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Category: Leadership

Hermione Wilson – Creating your Path


Hello Everyone! Welcome back to Project 5K’s podcast series. Today, we are joined by Hermione Wilson who is a journalist and assistant editor at Dovetail Communications. Dovetail publishes business-to-business magazines in various specializations including spa, food science, wood design, and biology. Hermione will be sharing her path to becoming a journalist and advice for students who are considering options for post-secondary.

What challenges did you have upon finding a career that you enjoy?



When we were children, there was a certain career that sparked our interest and we couldn’t wait to pursue it. As the years go by, our childhood dream fades as we realize that it’s not what we want anymore or we become intrigued with another career. There are also people who feel lost as they don’t know what they want their future to look like.

For many people like myself, post-secondary is quickly approaching and we have to decide on a path that suits our abilities, interests, and career goals. It is hard to envision a clear destination point especially when we are not exposed to many careers.

Hermione started as an English major at an American college. After a few weeks, she decided to switch into a communications program with a double major in French.  After graduating, Hermione was debating if she should pursue further education or look for work immediately.

This is Hermione’s journey to discovering journalism:

1.She volunteered at an organization to support Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.

2.The volunteer coordinator discovered that she knew French and offered her an opportunity to visit Haiti.

3.After her trip to Haiti, she worked as an advertising manager for a small, Christian magazine in her hometown.

4.She eventually took on a writing role at the Christian magazine.

5.She pursued an accelerated post-graduate journalism program at Humber College.

6.She received a position at Dovetail Communications!

There is a lot of pressure for us to plan out our entire life at a young age; however, one opportunity will lead to another and we will eventually end up in the right place.

What advice do you have for students who are unsure of what to pursue in post-secondary?


There are some people who know exactly what they want to become and have outlined specific steps to reach their goal. It can be frustrating if you are unsure of what you want to pursue when your friends seem like they have everything figured out.

Hermione suggests researching about careers that you can apply your strengths to, job shadowing, and speaking with people in different professions. She also suggests starting with a degree in a subject area that you enjoy in highschool. Your opportunities are never limited by the first degree you receive because pursuing further education is always an option.

How did you overcome doubts about whether or not you’ll succeed as an adult?


There are so many successful people out there and you might wonder if you can become like them. Throughout life, there are going be times when you doubt yourself and believe that you can not achieve your goals. Surround yourself with a good group of people who encourage you to see your potential.

During Hermione’s undergraduate degree, she focused on getting through the five years. After Hermione graduated, she was a bit overwhelmed as she was unsure if university had prepared her for the real world. To ease her worries, Hermione said to herself,

“I put in the work, it’s just a matter of finding opportunities.”

It will be hard and competitive to achieve success, but perseverance and a good work ethic will open up opportunities to you.

Being a journalist, does writing become a chore rather than an interest or a passion?



There are certain skills that are required for each career. For example, journalists need to write on a daily basis. Sometimes, doing a task repetitively can become a chore even if you loved it in the beginning. Nevertheless, an advantage Hermione enjoys about writing so often is the improvement she sees in her articles.

“There’s a story that really sparks [my] interest again or [I] speak to an interesting person and I want to convey that in my writing.”

Every job eventually becomes a routine, but there will be certain moments that remind you of why you became intrigued with it in the first place. However, if you completely lose interest, it is never too late to have a career change.

From being a student to working as a journalist, how have your experiences changed you as a person?


Believe it or not, Hermione used to be a shy person and found it difficult to approach people. However, she became confident over time as she had more practice with interviewing people. To succeed in a profession that fascinates you, take as many opportunities as you can to master the required skills.

How can someone become a confident and effective communicator?


Connecting with different people is amazing because you can listen to their stories and learn from their experiences. However, the first step is to approach people. Never let your insecurities outweigh the opportunity to get to know someone. Try to erase the negative thoughts in your mind telling you that you’re not good enough or smart enough to talk to someone. As Hermione says,

“Don’t be afraid to open up to people, be curious, and be willing to admit that you don’t know everything.”

