Hacking Possibility | Shelli Rae Varela | TEDxSantaBarbara

  • Published on Sep 20, 2016
  • Shelli Varela is a trailblazer and pioneer in the hyper-competitive world of firefighting.
    She delivers a compelling and entertaining argument for not only rethinking what we believe is possible, but hacking how to get there.
    For over two decades, Shelli Varela has been blazing trails both literally and figuratively. Hired in 1994 as the first female firefighter in Canada’s 6th largest city, she went on to earn the coveted “Firefighter of the Year Award” twice and is a former traveling member of “Firefighters Without Borders” where she and her team were deployed to Honduras.

    Shelli authored a children’s book called “Peanut Meets the Pigtailed Firefighter” and is the creator of the Mindset Mastery program, in which she dedicates herself to showing others how they, too, can hack possibility, reach their full potential, and live a life of purpose and impact.
    This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at ted.com/tedx

Comments • 86

  • Steven Calhoun
    Steven Calhoun 2 days ago

    wow you did our job

  • Scott Thorstenson
    Scott Thorstenson 15 days ago

    I'd like to use some of your inspiring words especially for our recruiting campaign. Thank you for sharing an incredible story. Be Safe out there Capt.

  • Lucy T
    Lucy T 2 months ago

    So Proud and respect for all the women and men fire department!!

  • Ameilia Pond
    Ameilia Pond 2 months ago

    She explained my life (cosmetology and art) to a T. Becoming a Firefighter was the best thing I've ever done.

  • V Vogt
    V Vogt 3 months ago

    Awesome Life Story.

  • Nick Leonard
    Nick Leonard 3 months ago

    Why is she wearing her bunker gear on stage? Yes let's spread cancer to hundreds of innocent people that dont need it

    • Pat Tyrrell
      Pat Tyrrell 11 days ago

      Ummm.....our fire stations have industrial washing machines to clean our gear, plus how do you know she didnt a) wash it thoroughly before attending this TED talk, or b) bring fresh, unworn bunker gear to use specifically for this presentation? Don't assume because....well, you know what that makes you.

  • Javada Stewart
    Javada Stewart 3 months ago

    Thank you for this video I’m preparing for my cpat test you just gave me so much motivation ♥️

  • 🌍 Mister No
    🌍 Mister No 6 months ago

    Women are joke.

  • Walt King
    Walt King 7 months ago

    Big freakin deal she's a female civilian firefighter am I supposed to be impressed I serve 6 years in army including the tour of Duty and Iraq in 2006 in a little city called Fallujah and guess what they were female soldiers they went out on patrol they fought firefights in 120 degrees Heat they were a real uniform and served our country not just their community so I'm not too impressed by any female civilian police officer or firefighter!!!!

    • Pat Tyrrell
      Pat Tyrrell 6 days ago

      +Walt King Thank you for your military service to your country (I am not from the US by the way, but both my parents were in the Royal Air Force and my father was also in the Royal Canadian Air Force). I don't understand how you feel that firefighters/paramedics/police officers are not serving their communities, just because those jobs are civilian. You served your country in a military capacity, and many others served and still serve their communities in a civilian capacity. They are different types of service, but service nonetheless. No where in my previous comments did I say that a firefighter's job was better or more important than your job in the military, I merely stated it was a different type of community service. But I will ask you this...if a firefighter risked his/her life by entering a burning building and rescued a person who could not get out of that burning building by themselves, would that not make that firefighter a hero? If not, if you think that the firefighter was 'just doing their job' or doing what they were paid to do', then I would suggest that soldiers/airmen/sailors who serve at home or overseas are not heroes either, they are 'just doing what they are paid to do...their jobs'.

