How I transformed my life in 6 months

Life is what you make of your time. Unlock your true potential with spontaneity, goals and actions.

By the age of 20, I decided to take my life by the wheel and drive it.

No more napping in the backseat.

Many people often wonder how they can pick themselves up and get their lives going. Well here’s a kick to how I did it. Let’s not just write about how to “hack” everything, etc. But actually just do it.

Experiential learning is one of the greatest ways to learn at lightning speed.

The purpose of me writing this article is to show the world that age is just a number, big actions speak big transformations and help inspire other people to take their lives by the wheel.

Here is what happened when I changed my mindset and perspective on life.

6 months of an action-oriented attitude is what you need.

I believe this is what it truly means to grow up.

Change your environment

Life in Vancouver: 10 minutes from the majority of my family, elementary, high school and university.

I’ve moved once in my life. Down the street. What a joke! It was the first time I’ve ever left home for an extended period and lived on my own. This was a year of serious change for me.

Goodbye family, home and Vancouver. Transformation begins now.

Hello, Toronto! 4375 kilometres from home and family.

I decided at the age of 20 I applied and was selected for the position of National Vice President, Marketing and Communications with the global youth leadership non-profit AIESEC at the Canadian headquarters. (From full-time student/non-profit volunteer to full-time National VP? uh.. what!?).

My bachelor’s of human geography from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver is now on hold. My decision to take a gap year from school forever changed my life.


Halfway across the country — it was a breath of fresh air. New surroundings, people and even the air was different. By being in a new environment, your habits and routines are forced to change. With a blank canvas, you can start fresh.

With new beginnings, comes new learnings. When stepping into new environments, always set measurable goals. Quick tips as you start thinking of new journeys.

  1. Always immortalize the goal. Write, blog or publicly vocalize your goal and you’ll see an increase in mission accomplished!
  2. Start early with good habits. Because you’re working with a blank canvas, if you don’t start now on productive habits it’ll be harder to groove into them later.
  3. Tell your goals to your network. If it isn’t out there, then nobody will know or how to help you. I find it useful to tell your goals to your mentors, close friends and colleagues as they will often direct you to resources along the way
  4. Have goal-catalysts. There are always people in your network that can help you accelerate the completion of a goal. Find them and nurture that relationship. Mentors, friends, family, somebody has the keys to the gates. Be a proactive relationship builder. Don’t beg, build.
  5. Always celebrate your wins. Make doing awesome things, awesome. Publicly announce your win on social media! If you haven’t noticed, accomplishment style posts garner usually double or triple your average post in engagement and likes. People like people doing epic things! Sooner or later, your actions will snowball and you’ll find yourself “luckier” than usual.

Over the past 6 months, comfortable was not a word in my dictionary.Seeking to continuously challenge my experiences by setting new goals that would be outside of my comfort zone. Don’t rest on your laurels.

Challenge yourself every week. Set milestones, find new bold and miniature experiences that enable you to remain fresh in perspective and on your feet.

Toronto, Canada: My new home! Ai Wei Wei’s bicycle exhibition during Nuit Blanche.

New York City, United States: Under 20 Summit by the Peter Thiel Foundation (Co-founder of PayPal).
On the left: Beth Comstock, CMO of GE.

Boston, United States:Inbound 2013 by HubSpot — the world’s largest gathering of 5000 inbound marketers.

Montreal, Canada:Running a marketing summit for AIESEC at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

Rotterdam, Netherlands:Selected to represent the leading marketing perspective for global business intelligence strategy at AIESEC International global head office. (The canals are beautiful).

London, United Kingdom: Explored my way around London on my own. What a beautiful place!

Calgary, Canada: Helped run the Canada Youth to Business Forum. Met Mayor Nenshi for the first time!

Ottawa, Ontario:Celebrated my first Canada Day in the nation’s capital! What a moment.

View life and the decisions you make as a building block of who you become. You are your actions.

In 6 months, I have been able to accomplish many of my goals that I once dreamed of. I entered my new job with little or no expectations of what was to truly come for my own personal and professional development.

I notice that people often write articles based on other people’s research and experiences but I wanted my own version of how to transform through actions.

My 2013 New Year’s resolution was to not be afraid of public speaking. I kept trying and trying on stage until I disciplined my craft. I got an opportunity to speak as a keynote for the first time at a youth employment conference with the City of Toronto in front of 400+ people 11 months later. Holy!

I used to be scared sh!tless. Now I’m pumped to speak. This was my first keynote address in front of 400 young job seekers and corporate representatives with the City of Toronto’s Youth Learning Forum.

