Page 1

The

DRIVE

ISSUE 119

SPEAKING

FREELY TONY GARERI REINVENTS COMPANY CULTURE

LIFESTYLE | CULTURE | PEOPLE | TRENDS


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The

DRIVE

PAUL ST-PIERRE

Publisher

KEN STEWART

Managing director

DAVID HUNTER

Sales director

SABINE MAIN

Editorial & creative director

MEL MONCZAK

Sales

SHAWNA BEECROFT

Graphic designer

CONTRIBUTORS JEN HALE

Copy editor

SYX LANGEMANN

Lead photographer

ANTHONY SHEARDOWN Photographer HEIKE DELMORE

Photographer

SETON ROBERTS

Photographer

ROB TETERUK

Photographer

STEVE HALAMA

Photographer

MARNIE ROBILLARD

Art director

DARK ROAST DIGITAL

Graphic designer

MONA ELKADRI

Writer

DR. ANDREA DINARDO Writer ALLEY L. BINIARZ

Writer

CHRIS EDWARDS

Writer

TITA KYRTSAKAS

Writer

MILLAR HILL

Writer

MICHELLE LARAMIE

Writer

VERONIQUE MANDAL

Writer

JESSE ZITER

Writer

On the cover: Tony Gareri speaks openly on how he built a winning culture at ROMA Moulding

The DRIVE magazine is delivered direct to nearly 50,000 select homes and businesses throughout Windsor-Essex exclusively through Canada Post. Mail subscriptions available. Please email request to: info@thedrivemagazine.com CANADA POST Delivery agreement no. 43497602. Printed in Canada. Owned and operated by the Landscape Effects Group of Companies. 1125 County Road #42 RR#1, Belle River ON, N0R1A0, 519.727.4769 All advertisement content to appear are subject to approval of the publisher and the publication assumes no responsibility for content included. We do not necessarily share the opinion or views of such advertising and assume no liability of this content or messaging.


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CONTENTS

WINTER 2019

TREND DRIVE Valentine's Day treats for you, your honey, or your gals by Oh So Mona!

28 PEOPLE DRIVE Windsor’s Mary Jo Haddad brings grit and commitment to her role as university chancellor

WELCOME 6 Publisher's letter TREND DRIVE 9 Local Trends SOCIAL DRIVE 18 Climbing Mount Everest —with canoes on their backs— for an important cause 19 Two grieving families give back through a buddy bench project for schools in Windsor 21 The Liberty Project is creating a safe space for at-risk women to work, heal, and create

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COACH DRIVE For visionary CEO and corporate culture enthusiast Tony Gareri, people aren’t everything— they’re the only thing

EDUCATION DRIVE 23 UWindsor’s Faculty of Education boosts student potential PEOPLE DRIVE 26 Dave Dame speaks to the beauty of imperfection, and letting our weaknesses shine COACH DRIVE 40 For Noah Fleming, the grass isn’t always greener…except when it is 42 Karolyn Hart: From bible college to the top of the corporate ladder

PSYCH DRIVE 46 Failure as feedback with Dr. Andrea Dinardo LIFE DRIVE 48 Asaph Maurer: Life inside and out of a cult 54 Robert Higgins: Hitting a high note with his heartfelt song, “This Old Bar” 57 Windsor Tomcats Hockey Club: A Lasting Friendship


PUBLISHER'S LETTER 6

Embrace yourYOU To our loyal audience, It’s a New Year and what better time to push the boundaries and be inspired. As we welcome a new year, we celebrate the potential of what lies before us in 2019. Within this issue of The DRIVE, you’ll encounter people who have embraced who they are and find fulfillment in what they do. But what has made the biggest difference for me was one particular individual who has allowed me to embrace my “me” over the years. Tony Gareri, whom I now call a friend, runs a wholesale picture frame company in Woodbridge, Ontario, that he completely transformed after taking it over from his father. But the part of the story we’re focusing on lies outside the edges of those picture frames. Just over four years ago, I jumped in my car at 5 a.m. and hit the 401 to drive to Roma Moulding. My objective was to meet Tony Gareri, that company’s leader and the man on the cover of this magazine. Tony Gareri is one of the most ambitious, gracious, successful, and remarkable people I know. Meeting him has been truly life-changing for me and I haven’t taken my foot off the gas since. Ask yourself: are you happy at work? Do you like your work environment? Are you surrounded by the right people? Does your workplace have the right energy? In this highly vulnerable business world, Tony’s mantra is that all team members have a right to workplace happiness. If you treat your team members well, you can empower them to make a real difference in your world and their own. Tony completely changed the culture of his own successful company, but he’s also expanded into the corporate world to harness that wave of positivity and to guide other companies to success—including Landscape Effects Group. I still remember when Tony asked me, “Are you surrounding yourself with people who are remarkable?” My commitment became clear. For the rest of my career I would surround myself only with people who believe in workplace happiness. I want work to be a place that’s safe, where my team members have purpose and every day they can feel like they are arriving home to their work family away from their real-life stresses. For all of us here at The DRIVE, the remarkable people we surround ourselves with are you, our readers. I hope you’ll find Tony’s story as contagious as I have. In 2019, we’re going to continue to do everything we can to move, inspire, and WOW you. Paul St-Pierre, Publisher


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SOCIAL TREND DRIVE DRIVE

G N I T T O P S D TREN

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Ceramics are currently one of the hottest categories in interior design, thanks to a heightened interest in handmade items and the crafting process. Brands and designers are celebrating the hand of the maker, embracing imperfections and artisanal approaches, as consumers are adopting stress comfort philosophies to help with a more balanced life, sustainability, and buying local.

The verdict is in: working with your hands mends the soul. Add crocheting and knitting to your wellness regime and you can elicit the relaxation response using the repetitive motion and focus of needlework. The institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School suggests that the calming, meditation-like state that crocheting and knitting provides can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and decrease stress. The Hook Pusher is your perfect crocheting destination for the New Year: now is a great time to get hooked!

