Over the last few months I’ve been telling you about American Express Canada’s Room For Thought initiative.  The program called on talented, inspirational Canadians to submit their unique ideas with the hope that they’d be given opportunity to realize their potential and turn those ideas into reality.  The ideas flowed in and you were called on to vote for the ideas that moved you.

The winners were announced in early October, and since then Andrew, Lisa, and Evan have been working with their respective mentors Emily Haines, Marc and Craig Kielburger, and Les Stroud to move their ideas along.  

The Room For Thought, located in Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, was open to the public until November 22.  I was there  November 21 and had the opportunity to speak with Travel and Adventure mentor Les Stroud and his mentee Evan Malach, about Evan’s winning idea Second Chance Travel.

Second Chance Travel will offer underprivileged youth who’ve overcome adversity the opportunity to go on an adventure abroad: survivors who will help people in other parts of the world with their own quests for survival.

It was an inspiring but ambitious vision. And this was the challenge - Evan was capable of coming up with the Big Idea, but how do you go from there to actually making it happen?

This is purpose of the Room For Thought program, understanding that imagination must be supported. In Evan’s case, the support came from Les Stroud. And when Les Stroud is your mentor, well, you need to put in the work. Survivorman has no time for entitled dreamers without a plan. He put the heat on Evan and Evan gratefully acknowledges that it was Les who helped him focus to find his direction and develop an actionable plan that could move his idea forward.

It’s this mentor-mentee relationship that forms the core of the Room For Thought program; the core is also what has made it successful. There’s not enough “I don’t know” in the world anymore, particularly with the Facebook generation. It’s like people are too afraid to say it. Because it means weakness?

You know how much farther we could get with more “I don’t knows”? It’s in line with what Stroud told me about the value of the mentor-mentee collaboration: “ultimately it will save you time”.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the Room For Thought installations for yourself, visit the Room For Thought American Express Canada Facebook page for inspirational content from each of the mentors, behind-the-scenes video of the mentoring process plus unique insights into how a simple idea can grow into something amazing.

I hope you enjoy the installations and wish that they inspire you.   I’d like to thank American Express Canada for sharing Room For Thought with us from the beginning and commend them on this innovative way to engage the community.