SociaLIGHT 2012 Talks Entrepreneurship, Failure, and the Difference Between Money and Wealth

by Herbert Lui | Startups

Who will usher in the changes that this world needs to sustain itself? Who will continue the path of progress? It begins with us.

Under this premise, over 1,000 entrepreneurs and artists gathered to the Queen Elizabeth Centre in Exhibition Place in Toronto last weekend to experience SociaLIGHT 2012. Here's our highlight reel of the event.


As startups and entrepreneurship has grown more sexy, veteran entrepreneur and venture capitalist Com Mirza gave the audience a reality check with his story of failing repeatedly. After failing his business venture, he admitted to the audience he was considering giving up.

“There are a lot of easier ways to make money. Entrepreneurship, by far, is not the easiest way to make money,” shared Mirza. “Whoever wants to make money, just get a great job and have a good career—building someone else’s dream.”

“A lot of times, if you want to be successful, you need to be loyal to the dream,” he explained. All the inevitable pains of being an entrepreneur, such as broken relationships, vacations, and headaches, end up being the things that refine entrepreneurs and make them successful. Upon mentioning success, Mirza moved to the topic of people.

“Without great people, nothing great is ever accomplished,” added Mirza. “If you can help other people get what they want, they’ll help you get what you want." Mirza also suggested that money can always be earned back, but once trust is lost, it’s something that’s extremely difficult to gain back.

As he wrapped up his presentation, Mirza left the audience with some food for thought. For those of us hesitant to chase our dreams: “We die at 25 and we’re not buried till 75.”


Tonya Surman from the Centre for Social Innovation rallied social entrepreneurs.

“The economics of money is only energy,” said Surman. Money is just a medium used to achieve social change. We can no longer rely on other people to drive the social change we need to see. Surman pointed out that there are no silos; instead, our competitors are often also our best collaborators in this day and age.

The speech concluded with Surman announcing a series of exciting developments for CSI: the expansion into New York City, the development of Wondereur, the progress of CultivateTO, their crowdfunding platform partnership with Hivewire.


Best-selling author and Huffington Post columnist Agapi Stassinopoulos delivered a keynote about empowerment and success.

Her story began with her mother, who had to overcome many financial and emotional obstacles. “How she survived it: she became bigger than her pain,” explained Stassinopoulos. She then highlighted a major problem with conferences, where inspiration that should be driving change dies off as the weekdays begin and the routine of life settles in again.

Instead of attempting to find passion, people should be trying to find their compassion. Stassinopolous prompted the audience to ask themselves, “What is the agenda of the higher purpose? We are wanted; what can we offer?”

She advised people to be extremely transparent—be vulnerable, and if you want something from someone, don’t pretend you don’t want it. Stassinopoulos differentiated between wealth and money: Money you can always make, but friendships, wisdom, and talent can’t be summoned on command.

The speech was full of wisdom and experience, and offered a truly different way of thinking. We all want to be validated, but we are validated the day we are born. We have inherited the legacies and successes of the world.

Amongst other fascinating speakers were social media maven and entrepreneur Amber Mac and Wattpad cofounder Allen Lau. SociaLIGHT lived up to its name as an event for social entrepreneurs and like-minded individuals wanting to drive change.

"We were honoured to be able to inspire a spark of possibility within our 1,000 attendees this year," says SociaLIGHT founder Theresa Laurico. "Next year, SociaLIGHT is on track to become an international conference and it will be bigger and better at home in Toronto - we've already booked some amazing speakers!"

Photo credit: Zeeshan Syed from Hak Studio

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Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui loves startups, creativity, and innovation. He has been actively blogging about technology and consumer electronics since the summer of 2007, and still enjoys every minute of it. Herbert immerses himself in everything he wants to learn more about. He studies Consumer Behavior at the University of Western Ontario. In whatever spare time he has, Herbert can be found with his friends... more

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