Asking someone a question can flourish into a great conversation; fear shouldn’t be the only thing holding you back from cultivating a bond with people.

Final Words


There was a video production lab at Humber College that Hermione wanted to attend. However, she thought that it would be too technical for her. Hermione regrets letting that opportunity slip away because learning is the objective of being in an academic setting.

Many different opportunities will be presented to you in life. If it interests you, even a little, take the chance and learn more about it. There will be times when you shy away from something because you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of people who are more experienced than you. However, everyone needs a starting point to improve their craft.

“Especially when you’re in school, learn new skills. Don’t be afraid to try everything.”

Even though the future may seem foggy right now because you can not see where you’ll end up, having patience and working hard each step along the way will bring opportunities to you if you’re willing to take them.

You will find a path that makes you happy. Good Luck!



Talking, Persuasion, Connections with Manu Goswami (4/4)

Winding back 7 years, when you start debating competitively. How has debate changed you?

Debate is what really helped Manu gain a lot of self-confidence. That’s something that he found through a number of channels, whether that would be his experiences and connections, but one of Manu’s largest barriers to confidence was that, at the time in Grade 7, he had a speech impediment.

Compared to a lot of others, Manu was lucky. He only had a small lisp that stopped him from accurately saying the “r” and “s” letter, but that alone already crippled his confidence. It was an issue that cut to his heart, and made him want to do something about it. Debate was his unique solution to overcome his speech impediment.

What this illustrated to Manu was the fact that when we have a problem, our first reaction shouldn’t be considering it as a problem. What does he mean? Well, at first he believed that his lisp was a huge problem, but he never viewed it as something that could potentially help him become a better speaker. These problems and roadblocks are not something that should be viewed as a flaw or weakness, but rather  building blocks for creating a new strength.

Debate was a perfect platform for all of this. Manu found the people in the community so supportive and incredible.”Sure they’re nerdy”, but so many of them have such ambitious goals.

Manu continues to cherish those moments where he met all these talented and interesting people from countries around the globe, like Bermuda, China, and Germany. Bonus? Whenever he wants to start a business, he can see whether he can ask for the help of anyone in that community.

Through debate, the kid with a lisp discovered that his voice still matters.


You’ve done a TED talk. Any tips for the people back home, to engage them and boost their public speaking skills?

The key thing is the message. A lot of times, it doesn’t matter how you say something, what’s important is that you have something important to say. Manu has two key points that he always keeps in mind:

  1. TAKE PRIDE. Be proud of yourself and the message that you have to share. Manu’s “personal brand’ is that he shares raw, practical fact that will help people to enhance their lives. Stuff that is actionable, that you can take, grab, and do the next day.
  2. DONT’ TRY AND BE A COPYCAT. Whatever you share should always come back to yourself and your own unique message. Of course, Manu takes a few lessons from other people when it comes to public speaking. He imitates Gary Vaynerchuk’s raw message and delivery. But at the same time, Manu emphasizes the practicality of his message and custom-tailors it for his main audience: students.

Always give before you get, can you expand on that?

This one comes from Gary Vaynerchuk too. It’s a rule called 51/49, meaning that in every conversation, you want to be ok with giving 51% and only receiving 49% back in return.

That’s what Manu bases a lot of his actions on. You can’t always expect to get something in return. That’s such a common misinterpretation of the rule. Just because you helped someone doesn’t mean that they will help you. There are no guarantees.

But “the best actions in life that you can give to people are the actions you can give to people and never expect something in return”. Why? Because those are the people who become your #1 fans. The ones who actually end up commenting and engaging with you on social media. Even if you aren’t going to be getting some money (or even becoming friends), you can benefit in so many other ways.

Karma is real. There’s no proof of this, but when you do good things, good things will happen to you. The problem is that people are just looking too short term. A time span of 2 years might not even be enough. We should be talking about 5 to 10 years down the line.

Manu shares a story about Bill Clinton. When he was the president, he met a young kid from Guinea when he was 7. He told that kid he could do anything he ever wanted.

10 years later, when this kid was 18, he walked right up to Bill Clinton and told him that he had changed his life.

