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What’s XNet President and TEDxNaperville Curator Arthur Zards doing this week?


Arthur was invited to attend the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar hosted by the Doha Film Institute. The TEDxSummit is a four day workshop where 650 TEDx organizers from around the world meet to take classes and learn from one another how to make great local TEDx events. The summit features a variety of world-renown TED and TEDx speakers that opened the conference with their powerful and inspiring TEDTalks on April 16th. Following their talks, TEDx organizers began learning how to make truly powerful events.

So how does this relate to TEDxNaperville? When

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the TEDx curators from around the world meet this week at the summit, they will be sharing lessons and good case practices of everything from stage design and finding speakers to increasing interactivity and inspiring attendees. Arthur will be taking classes and learning from other amazing TED and TEDx organizers, which we will implement in TEDxNaperville 2012 in November. Furthermore, Arthur will be leading an educational session on building engagement, which other TEDx organizers will use to better their events.

You can follow the TEDxSummit at http://tedxsummit.ted.com and on twitter with #tedxsummit.

Additionally, Arthur has created a blog to share his incredible experience at this event and his travels throughout Qatar. To see what he is doing, visit powerofx.posterous.com.

Posted on April 17th, 2012 by admin
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Share Your “Idea Worth Spreading” at TEDxNaperville!

TEDxNaperville - Coming November 2012

Each year, TEDxNaperville brings the brightest minds of Chicagoland to your doorstep at its annual event in Naperville. What makes a TEDx event so powerful is its ability to facilitate discussion between free-thinking speakers and open-minded attendees – both of whom seek to change the world.

But what makes these speakers so special? What decides if a speaker is selected to share their ideas with hundreds of attendees? One requirement. They must have an idea truly worth spreading.

Anyone can be a speaker at a TEDx event, regardless of age, gender, nationality, or belief. If you have an idea that needs to be shared and spread, we’re ready to listen. We pride our TEDx events on being unique, innovative, inspiring, and even a little weird, so if you have something you wish to share, let us know!

Currently, TEDxNaperville host and curator Arthur Zards is taking speaker applications for TEDxNaperville 2012, and we are already lining up some amazing speakers that will quench your thirst for knowledge and inspiration.

Additionally, TEDxNaperville 2012 will be improving on nearly every facet of the 2011 event. So, if you had a question or concern when you attended last year, don’t worry, we’ve heard you. We’re upping interaction, networking, ambiance, and fun. We can’t give you the details just yet, but know your TEDxNaperville coordinators are in full work-mode, ensuring you have the best possible experience.

If you or someone you know would like to speak at our event and share your idea worth spreading, please contact us at info@tedxnaperville.com.

Additionally, if you would like to help us make this the best TEDx event of 2012 by volunteering or get your brand in front of hundreds of TEDx attendees by sponsoring our event, you can also contact us at info@tedxnaperville.com.

Why does XNet do this? XNet seeks to support the community it has done business in for the past 18 years. Since 2010, we’ve hosted

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annual TEDxNaperville events built on bringing the brightest minds of Chicagoland to Naperville to share their ideas worth spreading. We’ve also hosted numerous social networking events called SiliconPrairieSocials that facilitate collaboration between tech industry leaders in the suburbs. Through hosting and sponsoring networking and collaboration events in the suburbs, we believe we can raise the profile of those who work here and better our community.

Posted on March 26th, 2012 by XNet
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What’s XNet President Arthur Zards Doing this Week?

TEDx Name Badges

What’s XNet President Arthur Zards doing this week?

Well, Arthur is at TEDActive 2012 in Palm Springs, California to inspire minds and exchange ideas worth spreading. The four-day program features many of TED’s famous 18-minute talks as well as short talks, music, dances, and other surprises.

An interesting feature of TEDActive is the TEDActive Projects, a central element of the event focusing on

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having attendees dream, plan, and execute six projects to solve challenging problems and spark initiatives discovered at TED. Assisting in this endeavor are on-site topic experts and facilitators that move discussion and consolidate goals. Arthur signed up as one of these experts. His topic - name badges.

A seemingly trivial part to any event or conference, a properly designed and personalized name badge can inspire networking and create conversation between strangers at an event, which is at the core of many conferences and events. Arthur outlines three rules to building a badge that will greatly increase the quality and reputation of an event.

Arthur Zards at TEDActive

Arthur Zards of TEDxNaperville shows images of amazing TEDx event badges from around the world, and emphasized their importance in fostering interaction between attendees. - Click on the image to read the full story.

1. Engage

Having attendees answer interesting questions about themselves and placing that information on the badge immediately levels the playing field for starting conversation. It serves as an ice breaker by giving attendees a first topic of conversation. Having the badge formatted for interaction facilitates conversation between individuals at a conference and makes it more enjoyable for the attendee.

Robin William's badge at TED 2009 literally tells an attendee what to talk about upon greeting the actor/comedian.  It also includes a fun picture of the person it's hanging around. Image from Pichaus.com

Robin William's badge at TED 2009 literally tells an attendee what to talk about upon greeting the actor/comedian. It also includes a fun picture of the person it's hanging around. Image from Pichaus.com

2. Rockstar

Name badges should make attendees feel special because frankly, they are! Personalizing a name badge with say, an attendee’s Facebook picture, or other information specific to that attendee (see Robin Williams’ badge above) can make them applaud your event’s originality. When an attendee brings home their name badge as a keepsake because it, and the event, was just so darn cool, you know you hosted a quality conference.

