Spartan Spark News

Project Summary

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.

Interview List

Michelle Berg – Elevated HR, Alberta

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.

Nick Thompson – VEA, Alberta

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.

Mo Aladin – Montana's Restaurants, Alberta

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 – The Ace Class, Alberta

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.

Paige Buck – Kennedy Events, California

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.

Louis Kelemen – Copeman Healthcare, Alberta

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.

Dr. Irene Estay – Carya, Alberta

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.

Terry Booth – RSM Canada, Alberta

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.

Norman Leach – Creative Concepts Inc., Alberta

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.

Shashi Behl – Joydrop, Alberta

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.

Chris Jones – Strategic Traction, Alberta

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.

Dawn O'Connor – Productivity in Practice, Alberta

As Master Productivity Ninja, Dawn O’Connor is incredibly passionate when it comes to productivity, time management and helping clients experience their own “ah-ha” moments. Always looking at things from the client’s perspective, she tailors learning experiences to individual needs, quickly identifying the pain points and finding the best solutions. Whether it’s a workshop or at-desk coaching, she delivers every session in a fun, fresh and engaging way.

Throughout her twenty-three year career, from larger corporate environments to running her own small business, she has coached thousands of people, facilitated monthly meetings for the Women Presidents Organization and helped many people get organized, save time, reduce stress and increase productivity. Somehow, she has always been a ninja, even when she didn’t have the title.

Joanne Fedeyko – Connection Silicon Valley, California

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.

Kim Kolt – For Good Ventures, California

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.

Megan Flatt – Megan Flatt Consulting, California

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.

Jade Alberts – Peer Guidance, Alberta

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 – Fully Managed, Alberta

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.

Koleya Karringten – Absolute Combustion, Alberta

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.

John Vardalos – J5, Alberta

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.

Stan Peake – Insite Performance Coaching, Alberta

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.

Anil Tahiliani – Matco Financial Inc., Alberta

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.

Vicki Knott – Crux OCM, Alberta

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.

  Posted: Wed Mar 18th 2020 12:00pm  22 days ago
Profile PictureWritten By: Dafne Canales

Dafne’s expertise lies in creating strategic roadmaps for companies to grow their business through unique marketing approaches. Her company, Spartan Spark, works with million dollar companies, advising them on how to grow their business by using strategy and technology more effectively.

Through articles, vlogs, training and speaking engagements, Dafne shares her marketing knowledge, showing business owners how to leverage all the knowledge they have and use technology to their advantage to increase visibility and lower their cost of acquisition.

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