Manu advocates that for every action you take, you should be considering your legacy. It might not have a direct impact on the people you see. In two or even three years you might not see the tangible results. But over the long run, you can and you will have a significant and large impact.

Who are the people who can help us? And who has helped you?


Manu is big on connecting people in whatever industry. There are a few mentors that Manu has learned the most from, and those are Michael Hyatt and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Michael Hyatt is a Dragon on Dragon’s Den. He sold his company recently for 400 million, but still remains that cheapest man that Manu knows. He will go to a second-hand store and start negotiating to lower the price. Michael taught Manu to not only care about the money but also the relationships, along with giving lots of advice for speaking and other initiatives he is taking.

The second role model and mentor for Manu is Gary Vaynerchuk. As background, this guy is a multimillionaire who runs a marketing firm called VaynerMedia. He’s huge on personal branding. What Gary V taught Manu was that empathy is built into everything you do in business. You need to build a business out of people rather than numbers.

To get in contact with both of these mentors, Manu had to be super persistent. He didn’t just send an email and hope for the best. Instead, he made a point of engaging with them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. That meant always commenting, sharing, and engaging. That’s how he got on the radar of these super busy founder and business people.

On the flip side, that engagement on social media wasn’t even the most important part. Instead, the most important part is that you are on the road to be just like them. You are actually taking action rather than just fanboying.

Looking to start meeting interesting people? LinkedIn is probably the best platform to do this. Ew. [we know] Isn’t LinkedIn for business people? Who cares. You need to reach out. Search up a keyword, reach out with LinkedIn Mail. If you write properly, tailor it to what they do, what you want to return (how you can help), and explain why you’re a person they need to meet, you’ll be surprised by the quick results.

Best Connections are the ones that you already have. How do you approach growing your network?

  1. Don’t be annoying. You don’t have to be a hassle and a pain in the butt. 10 dm’s on Instagram and Twitter is pushing it. Remember that there is a key difference between reaching out and engaging. Sure you can send a LinkedIn message, but if they don’t’ get back to you, no big deal. Make sure that you engage them by commenting, retweeting etc. They’ll see your name and they’ll be more inclined to actually talk and listen to what you have to say.
  2. Whenever you try to go in and meet someone, never go ing for the ask early. Never say that you need money or help etc. Treat every connection as if they are the best person in the world for you. You never know where you could go from a conversation. Opportunities always start with a conversation. But, you are never going to have a real, deep conversation with someone if you go in for the ask too quick.

What have been you most absurd calls on LinkedIn?

One of them involved starting a cat business. She wanted to know whether animal rights would allow her to sell cats (NO!).

Another involved a 10-year-old who wanted to start a hedge fund. Manu thought that was weird, not because he thought the boy can’t do it, but because he was inspired by watching the “Wolf of Wall Street”. He thought he could figure out how to use penny stocks to elevate his chances of quick success. Then, he would go after the blue chips.


Anything else you want to say for teens looking to get out there? Final words, anything! Shine!

It’s straightforward. There might be a number of reasons you might not think that you can be this person, there might be a number of reasons that you think “WOW Manu is making more simple than it is”. Stop thinking that.

“One thing you have to remember about me is that I’m just a young kid, just like you, that just did it. Beyond the motivational crap, it comes down to playing the game and putting your chips into the things that actually count.”

Are you passionate about an issue? Then do something about it.

Were you outraged about the Muslim travel ban? Frustrated because you thought that you couldn’t do anything? Then go research organizations that you can go and partner with to help tackle the issue.

Are greenhouse gasses your hot button issue? Then look into partnering with politicians and taking real action. You truly underestimate how much people want to hear about you and what you have to say.

There’s all this talk about how youth aren’t going to the polls and vote. There’s a reason behind all this concern. It’s because people actually care about us and what we have to say.

So you might not be able to get a ballot and vote, but if we want our voices to be heard, we have to start capitalizing and taking action on the ideas and issues we are really passionate about.

