Reaching the Summit
By: Daniel Gary, Master of Accounting 2018 Student
On Saturday September 9, 2017, over two-thousand angels descended upon the Sony Centre in downtown Toronto. No, these were not biblical angels, but rather, attendees of Archangel Summit, a gathering meant to inspire and transform socially-minded entrepreneurs.
After attending the event, I spoke with the Founder and President of Archangel Academy, Giovanni Marsico, to learn more. A fan of superheroes, Marsico was keen to share his “origin story.” After being teased as a student for being academically talented (gifted) he discovered the X-Men series, featuring Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, which lead him to his mission (and the mission of Archangel Academy): to help struggling entrepreneurs realize their missions, whether through funding, relationships, or mentorship. Through Archangel Academy, Marsico is creating immersive experiences that make people smile. One of Marsico’s superpowers, he told me, is building connections. And it shows. Archangel Summit has been graced by speakers including Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and this year, Daymond John and Simon Sinek.
Events like Archangel Summit allow students to gain practical experience, build their networks, and experience personal transformation and growth. Speakers share a lifetime of valuable experience, with outside-the-box thinking and practical advice that goes beyond what you could learn in class. For example, billionaire Naveen Jain (who runs the only company authorized by NASA to land on the moon) shared unconventional advice on building expertise. While most people praise the “10,000 hour” rule for mastering a skill, Jain suggests the only way to disrupt an industry is to enter it with a fresh perspective. He gave the example of his innovative solution to develop a small space shuttle: it was an unthinkable suggestion to seasoned engineers, but became the basis of his company’s operations.
Audience interaction and networking is an important part of any event, but relationship-building is especially emphasized at Archangel Summit. Attending a gathering like this is an opportunity to be surrounded by successful, energetic, and intelligent people. Giovanni Marsico explained his perspective: “as the world becomes more digital–more augmented reality, more digital VR–people need and crave human-to-human interaction.” Archangel Summit was designed around this principle; the event promotes audience interactions, offers generous networking breaks, and provides an atmosphere conducive to relationship-building. Marsico told me why relationship-building (not just networking for the sake of networking) is important for university students. As young people, Marsico explained, we have a lot of time (it’s our currency). We can trade in our time by building our gifts and “superpowers”, the skills that allow us to serve others. These superpowers, when used to help others, give way to relationships. Relationships, in turn, lead to “reputational capital” which is a precious and powerful asset everyone should strive to attain.
At Archangel Summit, I was joined by Lisa Palmer, Owner and Founder of Valuable Lessons. She approaches opportunities like this using the Law of Attraction, and put it this way: “consider that there are only two-thousand people in North America who have also decided to be here today, and each person is in a similar situation to you, with relevant knowledge to share. By attending, you are choosing to surround yourself with positivity and motivation, and opening yourself up to transformation.”
Lisa Palmer put it succinctly: beyond motivation, Archangel Summit offers an opportunity for transformation. While attendees will come away from any event reinvigorated, the true impact of an event like this is the chance to make changes to your life. For example, I learned from Dr. Shefali Tsabary that how you frame an issue can define you as a proactive–not reactive–person. Dr. Shefali cited Mother Theresa’s willingness to attend a “pro-peace” event but not an “anti-war” rally. The theme of proactivity was repeated by several speakers (Naveen Jain, Marc Kielberger, and Daymond John), and it was enlightening. No matter how inspiring a conference can be, it remains the attendee’s responsibility to act on the information and insights presented. At Archangel Summit, this was made easier thanks to the practical nature of the advice and the ease at which it can be implemented. Every presenter focused on realistic and readily-implemented material.
Archangel Summit, and other conferences like it, may seem inaccessible to university students because of their admission prices. However, many events offer student discounts (sometimes you have to ask the organizer) and Archangel welcomes a team of a few-dozen volunteers each year, who are also able to enjoy the presentations. Regardless, when it comes to personal growth, no expense should be spared for an event like Archangel Summit.
When I spoke with Giovanni Marsico about the topic of this article, he expressed his enthusiasm: “I’m ecstatic for people in University and High School to attend Archangel Summit.” Marsico explained that through our education system, students often face a great deal of “programming that goes against their internal compass.” Marsico is proud to have designed Archangel Summit as a place where young people attending can “have permission to be themselves,” stressing the importance of authenticity and vulnerability as a part of the personal growth process.
After attending Archangel Summit and speaking with Giovanni Marsico, I learned the true value of attending events like this. Whether its energy, a new perspective, a push toward innovation, or some other benefit, everyone can gain by attending Archangel Summit. Through our conversation, I realized Giovanni Marsico is someone who truly practises what he preaches, and is reaping the benefits in all areas of his life. Archangel Academy is aiming for 10,000 attendees in the 2020 Summit, and to gift over a billion dollars to entrepreneurs and charities over the next twenty-five years. These goals may be ambitious, but with an understanding of the mission, people, and principles behind them, I do not doubt they will be achieved.