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Mindsets, Leadership, and Creativity: The Essential Teachings from the CEO and Founder of Illuminate

Hi everyone! My name is Vithiah Vijayakumar, and I am a Grade 10 student at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute. I had the honour to attend Illuminate x Durham’s Speaker Time conference, with Alina Huang, the founder and CEO of Illuminate, joining us as a guest speaker. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned from this session. The insight on the professional corporate world, entrepreneurship and leadership from the session, especially from a hugely successful woman like Alina Huang, will be essential for my future career goals and personal development.


Alina shared that the reason she started the business was that she wasn’t doing well in school, and so decided to pursue entrepreneurship. I found this remarkably inspiring; the fact that she didn’t give up on herself when her grades started to drop and develop herself in other ways is something I wish to apply to myself as well.

Another key concept in the session was the comparison between a sage mindset and a saboteur mindset. Having a sage mindset allows one to be optimistic and willing to undertake a task. On the other hand, a saboteur mindset makes one feel negative and unmotivated when completing a task. It is human nature to have a saboteur mindset, however, Alina helped me realize the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, despite the challenge it might pose to be triumphant, as sages handle situations through positive emotions like gratitude, kindness, and creativity, while saboteurs handle situations through stress, anger, regret, or disappointment.

In addition to that, Alina also talked about leadership and how leadership means different things to everyone since we are all different leaders! The way we lead and the way we connect with others differs per person. This concept is something I have never thought about but makes so much sense! Someone does not have to change themselves to be a good leader, like having to become an extrovert rather than an introvert, but instead, one can be a great leader by being themselves.

What I enjoyed most about this session was the group activity, where we were given images of a cow, rocket ship, a garden space, and an explosion, and needed to create a business idea. Applying these creative skills needed for the professional corporate world was a great way to learn how to fuel my creativity and imagination.


In the end, this event highlighted the importance of not giving up on ourselves when we fail, how to have a sage mindset, the significance of our differences, and how that impacts our leadership and creativity! I greatly appreciated this advice, and I would just like to thank Illuminate x Durham for this amazing opportunity, and Alina Huang for taking the time to show how I can improve myself! Thank you so much!

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