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Spotlight On: Dan Pontefract, The Head of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS

Spotlight On: Dan Pontefract, The Head of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS

 The Head of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS and the author of Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged OrganizationDan Pontefract shares leadership tools that push the boundaries of organizational change to create workplace cultures that shine. Dan took a moment to bask in our spotlight and answer a few of our pressing questions:

What inspired you to want to be a speaker?

I didn’t “want to be a speaker,”….I’ve always been a speaker. Ever since I was a wee boy, I’ve been on stage presiding over a play, student’s council, choir, or an election and so I find it rather fun (and stimulating) to be on stage to this day. In fact, I started out teaching high school for three years which is a bit like being a speaker every day of the week.

Any advice for aspiring speakers?

Don’t try to be anyone other than yourself. I get tired of aspiring speakers comparing themselves to “rich and famous” speakers. It does nothing for their confidence or their credibility. Be yourself; and if you’re authentic with compelling content, you will be fine.

What do you like to leave audiences with?

There is hope; our organizations and leadership styles can change for the better. We mustn’t give up on hope.

How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?

This may sound odd, but I try not to prepare. There is something about a talk that comes across as authentic, real and “in the moment” that rings true for me. Far too many talks are canned and overly rehearsed; I prefer a bit of spontaneity and engagement with the audience. But, if it’s a morning keynote….definitely an extra-hot latte beforehand.

Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?

I once did a 30-minute keynote in Orlando without a single slide. This wasn’t the intention as the technicians had a technical meltdown of some sort as I came on stage leaving me to wing it as soon as I said hello. In fact, I think it was one of my better talks and made me rethink a few things.

Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?

Somebody threw a bra on stage once….I think it was my brother though.

Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?

Any chance I get to donate to a Children’s Hospital (whether directly or through indirect means) is where my efforts go. As a father of three young ones, I can’t fathom to think of the pain the children and family go through when good health goes awry.

If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?

Rock Star….absolutely. I’d need more hair though.

Desert island album?

Day for Night, The Tragically Hip

Best subject in school?

Math–any kind

Last book you read?

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel Memorial Prize winner in Economics Daniel Kahneman

Last film you saw?

Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden

Celebrity crush?

Daniel Day-Lewis