The idea behind Project Lemons-to-Lemonade is all about sharing knowledge and bringing hope to our global business community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We're interviewing business leaders so that we can provide advice to businesses in our community about how they might be able to navigate these unprecedented times. The premise of the project is to give everyone hope that we can get through this together.
Thank you to all the business leaders who are stepping forward to help our business community.
– Dafne Canales Lees, Spartan Spark Inc.
With his energy and enthusiasm, Nick brings a new approach to corporate image management, culture development and enterprise growth. As a founder and former President and Chair of Metromedia Marketing Ltd. and Brand Alliance Inc., Nick now shares his 25+ years of leadership and executive management experience with business owners and professionals across Canada. Nick is especially passionate about sharing leadership experiences in the areas of culture, M&A and strategic growth.
In more recent years, Nick has concentrated his attention on one of his personal passions – helping companies develop a culture of execution to outperform their industry. He remains an active partner in VEA Office Professionals Inc. and continues his involvement with the worldwide Entrepreneurs Organization as a member, a coach, and a trainer for their Accelerator program across North America. He also mentors a number of Canadian businesses that are in aggressive growth phases in order to help them continue to realize their goals with a purposeful, high-performance culture.
He has served on many Boards, including his past companies, both the Provincial and National Boards of the PPPC (Promotional Products Professionals of Canada), and several not-for-profit enterprises.
Louis is a serial entrepreneur with over 35 years of leadership, ownership, and executive experience in the Calgary business community. He brings a wealth of knowledge from his firsthand experience in a family business and more recently has been involved in a start-up venture and several turnaround situations.
Louis believes that healthy and happy employees are key to building and nurturing a winning culture that is core to business growth and success. As a corporate business development manager, he is dedicated to assisting individuals and organizations in developing comprehensive wellness programs.
Kim Kolt is the Founder & President of For Good Ventures (FGV), a family office venture capital firm that invests in and supports disruptive technologies benefitting humanity and the environment. For Good Venture’s areas of focus include Clean Tech, Bio Tech, Education & Jobs, Health tech, and Women. FGV leverages relationships with other funds, family offices and academics to build out an advisory group in each area. With a small team, Kim realizes this is essential to source opportunities, conduct diligence with the level of expertise and focus needed in each vertical, and for co-investment and future financing rounds.
Prior to For Good Ventures, Kim worked with her family office in Hawaii developing hotels and related businesses. Previously, she was with Goldman Sachs in their Technology Investment Banking Groups in San Francisco and Los Angeles and, pre-business school, at Deutsche Bank in NYC in both M&A and Natural Resources. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Cornell University ‘03 and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania ‘13.
Kim is a board member and/or advisor to a number of early-stage companies in the Environmental, Social & Governance space. Kim is actively involved in non-profits as well including sponsoring the creation of the California Chapter of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, the Oceanic Preservation Society, the International Ocean Film Festival in San Francisco, The Representation Project for gender equality, and Global Citizen’s initiative supporting Girls & Women.
Kim separately obtained her USGBC LEED designation in new construction and is passionate about technologies that contribute to eliminating or reversing climate impact.
Norman Leach is president of Creative Concepts MKT, Inc., which specializes in Integrated Business Communications (Public, Government, Media Relations and Event Management) and International Trade development and management. With representatives in Calgary, Alberta; Kansas City, USA; Mexico City, Mexico; and London, England, Norman's experience has taken him from North America to Europe to Asia to Latin America. He speaks Japanese, French and Spanish and brings a true understanding of foreign markets to his clients.
As a consultant, Norman has managed communications and marketing for a large number of companies and non-profit agencies. He has a diverse business background including agriculture, government, non-profit, health care, security, and training and education. He is also a registered Federal lobbyist and a registered lobbyist in the Province of Alberta.
Norman’s successes include establishing the Alberta Trade Office in Mexico City, being President of Grey Cup 2000, acting as an advisor to two provincial Cabinet Ministers and heading up two of Canada’s largest Chambers of Commerce as well as the American Chamber of Commerce – Canada West.
