Liveblogging: UN Youth Assembly Day 1 – Modern Minds: Just Start Your Leadership

This workshop was introduced as “how to do what you love by doing what you love”. Interesting. Darren Olstad, the presenter was a delegate at a Youth Assembly last year and found the changes in between assemblies interesting. He asks around for ideas on what they expect – getting youth voices heard, the nuts-and-bolts of leadership (my idea), secrets of success, how to reach unwilling audiences, how to turn off the noise of negativity, what to get scared of when you become a leader.

Darren is 23, a financial expert, and “America’s Hottest College Speaker” which he finds humbling. He asks us, how can we know a great thing when it comes upon us? He shares a story about how he was under a truck at 2am the day after Christmas while his staff are on holiday so that he knows what his trucking company was about. He now asks us what lengths would we go to for our vision. He mentions Alberta, his hometown, which has nearly as much oil as Saudi Arabia. He realizes that while he found this fun, he realized that many people would find this work.

Questions: What do you love so much that you would pay to do it? What comes easy to me and difficult to others?

A friend of his tends to accept things as they are. He and Darren were at a conference where the rule was anyone whose phone rang had to sing. Darren played a joke and changed his “Silent” to “LOUD” – and when his phone rang (Darren rang him) he thought “time to get out of my comfort zone”. He sang “Happy Birthday” and they all had a good laugh. The point was, he noticed when he got uncomfortable, realized he was safe still, and went for it.

The brain has ganglia, which resembles muscle fibers. When you learn something new, the ganglia break down, and new ones are made. It takes 21 days, so if you’re hoping to get a new habit or behaviour, do it for 21 days. Also, thinking hurts. Accept it – don’t worry about what people think you’re doing.

Don’t get stuck in “paralysis by analysis” – overthinking. Deal with the comfort.

We’re all sharing our dreams. The first person noted that he was nervous, but went on to say that he wants to start a profitable business. Another talks about youth development. Darren notes that some people get caught up in doing great things in a single leap. What works? GO SLOW. Or rather, START SMALL. Take the big achievement you want to make and then take the next smallest single step to it – and be specific. Not just “I want to network” but rather “Contact the marketing manager”. WHat is my next single action that I don’t want to do?

Getting into a group and talking, or just thinking about things, isn’t enough. You need to take action, and to do that you have to work out your next step.

Someone asks how to get money for a non-profit. Darren takes NGOs that are eligible for grants, and instead of giving them the money all that once, he makes it a lifetime income. Firstly, narrowcast – streamline your target audience. Make it sexy – something that want to get on board with. Find out who would be interested. Understand that everything is feedback not criticism. It helps to be concise.

He notes that the young generation can be really creative (“doing stupid things that work”) and encourages people to think outside the box. You also have to do what’s fun for you – then people will follow you. Work in a miserable job and you’ll only be miserable. We also sometimes tend to look at people that are successful and forget that they had to struggle and work to get to where they are – they started with doing something that they would have paid to do. Instead we sit around and giving excuses.

We can decide what “now” is. We can start now, or just reset.

Someone asks what to do when you’re interested in more than one thing. Answer: combine them somehow! What do you do when you want to do something but you don’t think you’re good enough? Answer: think about whether you’re willing to do to be really good, or find something you can do in that industry that would be fulfilling. What if you’re in crossroads? Answer: prioritize, combine things, speak with someone that’s been there, pick one and run with it. Personally (being a typical Scanner of the Barbara Sher variety) I don’t think it’s worth eliminating one passion for another – instead we should give time to each other them, no matter how little. Otherwise we’ll never really be happy because there’s always that wonder of “if only I did this instead”.

Time for the next workshop!

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