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The classic French treat has earned its rightful place on the dessert table of modern showers, parties, and weddings once again. Not only do they taste delish, macarons come in a mouth-watering colour palette that’s fun to coordinate with your party. At Shelby’s Sweet Shop, you will find some of these delectable desserts, along with many others. Shelby Pellow has been baking since she was a toddler and gets her inspiration from some of the world’s best cake designers. What began as a hobby is a thriving business, with nothing but gorgeous and delicious sweets. @shelbysSweetShop

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Treat Yourself DIY LAVENDER OATMEAL SOAP This winter season has definitely taken its toll on my skin. So since one of my 2019 new year’s resolutions is to practise more self-care, I thought what better way to get started than to whip up a batch of some moisturizing soap. If your skin is begging for some hydration, you need to try this super easy and quick recipe. Get the full recipe at: www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/valentines-day-ideas

Treat Your Honey BLACKBERRY GANACHE TARTS Spending Valentine’s Day in this year? Get cozy and treat your special someone to a decadent dessert that is both simple and delicious. The bonus? This recipe can be prepped in advance for those with a busy schedule (my favourite part)! Pair it alongside the coffee of your choosing or our recommendation: the wine option. Get the full recipe at: www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/valentines-day-ideas

Mona Elkadri is a lifestyle blogger with a fondness for everyday living and entertaining, from sweet recipes to home décor and DIY, and everything in between.

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THROWING A GALENTINE’S DAY PARTY

Instead of the traditional romantic dinner for two, why not change it up a little this year and host a Galentine’s Day party for you and your girlfriends? Décor is key: focus on pink, neutral, or gold hues for the tablecloth, using any colours you choose for the accent pieces and charger plates. For the serving pieces, I used some small vases and an ice cream bowl to store candy (a Valentine’s Day staple!) When setting the spread for the table, think “layers”—create a three-dimensional look using different heights of serving-ware. Next, add some fun with Valentine’s craft supplies, such as pink, white, and red pompoms; heart-shaped balloons; and themed banners, all of which can be found in craft stores and dollar stores. I finished the look by adding charger plates, dinner plates, napkins, cutlery, and glassware. Don’t stress if you don’t have Valentine’s serving-ware; you can tie in the theme of the day through your plated favours. Now you can complete the party by serving some delicious food, such as hummus dip, bocconcini cheese and basil, and zaatar pita pies. Get all the details at: www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/valentines-day-ideas

VALENTINE’S DAY TREATS

Treat Your Gals


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In this issue, we hand-selected three amazing charities in Canada. Each one, led by incredible people, committed to making a difference. What started in each case as an idea soon became bigger than anyone anticipated. We hope you enjoy each story.

Tom Schellenberg with brother Kyle Roberts

A CRAZY IDEA WITH A CAUSE TWO BROTHERS ARE CLIMBING UP MOUNT EVEREST—WITH CANOES ON THEIR BACKS—ALL IN SUPPORT OF MENTAL HEALTH By Alley L. Biniarz | Photography: Seton Roberts

Like all of the best adventures, Tom SchelThe brothers came up with The Weight lenberg’s and Kyle Roberts’s started with a We Carry, where the canoes would become a crazy idea. visual representation for the invisible weight Two years ago, on their previous trip up added to those living with mental illness. Mount Everest, the two brothers thought, How For Tom and Kyle, it was important that they cool would it be to do this again, but with canoes raise funds for natural disaster–related mental illness. on our backs? Growing up, the two loved being outdoors—hiking and portaging—so naturally the canoes were a good fit. But the canoes wouldn’t just be for the extra weight and challenge. These canoes would be a symbol. 18

left without the basic necessities, 9,000 died, and without any help mentally, it’s not a great recipe. We’re trying to impact that around the world,” he says.

Nepal has one of the weakest mental health systems in the world, with only 0.08 percent of their health budget going towards “The world pays attention to natural disas- mental health services. ters, but not from a mental health perspecThe brothers knew joining up with the tive,” Tom tells me. He speaks about the Koshish National Mental Health Self-Help 2015 earthquake that affected Kathmandu Organization would make the difference. and regional areas of Nepal. “Millions were Koshish’s program supports those between


Though the altitude is not as high as Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the difference is Tom and Kyle are going through the mountain range of the Himalayas. They will be constantly climbing and descending, which is taxing on the knees, not to mention the physical toll it’ll put on their backs now that they’ve introduced the canoes. Along with their extensive training schedule, a physiother“I really have faith in humanity when I apist has been giving the brothers tips on how see that everyone can come together for this to maintain their shoulder strength and back common goal. Everybody in life wants to be flexibility to eliminate the possibility of injury. “Injury is our number one concern for not part of something bigger than themselves and this is that kind of opportunity. It’s a purpose completing the trek. At the end of the day, if that’s bigger than just one person,” Tom says. that’s what happens, it’s okay. Our ultimate He and Kyle have already raised $27,000 prior goal is to impact mental health worldwide,” says Tom. to their trip to Everest. Tom says they are estimating the trip will Tom and Kyle have even been carrying take them 33 days, not including the time it canoes with their logo on it around their will take to pick up the canoes in Kathmandu homes of Vancouver and Melbourne to practise and drive to their starting location. They’ve walking with the extra weight, but also to get factored in injury days every six days, and the word out. They’re hoping they’ll surpass the days to acclimate to the higher altitude. Tom first donation checkpoint and be able to give explains that once hikers get to a certain Koshish more funds to help with services. elevation, the next day rather than going Excited to get back to Nepal, Tom feels to the next town, they hike about the same it was there where he was in the best mental height but then come back down and sleep in state of his life. “When you’re in a kind of the same spot. This helps the body with the day-to-day society, it’s so chaotic,” he says. next milestone. They have been training and “But when you’re on the road, you break down preparing, but they must always be prepared the human needs. Whether it’s portaging, or for the unknown. the ages of 16 and 50 with mental illness and any psychosocial issues. The starting goal for Tom and Kyle’s Everest Expedition is to raise $150,000 in order to build Koshish a female transit home—a place where women can stay to receive emergency mental health services. This way, the funds Koshish receives can be spent on emergency mental health services rather than rent.

Allie's husband (Jeremy Hayes), Allie's parents (Susan and Terry Chartrand) and family friend Charlie Morgan.