Norman teaches at NAIT and SAIT on the topics of Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Marketing and International Trade. He has also taught at the Universities of Manitoba, Alberta, Lethbridge, Mount Royal, and Grant MacEwan. He has delivered the Forum for International Trade Training and the Nex Pro Program for the Business Development Bank of Canada across Western Canada.
Chris Jones is a high-energy entrepreneur that thrives on navigating growth. Not only has he successfully grown his own businesses, but he has also helped others do the same. For Chris, it’s all about being better every day. He loves helping people through powerful, game-changing transformation that builds a better business and ultimately, a better life.
He has a proven track record, founding 3 successful companies. The largest, founded in 1995, started when he invented a football receiver’s glove. He led that company into building 4 brands to #1 market share in Canada. He has lots of wild success stories and many valuable battle scars from his experience there. He implemented EOS in his own company to help him scale the business and achieve the freedom to pursue his passion for coaching. The result? The business grew 7 times in revenue, and he transitioned from working full time to only 3 hours per month in that business.
He has since sold the sporting goods company. Now he spends all his time helping leadership teams navigate their path to success. He has now helped more than 35 organizations implement EOS and facilitated more than 240 full-day sessions. Chris would be happy to chat with your team about how it might change your lives.
John is passionate about pushing the limits of how creativity and innovation can disrupt conventional thinking. He works with visionary CEOs, boards and executive leadership teams to transform their customer experiences and business models in response to high uncertainty and change. Whenever possible, he also enjoys speaking at conferences and events on topics such as future trends, design and the importance of building cultures of creativity and experimentation in the workplace.
In 2018, he co-founded the Social Impact Lab, a strategic partnership with United Way that uses design thinking as a way of tackling wicked problems, such as aging, mental health, poverty and homelessness. This work aligns with his longer-term vision of helping corporations, government and non-profits create new kinds of partnerships and solutions to address complex challenges in our community. In addition to his work with corporations and non-profits, he is also helping shape the future of education in his role as a board member at SAIT's School of Hospitality and Tourism and the School of Manufacturing and Automation.
Prior to J5, John held senior leadership roles in Canada and the US for global technology and management consulting firms such as Capgemini, EY, Dell and Xerox.
Entrepreneur by nature, coach by trade, catalyst by approach – Stan Peake lives to help values-based leaders discover and live up to their potential (faster than they could on their own).
With entrepreneurial expertise spanning 5 businesses in 4 industries over 17 years and 20 years of leadership and executive management experience, Stan gets business and he gets entrepreneurs. He is a master certified executive coach (certified by John Mattone, Steve Jobs’ former executive coach) and corporate facilitator, and is also certified in cultural transformation tools and over 65 tools that help to create awareness, change, and results in leaders and teams.
His written works range from published works in 5 different magazines, including Entrepreneur, online resources like Bizztor Media (India’s largest publication for entrepreneurs), and newspapers across Canada and the United States. Stan has also published five books, including the bestsellers Success is a System, How to Sell in ANY Economy, and Now What? 50 ways to build your business in a crisis.
Stan’s speaking engagements have taken him across Canada, from startup incubators and national franchise shows to some of the largest & most well-known conferences in North America. He has also been a guest on over a dozen podcasts on topics from sales to leadership to all things entrepreneurial.
Stan has coached businesses of all sizes and industries, from Vancouver, BC to Montreal, QC and from California to Connecticut. He has helped pre-revenue startups get off the ground and worked with executives in global companies earning more than $20 billion in top-line revenue.
Tony McGrath, a former soldier and elite athlete, came to Canada as a new immigrant after a career as a senior executive in banking, insurance and retail in the UK and Europe.
After heading up a number of startup enterprises, he led an investment group and management team to launch a new Canadian insurance company. Until recently Tony was a partner in a consulting practice, which focused on leadership mentoring, strategy and business turnaround. He facilitates workshops and seminars and is a frequent speaker at conferences in North America and the UK. He has been a sought after interim CEO in challenging business situations and is now the CEO at Calgary’s The GRAND Theatre, Western Canada’s oldest and most beautiful performing arts theatre.
Natasha Miller sits at the helm of Entire Productions, but she isn’t your average CEO. She is a hyphenate entrepreneur who began her career in entertainment as a celebrated jazz artist with seven records released on her own label, Poignant Records. Having founded Entire Productions in 2000, when she was still performing, this single mother and Des Moines, IA native single-handedly built a multi-million dollar company.
Today, Entire Productions is the go-to experience design and entertainment booking company in San Francisco and has expanded to Los Angeles and London. Their client base is growing exponentially, and Natasha’s vibrant personality and client management prowess are at the core of it all. With the support of her amazing staff handpicked by Natasha, Entire Production's trusted expertise is relied upon to execute a slate of high-end social and corporate special events for an enviable roster of clients, including Apple, Google, Gap, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Salesforce and more. They were recently added to the Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America.
The 2018 Best HR Firm to Work with by the Canadian Law Magazine. A 2017 Finalist for best HR External Consultancy Firm of the Year. Selected as one of the twenty top leaders in Calgary by Business in Calgary magazine in 2016, as well as the 2016 HR Team of the Year from the Human Resources Institute of Alberta. Winner of the 2015 Notable award in Canada for Entrepreneurship.
In addition, Michelle is part of the team behind Disrupt HR in Calgary, bringing in speakers from around North America to truly teach other HR professionals to be different. She's a bit of a "renegade" when it comes to HR: she's committed to helping you build Employee Experiences that turn employees into true Brand Ambassadors.
Joanne Fedeyko is the Founder & CEO of Connection Silicon Valley, an organization that helps Canadian companies collaborate, connect, innovate, and partner with Silicon Valley's world-renowned technology ecosystem via programs, events and customized consulting. One of CSV’s signature programs helps connect Canadian women-led startups to Silicon Valley's influential network to help them grow and scale. Joanne manages the Boardlist in Canada, a curated talent marketplace that connects highly qualified female candidates to global board opportunities. Joanne is a native Albertan and has lived in Silicon Valley for 20 years.
President and CMO of Big Sky Hospitality Inc., Mo is the largest franchisee of Recipe Unlimited. He was born in Africa and now lives in the greatest country in the world – Canada. He employs over 400 people in his restaurants in Alberta.
Mo is committed to assisting and teaching organizations that seek another perspective during times of change. He has enjoyed working with restaurateurs, new ventures, and businesses who have a strong sense of purpose and want to turn their enterprise into a franchisee model. He helps connect their system and their vision to make them profitable.
“No one knows your organization like you do. But, running an organization is different than changing one.” Mo’s passion is to collaborate with other leaders and help move their organizations from "A to B" – whatever they define as "B."
Mandy Balak has built three successful businesses starting out as a solopreneur, working from her living-room floor to generating multi-millions in revenue over the past eight years. Mandy has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing yet attributes her wisdom to the many times she's had to fight to get back up in her business journey. She has dedicated herself to personal and professional development and has poured herself into coaching, learning, bettering herself and leading others to be the best version of themselves.
Mandy offers over a decade of experience in leadership, media, communications, marketing, and events. She's created and produced over 1,000 live events all across Canada, built an iOs app, a magazine and a community that reaches over 500 thousand people weekly. Mandy is resilient, innovative and bold, and offers up her talents of business strategy, creativity, brand- development, and leadership to support other driven female entrepreneurs to build their dream businesses.
Mandy’s motto is “If it’s not a f-ck yes, it’s a no '' which to her means consistently going all in for her values so that she can make the biggest impact in the world. Mandy is an inspiring mentor to many, but she enjoys working with like-minded women who are ready to invest in their growth and do the work required to level-up and never look back. By working with Mandy, you’ll learn how to get unstuck by identifying and owning your own “f-ck yes” life and business.
Dr. Estay has worked in the field of Human Development for the past 40 years. She has inspired people in all areas of pursuits: University students, as a professor in Latin American and North America Universities; as a psychologist for women and men experiencing an array of issues from lack of passion in their lives to mental health issues; and as a motivational speaker in English and Spanish for the past 16 years.
