Rebecca Laramée (human resources leader, chair of the board of Future Sinai at Sinai Health System and performance manager at TEDxToronto) is taking part in the "How to Reach Your Potential" initiative, a series of 100 interviews with leaders who inspire Alex Rascanu and whose insights can help you reach your potential.
Rebecca Laramée’s passion for people and business has led her to help companies achieve their highest potential and profitable results through an approach that keeps “human” at the core of their business practices. Her breadth of experience has everything to do with people, including but not limited to: talent management, workforce planning, employee experience and retention, career management, accommodation, learning and development, coaching, HRM systems and analytics, policy development and compliance, corporate culture, and internal communications. Rebecca has held progressive leadership posts at government offices and a world-renowned teaching hospital and research centre.
Passionate about community building, Rebecca encourages others to live a life that is fully engaged and rewarding, and philanthropy plays a large role in that. As a young philanthropist, Rebecca has met some of the world’s most notable change makers and has worked alongside some of the most generous activists. After spending years supporting not-for-profits and starting her own, she decided to focus on building a culture of philanthropy among Millennials. Rebecca serves as Chair of Future Sinai within Sinai Health Foundation, which engages millennial professionals. In just over a year she has helped raise close to $500,000 and doubled the membership base.
Apart from her work across the Human Resources and talent ecosystems, Rebecca serves as Manager of Performance at TEDx Toronto and Manager of Partnerships at The Ultimate Health Podcast. In her free time, you can often find her in the far corners of the internet reading about human behaviour, researching new scientific discoveries, or brainstorming with startups on building game-changing talent and culture strategies.
Alex: What is your life’s purpose?
Rebecca: To inspire others to live a life that is fully engaged, energizing, and rewarding more than ever by encouraging them to dream bigger, to be present, and to give their time, talents and treasures to the world around them.
To help others get to where they want to be by providing them with the tools and resources to do this that can be passed down for generations to come.
In return, I ask that they do the same for others.
Alex: What are the three things you’re most passionate about?
Rebecca: Philanthropy, building community, quality education, healthy living, and living a faith-filled life chasing after God-sized dreams (oops, that’s five…)
Alex: How do you stay healthy? What’s your main health-related goal?
Rebecca: I started thinking of my health in terms of health span versus lifespan, which is crucial and a game changer. Your lifespan could be anything up to 100 years, but living a life that is healthy is more important than living a life that is simply long. Your health also determines the health of your emotional and mental wellbeing.
With that in mind, staying healthy for me includes taking care of my physical, mental and emotional health. Besides eating healthy, practicing gratitude, and exercise, I make sure my morning and night routines are in line with my health goals. I get in at least 8 hours of sleep which means lights out at 9:30pm, so I can get an early start at 5:33am. The first thing I do is hydrate (drink a glass of water), pray, exercise and then go over my goals for the day. I really have to protect my mornings -- just recently I started keeping my phone on airplane mode until I leave the house. My nighttime routine is just as important, which includes stretches, reading and journaling, goal setting for the next day, and prayer.
Alex: How do you build wealth? What’s your main financial goal?
Rebecca: I've been fortunate enough to have only worked for companies that have the best-defined benefit (DB) pension plans and buy back plans in Canada. Its money I don't think about or see but I know is there. It allows your investment growth to be tax-free and transferable should I decide to withdraw it earlier.
Millennials tend to not think this far out, but I believe it's crucial for building long-term wealth and stability. Diversification by investing in different vehicles and categories and using forced savings. 10% of my weekly income automatically gets deposited into my tax-free savings account. I also invest money in myself and experiences that money can't buy. I want to build wealth that will allow me to give back much more to those around me.
Alex: How do you balance work and family life?
Rebecca: Blocking out time in my calendar. By doing this, I make sure that every interaction is intentional and meaningful, so that I can remain present.
Coming from a European background, family time around a meal is very important, so Sunday lunches are typically dedicated to family time.
Alex: How do you enjoy spending time with family and friends?
Rebecca: Being outdoors and doing something active, serving the community/others, learning something new or sharing new experiences together… or simply conversing over a cup of coffee.
Alex: What has been the most fulfilling role you’ve ever had, or the most fulfilling project you’ve been involved with so far?
Rebecca: The role that comes to mind is serving as Chair of Future Sinai because of my first-hand experience seeing how the funds raised had an impact on women and infants’ health, the long-term impact it has had on providing the best patient care and experience for those who need it most, and improving how they serve the life-long needs of people living with and rehabilitating from multiple, complex health conditions.
Project-wise, it would be the non-profit I started several years back, Cotton Words, because of the feedback I received from those attending the workshops and events. By creating spaces for others to thrive in, it created a space for them to feel safe and vulnerable. It left a personal impact on them by empowering them to share their stories. Something I didn't expect. Two of the guests ended up pursuing writing as a career, which was pretty neat that I got to play a small role in their journey.
You’re the Key Campaign I initiated for Guatemala also comes to mind as a fulfilling project; seeing the warmth and smiles on the children and teachers faces was priceless.
And TEDx for being a part of helping others tell their story and share their idea on an international platform. Personally, it has been one of the most challenging, inspiring, engaging, and fulfilling experiences, having learned so much from the amazing team and speakers who went on the journey with us.
Alex: What’s one career planning lesson that has made a significant difference in your life?
1) Networking is your net worth. It's important to surround yourself with a network of people who are inspiring, creative, strategic, and innovative who are willing to answer your endless stream of questions along the way. The invaluable insight you will receive by asking questions and being surrounded by role models and mentors will be the greatest education and inspiration for yourself. I've learned the power of nurturing these relationships, keeping them warm, and always asking how you can help them - never expecting anything in return. I'm always in that mind frame of helping others with no strings attached. People can see that. Humbly said, I have never had to search for a job… It just shows the power of your connections.
2) Putting a dollar value on your time. What is the value of your time worth? When you think in these terms, you will realize that it's best to be a master of a few areas rather than a jack of all trades. Focus on what you are really good at, what makes you stand out amongst the rest -- and give the things you aren't good at to those who are.
Alex: What would you like your legacy to be?
Rebecca: To be a quiet one that people rarely talk about. Secretly leaving a deep impact in the lives of the poorest citizens, helping the impoverished to become self-sufficient, and to bring quality education to girls without access to it. That my legacy will be the dreams that I inspire in others, along with my bold prayers that will come to pass in the generations after me.
Alex: Thank you, Rebecca, for taking part in this interview! Thank you for being so open and for sharing your insights!
Did you find one or more of Rebecca's thoughts helpful? Are there any ideas or resources that came to mind as you read the interview?
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