Today, I have some scoop for you on life in the past week , so, let’s get to it!
In September, precisely the 19th, I got an email stating that I had been granted “access to the Forbes Under 30 Summit as an Under 30 Scholar.” Prior to that, a friend had sent me an application link for undergraduates and graduates to be a part of the summit which led to the selection process, and it was a selection of 1,000 students from across the United States to be a part of the yearly conference. As a scholar, I got a conference registration waiver of over $500, and it was so worth it.
So, as I packed for Detroit on Friday, the 25th, I had two things in mind: connect and serve. I had a plan to speak to as many people as possible, not just on surface level, but to know something about what makes people “tick.” I wanted to find the common factor among the people I spoke with, and even among the speakers. In addition, service was the next thing on my list, so, for me, that included offering my time, ears, and hands to someone who needed them, and for the most part, this plan worked.
The Summit: Days 1-4
The first three days, which were October 27-29, had a similar schedule of workshop sessions where leading entrepreneurs, actresses, athletes, finance gurus, etc. answered questions in relation to topics such as Financial Wellness, Investing, Doing Well by Doing Good, Building Companies outside of Silicon Valley, Building Generational Wealth, and so many others. I could not attend all of the sessions, but I attended most, and as I said earlier, I was seeking the common factors. For the most part, most of the sessions referred to knowing yourself and investing in yourself. It was funny but also insightful how they all kept going back to this same point. I also realized how each speaker had a “master key” of their career. What that means is that they were all wearing many hats right there on that stage, but they also had one thing where their profiles stemmed from. Remember this article on the hour glass and how it pours from the center? Those sessions reminded me of that.
For instance, Serena Williams, who was one of the speakers, is known as an athlete, but at the same time, we saw her speak about life as a mother, as Serena the investor, and as the founder of a fashion company. For me, all of this spoke to the point that we first need introspection to find ourselves, then we can go ahead to live in a world of no limits.
The last day was a give-back-to-the-community kind of day. Drumroll! I served pizzas. While I was in that “kitchen” working with a group of people I had just met, many things occurred to me, including the importance of teamwork and the beauty of service. As said by Abbey Wemimo, cofounder of Esusu and one of the speakers during the conference, there’s an African proverb that goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” I feel like I have spent a huge chunk of 2019 learning about delegations, but I saw it for myself on Wednesday. Everyone in the kitchen at the time could not believe that we served over 100 plates of pizza in 15-20 minutes. Now, the irony of that proverb is that going together takes you far and faster.
In between drawing on how each speaker had a “master key” of their career and how teamwork makes life a whole lot easier therefore, I left with new strategies for my life and career.
On the other hand, connecting with people happened everywhere: on registration queues, food truck queues, photo booth queues, identifying name tags, eye contact, bumping into a person, etc. For one, this conference made me realize (even more than I always thought) that I am not a socially awkward person, so “amen” to that! The conversations flowed seamlessly. I had promised myself not to meet anyone for what I thought I could get from them, but for the sake of knowing them and expanding my network, so I guess that’s why.
For the most part, it felt like I had known these folks for a long time. We talked about jobs, careers, goals, and in some cases, a picture of an ideal career. For some people I could not meet in person, I was quick to send a message on Instagram and just chat in the DMs. This event made me realize, more than ever, that communication is so much easier when you just want to know people for the sake of knowing them. In the past, I have found myself at events like this when I was at the point of needing something, and whether I liked it or not, trying to cater to those needs hindered my conversations from being genuine. This time however, I was in a state of mind where a few days off from classes and work was the best thing that could happen. Now, top that with speaking with amazing minds – it was the best!
Let’s talk about GEMS
I didn’t take a lot of notes, but I put a few things down on my phone which I wanted to go back to over and again. Here you go:
- “Be a subject matter expert”: remember what I called the “master key” of your career? That’s your subject matter expertise. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear many hats; it just means that you are good at what you’re good at, and what you’re good at will open doors for you.
- “Ask yourself, ‘What money belongs in this space and how does it behave?'” In one of the sessions, someone mentioned that it is wrong to keep chasing after money that does not belong in your field. For instance, seeking an investor or VC in a field in which s/he has no particular interest is a waste of time. He emphasized that there are certain funds allocated to the fields you find yourself in and that’s what your target should be. I understand this because even as a graduate student, there are certain opportunities that you can only have access to at a particular level of your scholarship. Failing to maximize those opportunities is failing to enjoy the embedded benefits at that time. So again, what is the money that belongs in your space and how does it behave?
- “Regardless that there is recession, you are in the driver’s seat of your career.” I think this also goes back to being a subject matter expert and knowing your stuff. The truth is when we know what we know, we can come up with different ways to work around it. Careers are like languages. The more you know and use a language, the easier it is to create neologisms and slangs without being at fault. So, let’s take charge of what belongs to us.
- “Try not to be a person of success, but a person of value.” This one makes so much sense because more than we know it, we see it all the time. When people do certain things in order to benefit others or improve humanity, they become ten times better than their competition.
That’s it! I hope you loved my two cents. For more pictures, see HERE. Thank you so much for reading!
With Overflowing Love,