Jeremy Balkin, head of innovation at HSBC USA, addressed Theresa Fischer’s economics class at Ridgefield High School on Nov. 29.

Researching him before he came to speak, the class discovered that Balkin is an international thought leader specializing in banking, millennials within finance, and investing with impact. MIT, University of Colorado, the United Nations, Harvard Business School, and Yale, among other prestigious institutions, have all invited Balkin to present.

His TED talk has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube. Balkin was recently awarded for being one of the top 35 millennial influencers in the United States.

In addition, he is an award-winning author of two books, Investing with Impact: Why Finance Is a Force for Good and Millenialization of Everything and How to Win When Millennials Rule the World. He is also a 2017 Advanced Global Australian Award winner in the financial services field.

Balkin has not only completed six marathons but has also reached the base camp of Mount Everest.

Balkin discussed innovation, careers in banking and Bitcoin, among other interesting topics.

He spoke about many inspiring topics that intrigued students. He discussed not only the importance of innovation in banking but he also spoke about risk taking and how important time is — a significant point he made was, “You can sell time, but you can’t buy it.”

Balkin also discussed the important use of the Internet today, as “you can speak to 15,000 people with one tweet.”

One quote that shocked many students was the fact that he believed “not all debt is bad,” changing the perspective the students have on debt and ways to handle it.

Balkin claimed that as long as the debt can be handled, it is not always bad. In addition, Balkin stressed the necessity of technology understanding, stating “technology is useless if customers don’t know how to use it.”

“There is not a doubt in my mind that I will remember everything that he said during his presentation,” one RHS student said after the presentation. “Not only did he talk about business and innovation, but he talked about time, and other important aspects about life that are never really discussed in school.

“Of the 11 years I’ve been in school, I have never had a speaker that was so mind opening and educational. I’m going to use Mr. Balkin’s knowledge and apply it to my life. I am very thankful that I was able to experience this and that Mr. Balkin could take time out of his busy day to come talk with us.”

This article was written by Caitlin Rogan and Ashley Welter.