Throughout her career, she has done extensive studies in the areas of Self-Esteem, Peak Performance and Psychology of Achievement. She has trained and educated herself with the best in the field of change. She has inspired and empowered thousands of women and men with her wisdom through her Nurture Yourself Seminar © and the Foundation of Me™ workshop series over the past 16 years.
Dorothy Briggs is a name synonymous with the power behind empowering women. A driving force in the Albertan business community, this vibrant, dynamic leader has become an undeniable catalyst for women effectively connecting and collaborating for the greater good.
Gifted with an ardent entrepreneurial spirit, Dorothy has received endless accolades for her accomplishments as the founder and publisher of Womanition® Magazine, a venture so successful that it quickly led to an entire community throughout the province, uplifting and empowering women. Pursuing her passion, the indomitable Ms. Briggs continues to educate, motivate, and inspire businesswomen, honing their talents through the thriving Womanition 6 pillars.
She is also the publisher of Divorce Magazine and the creator of the on-line Divorce Symposium, which is offered to provide resources and support for those in need.
Aldea, meaning “small village,” is a local home and baby shop that Johanna Bialkin began in 2005 in the heart of the Mission District, San Francisco. Johanna's background in the non-profit sector paired with strong personal values gave her the desire to create a space that not only offers sustainable goods but also encourages community engagement.
Terry serves as RSM’s national technology industry leader, and as a partner, provides financial audit and consultation services to a variety of public, private and non-profit entities. He focuses primarily on emerging technology companies. Terry has been an accountant for over 30 years, including more than 25 years in public practice.
Terry is our technology practice leader and has extensive experience in the technology sector – as an auditor and advisor, as a CFO and as a board member. He was previously a full-time and contract CFO for more than 10 early-stage technology companies and the treasurer of the Calgary Council for Advanced Technologies, and has focused on technology clients for over 20 years. Terry has also written numerous studies and presented talks on the Alberta technology sector. Terry provides a wide range of services to his clients, including audit services, due diligence assistance, mergers and acquisition consulting and assistance with debt and equity financings.
Sashi loves retail and has been living that life for 18 years. Her first venture was Twisted Goods, which she sold 3 years ago, and since then she has opened up two more retail banners, Joydrop and Fernweh. She loves business and believes that we all have a part in making Alberta the best place to do business. She is the Chair for AWE, part of EO, and has volunteered for a number of other different business organizations in Calgary. She is always willing to have a coffee with any aspiring entrepreneur with an idea!
On the side, she hangs out with her family and counts how many times a day her son rolls his eyes at her (he is 15); she's just started running and loves yoga and cycling. And loves chocolate, which is why she has to cycle and run.
As Vice President & Portfolio Manager, Mr. Tahiliani draws on over 25 years of experience in the investment management industry, serving Private, Institutional, Trusts and Not-for-Profit clients. Prior to joining Matco, Mr. Tahiliani was Director of Research and Portfolio Manager for sixteen years at Mc Lean & Partners Wealth Management. Earlier in Mr. Tahiliani’s career, he worked at Bissett and Associates Investment Management as a portfolio manager, as well as with the Alberta Treasury Department.
As an entrepreneur, Mr. Tahiliani co-founded three internet start-up companies in the United States and served as their Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Tahiliani holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation (CFA), the Chartered Investment Manager designation (CIM), a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Windsor and a Bachelor of Management from the University of Lethbridge. Mr. Tahiliani has also been involved in a number of not-for-profit organizations and currently serves on the Board and as the Past President of the Cancervive Foundation of Alberta. Mr. Tahiliani was a recipient of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2003 by Avenue Magazine.
Paige Buck has been developing and producing events for more than twenty years. At Kennedy Events, she helps hyper-creatives bring their vision to life.
She thrives on the high energy (some say stress) of event production and on keeping things running smoothly for attendees, presenters and participants.
She has helped conceive and develop the content and brought together thought leaders for diverse conferences, notably Bloomberg, Google, Economic Security Project, Working Solutions, Opportunity Fund, UCSF, and many more.
