Touching the pacific ocean changed my life, here’s what I learned.

Isabella Grandic
Mar 23 · 12 min read

I was staring out the window of our AirBnB in Vancouver, looking at all the lights, mountains and buildings. During this moment my exact thoughts were “How the hell did I get here? What did I do to deserve this?”. Like most 15-year-olds who were invited to attend Western Canada’s top tech conference, I had to work hard. I did some reflecting on how I came to be where I was.

It’s not like I sat in school every day praying that one day I would get to go to BCTECH summit. How many high school kids got this opportunity? 4. How many high school kids are there across Canada? Around a million. The 4 of us represent 0.0000006% of all Canadian high school kids.

And around the world, there are about 60 million high school kids; which means, the 4 of us represent 0.00000001667 % of all high school students. You’re more likely to win the jackpot lottery, twice than to be randomly selected to go to Canada’s top innovation conference in Vancouver. However, I didn’t just get lucky. Well, not entirely.

I didn’t sit in my school classes and just hope one day I would be that 0.00000001667%. I had to do things differently. Differentiate from those other 60 million kids.

You can’t do the same thing as everyone else and expect different results. I did do things differently. I learned about things other people weren’t learning about, I wrote things people weren’t writing, and I did things people weren’t doing.

The key thing wasn’t what I was doing, but it was what other people , weren’t doing. And then I did it. I’ve worked on projects in Cellular agriculture [growing animal products without animals (crazy😱)] and now I’m working on learning how to get machines to learn. I’ve discovered I have a passion for changing the way we make food, because right now it doesn’t make sense. I could really go on for hours, but point is, I found my ambition, and now I’m gaining the skills and knowledge to follow my passion.

I didn’t get lucky in the sense that I was randomly selected to go to Vancouver; it didn’t just happen. I got lucky in other ways, like my discovery of The Knowledge Society, which helped me go about my unconventional ways. I’ve been fortunate to have been born in Canada, have all my mentors and friends; I’m so grateful. Without them, I couldn’t be doing what I do today and I wouldn’t get this opportunity.

By no means am I perfect, nor accomplished, nor successful (yet). I’m quite literally just learning and trying my best to do things differently. I’m not even close to where I want to be or who I want to be.

But…. since I am the 0.00000001667%, I thought I’d share some of my key learnings from going to BCTECH summit, and just in general: doing things differently.

There are 3 things worth Investing your Time In

  1. Learning
  2. Ideas
  3. Experiences

Notice I didn’t say “investing money”. Money isn’t the most valuable resource. It’s a piece of paper (or in Canada’s case, plastic). Money can buy happiness, to a certain point. After your income surpasses $100,000 income and happiness no longer have a correlation.

Happiness index is just a bunch of arbitrary numbers. It’s just to show that after a certain threshold, money does not determine happiness.

But I did say investing time. Time is something that all of us can’t get more of. Choosing how you spend your time will directly correlate with the person you’re going to become.

(As I mentioned before, I am not even close to the person I want to be. I’ve been trying to be super intentional about how I spend my time in order to reach my personal goals.)


Each and every day we get 24 hours — no more no less. If you want to be the best fortnite player in the world, you’re gonna spend the majority of your 24 h sitting in front of your computer. ( You’ll also have tons of competition, seems like everyone’s on fortnite these days 🧐).

How you spend your time matters. Right now, you’re choosing to read this. You could be doing anything, like, avoiding your significant other, ripping a fortnite match, or watching the news. It’s your choice… and a good one if you ask me 😉.

My trip to BC really had me evaluating my time and the type of person I want to become.

Here’s my Warren-Buffet approved, time-investment plan.

Time spent Learning

Knowledge sticks with you forever. (Basically).

I’ve always been super curious, and I’ve never felt satisfied with what I was learning in school. But learning isn’t just limited to school (thank God). We have this thing, maybe you’ve heard of it, “the internet.” Literally, all the information that took humans hundreds of thousands of years to capture is just a google search away.

Einstein spent 10 years working on the theory of relativity. I could google 3 words (theory of relativity) and have access to all the conclusions from his 10 years of hard work, about 13,400,000 results in 0.68 seconds.

We’re living in the most technologically advanced point in history. We have the conclusions from the smartest people who have ever lived. There are free university-level courses ONLINE through udacity, udemy and coursera. Learning things has never been easier.

Podcasts too. If you think about it, listening to a podcast is like being a fly on the wall listening to very smart people talk. WTF?? Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin would have killed for this opportunity. We are exponentially more resourceful than the most intelligent people in human history, so we should become exponentially smarter.

For me, there are no excuses. No reasons to why I shouldn’t take advantage of the resources I have available.


