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It All Comes Down To Who You Are

Hi everyone! My name is Naveena and I am a Grade 11 student at Lester B. Pearson CI. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate Leadership Academy Lecturer Sam Thiara’s presentation on Personal Branding. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about; I learnt about things that are implied but are never taught. Instead of learning about regular things such as how a certain profession works, etc. I learnt about how life works.

Sam Thiara taught us what he learnt from life, and told us stories of his experiences. Emphasis on “experiences”, as he taught us about those too. He told us about his Five Core Elements, which are: Servant Leadership, Story Sharing, Activator and Igniter, Champion and Enabler, and last but not least Community Do-Gooder. Sam’s assured us that everything comes down to who we are over what we do. He told us that we all have a brand, which does a similar job as product brands do. He gave us a couple of questions to determine who we are now, and informed us that people always change so our answers that determine who we are now will differ in the future. The questions that we received to determine our core elements were;

  1. What do you enjoy about your work and why?

  2. What do you not enjoy about your work and why?

  3. What classes did/do you enjoy and why?

  4. What class did/do you not enjoy and why?

  5. What do you do in your social time and why?

  6. What do you think about and why?

I can confidently say that I am someone who loves to be around people and connect with them on a more personal level. I am someone who likes to get duties off my to-do list as soon as possible, and does not like to repeat things more than necessary. I am also someone who is very punctual and expects the same from others. Finally I am someone who enjoys a challenge and is always looking for things to improve on. Therefore I can say that my Five Core Elements that I am not willing to compromise would be; communication and connection, prioritization, reliability and acceptance, reflecting, and improvement.

Communication and Connection:

I have noticed that the majority of conflict occurs due to lack of communication and/or connection. Through my experiences, presence in communication opens a door for understanding. Without communication or a sense of connection you cannot understand a person, idea, etc. Which leads to a greater possibility for conflict to rise. I believe that I can connect with people very easily as I have an outgoing personality.


I believe that you must prioritize things before you are able to accomplish your goal. I know that may sound a bit vague, but, personally I found that when I set my priorities straight I can make a better decision for myself, and accomplish my goals. Without prioritization I would be lost, scrambling to put my work together, or struggling to reach my goals.

Reliability and Acceptance:

At some points in life we all have to ask for help from someone. Therefore we should have at least one person to rely on. That's why I believe reliability is something of great value, because I feel like I must provide what I would expect from others. It is like when you were told as a kid to “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Acceptance is also something that is important to me because without accepting you cannot move on. If I make a mistake, and cannot accept that I made it I can’t move on or prevent it from relapsing in the future.


Reflecting is probably one of the most important things for me. This is something that I am confident I would never change. I always like to reflect on my day, or things that have happened before and think about my actions, and decisions I made. I think about how situations could have gone differently. Reflecting on myself helps shape who I am.


“There is always room for improvement.” In the past I had a teacher who always told me that, but I never took him seriously. As I grew older I came to realize that improvement is something that is important to me. Everyday when I reflect on myself, talk to others, accept my mistakes, I am improving who I am, and what I know. I am always looking for things that I can improve on, and always looking for feedback from peers in order to improve.

Sam taught things that I have never heard from others before, he taught us about

post-secondary, values, transactions and transformations, purpose over passion, goal over intention, the difference between a mentor and a coach, and much more. However, to keep it concise I will only talk about a few. The two key things that stuck would be the topic of transaction and transformation, and the analogies he used.

#1:transaction and transformation

Normally when I hear the word transaction I would think about something that relates to banking. But, Sam uses the word in different terms. He told us that transactions are like a routine and it's alright to make changes in life. He told us that the changes do not have to be drastic, and gave us an example from one of his experiences. He told us a story of when he went somewhere to buy food and asked the server how she was doing; he also asked her to give him what she would order. Instead of going through the same transaction of placing his order and paying, he conversed with the lady and tried what she would want. Not only did it make him happy, but it made the server happy, as she was never asked to do something like that before.

#2: The Analogies that he used

The analogies that Sam used were very simplistic but went a long way. He used analogies such as a lottery (opportunities that come up in life), and my personal favourite toothpaste. He explained that everyone is like a tube of toothpaste. You can squeeze the knowledge and advice out of a person just like you would squeeze a tube of toothpaste that looks empty. He then carried on to connect the analogy to one of his five core elements, being storytelling. He said everyone has a story. Without experiences you have no story. From that I can understand that a person may look like they have nothing they could provide be it stories, advice etc. But, like a tube of toothpaste you can squeeze whatever they have to provide; no one is empty, and no one has nothing to share.

Personal Statement:

I am the person I am today because of my experiences. I am an outgoing person who loves challenges because the people around me pushed me to be the best person I can be for myself. From elementary to now my teachers have always been tough on me, and when I asked for a reason as to why I was being pushed so much I always got the same answer. They always told me that I could do better. In grade 8 my teacher marked my work extra tough. When I received my work after it was marked I would be unsatisfied with my grade. Until one day my teacher took me outside of the class and told me that I could put more effort into what I do for a better outcome, she told me that she sees more potential in me than I see in myself. From Then on I tried my best in order to receive the marks that I desired.

To conclude, Sam’s lecture was one like no other, and an eyeopener. I can strongly say that the lessons that Sam provided will be of great use to me in my personal life, as I will assess and steady what life throws at me based on my elements. I would like to thank Sam for coming in and teaching me things that are out of the ordinary, and helping prepare me for the real world. I would also like to thank Illuminate for giving me the opportunity to attend the lecture, and broaden my knowledge.

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