    • Walt King
      Walt King 9 days ago

      +Pat Tyrrellfirst of all I don't need some civilian let me say that again a civilian first responder tell me about serving I served my country to Military and I still serve my country federal civil service and it's very obvious that you never served in the military and you are not a veteran because compared in the military two civilian First Responders who are local public employees no different than any other local public employee to the military it's like comparing a US Marine to a girl scout its military appreciation month go out and do something for the heroes that protect you and your friends so you can run around playing paramilitary wannabesalso Memorial Day is coming up in another week it's a federal holiday one of many that the military and veterans get I'm sure there's a parade or a event near you go to it and see some real heroes that wore a real uniform and served our country the military and my fellow veterans oh by the way you're welcome for your freedom!!!😀😀🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    • Pat Tyrrell
      Pat Tyrrell 11 days ago

      +Walt King The point is that we serve our communities in different ways. Firefighting is different than military service but is equally as important. And now that you are back home safely and back in civilian life, who you will you call if your house catches fire, or a family member suffers a heart attack. Oh yeah, CIVILIAN firefighters....funny how it works out that way.

    • Angelica Guerrero
      Angelica Guerrero Month ago

      While you were out there taking lives, she was out there saving lives.

  • Walter King
    Walter King 8 months ago

    What's the big deal so she's a civilian firefighter what's that supposed to mean their women serving right now in combat zones Iraq Afghanistan that makes anything a civilian firefighter faces on the job look like a cakewalk!!!!!!

    • Barb Keen
      Barb Keen 7 months ago

      +chansen plfdemsc - He's belittling fire fighters in the comment section. He seems very narcissist to me. But that's just my opinion.

    • chansen plfdemsc
      chansen plfdemsc 7 months ago +1

      Just like we thank those in the Military for their service, the same should be done for those in the fire service. What are you doing now that your tours of duty are over?

    • laeneel
      laeneel 7 months ago +2

      .....for starters I think you've missed the point of her talk......secondly you obviously have no idea what "civilian" firefighters do or see on a regular basis....

  • matthew pakkala
    matthew pakkala 8 months ago +3

    So inspiring

  • lucy5052
    lucy5052 8 months ago +3

    You are an inspiration!!!! Way to go!!! Thank you for what you bring for women and the fire service.

  • Angelica Guerrero
    Angelica Guerrero 9 months ago +3

    This is amazing. I'm going to college right now, but once I graduate I'll be enrolling in the fire academy.

  • Sunilnand Vijayarathna
    Sunilnand Vijayarathna 11 months ago

    Very very good on yaaa girl , You made me sooo proud . Bless you a hundred years ...... Peace .

  • Jerry Bruckhart
    Jerry Bruckhart 11 months ago +2

    I was a volunteer for 25 years and generally speaking am not a proponent of women in the fire service, in large part because all to often the standards are lowered to the lowest denominator. Apparently you earned it fair and square, good for you, and welcome to the brotherhood.

    • Pat Tyrrell
      Pat Tyrrell 11 days ago

      And Brotherhood has HER in its spelling!

  • Captain
    Captain Year ago

    That's the reason your children will burn if there's fire. She won't be able to kick the door off.

    • Pat Tyrrell
      Pat Tyrrell 11 days ago

      +Ben Cetrov And that is why firefighters always go in to fires with a partner...it's for their safety as well. Don't believe what you see on TV, that is not real life, at least not in my former department. There's no room for freelancing.

    • Ben Cetrov
      Ben Cetrov 6 months ago

      She will need partner for tools

    • Barb Keen
      Barb Keen 7 months ago +2

      You don't " kick the door off". There's tools to get the door open within seconds. Google, TVclip it. Technology is a wonderful thing!

  • GlennSteffy
    GlennSteffy Year ago +1

    ..............YESSS ..........!!!!!!! .................

  • Alfonso perez
    Alfonso perez Year ago +2

    Only 136 pounds up the stairs?
    That how much the males do too? If it is thats a little.

    • Pat Tyrrell
      Pat Tyrrell 11 days ago

      +mrlawilliamsuk Warmachine As she stated in the video, she was a 10K a day runner, pretty fit so thought that she was ok for the test. But after having done the test, she learned that she needed to to more, so she did. Taking that test ain't cheap either, and it comes out of your own pocket!

    • mrlawilliamsuk Warmachine
      mrlawilliamsuk Warmachine 6 months ago

      When she says about the specs for the physical, I actually was surprised she hadn’t worked out the test b4 applying. BUT when she failed, I’m glad she went back. I nearly cried watching this...wth??

