We caught up with Jaxson, a political activist, entrepreneur, and advocate for accessible education. He shares his point of view on achieving long-term sustainable change.
StudioY: How are you currently involved in your community?
Jaxson: I am involved in one of Canada’s fastest growing startups, Influitive. In addition to my day-to-day responsibilities, I handle our community relations and support the entrepreneurship and innovation community through partnerships and events. Outside of my full-time role, I serve as an advisor to youth profits. The first is with Young Diplomats of Canada, a non-profit that I co-founded which recruits, trains, and coordinates young professional delegations to global governance summits. The second organization I advise is Venture for Canada, which recruits top talent university graduates and places them with partner startups across the country.
SY: What social issues do you care about deeply?
Jaxson: I care deeply about education, taxation/monetary reform, and political pragmatism as the means to accomplish progressive policy goals across the spectrum of economic and social issues that affect modern society. I believe that a solid economic and political foundation has the power to influence and resolve many supplemental community issues. I think of it as a layered effect, where you have to address the core issue first which, once solved, will then help lead to the resolution of many other unresolved matters.
SY: What does #YouthImpact mean to you?
Jaxson: To me, ‘Youth Impact’ means youth-driven change that improves conditions and opportunities in society through service, innovation, and advocacy. As young people in 2016, we have incredible abilities to connect like no generation before us, and a movement like #YouthImpact is energizing to be a part of.
Because the challenges we face are global and complex, true impact will require focus and collaboration. Ultimately, youth wanting to impact the long-term must commit to continuity and legacy – we must envision the legacy that we want to leave and set the stage to be even better for those who come after us.
SY: If there’s one youth community issue you’d like to solve, what would it be and why?
Jaxson: I would urge our community to solve the issue of turnover in youth and student leadership roles. We can solve it by recognizing it is a reality and by planning for it. Youth often leave our youth-run or driven organizations, associations, and groups after only a short time. That reality may be inevitable because we only have a certain number of years in school. For example, you can only be student council president for one year. Therefore, young leaders should invest in continuity planning to achieve organizational goals over the long-term; create best practices documents, meticulously take notes, transition relationships, roles and responsibilities, and address books. Make it so that whoever takes your role next can do even better than you did by building on your foundation. That’s the best way to leave your legacy.
SY: Describe yourself in a tweet.
Jaxson: I’m an advocate for a better future through good governance, access to education, community collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
SY: Where does your passion for helping youth come from?
Jaxson: Much of my passion is a manifestation of a sense of gratitude and duty. I live in perhaps the luckiest country in the world, Canada. While there are numerous issues for us to fix at home, in general we are shielded from much of the conflict, strife, division, and instability that affects much of the world. I was born by a genetic lottery into the 1% of the world’s luckiest citizens, and a generation with great possibility and great challenges. I was raised in a family that supported me to achieve my goals. How could I not help?
I particularly want to help youth because it’s where I believe I can have the most impact right now. Our generation has a lot of potential but we also face significant uncertainty. Take youth unemployment, for example. There are numerous excellent jobs out there and much innovation, but many young people are being left out. We’ve been given lofty expectations that aren’t being met for a significant number of youth. We need to act now to engage and help as many young people as possible to eradicate the issue of mass youth unemployment in order to sustain long-term prosperity and cohesion.
SY: What makes a great leader?
Jaxson: Great leaders listen. While rather cliched, I can’t imagine a more succinct response to this question. Listening has invaluable utility that I’ve witnessed throughout different facets of my career thus far. For example, in political leadership, a leader who doesn’t listen to and reflect the views and situations of their constituents in decision-making won’t be successful in their role. Listening to constituents, users, team, and community members is key for leaders to create a vision for success.