Learning Brings You Towards Passion

Learning about new things is how you develop your passion. It’s not like you will one day walk down the street drop your ice cream cone or something, and as you go to pick it up, you’ll find your passion as well.

This kid ain’t about to find her passion

I spent several months learning about cellular agriculture, and that knowledge got me to speak on a life-science panel at BCTECH summit, present about the technology to engineers at Microsoft and AWS in Vancouver.

Passion is something you must develop over time. It takes iterations, and trials, and failures. I think I’m getting closer…

Not fully there yet, but I certainly love learning about technology impacting the food industry, but I also just love learning in general.

In Vancouver, I learned a lot.

I learned about quantum computing, machine learning, nuclear fusion — you name it.

I learned about myself: my confidence, insecurities, inabilities.

I learned about change. That change is possible. Comparing a year-ago-me to now, was, crazy.

I learned about happiness and adventure.

I also learned that I am terrible at Mafia, lol.

Vancouver was full of lessons and reflections. Learning and failing. But that’s personal and mental growth. The takeaway is, when you’re put in a new and challenging environment, you end up spending a lot of time thinking.

Thinking is one of the best activities though: you discover things about yourself you didn’t even think you could know.

Alongside the stunning view, all in all, I had a wonderful time.

TL;DR:

  • Take advantage of the internet
  • Reflect on yourself/your actions

Time spent developing Ideas

Ideas are important. A smart dude once said:

Great Minds Discuss Ideas. Average Minds Discuss Events. Small Minds Discuss People

I actually have no idea who said this but they seem reasonably smart. I might go as far as calling them wise.


Maybe like 0.00001% of people have been unconventional and exceptional in all of human history. 70,000 people.

The rest have opted for stability. A decent job with decent hours and decent pay. (Not that this is a bad thing).

But… only a few people have worked on outstanding things: like cell phones, the internet, electricity, cars, etc. A very small portion of the world actually works on life-changing “stuff”. The rest have just followed paths set up for them by society.

Imagine if 0.001% (two fewer zeros)of humanity did exceptional things. That’s 7,000,000 Bill Gateses, Elon Musks, and Jeff Bezoses (jeez, all these world-changers have last names that are ridiculously hard to write in plural) over the whole period of human history. People don’t spend enough time “thinking” so, they don’t have enough ideas; therefore they don’t work on exceptional projects, thus less than 0.0001% of all humans to ever live have brought ideas to life.

All of the most intelligent people in the world have one thing in common: they’re out of the box thinkers.

We don’t talk about ideas enough; we don’t have enough thinkers

People don’t talk ideas because our culture doesn’t promote it.

It’s so easy for us to be like “Becky is soooooo annoying and seriously, where did she get her haircut? It’s ugly”.

But why can’t we just as easily say: “ Damn, this global warming shit is a problem. What’s causing it? Let’s solve it.”

People are afraid to think big and long term. They’re afraid to think differently and for themselves. They’re also raised in a society where promoting ideas is seen as an abnormal thing to do, so you talk about Becky’s haircut or Bob’s crazy behavior at last night’s party instead.

Overall, the environment at most high schools is pretty toxic. Someone’s always saying something nasty, someone’s always backstabbing someone else. What if we had convos about drug discovery, cancer, and plastic pollution? The world would be a much better place for starters.

What I’ve personally decided is I want to invest my time in people who promote idea-conversations rather than people-oriented conversations. Life’s short. And Becky’s haircut really doesn’t matter.

I’m gonna die eventually.

After reflecting on myself/my life more than the average 15-year-old, I’ve decided “screw it”, I’m going to spend my time in a meaningful way.

I need friends/relationships where we talk about philosophy, mental models, adventures and problems rather than people, people, and people.

The people you surround yourself with are crucial to who you’re going to become.

In Vancouver, I was fortunate enough to surround myself with some of the smartest, most creative and innovative people I’ve ever met. I felt inspired for days. It was exactly where I wanted to be.

PWC Vancouver dinner
Chillin’ at BBTV
✌️@ Hootsuite
Presenting at Microsoft!

I met so many smart people: from the CTO of general fusion to awesome people working at Hootsuite and BBTV.

I got to be part of a community, full of innovation and excitement. For the first time in my entire life, I felt welcome and “at home”.

“This is exactly how I want to spend my time/life” — the exact words rolling through my head as I stared out of the AirBnB’s window.

The view was also pretty sick:

**I’ll give you a second to soak this in **

I’m so grateful to be part of a community that talks about ideas and innovation. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by the brightest young minds, all the time. I’m the luckiest 15-year-old in the world.

Along with big-talks on how we can impact the world, I also got to fulfill my life long aspiration of touching the Pacific ocean.

