Spotlight On: Brent Toderash

What role do you perform for TEDxWinnipeg?

I’m on the steering committee, and this year I’m the team lead for the marketing committee.

How long have you been involved, and in what capacity?

I attended as a guest in 2011, and midstream the following year, I became the lead for the tech team. Since then I’ve been involved every year, doing venue, tech, marketing, and helping out in a handful of other areas, so I’ve gotten to put my fingerprints on all sorts of things at one point or another.

What do you do when you’re not TEDx-ing?

The catch-all is to say I’m a consultant. I build things for the Internet – lots of websites and some web applications, mainly built on WordPress. I also manage web projects and do some IT network consulting along with the requisite web hosting.

What inspired you to get involved with TEDx?

TED has inspired me from the moment I first saw Hans Rosling’s visual stats back in 2006. I’ve been recommending ever since, so it seemed a natural fit for me to get involved in the TEDx program once it had started in Manitoba. I love the sharing of ideas — especially the ones that are contrarian or which help to show things in new and different ways. I might extend the question to answer why I stay involved. We’ve had changes in the steering committee every year, but in the last couple of years it’s really gelled into a great group that I love working with. Each member of the steering committee inspires me in some way, and I’ve come to really enjoy the reward of channeling that inspiration into the event and seeing it spread to the guests each year.

Which TED (or TEDx) talk do you think everyone should watch?

This is usually a hard question to answer. Only a few weeks ago, I would have said Susan Cain on The Power of Introverts, but then I watched Haley Van Dyck’s talk from the TED conference earlier this year, and I’m so inspired by what she and her team are doing.

I love the image of a subversive group of gearheads in the basement of the White House just down the hall from Ainsley Hayes quietly fixing systems that are shamefully, irreparably broken. I love the account of having 6 people spend 3 months replacing a system that didn’t work after 6 years and $1.2 Billion invested. This kind of application of technology to solve business problems in disruptive ways inspires me. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do some of this along the way in my career. We have those kinds of problems in Canada too, and I think that’s really the job I want to do when I grow up.

What’s the best thing about TEDxWinnipeg?

That one’s easy, it’s the people. Even when one of them tells me an outstanding idea, it’s their connection to it that I find fascinating, and motivating.

What idea do you want to spread?

I feel like I’ve got several ideas to spread, but some of them are still too nebulous to explain! The one that’s hung on with me though is the power of telling our personal stories. There’s something inherently powerful and empowering about the exchange of our stories, about learning and connecting through the experience we share in that way. I think perhaps the three most powerful words we can say to another person are “What’s your story?” (Provided, of course, we care about the answer!) These are important connecting-points, and if there’s one thing the Internet has taught us, it’s that no matter how alone anyone feels, somewhere online there’s a whole group of people who feel exactly the same way about exactly the same things. C.S. Lewis said that “friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” Without the exchange of story, this would never happen at all.

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