SOCIAL DRIVE

travelling in general, you’re focused on the basics: Am I safe? Do I have a roof over my head? Something to eat? It’s so simple and relaxed. Plus, the Nepali culture is very spiritual and calming on its own,” he says. Tom says that this big dream of theirs had received a lot of doubt, and it’s a huge risk, but he and Kyle had to stick to it anyway. “The greatest fear for most people isn’t that their aim is too high and they won’t reach it, but that it’s too low and they will reach it too easily. Tom’s guiding quote for his life, and for this trip: “Care more than others think is necessary. Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.” After two years of planning, 19 days of solid trekking through unimaginable conditions, The Weight We Carry has finally arrived at Mount Everest Base Camp! To make a donation to the cause, visit: www.theweightwecarry.com. You can also follow their Everest journey on Instagram: @the_weight_we_carry. D.

WALKING ON SUNSHINE TWO GRIEVING FAMILIES WITH AN UNWAVERING COMMITMENT TO GIVING BACK IMPLEMENT A BUDDY BENCH PROJECT FOR SCHOOLS IN WINDSOR By Millar Hill | Photography: Syx Langemann

Allison Hayes had an extraordinary amount of vitality and zest for life that shone through in everything she did. When she developed a rare pancreatic cancer, a neuroendocrine tumour, Allie vowed to fight it and did so for 13 years. She passed away on January 6, 2015. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

19


SOCIAL DRIVE Jeremy Hayes

Allison "Allie Sunshine" Hayes, taken too soon by leukemia

Even though Allie is no longer here today, her legacy lives on. As a young girl, Allie was described to have a profound passion for health and wellness. “The interest in an alternative lifestyle is something that came from within in her and she continued to seek out any opportunities she could to keep living that kind of lifestyle,” said her husband, Jeremy. Allison, who taught at the now-closed St. Jules Catholic Elementary School, was known by the nickname Allie Sunshine. Allie had an ability to inspire others and her family wanted to keep that legacy alive. They began their work and together formed the Allie Sunshine Project. “When we were planning her funeral in the moments following her death, her brother suggested we collect donations at the funeral,” said Jeremy. “But, rather than giving them to an existing charity, he suggested we form our own. We didn’t really know what that meant, but we embarked on that journey.

Each year they give away an entire tractorload of vegetables, herbs, and fruits to both new and experienced gardeners as well as supporting local community garden associations that might not have the resources to keep their programs flourishing.

“Some of these programs are poorly funded so we try to provide them with as much as we can to get them going,” he said. The organization’s main project has been the Allie Sunshine Healing Garden in Lakeshore. It is a space that is used for people to deal with loss, grief, and rebirth while offering a chance for people to connect with the earth and themselves through that space.

“We have also used that space as a place to grow vegetables for the Divine Mercy Food “We have been on that journey ever since Bank and previously we had donated those and it’s been a wonderful one,” he added. vegetables to the Salvation Army men’s shelter Through the Allie Sunshine Project— in Windsor,” said Jeremy. which is run by Allie’s parents Susan and Terry Allie’s parents caught on to a project called Chartrand; Jeremy and his parents, Lynn the buddy bench. The grade three students at and Dan Hayes; and Allie’s brother Adam St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic School wrote Chartrand and his wife Katie—they seek to inspire others by creating and participating in a grant proposal and received funding for one projects within Windsor-Essex that nurture of these benches to be installed at their school. self-healing and promote learning opportuniSchool can be a traumatic place for some ties to a network of wellness explorers for the students. It is a time where children are develmind, body, and spirit. oping their social skills, and some are more The project’s main fundraising event is advanced than others. The buddy bench their annual plant giveaway and flower sale. provides students who might be having a 20

hard time making friends an opportunity to do just that. It is a non-verbal bridge to friendship. The child who feels ostracized sits on the bench, and another child will join them to talk things through, reducing alienation and deepening the bonds between children. Through the Allie Sunshine Project, the organization has learned that the deepest form of learning happens in trust and respect of relationships. Family friend Charlie Morgan was inspired by Allie and her family’s organization. Together they joined forces as Charlie rode his bicycle from Chile to Patagonia, which is over 2,000 miles of cycling. Through his initiative the foundation raised funds for the buddy bench project so more schools in WindsorEssex could have one installed. In today’s society, it is very easy to take things for granted—whether it’s our health and wellness or the relationships we create or our day-to-day lives. The most unexpected occurrences can happen at any given moment and the harsh reality is that sometimes the outcome is not always fair. It is important that we take care of ourselves and be grateful for what we have. Allie had the ability to inspire others and she still does today. She was a unique individual who saw the true essence and beauty in everyone and everything. The Allie Sunshine Project is an organization that has set out to better the community and the people in it, one project at a time For more information about events or if you’d like to support the Allie Sunshine Project’s initiatives visit: www.thealliesunshineproject.com. D.


SOCIAL DRIVE

WOMEN EMPOWERING WOMEN THE LIBERTY PROJECT IS CREATING A SAFE SPACE FOR AT-RISK WOMEN TO WORK, HEAL, AND TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS FOR WOMEN IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

By Alley L. Biniarz | Photography: Syx Langemann

“Family tends to let you go,”Kara says, connive our way into getting what we want,” sitting across from me at The Coffee Exchange Kara says. in downtown Windsor. Kara just celebrated But she found her “crew”—as she calls her two years of sobriety in November. them—through meetings set up by Lillian “A lot of things go through people’s minds from The House of Sophrosyne. The House around the holidays. You’re alone, and it also connected her with The Liberty Project, becomes the perfect excuse to relapse,” she a program that Kara wants to share with any explains. With alcoholics and addicts, no recovering alcoholics or addicts who need a matter how much sobriety you have, you are non-judgmental safe space. only guaranteed 24 hours. And even that can The Liberty Project’s original goal had seem too long. Kara takes it just one minute been to pair women coming out of the at a time. human trafficking industry, or for those “Addicts who are out there on the streets, they need the support, but they don’t know the services that are available. I went through that. Plus, we addicts don’t trust anybody, and we won’t open up, especially if they’re not addicts or alcoholics themselves. We’re afraid of being judged, that’s our biggest thing,” Kara says. It’s important for recovering addicts to have a strong support system along with stability but is difficult when there is a constant fear of judgment when going back into the working or social world.