The 2010 TEDxBoulder badge features a booklet with a fold-over booklet cover so that attendees can hang the badge around their neck during the conference as well as view the booklet to get additional information.  The whole badge becomes a cool collectable. Photo courtesy of smokeproof on flickr. Second Image from undergroundconsideration.com

The 2010 TEDxBoulder badge features a booklet with a fold-over booklet cover so that attendees can hang the badge around their neck during the conference as well as view the booklet to get additional information. The whole badge becomes a cool collectable. Photo courtesy of smokeproof on flickr. Second Image from undergroundconsideration.com

3. Be Different

You want your attendees leaving your event on a high, feeling that every part was just…awesome. If your event isn’t a typical, boring conference, then why should your name badges be? Make your badge out of wood, make it out of metal, use decals and stickers, add interaction features to make your badge fun. Try using QR codes for the tech savvy or just throw your social media on it. How about buttons to add flare? Do what you want, but be different. It will pay off in increased interaction during and after the event.

TEDxSunnyvale 2012 Name Badge

TEDxSunnyvale’s 2012 event used wood badges made on a laser cutter. Details can be read on TEDx organizer Stacie Tamaki’s blog The Flirty Blog.

For many events, especially TEDx events, 50% of the value, energy, and contribution comes directly from the attendees. Continuing the conversation after the event is also dependent on how quality of a time they had. Knowing these factors, it makes sense to put a good amount of effort into a name badge that inspires an attendee. One good way to do this is to follow Arthur’s rules: Engage, Rockstar, and Be Different.

BONUS! Here’s the “Host” version of the badge built for TEDxNaperville 2011. The front consisted of the attendee’s name and three nouns (yes, nouns) that describe each attendee. Attendees were able to converse and interact with each other based on the self-descriptor nouns they provided. Hmm…I wonder why Arthur put bridge…not to mention bacon. Well, you could always ask him! Badges were drafted in five colors, each representing the following types of individuals: Host, partner, speaker, volunteer, and attendee.

Along with the event’s schedule, links to the event’s social media were placed on the back with a clear call to action stating, “Continue the Conversation!” On our social media, attendees could continue to talk and share ideas about the event or even plan for next year’s event.

TEDxNaperville's 2011 host badge for host sponsor XNet

TEDxNaperville's 2011 host badge for host sponsor XNet

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by XNet
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Is TED ‘Elistist’? Thoughts from TEDxNaperville Curator, Arthur Zards

A recent article on AlterNet reignited the smoldering accusations of TED being an organization that fosters elitism. XNet President and TEDxNaperville Curator, Arthur Zards, wonders if it isn’t time to rethink TED’s ‘official’ answer -

“I’m a TED alumni (they call us TEDsters) and TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.  I recently wrote some comments on a TED oriented discussion that I thought I would share in this blog.”

Once in awhile people ask me if TED is elitist. My answer is similar to the official TED stance…“partly”. Then I highlight how TED is “partly” elitist, but in a good way.

The problem I have is that every time the topic comes up I seem to be on the defensive where I shouldn’t have to be; spending a lot of energy on why TED is the good part of elitist rather than discussing the positive things that TED does and the changes it’s already helped bring to our global society. When I see public discussions on this, I see the same thing happening.

Why is that?

Could it be that just the term “elitism” itself is to blame?

Proper definitions aren’t my strong suit, so I decided to check the term ‘elitist’ in the dictionary, and this is what came up:


Definition 1:

* The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

This TED is not. I have yet to read, see, or hear anyone associated with TED itself, or a locally hosted TEDx event, exhibit this behavior. I’ve been to TED Active and the entire experience was quite the opposite of this definition.

Definition 2:

* Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

This is the part where TED is “partly” elitist. I highlight the term “control/rule.” To foster the positive environment of TED, or any community, there must be some level of control or rule. TED does this very well. And it must have it in order to continue the incredible community that it nurtures. There’s really no room for argument or discussion there, it’s an open and shut case.

Is the reason I always feel like I’m defending TED and elitism because the person I’m arguing with and I have different interpretations of the definition? Just to make sure, I plugged the term elitist into a thesaurus to get a better idea of what people could be  thinking when they hear the term “elitist”.



Snob, pompous ass, stuffed shirt, snoot, braggart, parvenu, stiff, uppish, high and mighty, snotting and on and on and on. Just to name a few, and the list goes on, and it doesn’t get better!

Is this what most people think of when they hear the term elitist? I really think so. When is the last time you heard the term elitist in a positive light?

TED’s official stance to the question is a resounding, “partly”. Which of the above definitions are we only “partly”? Partly pompous or partly snotty? Ouch!

I think it’s safe to say that many people not familiar with TED believe that the term elitist is defined by the first definition “Perceived superiority…”, while most TED fans define it by the second definition “control/rule”. So person to person discussions and Internet comments and articles go back and forth debating who’s right, and countless posts go out with TED people defending all the good that comes out of TED. All this without anyone really making sure they are arguing over the correct definition!

So here is my idea worth spreading, is it time to official say no, we are NOT elitists?

Maybe we need a new dialogue. “No, TED is NOT elitist, we are ___________. ”

What are your thoughts?

Posted on April 27th, 2010 by David Metcalfe
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