“Yes, this is all motivational stuff, but I just want you to start somewhere. Stop thinking about ideas and put your chips into the places that actually matter.

Understand that if you hustle, work, put in the time, and understand that things DON’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT, then you will succeed. Even if you can’t guarantee success, then it comes down to positioning yourself to be in a better place and building off that.


Deciding on Schools and the Future, Manu Goswami (2/4)

School, The Future

You have a life…you know what you need to do. How’s life at UofT?

People tend to look down on U of T and say it’s really hard. To a certain extent, this is true, because there are hard profs who expect a lot. But the reason he loves it is that at U of T, he has found a program that works for him and can accommodate his crazy travel schedule.

Something worth noting is that what he is currently studying has very little to do with his passion for business and entrepreneurship. Manu is currently in a program examining peace and conflict studies, majors that are far far away from entrepreneurship and business.

But what that means for him is that the majority of his coursework and the load is actually just writing papers! There are no in-class exams, he can travel and do what he needs to do.

The other benefit for him is that what he is learning can actually really help him if he chooses to enter the field of politics.

One of the most important insights that Keshav and I learned from this chat, was the Manu does not see university as something that is going to get him a job, which is a  mindset that a lot of people have. Whether that’s right or wrong, this viewpoint is his own and is what works for him. 

He actually takes pride in that. The exact quote “My life is unconventional, I like it that way. I am going to continue that way.”

So what are some of the items that we can take away from Manu when it comes to planning for university and your future? Look for a program that fits you and your needs. Do what is right and comfortable for you. Keep in mind that university isn’t just some factory that’s going to prepare you for a job. It’s an experience and a place to learn valuable skills.

Many of the people listening are going through the process of choosing universities. What was your uni application process like? What do you think people should look for?

In Manu’s words, his “process was the same as everyone else” where he “wrote an essay, applications, got nervous, got cocky” and everything in between.

The big difference for Manu was that he had a set of expectations and items that he wanted to check off when he was looking for a university.

  1. Find a university in a beautiful city
  2. Find a place with a lot of opportunities
  3. Find a great community that he could benefit from based on his entrepreneurial dream

All of those factors together are what ultimately pushed Many to choose the University of Toronto.

So what should you look for when choosing a university?

If you are really looking for a job, the reputation of your university doesn’t matter anymore. What matters the most when choosing your university is that every action you take should map to something, where “something” is your end destination.

What matters the most at university is truly the people you meet, and how you are using the opportunities around you to accelerate your grades, extra-curriculars, non-profits, or business.

There are too many people that gravitate towards that reputation and believe that once they have that reputation, it’s all they need. But it’s not… That’s a logic and belief that may have been true around our parents’ time. Sadly, there are going to be a ton of U of T grads, that are going to be unemployed, while there will be tons of Ryerson grads who are taking the spot that they want.

What really matters the most is your passion. How you take advantage of your opportunities. How you make the most of what you have. More than anything, connections > reputation.

Something that pops out is that you are studying a political science major. Has that always been your thing? Why are you studying it if your passion is entrepreneurship and business?

Manu has actually been a competitive debater for 7 years, he was known as a competitive debater before all the Top 20 under 20 stuff came up. He enjoys talking about issues and analyzing them deeply, and it has always been a huge part of his life. One of the things that he ended up doing was a policy internship in DC, an experience that was a dream come true and changed his life.

If anything his choice of study is indicative of his passion, not something that is immediate, but a potential area he wants to explore later. [I get a feeling we’re talking to a future prime minister here] Politics wasn’t something that came out of nowhere like “volcanic studies”.  He still gave a lot of thought to his choice of major and evaluating his passions, but when picking his school, the most important factor for him was all about his school-life balance, and what he actually wanted to accomplish outside of school.

What’s next for you?

He hopes he has no idea what he is going to be doing in the next 2 or 3 years. Keeps life exciting. [that’s something I find so admirable, going with the flow?]

In the short term, Manu is planning to move to New York in May, while taking online courses from U of T so he can complete his degree.