Welcome Centre, and NISA homes, and provides them with transitional employment with pay at a living wage. “It’s all about women empowering women,” says Darby Roland, one of the current project managers with The Liberty Project. These women are crafting reusable sanitary pads for women in isolated villages in developing countries. “If the women do have access to the products, they can’t afford it and risk missing employment or school. The income that the family makes can’t always meet this need, and then women are using newspapers, rags, and leaves, which can lead to diseases and infections,” says Darby.

still trying to escape, with a social work student from the University of Windsor. These students would cover topics of financial literacy and interviewing skills, while helping the women to become more secure When two of these eco-friendly pads are in themselves, more financially independent, sold at once, it sponsors one to be sent abroad. or meet any other needs. Since the program’s inception, 1,900 have But those from The Liberty Project knew been distributed between Nicaragua, South that with these one-on-one sessions, they could Africa, Guatemala, and Ethiopia. touch an entire demographic of women, and Along with eight others, Kara was one of expanded to working with survivors of abuse, the clients last year in the forming phase of addiction, and trauma. The Liberty Project. It’s used as a chance to

The project now takes women from The give these women transferable skills that they “There’s a huge stigma around addicts and alcoholics that we’re thieves and liars who will House of Sophrosyne, WEFiGHT, The can later put on a resumé. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

21


Darby Roland with Kara Chapman

“When you’re in your addiction, you think you’ve got the worst life imaginable and the worst conditions. Then you hear about people in these developing countries and it means a lot to be giving back. It’s a humbling experience,” says Kara. This program gets Kara out of her housewith a consistent space, structure, and a schedule, which is so important for her recovery process. The big open space that the women have at the Downtown Accelerator brings these friendships together, gets them out of their comfort zones, and helps them to gain back their sense of self-respect. “It amazes me how these girls—even though they’re younger than us— they still want to listen and learn from us. If I don’t call them once a week, they’re calling me. It feels good,” Kara says about the social workers and program managers. Traditional employers don’t always take the risk on recovering addicts, and recovering clients aren’t always ready to go back to work full-time. Meetings take priority, but Kara says for whoever is ready to go to work, it’s nice to have something like The Liberty Project. Kara has now become a mentor to the 14 new clients coming into The Liberty Project this year. She is an open book and is always so excited to share her story with those who need some inspiration or guidance in their recovery. Kara chose to become a mentor because she likes to put herself out there, and she aims to never put off anything that she could do in life. She is guaranteed only one minute, and this “crew” gives her that guaranteed time. “You’ve gotta live your life. Live every day like it’s your last.” D.


EDUCATION DRIVE

UWindsor’s Faculty of Education Boosts Student Potential By Tita Kyrtsakas | Photography: Syx Langemann

At 15, I already knew my career trajectory would involve working with words. I have friends who had similar understandings of themselves in our early teens, who have also managed to follow the career of their choice. Did we reach our goals because we knew our potential? Is there a recipe for this type of success?

Alyssa Palazzolo and Dana Pizzo, celebrated POP is specific to Windsor, and it has had Jarvis’s message: everybody has challenges but a domino effect on our community. You reach each day is a new opportunity to become a one student, and then they have the ability to better you. positively affect someone else.

After the keynote, students attended a financial literacy workshop, a health and wellness workshop, and explored booths It comes down to opportunities and support. varying from police services to employment centres to the Teen Health Centre and beyond. With four months left of my education Ashli Tran, the Student Success teacher degree at the University of Windsor, I helped co-run one of the financial workshop sessions at Tecumseh Vista Academy, embraces the at the Faculty of Education’s POP (Power of opportunity to bring students to POP who Potential). In its 11th year, POP is a day for would benefit from the day. “An event like this grade 10 and 11 high school students who can be a catalyst because the students maybe want to uncover their potential by exploring haven’t found what their passion really is and their post-secondary options and how they can they are overly frustrated because they haven’t had much success in the past,” she explains. contribute to the world. “It can be one person or community The day started off with a keynote speaker: member that can start a positive change in Chris Jarvis, a Grimsby, Ontario, athlete the way they think about themselves and how whose diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes didn’t they are successful down the road. POP offers stop him from earning a spot on the Canadian that A-ha! moment. It gives students opporOlympic team as a rower, winning medals at tunities to meet people who have overcome the Beijing Olympics. adversity and found success in their lives. It Jason Pfaff, a teacher at W.F. Herman also lets them explore different community Secondary School and the Faculty of Educa- resources and supports they wouldn’t have tion, and one of POP’s programmers alongside access to otherwise.” 23

Geri Salinitri, the associate dean at the Faculty of Education, was one of the forerunners of creating a specialized program (called LEAD) in the faculty that trains teacher candidates to work with in-risk students, giving student teachers a new perspective on how they teach. POP is one of the events this project runs. Salinitri has been an educator for over 30 years, and passionately puts her heart towards creating teachers who will “show these kids that they are cared for and that people believe in them and they know that they can succeed.” For her, POP and the LEAD program are twofold. “It’s about showing teachers that if you look at these kids from a caring perspective, they will respond.” That’s why she’s doing the work she’s doing. She wants to create more teachers who believe in success for every child, no matter their pathway. Salinitri believes in uncov-


EDUCATION DRIVE ering students’ strengths and applying those strengths “into a direction where you know you’re going to succeed. Everybody has a potential to be something substantial and have a fulfilling career that will make them happy.” And if we focus only on students who are already succeeding and who know their pathway and we don’t aid the other students in fostering their own growth, that’s when there are problems. Salinitri rationalizes, “If we can’t get kids to that point, we increase poverty and we increase crime.” Ultimately, POP can inspire students to see their potential, to reaffirm that they have an important place in this world. Pfaff knows that “students who don’t think they have the power to succeed” are the ones stopping themselves. He says, “If you set your mind to it, things can be accomplished. Everyone has different situations that they come from, some people will face adversities more than others, but it’s a resilient skill to overcome those personal challenges that will make your life good. Anyone has the ability to make a better version of themselves. Each day, ask yourself: how can I be better than I was yesterday? Every day is not going to be perfect, but find those silver linings.” POP and its sister event, Challenge Cup, are run strictly on donations through fundraising, as the projects are not-for-profit. If you would like to donate to support Challenge Cup, happening in April 2019, please email leadprogram@uwindsor.ca. D.

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PEOPLE DRIVE

Vulnerability as

STRENGTH

DAVE DAME SPEAKS TO THE BEAUTY OF IMPERFECTION, OF PUSHING THROUGH BOUNDARIES, AND LETTING OUR WEAKNESSES SHINE By Alley L. Biniarz | Photography: Syx Langemann

Being up on the TEDx stage was a 2018 goal for Dave Dame. He had worked on his talk for four months, weaving in different elements of his story. The talk couldn’t all be about “Agile,” which Dave describes as a framework he uses with businesses that helps organizations build products and services that people love and can’t live without. The focus had to go beyond inspiring leadership. And it had to be more than his cerebral palsy, because his CP doesn’t define him. No, crafting his talk meant touching on all three. If he didn’t, it wouldn’t give a good indication of why he was up on that stage. Dave wanted to show his audience the combined effort that it took to get here, how he pushed through the challenges of being unable to speak as a child, how he improved a workforce that wasn’t ready for a person with CP, and how to inspire leaders to become the change they want to see. And that along the way, he couldn’t let himself forget the struggle it had taken to get to this point. “Instead of me always being strong, this was about me being ready to be vulner26

able,” Dave tells me in our interview. Everyone has a shield up, Dave says, and he wanted to break through. This meant identifying everyone’s individual struggles, connecting with them, and getting his audience to forget that wall in front of them, to help them move forward. Dave asked his TEDx audience to make eye contact with the person next to them. The audience began to laugh uncomfortably. Still, he asked them not to break eye contact. He wanted the feeling of vulnerability to sink in. In a different moment, Dave asked his audience to imagine that two days after hiring an employee, that employee had to see you naked. When Dave hires an aid, this is exactly what he must do. He must break through barriers quickly and entrust this new person with his life. He explains this as a key component in his “Agile” philosophy—when Dave is working with companies that are looking to create life-changing products, the leader needs to face this same kind of vulnerability. We no longer


PEOPLE DRIVE live in a world where left-brained logic rules; we, as consumers, now search for products that have an empathetic and social benefit. In this case, a leader must cut through the falseness, apply empathy into the workplace, and become genuine quickly in order to see results. He says leaders must learn to become one with the people by disclosing their own struggles. If their employees learn about these mistakes, they will be more likely to try new things, make mistakes of their own, and will truly back up their leaders. In other words, the very vulnerability the employer demonstrates can become his or her biggest strength as a leader. “When someone becomes a leader, everyone thinks they had it easy or they were born with some ingrained magical power. But the truth is, they struggled themselves,” Dave says. “This is what I learned as a leader with a disability. When I was younger, I tried to mask my disability and my struggle with the simplest of things. But I learned that when my people got to see me live with this imperfect but valuable life, they saw that they too could be imperfect. That their flaws and weaknesses could shine, and they could bring their best selves to work. They’re focusing on what they’re doing instead of what they’re trying to hide behind. If leaders make it open that they struggle too, it makes it okay for everybody to struggle.” Dave has switched his careers a few times from advertising to development technology to leadership, and says the greatest thing is to learn something new. You get to be imperfect and are able to grow by rediscovering something about yourself. When we become a specialist in one field, the enjoyment of growing is lost.

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“Life is too short to end learning in your twenties or thirties, where you narrow or converge on one thing that you want to be known for,” he says. He explains that the more we become good at one thing, the less we find it okay to be wrong. This is how we forget what got us to that point of success, and we become afraid to not be good at other things. Dave says that he can deal with failure, but regret is something he can’t live with. This is why he takes these chances and pushes his boundaries. Because when he did, in completing this TEDx Talk, he received the second standing ovation in four years of TEDx history. For a guy who can’t stand, Dave was able to make 1,700 people do exactly that.

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In 2019, he’s pushing himself to finally write his book. “In order to live an ordinary life, sometimes it takes an extraordinary effort, but it’s well worth it,” he says. Dave encourages anyone who is looking to push their own boundaries in the New Year that even if it doesn’t catch right away, and you do quit, don’t think of it as over. Reduce the time it takes to pick it back up, and that’s when it will become a habit. A formed habit is the pursuit of making it a habit, and a series of failed attempts. Dave says that if he wanted someone to walk away from his talk with anything, it’s that “the world is imperfect but if you can continue to live with that imperfectness, there’s something rare and sweet that comes out of it. Don’t worry about the life you wish you had; appreciate the one you’ve got.” You can watch Dave Dame’s TEDx Talk on YouTube: Sprinting with Cerebral Palsy D. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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PEOPLE DRIVE

Leadership. Focus. Substance. WINDSOR’S MARY JO HADDAD BRINGS GRIT AND COMMITMENT TO HER ROLE AS UNIVERSITY CHANCELLOR By Veronique Mandal | Photography: Rob Teteruk


The new chancellor of the University of Windsor has never shied away from a challenge; after all, she has certainly taken on many in her long and illustrious career in health care.

Along with her nursing colleague and friend, Leeann Wiseman, they opened the Parent-Child Health Nursing consulting practice in Windsor on a part-time basis. They were caring for babies who had tough beginnings, and teaching parents how to cope with children who were home on monitors. Haddad was enjoying the experience but could not see it being sustained.

Mary Jo Haddad has also been at the forefront of many firsts—a member of the first graduating nursing class at St. Clair College; part of the first wave of nurses to work in Michigan hospitals; the first woman president “I loved it but I could never make a living if and CEO of the Hospital for Sick Children in I wanted to be out on my own,” said Haddad. Toronto; and now, the first woman to hold the “I wanted to work in Ontario and continue chancellor position in Windsor. working with children, so I applied for a Yet, despite having reached the pinnacle of leadership position at SickKids in Toronto in success in her field—receiving several honorary the neonatal unit and the rest is history.” doctorate degrees from Canadian universities, the Alumni of Distinction Award from St. Clair College, being appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Premier’s Award for Outstanding Achievement—Haddad is a woman of substance who has taken nothing for granted and appears humbled by her successes.

Soon after moving to Toronto, Haddad met her future husband Jim Forster at a house party thrown by mutual friends Kathy and Roger Sabo, who remain their friends to this day. Jim and Mary Jo were married in 1988. Their first child was born three years later. “Going back to work after I had my first child, I walked into the CCU and there was a little baby there who had a trauma that was horrific. I remember feeling so overwhelmed thinking that could be my child. I made a decision in that moment to always do my best and to always champion children, health care, and well-being.”

