Living Life Through Moonshots- My Experience at Elevate 2019

Riya Mehta
Sep 29, 2019 · 9 min read

There are many different types of people in our world, but what really divides our population is the ability to believe in impossible things, the ability to believe in moonshots 🚀

Having the ability to attend a powerful conference with powerful people in our industry was one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had.

Not only because of famous astronaut Chris Hadfield or former First Lady Michelle Obama, but also because it allowed my 16-year-old self, even for a few days to push beyond the boundaries of my own mindset.

The key to disruption in any industry, or impacting billions, is the power of living your life through moonshots. But what does the term “moonshot" really mean? And how do you live your life always believing in the impossible?

Well, attending the Elevate tech festival this year has given me a pretty good idea, and I am about to break down what truly defines innovation, activating a moonshot mentality and the chance for innovation to be our new “normal.”

Impactful People

Yung Wu, Ceo of MaRS

Having the chance to talk to Yung was a moonshot of its own. This was probably the highlight of the tech festival. I remember standing outside of the speaker lounge waiting for him to walk by, so I could even get a moment of his time.

Turns out, I got way more than just one moment.

But it didn’t happen just like that. As a 16-year-old who probably has no business being at a leading technology conference, it was really hard to put myself out there in a world where I could as easily be ignored simply for my age.

But going back to moonshots, I believed in the possibility enough to have a conversation with Yung that I changed a losing game. He gave me some amazing insight into the world of technology for the future and the importance of resilience, especially to a young teenager.

I asked him what advice he would give his younger self and he responded by saying;

There are going to be many moments, maybe a 100 moments when you feel like you are going to fail. All it takes is 1 moment to make you believe in the power of yourself, the power of your future

As a serial entrepreneur, he has seen it all, and I do mean all. The downs of life, the ups. The crazy thing is that all those moments contribute to who you are as a person and who you can be.

Thank you Yung, for opening my mindset enough to believe in a whole new reality. Your words of wisdom will always be appreciated 🙏🙏

Jodi Kovitz, Ceo & Founder of #movethedial

I was lucky enough to see Jody in person 😍 as I always admired her work to bridge the gap between technology and diversity in today’s generation.

Hearing her talk about the importance of involving everyone in the conversations about our changing generation completely changed the way I view the world and inclusion in technology.

Wanting to make a difference in the world and impact billions, it is so refreshing and empowering to see amazing women strengthening our future in technology and having all age groups be part of the discussion. Looking forward the changing the world with her advice👌

We definitely need more diversity in the tech space and to see someone moving the dial is definitely inspiring action worldwide! I love her “just say hello” philosophy, as for young teenagers just starting out in the tech space, having the courage to simply reach out is so powerful.

Inclusion is cultivating a sense of safety that people can be their authentic selves without fear of judgement

Michele Romanow, Co-Founder & President of Clearbanc

It still blows my mind that I was able to talk to tech titan Michele Romanow in person and receive the advice of a lifetime about growing markets and how to scale businesses to them 🤯 I mean, if she doesn’t define accomplished, I don’t know what does🙌

She’s the youngest dragon on CBC’s show Dragon’s Den! And if that isn’t enough, she’s also the co-founder & president of Clearbanc, a venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed through online share agreements, completely disrupting the industry of finance.

I rushed to catch her on the way out, but it was completely worth it to hear her experience on adapting products and infrastructures to our changing generation. It’s all about adaptability.

The moment a product or infrastructure cannot adapt to a changing industry is the moment they fail. Thank you so much for answering all our questions and inspiring a new generation of change-makers!

If you’re only looking for all the things you missed, that’s all you’ll see

Key Takeaway # 1:

In a nutshell, it definitely isn’t easy. And it very rarely is an instinct that comes naturally to people. The thing about meeting people and networking is that it’s all about the mentality.

If you believe that you are too young and have no value to add to others, that’s what you’ll believe and in turn, how you will act. Which brings me back to being uncomfortable. One thing I regret on Day 1 of the conference was running away from all things uncomfortable.