Megan Flatt is a business growth strategist who helps driven women entrepreneurs find the most profitable focus for their business and then create the strategy to get there.
She helps her clients refine their offers, increase their revenue and get the support they need to be the go-to in their field and be present for the other important things in their life.
You can almost always find her with a latte in hand, a stack of post-it notes at the ready and a random lego figure in her pocket. You can read more about her on her website.
Dawn is deeply curious about how people work. She loves to learn about your productivity habits and help you find ways to streamline, simplify and have more fun at work. In her 30 year career, Dawn has trained and coached over 10,000 people locally and internationally, to help them get organized, save time and reduce stress.
A proud Albertan technology entrepreneur, advocate, and leader, Koleya Karringten has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities of product commercialization, ecosystem building and fostering inclusion in the technology industry.
As the co-founder and CEO of Absolute Combustion, she has spent over a decade successfully designing and developing ground-breaking cleantech solutions for multiple industry sectors, including aerospace and Oil & Gas. She is a driving force in Canada’s blockchain technology industry as the Executive Director of the Canadian Blockchain Consortium (CBC) and co-founder/board member of the Canadian Blockchain Association for Women (CBAW). In her leadership role at the CBC, she has merged her passions for technology and social good to bring together blockchain companies, corporate leaders and the government to build the country’s largest blockchain ecosystem organization.
An influential public speaker, writer, and community volunteer, Koleya strongly believes that uniting diverse voices behind a common goal is the path to creating a fairer, more sustainable and prosperous nation.
He is the Founder of Peer Guidance and a Business Strategist/Entrepreneur/Connector/Investor that "Tells It Like It Is." Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and sometimes, you have to let go to grow, so let's have an Honest Meeting
He enjoys building trusting relationships with "Handshake Honesty." He has a genuine passion for both people and businesses. Honesty, Authenticity, Networking, Connecting, and Sharing are the pillars of his belief system.
His Facebook Live “Telling It Like it Is” Interview is every Wednesday at 9:30 AM MST. It's a 15-minute discussion that shares Small Business Owners' stories.
Shawn Freeman, a born and raised Calgarian, founded TWT Group in 2008. With his background in Computer Science from the University of Calgary and Master’s Degree in Management Science from the University of Waterloo, paired with his unique ability to connect, lead and foster relationships, TWT Group rapidly became one of the best-managed Service providers in Calgary.
Shawn has always pushed the boundaries when it comes to how his business should operate, striving to provide the best service possible while delivering the right solutions for growth to his clients. By disrupting the status quo, Shawn’s leadership style grew TWT Group to be an Internationally recognized organization, attracting the attention of some of TWT’s largest competitors.
In 2020, Fully Managed acquired both TWT Group and, ultimately, Shawn Freeman as their Regional Vice President of Alberta.
Most notable, however, is Shawn’s dedication and passion to give back to the community. His philanthropic initiatives have seen over $100 thousand given back to not-for-profit and charity organizations in Calgary, such as the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, Kidsport, Meals on Wheels and many others.
Vicki is the CEO and Co-Founder of Crux OCM. She has a full range of experience with an operational background at Trans Canada Pipelines. There, she worked in commercial operations, process control engineering, and most importantly, spent significant time in the control room.
Vicki is a chemical engineer with a special interest in system-wide operations and control. She utilized her tenacious spirit along with advanced physics-based fundamental methodologies as part of a patented machine Learning process, closing the loop to enable full RIPA (Robotic Industrial process automation). This ensures that the front-line people (control room operators) can operate energy sector assets in the safest, most profitable way.
Each year the US and Canadian governments give out billions of dollars in R&D tax credits through a very manual and broken process. Boast.AI is building the future of tax credit recovery with artificial intelligence so businesses can get larger returns without the grunt work and audit risk.
Lloyed Lobo cofounded Boast with Alex Popa in Calgary and bootstrapped the company to almost 40 people across 5 cities. At Boast, Lloyed is responsible for growth and product strategy.
