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Don't look at a person by "what" they are, but see them as "who" they are.

Hey Everyone! My name is Arrad Mostafa and I will be a grade 12 student at Sir Wilfrid Laurier next school year. A few days ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Illuminate Leadership Academy lecturer, Sam Thiara’s, speak on Personal Branding. His talk completely changed my insight and allowed me to understand the importance of the person and not the situation they are in. Here are some of the main key points I learned.

Transitions to Post-Secondary:

We first spoke on the difference between high school and post-secondary education. Personally, this is a very uncomfortable topic. I always tend to feel uneasy and stressed when talking about the future when I think about all the upcoming competitions and obstacles that I will undoubtedly have to face. Then Sam started to share 8 tips for a successful transition to post-secondary. Out of all the key points he shared the one that resonated within me the most was “A low mark isn’t the end of the world”. This hit me really hard because, at school, everything is about having a very good average and being a constant top student. But Sam was able to help me understand that marks aren’t everything. Humans aren’t judged by a number given to them but by the type of person they really are.

We continued our talk along the same lines of the future and asked the most frequent question we hear of as a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and talked about how it narrowed down our focus to the “what” and not the “who”. Sam Thiara opened us up to the concept of Personal Branding and guided us to find our own 5 Core Elements.

5 Core Elements:

In this section of the talk, Sam explained that the 5 Core Elements are 5 values that are so important to you and are non-compromisable. He explained that his core elements are Servant Leadership, Story Sharing, Activator and Igniter, Champion and Enabler, and a Community Do-Gooder. During his talk, I was having a lot of trouble coming up with my own 5 elements. I never was given a task like this ever before at I felt as if I was in uncharted waters. Ironically, I traveling in my own soul. Mr. Thiara said that there is a very good chance that our 5 core elements will change as we start to value some traits more than others. So, after long periods of decision-making, I determined 5 core elements that are non-compromisable to the present me, and I wish to share them with you today.


The person at fault should openly take accountability for their mistakes. There shouldn't have a debate over the blame. I hold honesty and accountability in high regard as I expect the other group to uphold their responsibilities. If there are any inconveniences they should be shared openly before it becomes a huge problem later.


Whenever 2 parties will have to exchange information or work together, it is critical that there is trust in both sides to assure that all transactions are smooth. I have had personal experiences that where the trust I gave was not given back and resulted in a conflict that affected everyone.


Since I hold honesty, accountability, and trust as some of my core elements, it is also certain that the relationships that I build with people are very important to me. I would say that i am a very social person and I always find myself in the need to talk with someone or have any form of human interaction.

Community Helper

Helping out in my community is something that I have been up taking for a long period of time. I would say it is like a hobby of mine and I love interacting with different types of people.


It is important to understand that anything can happen to a person at any time. You have no idea what someone else is going through and you have no right to judge either. It's never good to make assumptions. I always try my best to keep an open mind when speaking to someone. If I notice that they are currently heated, I wait for a better time when everything cooled down and then continue our chat.

Along with the 5 core elements, I have also learned how to create a personal statement

My personal statement:

I am someone who believes that relationships are one of the most important elements that can either make or break a person. There needs to be a balance of trust and honesty from both sides to make any interaction successful. Accountability is also a major factor. I have had past experiences where my colleagues have not owned up and took responsibility for their mistakes and attempted to turn the fault towards myself. Due to this experience, I have learned that everyone, myself included, should accept that they made a mistake and should try their best to make up for it. It is always a good idea to keep an open mind when having a conversation because you never know or understand what the other person is facing. Continuing my relationships with others, I try to help out in the community the best as I can to gain different perspectives and widen my sense of view.

The Final Piece:

Mr. Thiara ended his talk with connectedness. He gave an analogy of a puzzle set. One single puzzle is seemingly irrelevant and you can't really do much without it. but, if you were to think of it as the puzzle will not ever be completed without the final piece, then it holds more value. We are more important than we sometimes believe we are and it is always important to stay connected. I wanted to thank illuminate for this wonderful opportunity and for Mr. Thiara for his talk. I can't wait to see what we will do next.


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