The Power of “What If”: Interview with Marty Avery

Photo credit: kk+

Throughout the day I love listening to TED talks while I work. Recently I went to an independent TED event with a roster of incredible speakers. One of those speakers was Marty Avery. She is the Chief Catalyst at What If, a forward thinking consulting firm that asks the question “what if?” a lot while solving problems. That question got Marty far in her career and earned her numerous accolades. She is faculty at the Banff New Media Institute’s Interactive Projects Lab and the Canadian Film Center’s Media Lab. Marty has also participated in the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Women Entrepreneurs in Canada as well as the United Nations World Summit.

Marty is one of those people whose presence leaves you feeling good -about yourself, about the people around you, about work, and about the journey we are all on. I had the opportunity to talk to Marty after the event about her career and women in business. Here’s our chat:

For more about Marty Avery, visit If you would like to see Marty’s TED talk, here it is:

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2 thoughts on “The Power of “What If”: Interview with Marty Avery

  1. I like her comment about what she does: “I am curious for a living.”

    Key points from the interview for me:

    – Allow your staff to absorb all of your latest and great ideas without requiring them to act on all of them. Excellent advice to help avoid losing focus in your business.

    – Seek out mentors of the opposite sex. Having a woman business partner, I’ve found Marty’s advice to have merit. We each expose the other to perspectives and approaches we may have otherwise missed.

    – Be willing to trust your instincts and be careful about sources providing advice to you. It’s easy start second guessing yourself when someone who appears so much more experienced and knowledgeable gives advice that conflicts with your view.

    Great job on the interview! You pulled a lot of excellent info in a short period of time.

  2. Great interview, Natalie. Marty’s energy is infectious, loved her style while she was speaking in the clip from TEDxWaterloo.

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