Friday, June 4, 2010

Our next speaker for TEDx is golden

The next speaker we’ve confirmed is Rob McEwen. On the face of it, Rob is a ‘business’ speaker. After all, he's Chair and CEO of US Gold and Lexam Explorations. He famously ran Goldcorp , one of the most stunning successes in Canadian business. During his time at the helm, Gold Corp's market capitalization went from $50M to $10B. He was named by Canadian Business magazine as Canada's Most Innovative CEO in 2006 and made Fast Company magazine's The Fast 50 Champion of Innovation list. In June 2007, he was named to the Order of Canada.

Like the very best of business people, he's used his money for good. His largest contribution has been in establishing the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the Toronto General Hospital, helping maintain Toronto’s global leadership in stem cell research.

So, Rob certainly has the credentials to count as a business speaker. But I see him in a different light. To me, he represents the best i n creative and innovative thinking, and the courage to try something entirely new. The way he made Gold Corp successful was by defying the 'known' truths of how you run a mining company. He exploited the power of the Internet and collaborative cross-industry creativity to reach for success. When I find my students languishing in the doldrums of thinking the same old way about problems, I evoke McEwen's experience to jolt them into letting go of what they 'know' and striking out with contrarian thinking.

When you set up a program like this one for TEDxIBYork, you have to reach beyond your own limited experience, so you ask lots of people for their opinion about who would be a great, not a good, speaker. Rob was described as charismatic by many of the people I polled. I've wanted to hear Rob speak for a long time; I can't wait to see him on our TEDxIBYork stage.

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