    • Jerry Bruckhart
      Jerry Bruckhart 11 months ago

      Actually 136 isn't a little, try it sometime in full turn out gear.

  • Sam Ko
    Sam Ko Year ago +2

    Go Shelli!!!!!

  • Master Art Mason
    Master Art Mason Year ago

    Love it!

  • Salman Alshamrani
    Salman Alshamrani Year ago +1


  • Tj White
    Tj White Year ago +3

    do you know what's more worthless than a female firefighter?

    • Bryeana Rose
      Bryeana Rose 6 months ago +3

      Tj White a jealous wannabe FF that tries to demean female FFs on TVclip

    • Barb Keen
      Barb Keen 7 months ago +3

      Tj White- I know the answer! It's YOU!! What a a$$ you are! 🤦

    • Nicole Dee
      Nicole Dee Year ago +7

      Tj White this is the 2nd video I've seen that you're trashing female FF... is there a reason why?

  • Danielle Randall
    Danielle Randall Year ago +1

    Badass Shelli!

  • Richard Jones
    Richard Jones Year ago +2

    what an absolutely amazing young woman good on you

  • Suzy Ng
    Suzy Ng Year ago +3

    What an inspiration ❤️ I love Ted talks, but this one in particular talk is phenomenal. Being a female training to becoming a firefighter, and being the only female in my class, it's inspiring to hear of others chasing the same dream. Undoubtedly, I know my brothers in my academy are supportive, but it's a different feeling to have fire service sisters as well.

  • scott larson
    scott larson Year ago

    I didn't now there were TED talks in Santa Barbara

  • AiErudito __-_-__
    AiErudito __-_-__ Year ago +10

    This world doesn't need a Hero... it needs a Professional.
    She is a great example of Professional.

  • bmeyer2011
    bmeyer2011 Year ago +1

    congratulations you met minimum standards

  • Chris Jennings
    Chris Jennings Year ago +13

    You would be hired on my department in a second with that speech!!!! Outstanding.
    "You can't measure heart"... getting knocked down and fighting your way back up... that's a Fire Service Warrior.
    Keep Safe Brother/Sister (And Fellow Canuck!!!)

    • Walt King
      Walt King 6 months ago +1

      Oh big deal a female civilian firefighter Whoopi f****** do you want to see some real heroes Veterans Day is coming up since it's a national holiday I'm sure there's a parade or event near you why don't you go to it and see some of my brothers some real heroes he wore real uniform my fellow veterans and serve their country!!!!!

  • Paetyn Parman
    Paetyn Parman Year ago +11

    That picture of her pulling her mom is classic!

  • Robert Daggett
    Robert Daggett Year ago +2

    She says she broke it down...NFPA did that already. Its in the JPRs!

  • Linda Strader
    Linda Strader Year ago +11

    I was one of the first women on a U.S. Forest Service fire crew in the mid-1970s. It amazes me how not much has changed for women working in a "man's" job. I heard things like 'women belong barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen' and how I couldn't handle the job, how I would make more work for the men on my crew, how they worried I would get hurt...I was denied jobs for which I was fully qualified. But that didn't stop me from continuing to work in job I loved. My memoir about my 7 years as a firefighter will be traditionally published on May 1st, 2018.

    • Pat Tyrrell
      Pat Tyrrell 11 days ago

      +Jamie Reyes What a ridiculous thing to say.

    • Jamie Reyes
      Jamie Reyes 5 months ago

      It is man's job. Stop trying to become what you are not. Women belong at home taking care of their children. That's why families are broken today.

    • Linda Strader
      Linda Strader Year ago

      Thank you, Eliza! Summers of Fire will be released May 1, 2018. No, I've not read Fire Woman. I'll have to check it out!

    • Pearls-for-cats
      Pearls-for-cats Year ago

      I would love to read your memoir once it comes out, have you read "fire woman" by Josephine Reynolds?

  • sorry dishwasher
    sorry dishwasher Year ago

    Most collages just offer programs with training, pt, and hands on practice fire.