Born and raised by immigrant parents with her five brothers and sisters in Windsor, Haddad has always considered family to be an important part of her life. The foundations for the career and successes she would find later in life were set from the time she was a teenager Her career at SickKids would span 30 at F.J. Brennan Catholic High School. years. The trajectory of her meteoric rise in the “I knew I wanted to be a nurse because I organization was exceptional. She entered as a loved children,” said Haddad. She entered the manager in the neonatal ICU and progressed two-year nursing program at St. Clair College, to director of critical care including neonatal graduating in 1976 at a time when jobs were ICU and paediatric ICU. She soon became scarce. She was one of two students offered a vice president of paediatric medicine, then job and she went off to work at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

‘‘

PEOPLE DRIVE

Going back to work after I had my first child, I walked into the CCU and there was a little baby there who had a trauma that was horrific. I remember feeling so overwhelmed thinking that could be my child. I made a decision in that moment to always do my best and to always champion children, health care, and well-being.

“I worked in neonatal ICU. It was an amazing experience and we were working in a challenging social environment,” she said. “It was a life-changing and rewarding experience that helped me create lifelong colleagues and friends. And, it was a fantastic foundation for my career.”

’’

Her eight-year experience in Detroit cemented Haddad’s commitment to the care of children. Although enjoying her work in Detroit, Haddad says she wanted to learn more and started her undergraduate degree in nursing at the University of Windsor part-time. After calculating how long it was going to take to get her degree, she soon decided to pursue classes full-time and work part-time at Children’s Hospital. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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PEOPLE DRIVE did a stint for about a year and a half as chief 50 Influential People. nursing executive before being appointed the But, while she appreciated the recognition, chief operating officer. When the hospital she acknowledges that such a position also CEO left, she was asked to step in as the comes with a burden and many challenges. interim president and CEO. “I knew I was standing on the shoulders of After several months she was invited to put giants in that organization if I took on the role. her name forward for the permanent position. So, huge expectations on me—it was a complex She knew, with SickKids being a global organi- role in an academic centre and on a global zation, it would be an enormously challenging stage,” said Haddad. “Securing resources to job. Now, the family had to be involved. deliver services people were counting on you “My youngest son was just seven years old for and always knowing you had to keep your and I had two other kids and my husband. We feet on the ground—as I looked in the mirror

Because of what SickKids meant to her life and career, Haddad wanted some way to honour the history of the hospital. Prior to her retirement, she commissioned the writing of the SickKids’ history. Written by David Wright, it was published in 2016, and is something she says she is incredibly proud of accomplishing. Her appointment as chancellor of her hometown university, she says, is a tremendous honour and an opportunity to give back to a community that has been so important in her life. “The university has always meant so much to me. I have stayed connected as much as I could,” said Haddad. “I was honoured by the university with an honorary doctorate degree. So, I’m learning more about the university today to be able to give back and champion professors and students, present and future.” Interim President Douglas Kneale could not be more pleased with the appointment of Haddad as the university’s eighth chancellor, taking over from Ed Lumley. “I am delighted because I believe she will be an inspiring role model for women and men at the university,” said Kneale. “She has been a huge supporter of the university as a member of our fundraising cabinet and serves as one of the university’s champions for its Place of Promise fundraising campaign. Everything she has accomplished, and her upbringing here in Windsor, embodies the values of our university and our community.” While Haddad will be primarily focused on her appointment at the University of Windsor, she is equally proud of her status as a graduate of St. Clair College.

lived in Oakville, so I commuted. This was a big decision to make from a family perspective,” said Haddad. “We had a little family meeting and they said ‘Mom, you have to do this,’ so I put my name forward and I was the successful candidate.” Haddad’s husband Jim worked in sales and marketing in industrial plastics, and he retired early to support the demands of his wife’s career and to ensure someone would always be available for the children. In 2004, as CEO of one of the world’s most prestigious hospitals for children, Haddad’s career took on a life of its own. In 2011, she was named one of Canada’s inaugural Top 25 Women of Influence in health sciences and inducted into the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame. In November 2012 she was recognized as one of Toronto Life’s 30

every morning, I had to make sure I was always “The college was early on in acknowldoing the right thing.” edging me and I was thrilled to receive the Haddad said she believes many people Alumni of Distinction,” said Haddad. “They today struggle with that kind of challenge granted my dream of being a nurse and I have fabulous memories of great colleagues and and commitment. instructors I met there as well.” “I am hoping I am a story of how it can College President Patti France said while be very doable—remaining grounded but also they are proud and excited when graduates remaining committed to what’s important to achieve their professional goals, those who you in life,” said Haddad. “I pinched myself climb to the very pinnacle of their fields, many days. You know, it’s amazing in life the as Haddad has done, are “truly glowing opportunities that are often in front of us and examples” of the quality of education and it takes courage and it takes supportive people work ethic instilled by St. Clair College. around you—colleagues, friends, and family.” “That’s why we honoured her in 2004 Haddad retired from SickKids in 2014 and as one of our Alumni of Distinction,” said started a health care and leadership consulting France. “Life-long learning is the key to signifpractice called MJH & Associates. She is a icant advancement and success, and we’re director for TD Bank Group, TELUS, and so pleased that Mary Jo’s educational voyage Children First Canada.


began with her St. Clair nursing diploma. Hers is a classic case-in-point of the college’s ‘Start Here, Go Anywhere’ slogan. The college, as her alma mater, will certainly be inviting her to pop in on occasion as a guest speaker to students, both in health sciences and business. Her personal story of lifelong education is relevant and inspirational to many students who are contemplating a combination of college and university-based schooling.” Haddad has indeed been a champion of postsecondary education—while at SickKids she pursued a master’s degree in health administration from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1998—and said she and her husband encouraged their children to pursue higher education goals. Their son Jonathan, 22, recently graduated from the business program at Laurier University and is working in Toronto. Daughter Nicole, 26, attended McMaster University and received a master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, and is now working as a genetic counsellor at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Their eldest, Stephen, 28, studied environmental biology at Laurier University, attended Niagara College, and is working in soil remediation with a team in the GTA.

‘‘

PEOPLE DRIVE

Everything she has accomplished, and her upbringing here in Windsor, embodies the values of our university and our community.

