”
TEDxRainier is an opportunity for us to do our very best work without the
constraints of timelines and budgets. It is a show where we get to decide what
happens and how it is going to be accomplished. Kris Monro, of Milligan Events,
was the glue that kept us all on track while providing her expertise on the attendee experience.
The Tri-Digital team brought the live stream program to those who watched
virtually. The camera work on the big screen or your screen at home was
skillfully orchestrated by the Dapper crew. The presentations were the
collective creations between the speakers and our Silver Fox designers. The entire auditorium
experience was the result of the collaboration of all of these teams, including
the amazing McCaw Hall staff. So why do we do it? This is what we love to do
and we love putting on shows for our dear attendees.

And finally, during a
particularly stressful event planning moment, I had posed the question to
myself. “Why do I do this?” The answer came as a surprise to me.

It comes down to lifetime goals
and dreams. You see, in college, my parents were not pleased with my decision
to major in painting. One night, on the WSU campus, my mother asked me with
concern, “What
do you want to do with your life?” In my youthful and passionate naïveté, I
responded that I either wanted to be an artist or the President of the United
States. Well, as I grew up a bit, that evolved into wanting to be a teacher who
leads and lets the creative process guide the way. Both ideas are
applicable to anywhere my inspirations take me. And there I was, Saturday
morning pacing my house at 3 AM, waiting for McCaw Hall to open so we could get the
show started. I asked, “Why do I do this (to myself)?” A burst of adrenalin came
over me and a huge smile stretched across my face. The answer is that I am doing
exactly what I set out to do. This whole thing is a realization of lifetime
goals and dreams.