Find speakers by:
Request more info

The Importance of Mentorship: Joe MacInnis Honoured by Hollywood Filmmaker James Cameron

The Importance of Mentorship: Joe MacInnis Honoured by Hollywood Filmmaker James Cameron

Over the course of his incredible 60-year-long career as a deep-sea explorer, Dr. Joe MacInnis has led or participated in more than 50 of the world’s most important undersea expeditions, logging more time beneath the surface of the Arctic Ocean than any other scientist.

His achievements include the creation of the ground-breaking Sublimnos undersea research station, building the world’s first polar undersea station and conducting the first-ever science dives at the North Pole, as well as making some of the first dives to the wreck of the Titanic and leading the search for the 1853 wreck of Breadalbane in the Northwest Passage.

In honour of his prolific career, the Royal Canadian Geographic Society recently hosted a day-long celebration of Joe’s legacy. In attendance were such high-profile guests as Canadian-born filmmaker and fellow deep-sea explorer James Cameron, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chief Perry Bellegarde, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, and more.

The Magic of Mentorship

The day kicked off with an hour-long conversation between long-time friends James and Joe, exploring the magic of mentorship.

Joe first met James, best know for directing such Hollywood epics as Titanic and Avatar, when James sent him a letter at the young age of 14. James had just visited Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, which at the time, was displaying Sublimnos, an undersea research station Joe had designed. James sent a sketch of the station, asking for blueprints so he could build his own.

To his amazement, James said, Jim wrote back encouraging him to pursue his project. “A friendship, and a mentorship, was born,” wrote the Canadian Geographic.

“Mentorship is magical,” Joe said during the conversation on stage, “because it moves information from one generation to the next. And it’s reciprocal because there is a lovely exchange between two paired minds trying to overcome obstacles.”

James agreed as it was the very fact that Joe wrote back to him that he felt empowered to move forward with his first big experiment — building his own model submersible, which he successfully tested in a nearby river at his childhood home.

“When you have that moment of empowerment — when someone believes in you,” James said, “all of a sudden a switch is thrown in your head and you believe it’s possible.” James, of course, went on to become an Academy Award-winning director and, in the process, undertake a series of deep-sea expeditions that included 33 dives to the wreck of the Titanic.

James also undertook a history-making solo dive to the Challenger Deep in 2012, for which Joe was his digital journalist and team physician. “This once-in-a-century project had echoes of the Wright Brother’s first flight and the initial ascent of Mount Everest,” Joe wrote in an article for Canadian Geographic.

Watch the full conversation between James and Jim in the video below. They explore the beginning of their friendship, the importance of encouraging youth to pursue their curiosity, and the future of ocean exploration.

A Transformative Leader

Following the fireside chat, the celebrations continued at a cocktail reception where Joe was lauded as “a great Canadian, a wonderful, lifelong mentor, a great ocean explorer, and someone who understands the incredible importance of protecting the only planet we have,” by the former minister of the environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has previously praised Joe as a mentor, added that throughout his life Joe has been “a presence, a guide, a counsel, a friend… Everyone who has been impacted by Joe knows it, feels it, and is transformed by it.”

James rounded out the evening by once again paying tribute to his mentor, crediting him for excellent listening skills and a keen ability to discern the needs of a team. “Whenever I went into a hard project,” James said, “I would ask his advice, and I would listen to what he said about the psychological dynamics of the team.”

Joe self-describes himself as an “accidental leader.” While some people are born to lead, he says, others find themselves in a position where leadership is required. Throughout his unique career, this medical doctor has become an expert on human performance in high risk, high stress environments and is now an eloquent and stirring speaker who shares leadership lessons learned from the high seas and beyond.

Contact us to learn more about Joe and his visually stunning keynotes that explore an instructive and actionable path to leadership success.

You might also like

The latest news and headlines from our world-changing speakers.