’’

ceremony. During one of their several meetings, Kneale brought out the robe worn by Lumley during his 12 years as chancellor. It was well worn and had fitted a very tall man. Kneale quickly suggested it might be time to shop for a new robe. They met in Toronto at Harcourts, where tailors have been making robes for chancellors for more than 30 years. The tailor showed Haddad several options and she chose one with a view to retaining tradition. The new robe being designed will include traditional insignia but will be more appropriate in design and size to the first woman chancellor. Unlike Lumley, Haddad has chosen to also wear a ceremonial hat. Haddad says knowing she is the first woman chancellor in Windsor at first gave her pause, but while she does not want the position to be defined that way, she understands its impact. “This is a sign of women in academia, a sign of a changing world. There are now many women chancellors in a world where possibilities are endless,” said Haddad. “These become important issues especially for people in positions where they can be role models and mentors for others. I see this as a responsibility to pay it forward, creating a world we all want to be a part of. Being appointed chancellor is humbling and I approach it with pride, and I will work to be the best I can be at it.” After all, she says, she’s coming home. D.

As chancellor, Haddad will serve as the titular head of the university and confer all degrees and diplomas on behalf of the senate. She will also represent the university in an official capacity at external functions. She is looking forward to spending more time in the city. “We used to bring the kids and spend time with my mom and dad and not just on holidays but in the summer and March break. But, as we get older and life gets busier, the time is not there…but for sure I will be coming more often. Obviously, I will always be there for convocations and I will get involved in the university to really understand its priorities, so I can champion its goals and those priorities.” Haddad describes herself as an optimist who approaches life with a positive attitude and surrounds herself with positive people. She and her husband recently celebrated 30 years together. She credits Jim and her children for contributing greatly to her success. “When I look in the rear-view mirror, I want to feel I gave it everything I had and that keeps you grounded,” said Haddad. “Family is an equal partner and they often carry the heavy load.” The role of chancellor comes with pomp and THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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COACH DRIVE

Outside the

FRAME

By Jesse Ziter | Photography: Riley Stewart & Roma Moulding

FOR VISIONARY CEO AND CORPORATE CULTURE ENTHUSIAST TONY GARERI, PEOPLE AREN’T EVERYTHING— THEY’RE THE ONLY THING.


PEOPLE DRIVE Barely into his forties, Roma Moulding culture and implementing policies that at CEO Tony Gareri runs the world’s second times blur the line between work and play. For largest picture framing manufacturer. him, it’s simple: happy employees more than More importantly, he’s well on his way to correlate with positive corporate outcomes. becoming one of Canada’s foremost whole- “Service, sales, innovation, creativity, and commitment are all influenced by how salers of happiness. motivated and, ultimately, happy people are,” Roma Moulding is a 34-year-old manufac- he insists. “I think people should have the turer of handmade picture frames made time of their life at work. Many people think from real wood materials milled in Italy. I’m nuts, but I would hope those eight to ten The company supplies independent frame hours would be filled with optimism and and gallery shops and large corporate clients challenge and opportunity.” like Costco and Bellagio Las Vegas from its To this end, Roma’s office is the sort of Woodbridge head office and light-manufacenvironment where employees get everything turing facilities in Atlanta, New Jersey, and from cubicle decoration allowances and open Los Angeles. jars of window paint to a foosball table, a Over the last decade, Gareri, who cites napping couch, and no-quarters-required Steve Jobs, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, candy dispensers. The ceilings are dotted and Walt Disney among his influences, with balloons, the walls are decorated with has shepherded Roma through a remark- printed and framed testimonials from clients, able, happiness-positive cultural shift while and the bookshelves are stocked with libraries reinforcing the company’s status as an industry of capitalist hagiographies—Musk, Jobs, et al. leader. The story has been told in Forbes, Décor are all accounted for, and you feel as if a spot Magazine, and The Globe and Mail, and Gareri’s might be reserved for Gareri himself. personal gospel has spread at least as widely. In In person, off the clock, Gareri vibrates 2014, Toastmaster magazine identified him as with manic enthusiasm, helping his points one of its “Six Most Passionate Leaders” alongalong with flourishes of fidgety gesticulaside the inventor of the Ice Bucket Challenge; tion and punctuating them with toothy television super-producer Mark Burnett; and Tom-Cruise grins. corporate luminaries from Facebook, Cisco, While Gareri dabbles in hyperbole and Apple. Pretty good company to keep. and has a tendency to speak in soundbites At Roma, Gareri places a premium on (“You’ll always have your say; you might not happiness by fostering an infectiously curious

‘‘

I’m a human—my business is not perfect, and I am not perfect. Sometimes I’m dead wrong!

’’

always have your way!”; “We believe your vibe attracts your tribe!”), there’s no questioning his sincerity. A wide-eyed, generous speaker, Gareri is fiercely opposed to what he calls “the Fred Flintstone punch-in, punch-out thing.” He doesn’t proselytize his way of doing things, but he does persuade. In a word, the man is obsessed. By his own admission, Gareri is obsessed about the people he hires, whom at various intervals he insists are themselves obsessed with “their craft,” “delivering remarkable service,” “wowing,” “challenging the status quo,” “service,” and with the Roma brand and product. Somehow, he articulates all this without seeming to take himself too seriously. Today, he wears crisp, artfully prefaded jeans, and a dark cotton shirt with one fewer button fastened than your boss might allow. He’s speaking to me in front of a chalk caricature of himself, but you sense he understands the peculiarity of the situation. Little more than 10 years ago, Gareri’s 34


COACH DRIVE exemplars like Google and Zappos, Gareri occasioned a sweeping sea change. In time, sales rebounded significantly, productivity and customer satisfaction soared, and recruitment costs plummeted as potential hires began to In 2008, the recession hit Roma hard. actively approach the company. Over a period of several months, Gareri Sales plummeted 30 per cent year-to-year, and—more significantly—Tony Gareri, having partitioned his staff into small working groups by then ascended the company’s upper and compelled them to interrogate their management hierarchy, lost his passion for personal and professional values. Eventually, the teams produced a set of 256 anonymously his work somewhere along the way. Charged with resuscitating the company’s attributed examples of what they prized most performance and stemming a concerning in life. These were winnowed down into 10 employee exodus, Gareri made the conscious core tenets, which now inform the compadecision to pivot away from the “dictator-style” ny’s day-to-day operations, long-term strategic leadership borne of his father’s European planning, and hiring and firing decisions. Some immigrant work ethic. Rather than leave the are straightforwardly didactic (“Deliver Transfamily business, Gareri made an impassioned parent, Open, Honest Communication”) while pitch to his father: He was prepared to steer others allow for slightly more interpretation (“Be the future direction of the company, but only Different, Have Fun, and Deliver Happiness”). conference room had a white wall where the chalkboard now sits. Under his father, Roma’s president and founder John Gareri, the business wore a decidedly different aesthetic— one that served it very well, until it didn’t.

not perfect. Sometimes I’m dead wrong! Gareri continued the transformation by tearing down the office’s literal, material walls. Today, Roma’s Woodbridge headquarters consists of flexible, communal working spaces intended to encourage teamwork, collaboration, and happiness. The arrangement persuades staff in disparate departments to interact in meaningful ways while reflecting that aforementioned commitment to transparency; nothing happens behind closed doors, because nothing needs to happen behind closed doors.

