Hello fellow students!! My name is Jason Wan, I am a grade 11 student attending St Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School. On April 24th (2021), I had the chance to attend an Illuminate x MidtownTO’s regional conference where my team and 11 other teams competed to win a prize of $500 and listen to 2 business owners speak about their experience. This conference was for lack of a better word, a really fun event where I learned many things and overall, was a small step towards future success.
To begin, this conference pushed me to reach out of my comfort zone and gather a small team. I have to say, I'm not a naturally extroverted person and I've mentioned this to Alex, the guy who told me about the conference, that I don't exactly think I have many friends. Moreover, I had literally no experience with this kind of thing either. This of course, led me to have little confidence in being able to actually gather a group of people who would want to spend $35 and half of their day on an event they knew little about. But, you have to start from somewhere, and so I took this opportunity to just try, and well... it worked.
Moving on to the actual conference, as previously mentioned, I did get to listen to two very successful entrepreneurs about their experiences and all in all, I found both of their presentations very interesting and payed extra attention on their advice on how to run a business as well as their views on the future. I do have a little nitpick, or really, a suggestion. I was much less interested in the second presentation than the first presentation, and this I believe, has to do with the fact that the presentation was right after the competition. Of course this is just my own opinion, but I think it would have been much better to have the two presentations back-to-back. Alex did say to me that back-to-back presentations would cause people to lose interest, but I must disagree; neither presentations were too long, interest would not have been lost if topics in the second presentation were also included in the kahoot (the prize money would keep people's attention), and frankly, having the second presentation follow right after the competition catches the participants at a rather awkward mental state, where participants are now mentally drained from the competition and are only focused on how well they did in it. But again, this is just my humble opinion. Other than this nitpick, I really enjoyed the kahoot (and would've liked more of them), as well as the competition.
Lastly, the competition, and oh wow was that an amazing experience. I consider myself a very competitive person, and well, to me the main selling point of this conference had to have been the competition. To be honest, I didn't care too much about the prize money, $500 ($100/person) in the grand scheme of things, is really nothing. I enjoyed the competition fully for its experience; I loved that feeling of grit, pressure, and urgency. Furthermore, it was also a great opportunity for me to practice on the spot presentation skills, and in my humble opinion, I thought I articulated myself pretty well. Unfortunately, we didn't win, probably didn't even get close to top 3 and part of that was probably due to the fact that we lost a lot of time with planning, but failure is not something that should cause disappointment. I think I learned and experienced a lot from this competition, for example, this was the first time I've ever attempted to create a presentation in under an hour, the first time I've presented a business idea, and it was extremely cool to see how good other teams could make their presentation under the same conditions. Though, my team and I honestly did pretty terrible in this competition, I loved every minute of it.
This short 5 hour conference, though a relatively short amount of time, will probably have a huge impact on my life, and I want to be clear this isn't a hopeful optimistic take on failure, no, I truly believe that. Like Steve Jobs once said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forwards, you can only connect the dots looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." And so, though I may not have done very well in the competition and probably didn't learn everything I could've from the guest speakers, I firmly believe that the experience I've gained from this event will be of great help to me in the future. Oh, also yeah, this whole thing was pretty fun.
P.S. I won $10 for eating pizza 😎