Blazing their way through troubling times with Trailblazers

Blazing their way through troubling times with Trailblazers

Emphasizing the ideals of leadership, teamwork and entrepreneurship, Trailblazers took place from the 18th of April onwards till the 1st of May 2020 Live on via the @rotaract_iit Instagram page. A project organized by the Rotaract club of IIT together with the Interact Clubs of Visakha Vidyalaya, Mahamaya Girls’ College Kandy, Ananda College, St. Peter's College and the Interact Districts 3292: Nepal and Bhutan and 3240: India, Project Trailblazers was the pinnacle project for guiding young individuals to reinforce their personalities and inspire themselves to be a vast community of dedicated learners, leaders and entrepreneurs capable of  reaching the climax of their success.Not to be put out by the global pandemic that was COVID-19, Trailblazers was completely online, emphasizing the need to protect yourself and those around you by practicing social distancing. This ensured a great psychological uplift for all viewers and granted a chance for the young crowd to spend a few minutes of their time at home productively, while gaining a whole heap of inspiration and motivation to build up their future.

To say that Trailblazers 2020 had a number of special guests would be a complete understatement. The lineup of speakers, panelists and artists were phenomenal and each and every session was something to remember. We’re talking about the likes of Fahad Farook, Peter De Almeida, Yasas Hewage, Gaia Kodithuwakku, Bathiya Jayakodi, Bernadine Jayasinghe and a mesmerizing entertainment session featuring the singers of the popular band Rubberband and Anjalee Balasooriya, representing the Interact Club of Mahamaya Girls’ College Kandy.

Kicking off Trailblazers was Fahad Farook. From the get go, his session dealt with choices, the powers that choices give us and how we ourselves are ultimately responsible for the choices that we make. But making a choice isn’t always easy. Fahad also spoke about “passing the decision ball” where the process of making a decision is passed around without being made. But just because you have to make a choice, that doesn’t mean you have to give into peer pressure or decision paralysis. In other words, you need to think about the opportunity cost in making decisions, and think about what happens if you make a certain decision. 

Fahad  also spoke about leadership. A leader should have authenticity and humility. One should not associate leadership with money, wealth, or respect. Power isn't leadership either. Unfortunately, even if people are born ready to take a risk and go forward, our education system nips it in the bud, as it were. A good leader should always strive for your superiors, peers, and subordinates. You should also share what you are going to work on, and ask people to call you out.

Continuing the topic of leadership was Peter D’ Almeida. “A leader should take other people's opinions, but not when, yknow, there's a fire.” Peter emphasized that there is a distinct difference in being a leader and a manager. “We face a lack of leadership as we have managers. He went on to talk about how there is no correlation between friendship and credibility as a leader. But being a leader is not something that can be done overnight. In fact, it’s pretty much in line with being an entrepreneur. 

This was what Yasas Hewage shared his thoughts on. Being entrepreneurial is someone who makes things happen. But an entrepreneur is not a business. That is indeed a common misconception. A business makes money, whereas an entrepreneur solves problems. Yasas then spoke about one of the primary problems of being an entrepreneur in Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka doesn't encourage you to think outside the box”. He added that whilst Sri Lankans have knowledge, they lack the skill to put all that knowledge to good use. “There’s no use of an MBA and vast knowledge, if you don’t have skill.”

Being genuine and living without fear is easier said than done. But it is absolutely vital that you must do it. Gaia Kodithuwakku shared snippets of her life story. Rather than be beaten down by all the hardships she had to face, she instead used these to transform herself and build up herself as well as her business. The end result? A genuine life, lived without fear. 

Trailblazers weren't all talk though. Rubberband, an up and coming band of musicians showcased their musical skills. Although consisting of 9 members, it was Pamesh Uralagamage, Shizan Raees and Channuka Devnindu who voiced their views (quite literally) by doing what they do best; singing. In case you wondered, Rubberband got their name from the rubberband that Shizan’s mum wrapped around his lunch box to make sure it was closed well. He said he usually had that rubber band around his wrist and that gave them the idea.

Bernadine Jayasinghe also shared similar thoughts. She emphasized that the key to a productive relationship is effective communication. This refers not only to verbal communication, but also to non-verbal communication as well.She also shared the basics of communication. These include knowing your audience, using terms that everyone is familiar with, speaking at an understandable pace, maintaining eye contact and perhaps most importantly, being genuine in anything you say and do.

Manuranga Wijesekara and Bathiya Jayakody shared a session that was both informative and entertaining. Similar to what Yasas shared, Manuranga also emphasized that Degrees and other qualifications are of little to no use if you cannot use your skills and knowledge to improve what other people do. In doing so, you also improve society. Apart from that Manuranga also spoke about his early life and what drew him to music. During the early stages, he realized the importance of taking a break when conversations with your loved ones, or business partners turn into arguments. 

With a musical performance by both Manuranga and Bathiya, their session came to a close. This also made it the last session for Trailblazers 2020. Overall, despite the prevailing situation in the country, the organizing team was able to pull off an impressive event that is sure to be remembered. 

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