Mike Smith is a 30-something-year-old from Nebraska. He has four companies, a non-profit that supports youth, over 100,000 followers on Instagram, and spends most of the year on the road, speaking to students around the country about how to be better human beings.“I don’t believe in jobs, I believe in lifestyle,” he says. Dressed in a t-shirt, and a baseball cap with shoulder length hair, Smith is anything but the traditional startup entrepreneur. In fact, he doesn’t like to be called an entrepreneur. “I can’t even spell it. I always have to check on my phone,” he jokes. “But seriously, I just don’t really think of myself as the kind of entrepreneur that’s often portrayed in the media these days. I don’t build companies to make money. I do them because I get really excited about some issue.” Smith has built a small portfolio of businesses, centered around educating youth and giving them safe spaces to be creative, sporty, and active. “Simply put, young people need three things: somewhere to be, something to do, and someone to look out for them,” he says, alluding to his first venture, a multi-purpose space in Nebraska that hosts events, a skate park, and a coffee shop.
Spencer’s charisma and dynamism captivate audiences every time he speaks. Whether addressing corporate leaders, non-profits or the education world, listeners are mesmerized as Spencer describes his journey after losing both legs from the pelvis down at the age of five, to when he climbed, and summited, Mount Kilimanjaro using his hands and wheelchair. Spencer is a top-ranked keynoter, author of the best-selling book Standing Tall: My Journey, and star of the documentary Redefine Possible: The Story of Spencer West, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.
Roméo Dallaire is founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership with the mission to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers. A celebrated advocate for human rights, especially in regards to child soldiers, veterans, and the prevention of mass atrocities, General Dallaire is also a respected government and UN advisor and former Canadian Senator. Throughout his distinguished military career, General Dallaire served in staff, training, and command positions through North America, Europe, and Africa, rising in rank from Army Cadet in 1960 to Lieutenant-General in 1998. Most notably, General Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide. General Dallaire provided the United Nations with information about the planned massacre, which ultimately took more than 800,000 lives in less than 100 days; yet, permission to intervene was denied and the UN withdrew its peacekeeping forces. General Dallaire, along with a small contingent of Ghanaian and Tunisian soldiers and military observers, disobeyed the command to withdraw and remained in Rwanda to fulfill their ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge with the UN forces. His courage and leadership during this mission earned him the Meritorious Service Cross, the United States Legion of Merit, the Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention, and the affection and admiration of people around the globe. His defiant dedication to humanity during that mission has been well-documented in films and books, including his own award-winning account: Shake Hands with the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. General Dallaire’s 1997 revelation that he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a direct result of his mission in Rwanda paved the way for destigmatizing this potentially-lethal Operational Stress Injury among military veterans as well as first-responders.
Heather is an accomplished speaker who inspires people all around the world with the depth of her experiences, and enlightens audiences with her lessons and philosophies on success and life. She lives by her personal motto, “Believe in the possibilities”, and inspires audiences with her life stories and her life philosophies. From the small Prince Edward Island town of Summerside to the top of the Olympic podium, Heather has been described as Canada’s best ever all-round female athlete, and has accomplished the unlikely not once, not twice, but multiple times by believing in those very possibilities. She is an engaging speaker who feels that the best part of winning two Olympic gold medals is that they have afforded her a platform from which she can now inspire and empower other people to reach their own potential – her real gold.
Angus Reid is somebody who found a way to make his dream a reality. Angus has just recently retired from professional football after playing 13 years for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. The Richmond Born native played in 200 professional games placing him in the top 5 all time for games played by a BC Lion. Throughout his career, Angus has been a 3-time all-star, 2-time Grey Cup Champion and 5-time team captain. He was a long shot to make it, too short and way too small by all pro football standards, but Angus beat the odds. Angus didn’t even begin playing football until the eleventh grade. Shortly after starting to play he missed three of his five collegiate seasons with a severe stomach ailment, making it back for his senior season and becoming only the 6th All American in school history. Today Angus has become much more than simply a football star, he is a true fixture in his community. He has written a weekly newspaper column for the Vancouver Province, hosted a radio show on the team 1040, and is currently the host of Global TV’s “CrimeStoppers” and “The Monday Morning Blitz”. He speaks non-stop across both Canada and the U.S to businesses, schools and sports teams on what it really takes to make your dreams a reality. He lives with his wife and son in metro Vancouver.
Fred Fox misses those days of long ago when he and his slightly younger brother were kids horsing around at home in Winnipeg, competing against each other in various sports and games. Fred noted that the second most popular country, after Canada, for Terry Fox runs is Cuba.
Fred’s message to students is that Terry considered himself an average person but that you can always try to do great things. Fred said, even with his fame as the doggedly determined one-legged runner, “Terry just wanted to be (considered) an average guy.” He proceeded to tell stories of Terry that illustrated he was anything but average, with more determination than most people. He recalled Terry being told by Port Coquitlam Secondary School basketball coach in British Columbia that he was too small and not very skilled. “Through hard work and practice he (eventually) made the starting squad and later was captain of the team.” While attending Simon Fraser University in B.C., Fred said Terry endured pain in his right knee that he ignored for three months. “He was told he had a type of bone cancer and he’d lose part of his leg in four days. He was 18. “I said to him, ‘Why you?’ and he said, ‘Why not me?’ Fred said that Terry later told him that getting cancer made him a more caring person.