How the mayor of Calgary decided to run for office. Hint: it all started with a TEDx Talk

TED Blog


When Naheed Nenshi spoke at TEDxCalgary, he was a university professor. Now, he’s the mayor of Calgary.

In May of 2010, just a month after giving a TEDx talk, Nenshi launched a successful campaign for mayor—one dubbed the “purple revolution” because of his aim to bring together conservative red and liberal blue. He won the election by a commanding lead, becoming Canada’s first Muslim mayor in the process. In 2013, the former consultant and media commentator—whose academic research focused on civic engagement—ran for re-election. This time, he captured 74% of the vote with the Toronto Star describing him as “wildly popular.”

Nenshi traces his decision to run for office back to being asked to give a TEDx talk.

“I was doing research on neighborhoods in Calgary and how they were becoming more segregated—by income, by age and by ethnicity,” he says. “I thought that the TED environment would be…

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