CHICAGO—Tuesday’s General Session speaker, Kendal Netmaker, has made a career out of turning adversity into advantages.

Netmaker, the founder of Neechie Gear, a lifestyle apparel brand that gives a percentage of its profits to underprivileged youth to encourage them to take part in sports, grew up on a reservation as part of Canada’s Sweetgrass First Nation. He challenged the crowd to take a different perspective when it comes to their problems.

“When a problem comes into your life, look at it in a different way,” he said. “What is this trying to teach me right now?”

Netmaker told stories of his mother and his grandmother and of growing up with little money on the reservation. His grandmother, he said, taught him how to approach people in a new way, including the customers who come to his stores.

“We can’t always control the people that come and support us and why things happen,” he said. “But what we can control is what goes on [in our minds] and how we view the world.”

Netmaker said things that get in the way of our plans can often lead to better opportunities.

“Here’s the true reality about when we make goals: Sometimes the universe has other plans,” he said. “Maybe that decision you made, if you give it 110%, it will open up the next door that’s meant for you.”

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