11/13/2010 01:04 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

New Radical Profile #4: Doing Good Through Social Media

Debbie Dimoff is what Malcolm Gladwell calls a "connector" -- she knows absolutely everyone and is a genius at bringing people together. She also spans the territory between my last book and the one that's coming out in January -- she's a "New Radical" who is becoming what I call "ripe." I asked her to answer four questions designed to discover how she continues to create her brilliant career.

What are you doing?

I'm juggling as many exciting projects and adventures as I can handle and some that I can't handle just to keep me on my toes.

My portfolio includes corporate life: I work as a management consultant with PwC, leading the development of a Canadian social media consulting practice. As HuffPost readers know, social media applications like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and hundreds of other sites are revolutionizing the way people engage with each other and with brands. We use social media to help clients transform their interactions with customers and employees. I love figuring out what people can do with technology to make life better, more convenient, and more inspiring.

My other adventures include being on the board of Social and Enterprise Development Innovations. SEDI helps low-income Canadians become self-sufficient through financial literacy, saving and asset building, and entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, we launched the TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund, to help fund community groups across Canada that offer financial literacy training.

I also work with the Toronto City Summit Alliance, a coalition of civic leaders working on a range of initiatives such as expanding affordable housing and greening the Toronto region. The Alliance is preparing for a major summit in 2011 where leaders will come together to plan action on key issues. As you might have guessed, I'm developing a social media plan for the summit -- from a way for leaders and supporters to connect beforehand to how to reach out and engage the wider community during the summit itself. [J.M. note: I've written about the Alliance before.]

And, in my spare time, I'm industry advisor to Cogniciti a new joint venture between MaRS, Canada's premier innovation centre, and Baycrest Hospital, one of the world's leading cognitive science institutes. Cogniciti commercializes programs to support brain fitness. Translation? Using science to help us sharpen our mental edge.

How did you get the gig?

I got these gigs the same way I always do.

One, I love talking to strangers (read: networking). Building strong relationships with a diverse group of fascinating people leads to new introductions which, in turn, leads to new adventures. For instance, I was referred to the PwC partners through a colleague and we had some conversations about which new innovation would transform the customer experience -- social media, of course! And that conversation led to the work I'm doing now.

Two, I love learning and playing different roles -- and finding ways to combine my skills and experiences in new configurations.

Three, I've always trusted that the next leg of my work journey would be better than the one before; that life would get progressively better as I grew older. I had some phenomenal role models. When I was a little girl, my family lived beside a formidable woman who, among other things, canoed across Upper New York State on her own in the 1920s -- young women just didn't do that sort of thing back then! And, later in life, she became a well-loved English teacher. Another remarkable 80-something woman introduced me to the Internet in 1995. One of the first female deans at a university, she thought that this academic communication network would change the world.

What's the best part of your job?

I get to dream and do -- from coming up with new perspectives about how people can and do use social technologies, to actually working with clients to test concepts and make them real. It takes courage to try new technologies that connect millions of people in an instant, so I have great admiration for those that take the plunge.

What would you tell emerging New Radicals?

I'm going to be corny and say choose your own path. Remember that you own the starring role in the movie of your life, so go ahead and grab the limelight. Get clear on your strengths and what makes your eyes twinkle, then set your goals, tell your story, connect with people, and you will make the best things happen. And don't forget that you're a role model to someone else -- pay it forward, please.

[You can reach Debbie Dimoff at]


Ripe, riper, ripest. Will everyone over 60 please stand up and cheer? The Purpose Prize Winners were announced this week, and what a fine and inspiring group of human beings they are! The Purpose Prize honors people over 60 who are working to improve their communities and our world. (Heck, everyone under 60 can join in, too!) And let's all celebrate the Nov. 13 release of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. After seven and a half years of house arrest, she was greeted at the gate of her compound by thousands of jubilant supporters.