Barack Obama calls on young people to embrace the creative skills

“Hit your books, people.”

Barack Obama and Rhiannon Rosalind

That’s the advice former United States president Barack Obama  gave to thousands of young people who gathered last Thursday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Obama was speaking at a forum about the future of work organized by the Economic Club of Canada and the Global Institute for Conscious Economics.

“You still have to do your math.“You’re not off the hook,” he said, calling on the young people to embrace the creative skills that will help them stand out in a rapidly changing world economy.

Obama said  they need to think about things that have not been done before, and skills that include interacting with other human beings.

Creativity, analytical thinking and team building are the types of skills that will continue to be vital in a future full of job automation, he said.

He also told the young people that success requires building a team that is diverse, not just in race but also in viewpoints, skillsets and mindsets.

Obama’s conversation with Economic Club of Canada president Rhiannon Rosalind focused on future skills, with the goal of inspiring new ways of thinking about society, economy and work

Discussing climate change, Obama pointed out that it’s going to require every sector to take responsibility for what is gong to be ” an enormous challenge.”

Governments, businesses and individuals are going to have to play their part in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Obama noted that millions of people in the Third World live without basics, so it would be unreasonable to expect them to reject coal-fired electricity that could transform their lives.

What the West needs to do, he said, is help the Third World “leapfrog our development models” and come up with systems where they can get electricity and produce enough food without destroying the planet.

“We have to figure out how do we give them the opportunity to enjoy a reasonable standard of living while still preserving the environment,”  he added.

The organizers of the forum – the first of a four-part series – stated that they are ” dedicated  to fostering a new economic dialogue in Canada that promotes equality, inclusion, and the voices of multiple generations around the same table.”

“Proud to see a leader who looks like me”

Christine Dikongué
Consultant & Motivational Speaker
Youth Director @United Nations Association in Canada

I never would have believed you, if you had told me 10 years ago, when I moved to Canada as an international student that I would someday meet the 44th and first black president of the United States of America; and bring with me 100 young leaders of less than 30 international, black, francophone, Toronto, refugee and immigrant students. I am grateful to Rhiannon Rosalind, the Economic Club of Canada and all the partners who have enabled young leaders like us to be in a room full of community builders, executives and President Obama.

I was extremely proud to see a leader who looks like me. My highlights of the conversation with President Obama while he was sharing his thoughts on the future of work was when he addressed the issue of self-love with this quote “Be yourself, uniqueness. Don’t project yourself on someone else; project yourself into the universe with what you want.” About inclusion in the workplace: “Build a team that embraces your values but brings intellectual diversity

Jeff A.D Martin
Author & Professional Speaker

“A man who has broken the barriers like no one has before him”

Having the opportunity to have met President Barack Obama was something that to this day still seemso unreal. It feels like a dream. To be in the presence of greatness, a man who has broken the barriers like no one has before him. He is truly the answer to Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream. Standing beside him it’s a reminder to myself that the goals and dreams that I have need to be much greater.


Jean Augustine, former Member of Parliament

“It’s always thrilling to meet the product of the ‘Dream’”

“It was inspiring to see and hear President Obama speak to youth from our community, addressing an issue so important to us.  I am most impressed with the efforts, vision and bold leadership of Rhiannon Rosalind and Dr. Jeffrey Overall to push for inclusivity of young people who are often overlooked. Creating this opportunity to have out of the 6,000 in attendance, making sure that half were youth shows her passion and commitment to young people in our city.

It’s always thrilling to meet the product of the Dream that many African Americans and others have fought so long and hard for in the United States of America. What an incredible day it was for our youth.