Features / Business

If I Knew Then: Dana Bopp

By aphra evans, Friday Nov 3, 2017

Dana Bopp volunteers her time as venue and speaker selection manager at TEDx Bristol 2017. She and her team are behind Dare to Disrupt, which takes place on November 2 & 3 at Colston Hall.

We find out about the highs, lows and what inspires her to succeed:

How did you start at TEDx Bristol as a volunteer? 

I’d been in Bristol a couple of months and was listening to a lot of TED talks when I saw there was going to be an event in Bristol. I took a chance by sending my CV to the curator and that same day, Mel replied asking if I’d like to join her that evening at the BBC. I was excited, and my kids were very impressed – TEDx Bristol and the BBC in the same sentence!

If you knew then what you know now, what mistakes might you have avoided? 

We’re a lot more selective about volunteer recruitment. We need over 70 volunteers, but it’s still worth taking the time to interview them and understand what they want from the experience. You also have to nurture them.

What advice would you have given yourself when starting out? 

I was a lot more reserved. Now I’m comfortable so I’m quite ‘American’ with expressing my opinions and I think that encourages the other team members to do the same. When I first came to Bristol, I was trying to blend in by being not too expressive. I’m still hoping that I’ll become a little more reserved…!

If you knew then what you know now, would you still be sitting there? 

This year has become a lot more time-intensive since I took a much bigger role. TED granted us a special licence, which means we can be bigger and run for more than one day, so that’s what we’ve done – and more.

I’ve been running the speaker selection team, answering emails, supporting partnership strategy, planning the space at Colston Hall for the event, and recruiting and placing volunteers – and I have a new full-time job! But, yes, I’d still be doing what I’m doing. Did I mention the amazing people who are now in my life and my children’s lives because of TEDx Bristol?

What do you know now that you didn’t know then? 

Ask for help sooner. People like to help. Why do I feel it’s an imposition to ask?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?

Volunteer in your spare time. Sometimes you might feel you aren’t really qualified but mostly if you keep saying ‘yes!’ then you and your efforts will be appreciated. I don’t try to do things when I know I can find someone more competent, but I can always help.

What is your business highlight? 

Losing my job after 17 years at an insurance company in the States. It meant I had enough resources to move to England with my two kids, three cats and lots of luggage, and I could change my life, take chances and meet so many wonderful people. You have to welcome change.

What is your business low point? 

Having to stay at a job that paid my bills and did nothing for my curiosity and connection to people.

What keeps you awake? (other than pets and children)

Hosting around 4,000 people for TEDx Bristol 2017. I have a long to-do list and sometimes wake up at 2.30am and work, rather than tossing and turning.

What’s changed from when you started out? 

We’re developing the organisation. In 2015, it was a lot of smart, professional people who worked intensely for ten weeks. Now we’re a team with strategy and a plan.

What’s still on your to-do list?

I want to meditate more, especially when I put myself into situations like this. Meditation and welcoming change are the most effective strategies I’ve found for stress.

What’s next for TEDx Bristol? 

We’re coming back in 2018 with TEDx salons for Bristol. After planning an event for 4,000 with speakers, entertainers, exhibitors, workshops and yoga, it sounds like a vacation.


Read more: More speakers announced for TEDx Bristol


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