I recently viewed an inspirational and thought-provoking TED Talk by Drew Dudley called “Leading with Lollipops.” This has been one of my favorite TED Talks I have seen because it immediately made me more open-minded and and optimistic. Drew Dudley is the former coordinator of one of the biggest leadership development programs in Canada. He has given countless speeches on five continents empowering people to become leaders. He has explained that “I’ve never thought of what I do as ‘teaching’ leadership … For me, it’s always been about trying to find a way to help others explore the concept – what it means to them, and to their communities.” (Dudley)
His individualized concept of leadership is apparent in his TED Talk. “Leading with Lollipops” is a short speech about the how being a leader does not have to mean changing the entire world, but instead how leadership can be seen through small acts we perform everyday. The speech revolved around one pivotal story that he told about how he made a huge impact in someone’s life without even knowing it.
He told a story of his last day at Mt. Allison University when a girl came up to him and told him that he had been a very important person in his life and she was going to miss him. He did not remember his interaction with this girl, but she explained to him that four years earlier she came to the university and was having doubts about staying there. At the moment which she decided to go back home, Drew came out of the Student Union building handing out lollipops for an organization called Shinerama. He said to the student next to her, “You need to give a lollipop to the beautiful woman standing next you.” He was embarrassed and Drew made a joke about taking candy from a stranger. The woman’s parents laughed and so did she and she explained that in that moment she knew she could not quit because she was where she was supposed to be.
Drew explains how he is astounded that he does not remember this moment which impacted someone’s life immensely. This proves how leadership and making a difference in people’s life does not have to be a grand act, but we can be leaders in small interactions. Not to mention, the woman is dating the embarrassed man from four years earlier when they met because of that lollipop!
This speech is not only successful in the storytelling, but is also successful in the manner in which it was presented. Drew maintained a positive connection with the audience through humor and eye-contact to keep them engaged. Although he spoke quickly, he had great enunciation which allowed me to listen to everything he said with ease. His speech also flowed smoothly from one point to the next making it easy to understand his story and lesson. His personal story also added ethos and pathos to his argument.
Drew’s speech made me realize I can influence people’s lives and not even know it. I do not see myself as a leader but I am beginning to see that I can lead others in small ways. For example, when I volunteer at the Lexington Public Library, I sometimes see it as a small job, but I may be influences the children I work with more than I know.
You can visit this website to learn more about Drew Dudley and his work: http://drewdudley.com/meet-drew/
Figure 1: https://twitter.com/nuancedrew