  • Wendy Lynn
    Wendy Lynn Year ago

    Such an inspiration!

  • jaggy319
    jaggy319 Year ago +1

    ***ASphalt***. (aSS Fault)

  • Redlibra k
    Redlibra k Year ago +2

    When they said you couldn't do it , God said you can!!!! Strong massage

  • K Marie
    K Marie Year ago +47

    After 4 years of studying, training, and physically preparing...I have been hired and begin academy this year. This TED talk is EVERYTHING. I'll be watching every week until I graduate because it inspires me to be the best I can be, and to never give up. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Walt King
      Walt King 4 months ago

      +Danielle Micale I never said there was a competition between them there's no way no how because you can't compare the military two civilian First Responders and police their local public employees and as far as both of them being deserving of recognition the military and veterans are recognized but I'm just pointing out a fact how many federal holidays do local First Responders and police get none!!!!!

    • Danielle Micale
      Danielle Micale 4 months ago +1

      Walt King this isn’t a competition over what group is best, and who should and should not be honored. Both vets and first responders do their part to serve their country, and both groups are very needed and necessary. Both should be honored.
      Thank you for your service, and have a blessed evening.

    • Walt King
      Walt King 4 months ago

      No one gives a s*** Whoopi do a civilian firefighter a local public employee we're a real uniform and serve your country in the United States military then you got something to be proud of there's a reason why civilian First Responders and police don't have any federal holidays because the federal government and the American people know who the real heroes are the military and veterans!!!;;

    • Suzy Ng
      Suzy Ng Year ago

      You go girl! I hope all is well, and you're having the time of your life in the Academy!

  • Varelativity
    Varelativity 2 years ago

    Love It! Posted to my Facebook Page!

  • AN JR
    AN JR 2 years ago +3

    i needed to hear this. Thank you sooo much!!

  • Vic Krue
    Vic Krue 2 years ago +1

    This is one awesome woman. 5'2" of 110% packed full of motivation, this woman is an awesome example of what you can do if you really want to.
    Good looking gal to... :-)


    Bro 😎 She Is My FIRE🔥CAPTAIN 🚒 🚑 💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓

  • Doughnuts And Muscle
    Doughnuts And Muscle 2 years ago +24

    I'm literally crying. This is amazing and beyond motivating.
    I'm trying to be a paramedic / firefighter... this has motivated me so much. THANK YOU .


    0h Wow She Looking Sexy In Bunker Gear aka Turn0ut Gear!! 👍👍

  • Nancy Ryan
    Nancy Ryan 2 years ago +4

    Excellent! Moving! Authentic! Thank you, Shelli!

  • MCplicki
    MCplicki 2 years ago +2

    She is amazing!!

  • Carina Asp
    Carina Asp 2 years ago +1

    Thank you for sharing such valuable insights and experiences to show that every one can realise their own potential! WOW.

  • Christine Dwyer
    Christine Dwyer 2 years ago +11

    Girl! You nailed it! =) Super proud of you!

  • Deborah Lund
    Deborah Lund 2 years ago +5

    You are a force to be reckoned with my friend..So very proud of you!!!

  • The Revitalized Woman
    The Revitalized Woman 2 years ago


  • Alli Saunders
    Alli Saunders 2 years ago +20

    This woman is insanely inspiring! Love her honesty and dedication!

  • Mmmarvel the person
    Mmmarvel the person 2 years ago +4

    Great talk, thanks for giving the world the opportunity to view it. Bottom line, this is what life is all about. Even doing a job that you're not thrilled about, to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of your family is a heroic deed. Even IF that job isn't the one of your dreams then do it as Dr MLK said, "If you're a street sweeper, be the best damn street sweeper you can be". That idea, that commitment to a job, to a family, to an idea will make you a better person.

  • Mister Raider
    Mister Raider 2 years ago +4

    I seen big chi_Chi on the thumbnail, that's why I here!

  • Mister Raider
    Mister Raider 2 years ago +23

    I seen big titties in the thumbnail, that's why I'm here!