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NZ Order of Merit Recipient, Author, Founder, Coach, Social Innovator


Minnie Baragwanath is an independent author, founder, coach, social innovator, and consultant. Minnie has been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit, the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award, the Westpac Women of Influence Diversity award, and the Zonta Women’s Award. She was also recognised as a top 10 finalist for the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

The latest chapter in Minnie’s pioneering story focuses on possibility, with its unique emphasis on ‘Possibility leadership, design and innovation’ as the key to future social transformation. The possibility lens, unique to Aotearoa but applicable to people everywhere, zeros in on the concept of ‘with’, which puts forward a whole new social contract that speaks deeply to the notion of self-determination and true partnership.

As Minnie says, “In every moment of every day, we have the choice whether or not to birth an accessible future. The key to an accessible future of possibility lies in the concept of being with access leaders and pioneers. It challenges the notion of inclusion, which is still limiting because it depends on people inviting other people to the table - and doesn’t ask who is doing the inviting and whether there should be a table at all.

‘With’ is about intersectionality, acknowledging that every person is many things. With embraces possibility leadership as the mechanism and worldview to imagine and create a future of possibility, beyond current limiting paradigms, and beyond current concepts of disability and accessibility.”

Minnie’s book Blindingly Obvious, which crystallises her life and work, is on track to become the most accessible book in the world, translated into all three official languages of Aotearoa and published in multiple formats (including audio and video with NZ Sign Language interpreter) for access citizens. Her work is informed by her personal story as a blind woman and a survivor of breast cancer and serious cardiovascular illness.

In the media, Minnie stands out as an articulate and confident advocate for the global accessibility community. She has participated in numerous interviews with print, broadcast, and online media, contributing extensively to discussions on possibility, social opportunity, and the access economy. Her vision, energy, and passion shine through in every article, soundbite, and frame.

Minnie’s work and study as an access innovator and social entrepreneur extends over 25 years and has included many diverse roles. Amid the variety of global projects she is undertaking, including many international speaking opportunities and presentations, Minnie is the founder (in 2020) and Chief Possibility Officer of the Global Centre of Possibility at AUT.

This is the second social enterprise she founded and led after establishing (along with an extraordinary team and board) Be. Accessible, the social change agency committed to the creation of a 100% accessible Aotearoa, particularly for the 25% of people living with an access need. In 2019 Minnie led the transformation of Be. Accessible into the Be. Lab

Minnie is an experienced, lively, and captivating public speaker who has addressed audiences around the globe and can speak compellingly and empathetically with anyone about why access matters and how to reimagine our world through a contemporary access lens.

Talking Points

Possibility leadership and the power of ‘with’

A leadership framework for your organisation. Developing the ability to reframe as a leader - how to bring a fresh lens to old problems

Minnie can explain what ‘with’ means and why understanding it, and applying it in your organisation and with your people, opens up a new world of possibility and allows you to access untapped potential. It is about a new, broader, and deeper understanding of diversity, with leadership frameworks that are about
accessibility but are not exclusive to the access community.

Includes examples of how to understand, manifest, and apply ‘with’ if you are running an organisation today or if you want to introduce ‘with’ and possibility thinking into your organisation -regardless of size, industry, location. If there are people, they can be ‘with’ each other and their communities, customers and clients, partners and suppliers.

Building resilience in your life, your team, your organisation

Minnie can discuss, using examples from her own life, what to do when you come up against resistance, obstacles, or failure. She will talk about how, when denied entry into a tertiary course in television due to her blindness, she pivoted to radio. She recounts how she travelled the world, navigating mega-cities like New York and Tokyo, as a blind woman; how she overcame naysayers in an important public sector role for which she had no support and almost no funding, and used the role to springboard into founding her own
social change organisation; and how she has repeatedly found the strength to advocate for others, even when going through personal travails such as cancer and its complications.

Knockbacks are universal, and they happen to all of us. Every obstacle and setback has been used by Minnie as an opportunity to create something new and better. How does she do it?
Does she have a particular toughness of character, or are there tools she’s applied, tricks she’s used, or mantras she’s repeated that anyone can learn?

Reframing “diversity and inclusion” in practice

Minnie can discuss a new way of thinking about ‘diversity and inclusion’ in terms of what it means to be in
conversation with the access community.

These are designed to be provocative conversations that challenge people’s comfort level around the concepts of diversity and inclusivity and push them to think differently and challenge their own unconscious bias.

Minnie can talk about how setbacks and major health events throughout her life - including her diagnosis as a
teenager with a congenital condition that made her legally blind and surviving life-threatening illnesses as an adult - taught her how to think about people and possibility differently than perhaps any leader ever has.

She can offer a guide for thinking beyond the buzzwords - how to apply practices of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ to make your organisation stronger, more successful, more appealing to its audiences and customer base; how to invest in employees, attract and retain the right people, and help stakeholders keep learning as you go.

Future-focused possibility leadership

Minnie can talk about her lived experience, which has proved that true disruption isn’t like launching a new
chocolate bar to the market. Email, the electric toothbrush, the telephone, visual recognition technology - these are all innovations that emerged from the access community in response to unmet needs there. Many of our great entrepreneurs are people with access needs (Richard Branson, for example, has talked about his dyslexia), and because of these needs they live and work in a rich, generative space that is about ideation, problem-solving, adding the ‘un’ to ‘conventional’.

Possibility leadership is about tapping into the resources that reside in the access community and working ‘with’ people in this community of rich innovation. Possibility thinking is imaginative thinking, opportunity thinking, opening the space to questioning how things have always been done.
Chorus experienced the joy of Minnie as a keynote speaker at our annual Leadership Conference in November 2022. The vibrancy of Minnie’s heartfelt way of sharing her inspirational story created immediate connection with everyone in the audience. At the same time, Minnie effectively weaves into her talk the ongoing issues and societal challenges around accessibility. Minnie has an outstanding ability to engage and educate on just how necessary changes in accessibility are for companies. Minnie has left our leaders with a strong desire to take action to improve accessibility and to be more inclusive to those who need it most. Her presentation was a highlight for many at the conference Chorus
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