UVLC 2012 - Andrew Braun
What is the appeal to travelling and meeting new people? Would it be the rush of the airports, the $20 airport food, sense of adventure, jumping into a scenario with unknown expectations, or even just meeting more likeminded people around the country? For me, it definitely is not the $20 egg salad airport sandwich or the airport rush, but the joy of meeting new students from various universities around Canada.
On February 2nd the flight out to Victoria, BC took off around noon and later that afternoon we walked out to a sunny, green, and warm (relative to our mild Saskatchewan winter) Victoria. My first expectation was quickly altered as I asked our hosts how many external delegates came out. The four of us U of Rers represented about half of all external delegates. Even some people from Victoria were confused by why we came out. However, this did not change the whimsicality of this conference and the quaint welcome we all felt by our Victorian hosts. Later, in the evening we had our first gala at the world famous Empress Hotel.
Waking up Friday with limited amounts of sleep we started the full day of sessions by various speakers. The one session that stood out the most was by Paul Summerville, an international investor and early-retired businessman. He had three main retirement plans at age 45; $3 million Kraft Dinner retirement, $5 million wine and cheese, or $10 million champagne and caviar. It was interesting to ask questions to a very successful investor, especially one who has done quite a bit international work. We could pick his brain with questions like, if the opportunity arose to make a successful business agreement but a bribe would be necessary would you go for it? His answer was much longer than a simple no, but he was very adamant about how corrupt business and government never lasts.
Saturday morning came sooner than I wanted, but this was the most active day of the week. One of the main attractions for the University of Victoria Leadership Conference is the Victoria Challenge, a 4-hour “Amazing Race” style adventure. We were all split into teams of 4 and given a variety of tasks and challenges to complete. Various stations included eating contests and physically demanding challenges. One even required two members of our team to row across the channel in downtown Victoria, all while we were supervised and laughed at by Olympic Gold Medalist Adam Kreek. The challenge ended with a case involving us setting up a marketing plan for a 90’s band performing a reunion show in Victoria. My team was fortunate enough to have the Spice Girls show, “stop right now thank you very much,” have fun getting that song out of your head.
The weekend concluded with Adam Kreek giving a great keynote speech. One of his main points was illustrated from him handing out three $100 bills to three volunteers. After each volunteer received their free $100s Adam called another group of volunteers to pitch an idea of how they could help the most people with the $100. All three rich volunteers gave their collective $300’s to the guy who offered to break it into loonies and toonies and hand it out around the city. I imagine the buskers around the first two blocks of the Marriot had a very successful night.
Overall UVLC was fantastically successful and adventurous, it definitely gave me a great flavour of how interesting and fun conferences could be.