It’s the Climb

What do Roberta Bondar, Scott Berkum, Watts Wacker, Jean Francois Carrey and Ben Grossman all have in common? They are only a sampling of an impressive collection of inspirational speakers assembled during two recent events in Waterloo Region, the Communitech Tech Leadership Conference at Bingeman Park and TEDxWaterloo 2011 at the Centre-in-the-Square in Kitchener, Ontario.

Dr. Roberta Bondar, the first neurologist in space and first Canadian female astronaut, was part of an impressive list of speakers to share ideas worth spreading during the 3rd TEDxWaterloo event. TEDxWaterloo is a local offshoot of the world-renowned TED (Technology, Education, Design) movement and related TED Talks.

CEO, futurist Watts Wacker, whose opening joke in reference to his brother Dick immediately revealed his wacky persona , shared with the TLC2011 participants his ’17 stories in life’ and challenged each conference attendee to “differentiate yourself on who you are”.

Journalist, best seller author and speaker Scott Berkum challenged breakout session participants to avoid all jargon and current buzz words associated with new ideas (innovation, breakthrough, out-of-the-box etc.) and rather, to focus their energies on the bare bones of true creativity: hard work, trial and error and a fearless openness to exploring what may seem like weird (at the time) ideas.

Musician, improviser Ben Grossman and KW Symphony conductor Edwin Outwater intrigued both the Centre-in-the-Square and live feed internet audiences with a broad spectrum of sound and music to inspire and nourish the heart, mind and soul.

Jean Francois Carrey, who in 2006 was the youngest Canadian (26) to stand atop Mount Everest, seemed to capture the dynamic zeitgeist permeating the atmosphere at both the TLC2011 and TEDxWaterloo events. In retrospect, it wasn’t the 20 minutes at the top of the highest point in the world that had the greatest impact on him, but the arduous, meaningful journey to the top, which included the deaths of three local mountain guides.

What an honor and privilege to live in such an inspirational and vibrant community. How fortunate to be blessed with the seemingly boundless talent, creativity and energy of the host of organizers and volunteers who spent months toiling to make this past week one many will soon not forget.

Photo Credit: AlicePopkorn – ‘Arrive’

Related web sites: TEDxWaterloo, Tech Leadership Conference 2011

Twitter hashtags: #tlc11, #tedxwaterloo