Thought Catalysts: Matt Galloway on Listening

July 19, 2017 Matt Galloway, Speakers' Spotlight

There are leaders and then there are followers. Generally the idea is to be the former. 

But perhaps it's worth a shot to look at this phrase the other way around. Maybe to be a leader, it's worth being a follower. 

The people who lead the way with awesome ideas and unique talents did so by acquiring knowledge and applying it in new and interesting ways. We all need to learn stuff to lead stuff. And those who do it best inspire others to act. 

They are Thought Catalysts. Here they are as told by the movers and shakers from Speakers' Spotlight

Along the way, he brings light to the stories and issues that touch our lives, uniting people from all corners of the city as they drink their coffee or head to work.

Through his interviews with people — whether government pundits or city organizers, whether a wealthy philanthropist or a person struggling to get by — Matt closes the gap between what separates us, illuminates that which embroils us, and shows us that we have more in common than we do not.

For his unique presence on the airwaves, Matt received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws [in June] from his alma mater, York University.

Praised as a “true champion of diversity, creativity and social justice,” by the dean of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, Matt took to the stage to deliver his address, in front of an audience where he once sat as a young graduate himself.

It would be easy to think that the man from the radio would have extolled the power of a person’s voice to be heard, that maybe he would have even extolled the power of his voice to be heard, but instead, Matt focussed on what he learned from his early days in radio at York — about the power of being quiet, about the power of listening.

“I like to say that I talk for a living,” Matt said, “that’s not really true. In the best case scenario, I listen for a living.”

Matt explained that in the studio, he has a note affixed to his scripts that reads “stop talking” — it serves as a reminder for him to let his guest speak, and it’s there during absolutely every interview he conducts.

“We live in a culture now where people love to talk,” he explained. “It’s very easy to talk…Shouting has become kind of a default tone for many people — from presidents to pundits to a lot of people who have a Twitter handle.”

Matt went on to say that while we live in a world with more media platforms than ever for people to harness to put their thoughts out there, he shared his hope that the students would use them as much, or more, as tools to listen.

He beseeched the graduates to use social media as a conduit to “punch out of the bubbles” they may find themselves in, and to “pause before firing back at somebody who says something stupid.”

“My request” Matt asked of the students as he closed, “is to be an active listener. A vigorous listener. Someone who leans forward and wants to hear what other people are saying. It will change your life, but it will change how you see the lives of other people as well.”

For using his voice to encourage people to listen, we chose Matt Galloway as our Speak of the Week.

If you'd like to learn more about Speakers' Spotlight and its roster of speakers, email Speakers' Spotlight at 

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