Over 20 years, some things stay the same and some things change dramatically. I recently returned to Waterloo, Ontario, to speak at an alumni event hosted by Women in Math, part of the Faculty of Math at the University of Waterloo.

Williams Fresh Cafe in University Shops Plaza, which first opened while I was a Waterloo student (then Williams Coffee), is still operating. As is Angie’s Kitchen on Erb Street, which has been in business for 55 years! New are the two gargantuan 25-storey towers of ICON, a residential development on Philip Street which overshadows the co-operative housing that I used to live in, and the many new buildings on the University of Waterloo campus.

It was exciting to join other Math alumnae and leaders in a panel discussion to share. I had the chance to share some information about Integrated Investing and how to use it to make better decisions to help create a better world. I gave away five complimentary copies of the book to students who participated in the discussion and one copy was given to the Dean of Math!

With me on the panel were:

Our experiences are so varied – we provided different perspectives and share advice on topics such as starting your own company, doing a co-op work program or not, tips for job hunting post-graduation, getting out of your comfort zone, and succeeding in male-dominated industries.

Things we learned and shared:

  1. That Cineplex Digital Media has image evaluation technology that collects data about what people engage with when they look at in-store digital media in stores and movie theatres!
  2. With the benefit of experience (and perhaps hindsight) that although good grades might open some doors initially, they aren’t the be all and end all.
  3. To get out of your comfort zone, be curious about the unknown.
  4. Exploring courses and employment opportunities outside of your field of study helps you discover and learn new things.
  5. Work life balance is more about prioritization than balance.
  6. Build your social and financial capital early if you want to start your own business one day.
  7. Your mental health is far more important than stressing out over grades.

This last point was huge. One of the students that attended the event commented that friends were getting very anxious and stressed out about pursuing high grades. As someone who used to worry a lot about my grades and having experienced anxiety manifest itself as physical discomfort, I felt sad to here that anxiety and stress were impacting young people. Without our mental health, good grades mean nothing. We need to take care of our mental health so that we can solve problems, take care of ourselves and our village, and enjoy life. If there was one message to get across that evening, it was about the importance and prioritization of good mental health.

Coincidentally, I came across this interview with Techstars founder, Foundry Group investor, and author of Venture Deals, Brad Feld, where he talks about entrepreneurs and tackling depression. In the interview he talks about how to cope with depression, the importance of a strong support network, and mental fitness.


This image and featured image courtesy Alex Lippert, University of Waterloo.

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For more resources and tools for making better decisions in the face of uncertainty, including cultivating a curiosity mindset, check out Integrated Investing: Impact Investing with Head, Heart, Body, and Soul, available at all major online book retailers.

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