Influence

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Left to Right: Nnika Elliot, Karlyn Percil, Kardinall Offishall, Azaela Hart, Patricia Juggernauth, Dwayne De Rosario

Last night I attended a lovely event. So lovely that I felt compelled to write about. Well, alright, I worked an event. I was not actually a patron. But still! I was there, I saw, I heard. It inspired me.

Very apt since the event was called influence. Organised by YouTuber & Vlogger Azalea Hart, it showcased some of Toronto (and Canada’s) most vibrant entrepreneurs in the media and business. Their aim? To talk about how to make a difference, to influence the world around you.

And it was brilliant.

Rapper, DJ and Producer Kardinall Offishall opened the show riffing on finding “your love”; what makes you feel that frequency of love. He noted that you cannot love everyone. Some people you just have to let go. They do more harm than good in your life. His cool calm demeanor was so infectious—words so captivating and mellifluous—it was not hard to see why he has become a prominent rapper. He also talked about how too much we are bound by social media, checking our phones first thing in the morning before we even give thanks to the fact that we are alive. Giving thanks to god, whichever god it is you serve.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the rad that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only few find it.” — Matthew 7:13–14

Through this path, within the quote above, he notes that the path of truth is not an easy one. But tread it carefully and the narrow road will open up. You will find your calling, and those who understand it. There is power in that.  Canadian Soccer (sorry, Football!) star Dwayne De Rosario discussed giving back to society through charity and groundwork. How helping others is the true way to find happiness and peace within us, and to give peace and happiness to others. When we tend to focus on our own goals, our own setbacks or drives, we deny ourselves the growth and expansion that service provides.

Author, life-coach and public speaker Karlyn Percil bathed us with her joy in life and the infectious ideas of safeguarding against ‘ANTs’ (that is, Automatic Negative Thoughts) and promoting positive TEA (Thoughts, Emotions, Attitude). She mused on these acronyms; how the former must always be battled, the latter is your shield, and how giving into ANTs only gives your power away by letting others dictate what kind of person you become every day. Only you can do this. In rising above negativity and outside opinion, you regain control. This is an avenue to success with goal setting, resilience and not letting anyone or anything stand in your way. She even shared stories and quotes from the creation of the Success Planner, which looks awesome! And is available to buy here.

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I adored her words, her wonderful plaid power-suit, and it has lead me to the very succinct idea I now have in my mind, which I know I will quote often:

“Don’t bring ANTs to my TEAparty”

The last two speakers were Patricia Juggernauth and Nneka Elliot. Both found a flawless and engaging way of bringing their histories to the present. Providing us with an unflinching, touching and hilarious account of how their positivity in life has been challenged, and yet found to be unwavering.

Juggernauth living with her mom, side by side, as two female warriors. Overcoming obstacles and never feeling as though they were deprived despite her young mother being ostracized from her family when she became pregnant at 16. Their power was in taking every opportunity to learn and grow. Within this was the message that, whilst you may feel disenfranchised at times, frustrations creeping in, but all you can do is bring the vibe that you want to the table.

She spoke candidly about how her constant cheery attitude has come up against attacks—in childhood bullying and social media jibes about her authenticity. How her career has had setbacks, but through tenacity and support at Canadian News Channel CP24, she has expanded her repertoire to include presenter of her own show and producer as well.

Through it all, however, she has known and understood herself (even if there have been doubts) and she has addressed those naysayers, even to the point of talking about it on live TV! Being ‘smiley’ is her character. In practicing being grounded in her own self-worth and speaking directly on the topic, she put those doubts to bed.

She notes that people will always have something to say about your online presence, but that is just one part of you that you have chosen to share. It doesn’t make up your entirety. Her awareness of this and joy in life was avid and infectious, and I really found this comment on social media to be so interesting. For when we upload images of our lives, it feels as though we are entering into a contract. This is my life, feel free to judge it. But in reality those viewers have no baring on what our lives truly look like.

Nnika Elliot told us tales of her past life. As Reporter & Anchor on CP24 she had by all accounts ‘made it’ in broadcasting, but used to cry at her desk between segments. And no one even noticed! The sadness she felt sparked her to quit her job and focus on finding her passions once more. Which, after some soul searching and speaking with family, she discovered was performing! She has since moved into acting, loves to sing (and is astoundingly good at it, and a natural public speaker), and continues to build her life the way she wants it. Her touching and funny diatribe on finding what makes her shine really served to highlight that no matter where you find yourself, there is always a route to another path. One which helps you shine all the brighter.

In both of these talks what I saw was women choose to define themselves by the work that they do. And in the lives that they lead outside of the social media maelstrom. Their careers are their work of art. They paint with their own palette, not one envisions by others.

In fact, this notion can be applied to all speakers at this event.

image1But what was really beautiful was the love and devotion they showed each other. As each speaker gave up the stage, organiser Azalea Hart met them with a gift, sharing a warm hug and a small joke before the next was introduced. All each one of them referenced a time they had been inspired, assisted or just felt supported by one-another. Each speaker addressed their own struggles with anxiety depression, various hardships, not shying away from the topic but not being defined by it either. In fact, what I saw was a variety of talented people who used these instances to draw up their energy and move past it. To use it as a springboard to better things. They weren’t happy with how things were. So, switch it up.

These are entrepreneurs, yes. But more than that, their connections speak of souls understanding and supporting each other. They have their community of deep thinkers, soul cheerleaders. Their common goal is spiritual progression, through their own chosen vocation. These artists prove that we continue to usher in an age where you can have more than one string to your bow. That there is a richness to collaboration and diversity. We are not Fordist workers. We do not have to choose just one line of work. Instead, weave strands together and formulate an image of a life that is completely unlike any other. No longer picking from a proscribed list.

This may seem obvious to some. But many labor under the notion that we have to fit in a box. Through the stagnant thinking of past era’s (which admittedly are outmoded and being debunked every-single-day), in school and capitalist government messages, we are often taught not to challenge the status quo. This is the way. Deal with it. Well here are a bevvy of thinkers and doers who say no. We don’t work that way. We won’t live that way. I would heavily advise you check them all out. They are really rather inspiring.

It is beautiful to see.

xXx

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