Lead the team that redeveloped AIESEC Canada’s national webpage, saved $8000 and launched it on time www.aiesec.ca. I am no web developer but I didn’t let that stop me.

The new website version 1 in 2014! I’ve never a website before, yet alone an entire national website. I had to be extremely resourceful and had the right people.

Website pre launch 2013. I joined AIESEC in 2011 with this website.. it was always a dream to see it change. Let alone do it myself.

Ran multiple conferences that impacted over 1000+ young leaders.

Why I love what I do. The people that make up my experience.

Other quick wins in 6 months:

  1. AIESEC Canada’s marketing strategy is now recognized as a global best-case practice in the organization across 124 countries.
  2. Oversaw the 415% growth of students signing up nationally. That means, I oversaw 15,000+ people sign up for our leadership & global internship programs (broke historic organizational records).
  3. Secured a partnership with HAVAS Worldwide in Toronto, one of the largest marketing agency groups. This partnership is worth around $20,000+ to date.
  4. Thought leadership on best-case practices for recruiting Gen Y in Canada
  5. Launched the second Canada Youth Voice survey that collected the opinions of over 1,000 students across 30 universities in Canada to measure their opinions of millennial work-life attitudes and behaviours. And the direct impact of AIESEC’s programs on their lives.

In 6 months, I have met and talked to some of the world’s most interesting people who have added new perspectives to my life.

Scott Harrison of charity:water. I wanted to meet him SO badly at Inbound. I literally bumped into him on the escalator before he went to do his presentations. Had a fanboy moment.
  1. Scott Harrison, Founder, Charity:water
  2. Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post
  3. Beth Comstock, CMO, General Electric
  4. Brian and Dharmesh, Co-founders of HubSpot
  5. Peter Thiel, Co-founder of PayPal
  6. The AIESEC International Global Executive Team
  7. AIESEC Canada’s Board of Directors
  8. My amazing AIESEC Canada leadership team
  9. Stephen Graham, CMO, Maple Leaf Foods
  10. Dick Cheney, Former Vice President, United States (Met at theInternational Forum of the Americas, he is so polarizing!).
  11. Mia Claman(Jody’s daughter) from Real Housewives of Vancouver (guilty pleasure for watching this show, but I must admit I got excited).
  12. Ming Xi (Chinese Supermodel, I was at Uniqlo in NYC and managed to strike a conversation with her!)
  13. Jordan Banks, Managing Director of Facebook Canada

This is a mere surface of whom I’ve been fortunate to meet or have dinners with — but I wanted to show you that you need to put yourself in a mindset in life where you enable spontaneity to flourish and put yourself in a space of opportunity. Spontaneity allows room for the unexpected to happen in your life.

Set ambitious goals, because even though you may not achieve them; you’ll subconsciously work harder than usual towards them.

Like the one I had for public speaking, I got my first keynote experience only a few months later and now I have another one lined up for one AIESEC’s largest international conferences in Mexico City; all within one year.

Life is a journey and nobody else will make it happen for you.

You write your own story. Your destiny, your fate, your future; it’s all in your hands. At the end of the day, time is fair to all. We all have the same amount of time in a day on Earth, and no one other person has more or less. It is simply the fact that those who excel in life are those who use their time wisely and understand how to maximize productivity with time. From departing family members to chasing new opportunities in life — time is our biggest enemy or friend.

I’ve cried, I’ve smiled, I’ve felt depressed, I’ve felt so happy my heart could explode, transforming yourself and going through an intensive development journey is no easy task. But nothing in life came easy, and nor did running the national marketing operations of AIESEC Canada accountable to over 2000 people across the country. Be okay with not being okay.

Throughout my term, I’ve seen how stressed I could get working super late at night trying to finish up all my projects. But also trying to balance the relationships between all the people around me.

I’ve also see how happy I can get what I finish my projects with outstanding and remarkable results. There is a huge sense of pride and honour when you have people recognize you on the streets, or at events saying how inspired they were of your speech or story.

I have accomplished much that any 20 year old could be proud of, but it doesn’t mean you should ever get comfortable. Because I believe that every 20 year old is capable of accomplishing more things than I have done here by having this level of awareness and maturity even earlier.

This is just the beginning of my story. My name is Gordon, I’m 21 and I don’t believe in impossible. But remember to always smile, have fun and be a little bit stupid along the way.

You’ll be so surprised when you realize what your true potential is.

I promise you that!

Title Photo Credit: flickr