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Hi everyone! My name is Mahira Siddiqui, and I am a 4th/5th year student at the University of Guelph. Sam Thiara, an SFU professor, TED speaker, author, and former member of the Olympic Bid Committee, led a fantastic intern training session on November 4, 2022, which I had the privilege of attending. This session covered a variety of topics, including adaptability, effective communication, time management, and understanding one’s self. Through school and work, I knew about these topics. However, this session enhanced that knowledge of mine and taught me much more. For instance, Sam’s session taught me about the art of conversation where a simple conversation can lead to big things.

The Art Of Conversation – Simple Conversations Leading To Something Big

When explaining this, Sam gave an example of an optional session with MBA students where he was to teach 60 students about communication skills. Out of those 60 students, only 2 came and thus, it was not a lecture or presentation anymore. Sam shut down the projector and just sat with them and they went down the entire piece about conversation and communication be it written or verbal. After this, Sam asked them “What is important to you?” and they replied by saying we are working towards getting into an investment firm like Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan. After telling them to wait a sec, Sam went on to LinkedIn and dropped a note to a person he mentored and who is a VP at Goldman Sachs New York saying “Andrew, I am just sending you this note. I have 60 students that were invited to this communication/soft skills workshop and only 2 showed up. They are interested in Goldman Sachs. Would you be willing to have a conversation with them.” Within 5 minutes, Sam got a reply saying “Absolutely. If there are only 2 out of 60 that showed up, I want to talk to those 2.” Sam gave their contact information, and they followed up and had an amazing conversation with one of the VPs at Goldman Sachs in New York. Had those 2 students not come and had that simple conversation with Sam, they would have not had this opportunity of speaking to a professional from a firm they are interested in.

Final Thoughts and Going Forward

Not only did this session enhance my knowledge, but it was also great fun with Sam’s personal stories and his discussion questions. The personal stories, like the one above, helped explain the topic being talked about more in-depth and showed how the topic applies to real-world scenarios, something that I liked. The discussion questions were also nice to have as they made the session more fun and interactive where interns, like me, can also think and put their ideas forward and not just be listening to Sam talk and talk.

Going forward, I will try to apply everything that I have learned through this session in my personal and professional life be it at home, in school, or at work. I will focus on communicating effectively be it written or verbal. For instance, I feel that when writing, sometimes I write too much, and that has an impact, and my main message is lost. I need to learn to be more concise and to the point. Having said that, I am getting better thanks to my grade 12 marketing teacher who told me that “Mahira, you write too much”. This stuck with me and now when writing, I try to be concise and to the point but sometimes it just does not happen with me thinking that everything I have written is important.


The quotes and story are from the workshop video sent to me by Illuminate Universe. The picture is created using PowerPoint, Paint, and (Sam Thiara, n.d.).

Sam Thiara. (n.d.). Retrieved November 09, 2022, from Speaker Hub: