Guest Blog: “Aspirations, Inspirations, and Contemplations: Considering the ‘Me’ in ‘Meet’ “

Today we feature another guest blog from one of my interns. I always try to encourage my interns to share a bit of who they are and what they have been learning. This is Cora’s first attempt at a blog post. Cora and I have been working together since December and I love her creative designs, how fast she can turn around things and the fact that she convinced me to finally try Prezi as a new format for presentations. I did this for my latest TEDx talk on “School: Learning to Fly”, which you can find here:, and it was awesome. But enough about me, here is Cora Xiao and her guest blog.


862182_10151535632840661_306696784_nAspirations, Inspirations, and Contemplations: Considering the “Me” in “Meet”

Who to aspire to be?

When I was 10 I wanted to be a blonde diva, anything but the brown hair and brown eyes that was so opposite to the Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera pop princesses of the time. This was just another indication of the fact that I genuinely feel that I was not a creative child. I was a 100% conformist. There was no way I would have even considered looking for anything outside or beyond “Hit Me Baby One More Time” or “Genie in a Bottle” for musical inspiration.

This is no longer the case. Now I’m always searching for something new and different. Maybe I can say it has to do with the short attention span that characterizes Generation Y, or maybe the ironic popularization of “hipster/alternative” thinking. But in truth I think it has to do with experiences. This past year has been a time of many firsts and I can only say I’ve emerged closer than ever to the person I one day will be, and the most exciting thing is, well… I’m excited!

I think I need to backtrack a little and explain myself. Starting last summer, I took five weeks to backpack around Europe. It was at once the loneliest and the most gratifying times of my life.  Then I moved away from my hometown (Saskatoon, born and raised!) of 18 years, I lived on my own for the school year, and got to meet people miles away from my immediate social circle. And in my newfound surge of self-declared independence, I set out and found an internship at Raeallan.

So how did those things change me? What lessons did I learn? Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first, couldn’t turn thoughts into reason, but if I were to say one thing, it would be that my outlook on the value of people has changed. One of my biggest mentors this year has been Bobby Umar (funny side story: the very first email Bobby sent me in response to my application was shockingly and refreshingly honest, that my resume and online profiles were incredibly “…brief”). I honestly didn’t believe in making the connections you make with people a tangible asset, or really understand the value in investing in people. But Bobby changed my view on both. The accumulation of my little bit of travelling and Bobby’s message of creating authentic connections have taught me that the most interesting and fulfilling things in life will have to do with the people you meet and choose to surround yourself with. This past year, I’ve met people so drastically different from myself, people so startlingly similar, and those that have made a difference in my life. It is so easy to place people immediately into categories and stereotypes that when you meet someone that shakes your convenient character categories, it comes as a shock.

Honestly, I’m not a fan of putting thought to virtual paper and virtual paper to the open Internet. But this past year, my new mentor/boss/friend Bobby Umar has taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable and open to a certain extent- enough just to learn and grow. So here I write and ramble, thanks to Bobby and his motivating words of encouragement…or maybe just in the avoidance of being “…brief”? Either way, I have come to the conclusion that people are not meant to be aspired to. Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears will never have the power to inspire and change me in the way that people I meet in everyday life will. In Spain, I met a traveler so free-spirited I expected him to look down on others who stayed in one place all their lives. To the contrary, he proved to me that free-spiritedness is true only if in the presence of an open and free mind. He told stories of his best friend who was a total homebody and had never left New York (but then again, who would want to ever leave NYC?). In university I have met people with histories that don’t hold their baggage against the world, but rather use their experiences to protect and care for others. Honestly, when I meet such people, how can’t I think that life truly is beautiful? They’re all out there, waiting to be met, have their hand shook, have a chat over coffee, all it takes is breaking down that first barrier, that first awkward moment in the elevator.

Bobby’s presentations are always summarized in his key take-aways. So what’s my key take-away here? Refrain from aspiring to be, and start aspiring to meet.

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