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable and like you don’t belong. The key is by the end of the experience, to be in the place where the magic happens

Every time there was someone new to talk to, I always put up a wall thinking that they wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say. Everyone asked me at the end of the conference was how I was able to put myself out there enough and be a “natural” at networking.

If I’m being honest, it’s because I learned from my mistakes on Day 1. By day 2, I made it my mission to engage in all things uncomfortable and ended up making some really amazing connections. At the end of the festival, people also came up to me and asked about my experiences, interested to know about a mere 16-year-old’s life. That made all those nervous experiences 100% worth it🔥

Key Takeaway # 2:

I’m sure you’ve heard of this quote before, how the people we know determines how much we are worth. This is applicable to any industry you are in, especially the technology field.

Networking isn’t just about getting people’s emails or Linkedins, but it is really about establishing meaningful connections to add value to whoever is in your conversation, including yourself.

If you’re making your conversations similar to a business transaction, you’re definitely doing something wrong. Start thinking about how you can engage in a meaningful conversation, by asking intuitive questions or even advice about the person’s life and figure out a way to adapt it into your own. This is a formula I like to use when it comes to meeting new people.

Quantity of network + Quality of network = Activating Success

Instead, think outside the box establish quality in conversations, even if it’s between a few people. That’s probably going to take you farther than the 500+ Linkedin contacts who you never reach out to.

Key Takeaway # 3:

This does not mean that you have to build a ton of projects or be a world-class keynote speaker. But also think about it this way. The person that you’re talking to, especially if they are an industry leader meets a ton of people a day, how can you specifically make them look the other way and want to add value into your life?

Meeting Esther Wojcicki! She is so awesome and has such a boss mentality🙌💪

A lot of pressure, I know. It’s scary to go up to someone you really admire and talk about yourself when you really haven’t done anything groundbreaking. But if you are me, you can channel that fear and nervousness into drive, drive to be intentional about who you are and more importantly, who you want to be.

TL;DR (Action Items)

  • Develop a one-liner. Whenever meeting people, it can be a frenzy to force all your life experiences into one conversation, so the answer is simple, don’t. Don’t force yourself to blurt out everything that you are doing, instead find a way to naturally fit it into different parts of the conversation. Having a one-liner (1–2 sentences about you and what you are doing) can go a really long way 👍
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable👌. Sounds crazy I know. But the only way to really put yourself out there is to get out of the bubble you live in. This also means being awkward in conversations and not really knowing where to start. But if you’re constantly telling yourself to embrace the awkwardness, reaching out to people will be second nature to you.
  • Ask meaningful questions catering to the person and try doing research on someone you really want to meet beforehand. I am a huge believer that conversations should not have to be forced, but there is no harm to research about someone and their work to develop talking points.

What’s My Moonshot 🚀

What defines landing on the moon for me? I realized that while the conference allowed me to believe in even the most impossible things, it was my responsibility to channel that mindset towards whatever I do and wherever I go.

The moonshots do not end at the conference, in fact, they have only begun. Anyone who knows me knows that I am extremely passionate about health systems in developing countries and how we can view global health 🌏 as an “us” problem, not a “them” problem.

As a 16-year-old teenager, it is really easy to fantasize about these type of visions, but extremely hard to execute them in reality. However, that has and nor will ever stop me.

You see all of us have different goals but at the end of the day we reach one simple conclusion; we want to see a better version of the world we live in. For me, that’s seeing the battle of receiving healthcare in developing countries come to an end but for you, it might be eliminating climate change🙌

The key is to believe in these impossible things enough for them to come true. We really are the product of our own thoughts. Change impossible to “I'm possible”.

We can turn our history of thinking big, into a future of thinking big, big enough to make moonshots our new reality.

If you enjoyed the article connect with me on Linkedin and if you have anyone I can connect with to achieve my moonshot, let me know!

Until next time,

Riya✌

Riya Mehta

Written by

I am a 16 year old student who is passionate about biotechnology and international medicine. Currently an innovator at TKS & working with Sick Kids Hospital!

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