On my way to the Pacific ocean; Generating world-saving ideas by night, touching oceans by day😎

TL;DR:

  • People get caught up in shallow conversations. Let’s talk about ideas and big dreams rather than small thoughts and useless realities. Dig deeper.
  • I’ve developed some of my strongest relationships by talking about philosophy and ideas. Action item: need to have more “how can I change the world” convos.

Time spent experiencing

Life is a bunch of stories.

You only live once, might as well make your stories worthwhile?

In Vancouver, I got to adventure like never before (maybe it’s because I touched the Pacific ocean and instantly became Isabella 2.0). But, from dancing in conference halls and doing handstands at 3 am to eating dinner at the Fairmont and watching Paul Filek preform, I had an amazing time.

I will probably remember this trip for the rest of my life.

One of my best trips, thus far. I realized that I need more exciting stories in my life. More adventure. Because, although I am on a path of learning, growing and developing, there’s no point in being on a path if it’s not somewhat enjoyable.

Something people often forget (including myself) is to enjoy themselves.

Now life isn’t going to be daisies and sunshine and rainbows, not even close, but the ability to take a shitty situation and make it better is a skill. Shockingly enough, it is one of the most essential skills that they don’t teach in school! (Along with every other quintessential skill actually used in the real world! But I’m not here to complain 😊). However, being able to maintain stress and pressure with your personal happiness/satisfaction is pretty important; it’d be nice if they taught it.

Lucky for me, I’ve been introduced to these basic skills pretty early on.

Now, I get to be intentional about how I spend my time in order to shape my life into doing what I love.

Because What’s the point of what you’re doing if you’re not happy?

Life can be a mess sometimes, but you just need to clean it up 🤯#inspiration

I had many interesting experiences in Vancouver *cut scene*.

Me about to watch some sickkkkkk talks

It was memorable. One could even call it “lit” (it’s what the kids call fun😯).

However, one of my main takeaways was that the fact that my trip was super extraordinary might have been a problem.

It meant that I needed more “excitement” during my day-to-day life in Toronto. I needed a spark to wake me up in the morning. Something, worthwhile.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is amazing. I need to activate more exciting adventures.

Vancouver was sort-of a wakeup call that I need to spend more time prioritizing adventure and stories; experiences and excitement.

I want to get to the point (and I’m approaching the point) where everything is exciting. I don’t need extraordinary events, like travel, to boost my mood. Learning and personal growth in itself should be stimulating enough.

I’ll know when I’ve reached a point of constant-ism when nothing excites me. I know, seems contradictory to my whole argument that life should be fun.

But, what if everything was exciting? Then nothing would be exciting. I want to reach this level. Where every day I get to invest in myself: become a slightly better person, with slightly stronger relationships and slightly more knowledge while being in a constant state of happiness. I’m working on it 😏.

Along with that, I want to get good at creating fun experiences for myself/ good stories.

The best situations occur when you’re uncomfortable and take risks. Ok, so I also suck at this, but I promise I’m working on getting better.

Lots of self-reflection and introspection coming up in the next couple months 😀.

TL;DR:

  • Live to the point where everything is exciting so nothing is exciting; that’s how you know you’re doing what you love.
  • Making memories often involves serendipity and discomfort. The perfect ingredients for a big adventure…

Learning, Ideating, Experience — All super important.

My conclusions for Vancouver all surround investing to become the best version of myself. Investing my time, specifically.

Now, I got somewhat lucky. I have been born in the most tech-advanced point in history. I have a wonderful family and community. I have the privilege to live in one of the best places on the planet *subjective 🇨🇦. (But come on, have you seen our PM??)

Now, I’m left with decisions. How can I leverage my knowledge, education, and privilege to help solve real issues? How can I work hard to do stuff that matters?

I have no clue how I can even begin to answer these. As for right now, I need to work on learning, ideating and experiencing.

  • With knowledge, I will be able to find my passion(s). It’ll also help me connect with people, and overall, be a more interesting person.
  • With ideas, I can gain unique opportunities. Discussing ideas with people is one of the best forms of collaboration and can be a big role in developing deep relationships.
  • With experiences, life becomes interesting and worthwhile. It’s important to have a story to tell.

Big thank you to The Knowledge Society for this incredible opportunity and everything they’ve done for me; and a big thanks to BCTECH summit for this amazing experience!


Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed, give it a clap, and please share with your network!

Connect on LinkedIn and Twitter. Also, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter:

Isabella Grandic

Written by

Hey, I’m Izzy, a 15-year-old interested in impacting billions with emerging tech. I’m super excited about cellular agriculture and machine learning