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Spotlight On: Tod Maffin, Digital Technology and Marketing Guru

Recognized as a thought leader in online business innovation and strategy, Digital Technology and Marketing Guru Tod Maffin sheds light on trends and technological advancements, specializing in campaigns for specific sectors, from human resources to social media to real estate to education. His comprehensive understanding of high-velocity change and competition, hyper-innovation, and the accelerating pace of the world offers an insider’s viewpoint of what lurks around the corner—whether it’s six months, a year, or 10 years away. Tod took on our Speakers’ Spotlight questionnaire:

What inspired you to want to be a speaker?

I really, really enjoy teaching and translating technical info (like digital marketing tactics) into “real world” language. I’ve spoken to groups as small as eight CEOs and as many as 5,000 people over the last 15 years. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people suddenly “get” something that they can apply to their work and life. So much of the digital world is complicated–I have fun making the digital world human again.

Any advice for aspiring speakers?

Absolutely invest in a three-camera crew to record you presenting in front of an appreciative audience. Anyone can put up a web page claiming to be an expert, but conference planners and speakers’ agencies need to see you in action. And be sure your presentation helps people solve real-world problems. If they can walk away with actual tactics they can use, your chance of being considered for other engagements increase. I also like to work really closely with the client–pre-event research calls, informally interviewing attendees prior to the presentation, and more. The more you do your homework and find out everything you can about who’ll be in the audience, the better for all!

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

I always like to see the room I’ll be speaking in as soon as I can–it helps me visualize success. It also lets me double-check the audio-visual setup. I have three backups of my presentations at all times (on a USB stick, uploaded to a cloud server, and on a separate backup hard disk I travel with)–I’ve never had any problems, but I want to be prepared. I don’t really have any sort of ritual, but I do tend to over-do it on the caffeine prior to getting on stage. 🙂

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

I like to wander around a bit–into the audience, around the stage, and so on–so I usually ask people to make sure the area around the stage or riser is clear. At one event, the client thought the podium was what the speaker stands behind (that’s a “lectern,” actually) and had misunderstood what I’d requested. At the cocktail reception the evening prior, she came up to me and said, “We had a hard time finding a clear podium for you, but we got one shipped in.” Confused, I went into the lecture hall to see they had sourced a completely transparent plastic lectern!

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

I think World Vision does great work– nothing’s more deserving than helping a child in a developing nation get a better chance at a good life.

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

I would absolutely be a high-school teacher. I like the challenge and fun of making something complicated come alive in people’s minds! 🙂

Desert island album?

Oh, probably Broadway hits. I’m not proud of this.

Best subject in school?

I’m actually a self-taught high-school drop-out–I never finished grade nine. It’s peculiar, because I’ve lectured at graduate programs a lot, but none of them have asked me for my own personal education credentials. Despite that, I’ve built a publicly traded software firm and hosted national CBC Radio shows. I guess formal education isn’t for everyone!

Last book you read?

Give Me a Break by Hugh Culver. Before that, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts,  by Gabor Maté.

Last film you saw?

I really only watch documentaries–the last one I saw was called Jackpot, a profile of bingo players in Ontario. It was surprisingly good! I also loved The Cove, We Live in Public, and any medical documentary about mysterious conditions.

Celebrity crush?

Well, I’m married to Ginnifer Goodwin already, so I think I’m doing pretty well. (This statement may not, in fact, be accurate.)