You are the company you keep. Have you ever thought about that idea? When you hang around people who do amazing things you're inspired to do amazing things yourself. This weekend I felt that to be truer than ever before.
My housemates from last year are the kind of people who raise you up - they're genuine, they're hilarious, and they're mighty accomplished. Tom is a recent hire at lululemon corporate following his internship in Operations there. He is also the future MC of my wedding pending we can keep him under control at the open bar. Kathy snagged a highly competitive position in the development program at Bell after she rocked her internship there. She is the ultimate fashionista and only owns one pair of sweatpants for heavens sakes: but they’re leather so they don’t even count! Liam sailed into the top law school in the country after undergrad. He’s the perfect mix of jock, yogi, and The Mindy Project enthusiast. These people are the real deal! And I got to see them this weekend as we all gathered in Toronto (well, I didn’t see Liam this weekend but we caught up at a birthday party about a month ago).
On Friday night the networking group that Tom had a hand in starting hosted a fundraiser for Jack.org. It was leadership, community building, and bringing people together all around. It was impossible not to be inspired by Eric Windeler, Jack's dad, who headed this initiative after the tragic passing of his son. As he spoke to the crowd, chills went down my back and an urgency to make a difference in people's lives struck me like never before. Jack.org is a national network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health. Give it’s website one quick look, though, and you’ll quickly realize that it’s doing a lot more than that. What began as a family’s drive to better understand what it was their son went through has turned into a HUGE national movement and impacted the lives of countless young people. Leadership, community, bringing people together.
It was also impossible not to be inspired by the Young Professional Development Network (YPDN) crew for their vision and drive in hosting events like Friday night's: their desire to bring people together to not only mix and mingle but in support of a good cause. I always appreciate a reason to get dressed up but I appreciate even more doing it for something that is larger than the accompanying hors d’oeuvres and pricey beverages.
To top off the inspiration, our night wound up at the Tilt office. Tilt is a startup company that offers a payment platform - perfect for party hosting, collecting utilities from housemates, anything you can dream up. A friend from undergrad works there and brought us over to check it out. The office was exactly what you see in the movies - a loft with wood floors and exposed beams. A place where the creativity needed for startups flourishes. A fully stocked fridge, candy bowl on the granite island, Nerf gun on the coffee table, glass shower in the washroom, and Super Mario Kart on a projector to name a few highlights. Once again, instantly inspired. Imagine working for a company like this? Imagine creating a company that fostered an office environment like this? Again, leadership, community, and bringing people together rang through my head. How lucky was I to be spending a Friday night surrounded by these incredibly driven, incredibly eager, incredibly down-to-earth (most importantly) friends?
Smack dab in the middle of my second year of a Masters degree I often lose sight of where I'm going and what I'm doing it all for. But nights like Friday keep my head in the clouds, a place where I can see the endless possibility. A place where I can see that there really are no limits... I can do anything I wish to do, no matter how big or small. I can make a serious impact on the lives of people. And it will seriously matter the company I keep. I acknowledge how extremely privileged I have been to do two degrees at an institution as diverse and well resourced as Queen's. I have been so fortunate to have met incredible souls along the way, people who inspire me in a multitude of ways every single day. Leadership, community and bringing people together are things I have both experienced and contributed to in my time at Queen’s (for those of you who know how passionate I am about the P&CC). And they are also a major part of what it is I aim to do in every facet of my life. In fact, it’s what Teal and I are trying to foster with this blog.
As the old adage goes, quality is better than quantity and that is certainly true when it comes to your circle and the people you let into your life. Make sure they are people who lift you up and inspire you every single day... Inspire you personally, professionally, physically, and emotionally. Make sure they are people with the qualities of the lifelong friends I got to see this weekend. *Disclaimer: I wish you luck in finding pals anywhere near as good looking or witty.