Staff Blog | Dave Meslin on Becoming an Effective Business Leader

March 26, 2015
Steph-HeadshotToday’s GSA Ink staff blog is from our West Coast Client Services Associate Stephanie Ortiz.
  Toronto-based artist and community choreographer Dave Meslin’s TED Talk ‘Antidote to Apathy’ showcases his casual yet powerful way of captivating and engaging an audience on the topics of social activism and community engagement. On March 13th Dave spoke in front of a crowd of undergraduate commerce students from UBC on how to ‘Become an Effective Business Leader,’ at this year’s Me Inc. Conference in Vancouver. GSA-Divider Credentials Despite the fact that he was speaking to a crowd of BComm students, Dave explained that he wasn’t overly concerned about post-secondary credentials. He’s more interested in what others have actually done to make the world a more inclusive and better place. By no means did Dave attempt to discredit the value of a post-secondary education. It is undeniable that education is a valuable and powerful tool that cannot be taken away once you receive it. However, there is a heavy emphasis on young people to get a post-secondary degree and many students focus on education as the major indicator that will set them apart and reassure job prospects for a financially stable and happier future.   The Gains of Working in Non-Profit Work Many young professionals perceive the non-profit world as unappealing. The name suggests this work may not pay well and potentially incapable of providing individual financial gain. Yet Dave, articulating his first-hand experience, encourages others to think twice about getting involved in this third sector. He is quite familiar with donating time to campaigns and movements. By stepping up against conformity, Dave eventually opened up many profitable doors further on down the road in his career. He encouraged the audience to shake up their approach to involvement.   Do Something Unconventional & Crazy  It wasn’t very surprising when Dave advised the audience to step outside of their comfort zone. After all, Dave is the guy who started such unconventional projects as a downtown de-fencing, guerrilla gardening, city idol and many more. He didn’t get to where he is today without taking risks and seeking out creative ways of fostering community engagement. He points out how conformity and obedience are quietly and discreetly encouraged in our everyday working lives, one example used was the convention of wearing suits. It’s simple to Dave; suits are kind of weird. “Look at the high-tech guys in Silicon Valley they never wear suits,” likely because suits encourage everyone to look the same, be obedient and therefore limit creativity by placing limitations on thinking outside of the mainstream box. Dave has an uncanny and charming way of getting others to question everyday practices and was able to lead the audience to question and re-consider the idea of leading a workplace that encourages employees to ‘suit up.’   What Audiences Can Expect from Dave Dave was able to demonstrate how the right balance of characteristics can help an individual become a successful and effective business leader. He is the kind of speaker that will go the extra mile to make people feel comfortable and welcome. Following the event, being his every-so-approachable self, Dave was quickly surrounded by a crowd of  students. As a speaker he has mastered the art of reading and captivating an audience and has a way of making it seem naturally effortless. Learn more about Dave on his speaker profile and view his community projects.