In summary, he’s trying to be trying to do things that are “super practical and aligned with his goals”, which appear to lie in the realm of entrepreneurship, marketing, and the general umbrella of business. He’s going through some of the final rounds of interviews with google in their digital marketing department, and he might even be fielding an offer from Gary Vaynerchuk to work on his personal team.

For sure, the next few months are going to be consumed with his work on Technotronics, his wearable tech startup. On top of that, he’s working part time at a venture capital firm in business development, since it pays wells, gives him access to valuable connections, and a path to a sustainable career.

“But hey, ask this question in 8 months and I hope I will give you a different answer”

With so many projects, when you finish them, how do you decide where to go next?

In Manu’s eyes, an entrepreneur is someone who can’t stay in the same place after the growth stage of a business. So he is constantly assessing whether he can add value to his current project or whether there are other potential things that he could be working on.

That’s why he starts so many projects. It’s not because he wants to add to his resume, but it’s because that for his current project, it begins to feel like he can’t add anymore value and he starts to feel really bored.

So how decide where to go next? He picks out 4 to 5 areas that he wants to work in. Dead simple. Right now, the NBA, Bollywood, entertainment, and music are some of his current areas of interest. Of course, he’s never going to be an NBA player, but he’s always looking for a way to see if he can add value and influence some of these areas.


In life and entrepreneurship, there are always a lot of “pivots” or changes in direction. Let’s say you pivot and move from where you originally intended. How do you embrace that? Once you pivot, do you naturally assume that things are going to work out in the pivot direction?

What is a pivot? It’s when you have a change in direction or strategy of your business. To many, a pivot is figuring out something that will interest you even more than what you are currently working on right now.

For example, his company Rafiki media was originally supposed to be a social media agency, but he decided to pivot it into a brand management agency. Not because there was more money to be made, but because the conditions in his own life changed.

On Instagram, he was reached out to by an NBA player by the name of Trevor Booker. There seemed to be a lot of Bollywood actors who needed his help. Manu saw the potential to help them build and manage their brand, and opportunity that he thought was larger than social media.

Project 5K Podcast: Focusing, Motivation, and Working harder vs Working Smarter with Manu Goswami (1/4)

Never miss out an opportunity because you think it’s too far out of your reach or you think it will never work. Near the end of March this year I decided to reach out to Manu Goswami, a man I look up to for advice on for getting started and focusing on the pain points that really matter.

For those of you who don’t know Swish, he is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, and a venture capitalist he is also a recipient of Canada’s Top 20 under 20 award.

Read more

2017-2018 Executive Applications

We’re opening up applications for the 2017-2018 executive positions!

Project 5K is a non-profit, student run organization that helps students find meaningful volunteer opportunities, and teach them how to contribute back to the community.

Some of the stuff our executive team does:

  • Reach out to find new partners for volunteer opportunities
  • Find sponsorships to support our events and ongoing operations
  • Lead volunteers at events, making sure they have a great time
  • Plan our own events, like one where we brought 30 volunteers downtown to give sandwiches to the homeless
  • Design promotional posters and t-shirts
  • Document our events through photography and film
  • Interview and meet cool people (CEOs, entrepreneurs, leaders) to create podcasts and blog posts, creating content that students would love
  • Manage technical services such as Mailchimp, EventBrite, and our website

Read more

5 Secrets to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Does the thought of a sea of eyes staring at you as you stutter a slur of words feel far too familiar to you? Do your palms get sweaty as you start to vomit your mom’s spaghetti?

Don’t worry you aren’t alone. With 75% percent of the population admitting to speech anxiety, research has proven that public speaking is America’s greatest fear.

Having witnessed countless speeches, presentations, and demonstrations, I have come to recognize the one factor that can make or break one’s performance of public speaking: fear.


You’re nervous, but on the surface, you gotta look calm and ready.

Public speaking plays a vital role in a broad spectrum of jobs and projects in the modern day. Ranging from your average class presentation to corporate pitches, public speaking is a skill that many struggle to develop over the course of their lives. Like many sports, this “art”, requires practice, understanding, and most of all-courage.

