Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell and business guru Roger Martin have spoken to throngs of people around the globe. Coming home to engage in conversation with a crowd of 400 local residents packed into the Floradale Mennonite Church Mar. 5 may have been all in a day’s work, but Gladwell’s mother Joyce believes it was a welcome change.
Malcom Gladwell, an Elmira native, is a staff writer at The New Yorker and best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Outliers, Blink and What the Dog Saw. Martin, who grew up in Wallenstein, is now dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and author of three books of his own. He’s also been named one of the 10 most influential business people in the world. Both men seemed to check their rightfully earned egos at the door, however, preferring to chat with the captive audience like the boys next door that they once were.
The talk was part conversation, part Q and A, part free-association session following a buffet dinner to raise money for the Woolwich Counselling Centre, the organization which Gladwell’s mother helped to found, serving as its first executive director.
After an enlightening introduction by their mothers, the featured presenters, who both once attended Elmira District Secondary School, took to the stage to discuss everything from the ethics of football, the Canada vs. USA final Olympic hockey game (which Gladwell sheepishly admitted to missing), and more weighty topics such as the economic crisis and Canada’s role in the current war.
“I enjoyed it tremendously but then I am a bit biased,” said Joyce with a laugh. “I found it very interesting to see the way that Malcolm and Roger interacted. They were allowing each other, stimulating each other, engaging each other and enabling each other to come up with their thoughts. It wasn’t just the ideas that you were listening to, but instead, observing a relationship.”
Mary Wilhelm, executive director of the Woolwich Counselling Centre, said the homecoming raised about $30,000 for the agency, much of which will be used for preventive programs in local schools.
Neither Gladwell nor Martin were paid to come and speak, but simply received a warm welcome home.