Lloyed also chairs the annual Traction Conf, a top-rated conference by Inc, Forbes and Huffington Post that helps businesses drive customer and revenue growth.
Previously, Lloyed led sales, marketing and product for several venture-backed companies. Lloyed is a software engineer by education. He is passionate about people, food, and travel. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking for people.
Cherry draws design inspiration from different cultures, traditions and everyday beauty. Since moving from Bangkok to California, she sees imagery, colours, storytelling, graphics and symbols as a way to understand cultural differences and bring nuance and clarity to communication.
Cherry is a collaborator first and foremost. She creates inspiring solutions and guides clients through every step of the creative process, providing the necessary rationale for all design elements and strategies. Whether she is directing a photoshoot, developing a fresh concept or offering art direction to existing designs, she believes her role as a creative leader is about elevating the team, not the individual.
Outside of work, Cherry can be found at a local dance studio, immersing herself in another form of self-expression. She is also involved in entrepreneurial organizations and encouraging diversity in business leadership.
Christine is a seasoned Business Development professional with 25 years of experience in creating and leading Business Development initiatives for companies both large and small. Christine works within companies both large and small in creating an exemplary outsourced Customer Service Experience for her clients. Through her experience and qualifications, she has a sound and thorough understanding of business needs and of what is important for the client. Christine holds a Business Degree from Franklin University and has served on several Boards for both business and non-profit. Christine believes in truly making a difference on the impact of the world in the work she does by striving for sustainability and inclusiveness in business.
Christine loves the outdoors and you will often find her, her husband and 3 children in the mountains hiking, camping, canoeing or off on some sort of crazy adventure trip!
Christine has been helping women for over 17 years navigate their relationships by reconnecting with their authentic selves. She believes deep, powerful connections are accessible to all of us. She specializes in helping women better understand the intrinsic nature of men and women (and our masculine/feminine sides) and gain the ability to be understanding and appreciative of these differences. Christine is a professional speaker, has been interviewed by over 200 media outlets and was the love expert on 13 episodes of the TV series, LoveTrap. She has also created Hart Coaching Academy to mentor and train coaches. She has studied with Alison Armstrong, the Gottman Institute, David Deida and many others. Her book The Art of Living a Flirtatious Life will be re-released in late 2020.
Alli Marshall is a graphic facilitator based in Calgary, Alberta, situated on the prairies, just east of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. One of her long-standing stories is that “there are no shortcuts in life,” and her career journey has been a rewarding manifestation of that story.
For her undergraduate, she completed an honors degree in the earth sciences, with a minor in philosophy. Through university and the first few years after graduation, she worked in the resource industries of mining and oil and gas as a geologist, geophysicist, and business analyst. Due to a corporate takeover, she had the opportunity to found Strix Insights in 2006, where her new story was “how hard can it be to start your own business?”
Ignorance was eventual bliss with that story, and she is so thankful for the many seasons of work supporting amazing clients, evolving her services, and growing professionally and personally along the way.
In facilitation sessions, she often describes herself as a “border collie” to help teams stay on track with their desired outcomes and the conversations they really need to have. In her business, the stick that she keeps fetching (15 years and counting) is getting to the essence of things to find simpler, more powerful and ultimately sustainable ways for her clients to achieve their desired results.Posted: Wed Mar 18th 2020 12:00pm a year ago
Founder and CEO of the innovative digital marketing software company, Spartan Spark, Dafne Canales Lees has earned her reputation as the Data-Driven Digital Storyteller. Her 7-Second Trust Formula uses behavioural marketing strategies to create client trust via digital marketing platforms for a more personalized user experience that translates into additional sign-ups, sales and increased profits.
A member of the Neuromarketing Business and Science Association and the Society for the Advancement of Behavioural Economics, Dafne travels monthly to California to attend meetings with her advisory board. A sought-after speaker and facilitator, this creative innovator never stops giving of her time and talent, even teaching corporate in-house marketing teams the latest digital marketing strategies.
“After being frustrated with other service providers. Spartan Spark got our website up and linked to a payment system over just a weekend.” -Patricia Marin - Calgary Family Services