Josh Grigsby
Curator CITYx

“Not only don’t be afraid to fail, do it intentionally. You can’t learn anything, you can’t succeed until you know how to fail”, Josh Grigsby would tell his 14-year-old self. What it takes to do his job as Curator at CITYx for TEDx? “Curiosity. Curiosity to the point, that it makes you willing to say things to people that might embarrass you or ignore boundaries.”


Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!

Keep going, don’t worry so much about where you are going, but just keep walking. Not only don’t be afraid to fail, do it intentionally. You can’t learn anything, you can’t succeed until you know until you know how to fail, until you are okay with that and you see failure as part of the process of learning how to succeed of experimentation and the third thing, jump.

Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?

My name, Josh Grigsby, and also that I’m the assistant program coordinator for the Four Cities Erasmus Mundus Masters Program, Urban Studies Masters Program, that I am a PhD student at the University Of Vienna doing Urban Research and that I am the curator and host moderator for CITYx events for TEDx Vienna.

Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?

I’m doing exactly what I want to do, which is to continue to learn about often in a hands on way; to learn about cities and the things that interest me most with really amazing people. I know it’s cliché to say, it’s the people I work with that make everything so great, but it’s true, just sitting down in a meeting with TEDx Vienna, for example, and you are sitting down at a table with 10 people, from completely different backgrounds, completely different academic backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, linguistic backgrounds, the perspectives are all so different that you can’t help but have learnt something by the end of the meeting.

Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?

Everybody has to work; everybody has to pay rent so that means that people can’t always give the amount of time that they want. It means they can’t always join on a certain date so you have to stay creative, you have to stay persistent.

Worum geht es in Deinem Job?

CITYx which is our sort of urban themed event, looking at issues in Vienna and beyond. The curators so I select all the speakers. First I devise the theme for the event. This year we are then looking at who are engaged in all this processes, who makes the city dynamic. So we are bringing in people from all different fields, all different disciplines, very different perspectives and projects. So after having devised the theme and sort of laid out what the event should be about, I then go about finding and selecting the speakers, working with them to develop their talks, what their idea worth spreading is and then what the event itself, sort of working with them and try and keep them calm and everything in order moderating the event as well. The amount of time devoted to it is increasing rapidly, there are a times now where it’s probably 20-25 hours a week, throughout the year it’s less of course when you are a year away from the event. Now my work with CITYx is a large mix of emails, which of course I do have some on some on the laptop, some on the phone, sometimes while standing on a tram. I try not to do it the emails while riding my bike. Interviews are often done in person, so I try-if it’s a local speaker, I try to meet them at a coffee shop in Vienna or place we can meet in the city and discuss face-to-face. For international speakers it tends to be Skype which is generally done to my Skype interviews at home or occasionally at the office.

Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?

Until very recently, I would have said that it is not only eclectic but chaotic. I have lived in 30 or so different places. I have worked a lot of different jobs, everything from selling cigars, to working on a demolition crew, assembly line at a factory, I was a nanny, a baseball instructor, a self instructor, a teacher, a videographer, a graphic designer, a writer, a dog walker. And it took a long time to realize that all of these sort of different places, different lives, different skins almost that you try out throughout life, that they all help shape sort of who you become. So with my background of living in a lot of different places is mostly United States, but the last four years in Europe living in Brussels and Copenhagen and Madrid and now Vienna. I originally came to TEDx Vienna in, I think, February of 2013 as a blogger. TED then decided to do the CITY 2.0 Event that was in New York last year. They invited TEDxs from around the world to join them and do the same. So I was asked to be a part of that and ended up developing an idea curetting and hosting the event. It was really just putting it together with our own hands and yet the place was sold out, there were people who were just standing. The speakers, none of them were professional speakers, they were all just sort of local people engaged in what they were doing, and everybody think really felt the excitement and the energy of the people who really cared about what it is they were doing in their city. So I stayed involved with TEDx since then, helped out a little bit with hosting at the main event last year for the unlimited and now curetting and hosting again for CITYx that will be on 25th of September and that will put me, I guess, at about a year and a half or so of time with TEDx Vienna.

Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?

The largest sort of prerequisite for working with CITYx, or before CITY 2.0 or even doing the blogging with TEDx Vienna is curiosity, curiosity to the point that it makes you willing to possibly meet people or say things to people that might embarrass you or ignore the boundaries to do whatever you need to do to try and find who are the people engaged in doing things. I have a background in writing and journalism that usually sort of teaches me to kind of look for sort of story. My background with branding I tend to then try and look at kind of the truth of things, what’s the nugget, the inside of something that really speaks to what the thing is, with writing again sort of pulling things together. And then of course with urban research, trying to find the issues and look at their context and how they are significant, how they have brought the relevance than maybe just a single project.