TEDxToronto 2019: Michelle Xuereb, Director of Innovation at Quadrangle

Michelle is a specialist in complicated construction projects and the Director of Innovation at Quadrangle, a Toronto-based architecture and interior design firm. Her approach to design intersects sustainability and resiliency as recovery strategies for communities in the face of climate change are an increasing concern for the future.

(To see Michelle live on the TEDxToronto stage on October 26th, purchase your tickets here.)

What was your first “million-dollar idea”?
I always wanted a device that I could use to record my thoughts. This way I could continue to daydream without interruption to write it down and still have a record of my ideas!

What’s the wildest idea you had to sell somebody on? How did you do it?
The idea that personal healing space could exist within the public realm. I sold them on it through the visualization work that I created, collages and drawings describing the vision. I believed so deeply in the idea that it was easy to be convincing.

Name a big idea in your lifetime that you can’t believe never took off?
Chewing gum that you could use instead of brushing your teeth.

Name one thing, as a society, we aren’t spending enough time thinking about? What would be a good first step?
Adaptation to our changing climate and what we can do on a personal level to help improve our ability to adapt. I believe we need to develop our compassion for ourselves and our empathy for others. Building deeper relationships and connections will build our resilience and help us to thrive through these times of change.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day-to-day work? How do you take it on?
My biggest challenge is sifting through the busyness and remembering to connect with the people around me. It is so easy to be absorbed by tasks and email clutter, but the biggest rewards and successes that I receive in my work come when I am open and connected to others. I learn far more about what is happening on my projects through a conversation than I do by staying focused on email!

Where do you look for inspiration?
People that I admire, books, and nature.

If you could achieve one goal in the+ next 18 months what would it be? And why?
In the next 18 months, I would like to find one political action that I can take to move towards a deeper connection with my community.

(To see Michelle live on the TEDxToronto stage on October 26th, purchase your tickets here.)

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