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It's The Who That Matters, Not The What

Hi everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic morning, afternoon, or evening from wherever you are reading this blog! My name is Rizwan Tahmeed, a Grade 11 student at Woburn Collegiate Institute. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate Leadership Academy Lecturer Sam Thiara’s presentation on Personal Branding. I learned so many things, explored topics I have never had the time to ponder about, and engaged in several interactive discussions while taking away tips, tricks, and lessons. Personal branding is more crucial than ever before in an ever-developing world. It is the outlet for individuals to show how they are different from each other, unique, and what makes them the person they are today.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of my highlights of the lecture, it was an honor to attend and listen to Sam's wisdom. The execution of the event was perfect. The session itself got me engaged, provoked critical thinking and deep reflection, and fun! I believe that the question of "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is an overrated and overused one. We continuously get asked this question, and our response is always an occupation or profession, but not who do I want to be, achieve, or portray to others. Sam's perspective and focus on the who rather than the what made this session so memorable.

One of my key highlights was finding an approach to identify my core elements. It was uncommon in nature and led me in a different direction compared to any other approaches I heard of before. The questions that he shared were impactful once I sat down and thought of five things that I value in life. Prior to this lecture, I did hear about the importance of personal branding, but I did not know how to approach identifying my brand. Answering those questions helped me find an approach that worked for me and distinguish five core values I firmly believe to be important to me and hold tremendous value to my heart. Below identified are my five core elements as follows:

1. Accountability: I believe that being accountable for your actions, decisions, and mistakes is crucial and shows character, which leads to transparency. Although the world is becoming technologically advanced and discoveries are made each year, the ability for humans to take responsibility for their actions and remain transparent will stay the same. Accountability helps us value our work, realize and recognize the impact we are creating, and enrich the experiences we formulate with other people.

2. Growth: I believe that being open to growth and taking opportunities to learn, no matter how big or small, can teach us lessons we may not originally perceive in the beginning. Our first jobs are often ones we never thought of being in; however, the lessons taught through that first job are vital. Each job is a stepping stone to the next. There is always something to learn, even though you may think you know it all.

3. Structure and Organization: One of my skills is being organized, and part of that is having a structure. I do not like to enter into situations blindly and with no flow between the parties involved. Having some sort of structure or flow is crucial. Having this flow allows me to know what I need to do, what items need to be done, how to dedicate my time, and learn what I could do better at the end.

4. Balance: As a high school student, I believe that having a balance between everything is crucial. I always check my capacity and take on roles only when I know I can dedicate time while staying committed to my other obligations such as clubs, academics, and volunteering.

5. Diversity: Everyone always has something to offer, no matter how big or small. As leaders, it is up to us to determine how to incorporate that perspective and utilize an individual's unique skill set. Sometimes what they may offer or suggest may be something you did not think of before. Having people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and countries is something I value.

Another key highlight was the eight tips I learned when I transition from high school to university. The first year of university is extremely stressful for everyone, and being prepared ahead of time can help me alleviate some of that tension. Some of the tips I learned were ones I never heard of before and helped me realize that university is not everything. It also made me recognize that if something hard happens during the first year, it is not the end of the world; I can always find ways to bounce back and be better than before as a person. Speaking of the tips, they are as follows:

1. Prioritize your time: Use your time management skills to know what needs to be done and delegate adequate time for each of the tasks you have to do.

2. Learn how to study: Finding how you study and what method works best for when it comes to learning before you enter university is crucial for success. Continuously relearn and reflect on your studying techniques to make adjustments so you can be successful.

3. Be organized: Find techniques or tools to help you keep track of your tasks and balance your time between clubs, studies, university obligations, and family.

4. Manage stress: Find coping techniques that work for you, destress your mind, and take your mind away from anything university-related for a while.

5. A low mark is not the end of the world: Know that a low mark does not mean you have to quit or leave university. Acknowledge that this is a possibility and find ways to bounce back from this situation if it happens.

6. Take your time choosing your courses: Do not limit yourself to courses related to your major only. Take different courses that may not seem interesting at first glance. Incorporate classes that you feel would help you learn things that set you up for success besides the required courses. Every subject has lessons to offer, and you may not see them at first.

7. Help is available: Do not be afraid to ask for help. Leaning on someone and taking the courage to ask for help is the first step. People want to see you succeed and are always glad to mentor, help, or provide mentorship when someone asks for one.

8. Enjoy the Experience: We always get sucked up in the technical aspects of certain things we do, but never take the time to enjoy the moment and experience. University is a big chapter in life and a new experience that you get once in your life if you are not planning to do graduate school. Once you are older, if you come back to campus, you will be reminded of the fun times and memories. Thus, always have a balance between studying and fun; enjoy the campus, opportunities, and the people at the university.

One final key highlight of the lecture was the concept of CARE, which was something I never heard of before the workshop. Care stands for the following: collaborate, adaptability, resilience, and empathy. As I mentioned, the world is becoming technology-driven and dependent. However, our ability to work with others, adapt, be flexible, get through moments, and understand what others go through will remain the same.

With all of that said and the nitty-gritty over with, I can most definitely conclude that the topics explored, concepts covered, tips, tricks, and lessons from Sam opened perspectives never opened before. Sam's lecture was indeed valuable, and one that I would not forget. Let me end off with my personal statement below, and thank you for reading my blog post:

Personal Statement: I am someone who is accountable for my actions, decisions, and the mistakes I make in life. There is always room for growth, personal development, and learning, no matter how big or small, grand or dull, minor or impactful. By taking this mindset and approach, I can learn things that I have never heard or thought of before. Everyone offers different perspectives and ideas, which makes the value of diversity one of my five core elements. As I grow up, I wish to become someone who provides support, guidance, structure, and empowerment to individuals while emphasizing the importance of being transparent and responsible. All of these things make me someone that can lead others and have a unique balance between life, work, academics, and enjoyment.


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