One cannot obtain courage without diminishing fear. Fear stands as an obstacle to the success of multiple public speakers. How can one possibly deliver an exceptional speech when one is fearful? Quavering tones, twitching fingers, and darting eyes are just a few  indicators of fear and a poorly executed speech. I will be sharing five secrets that I have embraced over the course of my lifetime, aiding in my development as a confident player in the highly-demanding field of public speaking.

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Project 5K: Success, Screwups, and Remembering We’re Humans Too

After a 2 month break, Project 5K (and the Project 5K blog) are back in action! We spent the last two months picking this year’s exec team, planning the next year, and just getting really, really excited!

(Okay that last part sounded lame)

Since it’s the new term, I thought it would be a cool idea to reflect on all the stuff that we did in 2015-2016. Something that I really wanted to give you a look at was all the stuff that we screwed up on last year, because all that stuff usually happens behind the scenes and no one ever hears about it.

Enjoy! Read more

Want to Join a Youth Council?

If you haven’t heard, this is around the time when applications to youth councils and non-profits start popping up. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of things about how good they are for university applications and the like, but what else do you know about being part of a youth council?

If you don’t know me, I’m Nick, and this year I was one of the members of the Project 5K exec team. Today, I wanted to see if I could answer questions and sort of prepare expectations as to what happens on a youth council. I hope that it can help you decide whether you want to be part of a youth council in the upcoming year!

There are 3 questions that I really want to try and answer today.

What can you learn from being on a youth council?

What is it really like on the inside of a youth council?

What’s the point in being on one?

After reading this post, if you have any more questions feel free to anonymously ask them in this form 

What can you learn?

Youth councils are a great way to get out the classroom and get your hands dirty. Really, school can only teach you so much.

One thing that everyone learns on a youth council is teamwork. A youth council is a moving group of 20+ teenagers trying to make a difference. Along the way you have to learn how to collaborate with others, resolve conflicts, and make decisions together. Everyone has to do their own part. It’s a skill that we all think we can get from working on school projects, but you know, one or two people always end up doing the work.

Youth council made care packages for homeless

Some of our care packages for the homeless!

One example? We had an event called Operation Rudolph, where we made and delivered care packages for the homeless. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough money to get all the boxes. So five of us raised money by selling candy grams at our school. So one day, we stayed late after school to make more than a hundred candy grams. One person sorted the candy, another put it in the bag, someone else wrote the tags, and then finally we cut and tied the bags up. Me? Let’s just say that I got really good at stuffing bags with tissue paper.

Something that you never truly appreciate until you’re on the inside is how much work goes into something. One of our photographers JiaJia talks about it more in one of our posts. But we go to dances and workshops all the time. You never appreciate all of the time that goes into event planning until you do it yourself. You have to get the venue, organize performers, figure out costs, get sponsors, all of these can take hours upon hours in order to organize.

Youth council = Event planning skills. Take it from me, after organizing one of our workshops, organizing parties are a pushover. Read more

What it Means to be a Real Leader

During the summer of my Grade 7 year, I went to an overnight camp for a week. I had to take a bus there, and the few people I knew from last year’s camp were all on a different bus. So there I was, stuck sitting next to people that I didn’t know at all.

We’ve all been there before right? Those times where we sit down and awkwardly avoid any eye contact with the people around us. I’m used to it now, but at that time in my life, I was very nervous and afraid to meet new people, so I just sat quietly in my seat, watching the rocks and the forests fly by.

In the seat in front of me, there was a super outgoing girl. She was making interesting conversation with the people around me, and since she was pretty loud, I couldn’t help but listen in. Midway through the conversation, she noticed I was paying attention. Normally, people get offended, or just flat out pretend you don’t exist. This girl looks at me, smiles, and asks if I wanted to join their conversation.

I was stunned. Here I was, quietly sitting in my seat and then somebody who I didn’t even know straight up asks me if I’d like to participate in the conversation. Obviously, I said yes, and she continued the conversation with me involved. At the time, I was just grateful that I’d have people to talk to; however, now I realize, that moment has completely changed my life.

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