Despite his lofty stature within the corporation, there is no ivory tower to speak of; Gareri doesn’t even keep an isolated office. “I just think offices create segregation,” he explains. “Walls create barriers for communication. I have a desk, but it’s no bigger than anybody else’s, right in the middle. I love to “We need some guiding principles, so feel the pulse of the company.” if he had carte blanche to press the restart button and nurture a dramatically different it’s not ‘what does Tony Gareri want us to In his first year as CEO, Gareri and his do?’” he explains. “That’s insignificant. I’m a senior management team “coached out” more workplace culture built on joy. Inspired by high-profile American human—my business is not perfect, and I am than 15 per cent of the company’s workforce

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COACH DRIVE personality and cultural and professional goals.

I help businesses create ‘rock star’ teams,” states Gareri, who estimates he devotes 10 to 15 per cent of his time to outside consulting. “My focus is certainly on Roma, but I love this shit.

in an effort to underline its commitment to its new value set. “We’re quick to fire, and slow to hire,” explains Gareri, who refers to poorly fitting employees as culture vampires. “Something that challenges businesses is that they’re bound by old metrics, one being retention. Retention can be a good thing, but it can be a bad thing. The best opportunity to instill culture and have people know it’s alive is to get rid of people who don’t align with your values. That shows people; it doesn’t tell them. I think people are scared to talk about that, but I’m not.”

’’

people who gravitate to who we are and believe what we believe,” explains Gareri. “We do a shit-tonne of scouting and vetting before somebody comes into this environment; the consequences of bringing somebody in who doesn’t align with your values is huge.” In the end, all that vetting pays off in very real ways. “I’m just one guy among a ridiculously smart, driven, talented group of

people,” notes Gareri, who makes a point of empowering his subordinates to make their own decisions. “My phone doesn’t ring off the While Gareri does appear to have a hook. My emails are not flooded. Some people ruthless streak, his company offers departing pride themselves on being very busy. I pride team members generous letters of recommen- myself on not being busy.” dation, access to fulsome recruitment services, Indeed, during our hourlong interview, he and sizeable parachute payments. Moreover, doesn’t look at his phone once. those who choose to buy in are rewarded with Away from his day job, Gareri is also meaningful agency in Roma’s operations. making waves as something of a corporate “We’ve fostered a culture where I’m challenged culture guru. He publishes in a national every day by my team,” he explains. “It’s a newspaper, guests on business and leadership requirement to challenge the shit out of me, podcasts, judges art expositions, speaks at and because I do it to them all the time.” hosts conferences on leadership, delivers eight To maintain the equilibrium of Roma’s to ten keynote speeches a year, and participates painstakingly balanced culture of owner- in corporate mentorship initiatives. ship, accountability, and trust, the company’s In various consultancy roles, he helps procurement unit rigorously vets and scouts selected businesses achieve higher engagement, potential team members using sophisticated instill values, and hire winning employees. tools like predictive indexes and personality Essentially, he helps similarly minded corpoassessment testing. rate leaders discover and implement a version “Fundamentally, we have to align with of Roma’s winning formula that suits their

36

(Full disclosure: He spends two or three days a year working with Landscape Effects Group, the company that owns this magazine. President Paul St. Pierre first connected with Gareri during a tour of Roma’s Woodbridge operation.) “I help businesses create ‘rock star’ teams,” states Gareri, who estimates he devotes 10 to 15 per cent of his time to outside consulting. “My focus is certainly on Roma, but I love this shit.” Gareri’s culture of cultivating work typically involves an intensive period spent measuring the “heartbeat” of a business on-site followed by recommendations and the establishment of regular touchpoints and milestones for accountability purposes. Sometimes, Gareri targets ostensibly minor considerations like lighting or washroom policies. Other times, he advocates for wholesale, structural changes. “The senior leadership team has to genuinely want to make work better for their team,” he


stresses. “That, fundamentally, is who I work Since 2014, Roma has identified a partner with: people who care about their employees. charity and relocated a team of employees for a I’ll challenge the shit out of them to help them weeklong “mission trip.” Employee volunteers uncover blind spots in their business.” are required to make financial contributions While products and services differ, some out of their own pockets, which ensures literal business principles are universal. “I don’t and figurative buy-in beyond poverty tourism. think people necessarily buy what you do,” says Gareri, who prefers the term “partners” to “customers.” “They buy why you do it. Regardless of whether you sell picture frames or cups or sweaters, Google has done a great job to commoditize everything. As a business, you need to figure out why you stand out. For us, it’s our culture. We believe it’s our only true differentiator; anything else can be copied.”

one unit with one mission: To move, inspire, and wow these kids for one week, in whatever way, shape, or form we’re asked to do.” What does that mean, exactly? In Gareri’s own words, “there’s good, great, and then there’s ‘wow.’ Wow is this feeling that, once you experience it, it stays with you. You’re not wowed at every corner, but once you are, it’s a moment that you remember. We use it as a litmus test internally: Did that wow you?”

The company’s first trip took it to a Haitian orphanage. This summer, a team of 12 employees set up camp in Detroit, where they assisted with community improvement initiatives alongside the Central Detroit Christian Gareri pauses, smiles. “I think, in today’s Community Development Corporation. One day and age, you’re either wowing the shit out subgroup coordinated a summer day camp of somebody, or you’re just like everybody else.” D. for disadvantaged children, while a second worked on a number of material community That sort of thinking really does seem to development projects. (As a rule, the company move the needle when manifested in practices tends to target organizations that work with In March, The DRIVE and like “personal emotion connection cards”— children and youth.) Landscape Effects Group are simple handwritten notes Roma employees bringing Tony Gareri to Windsor. Gareri’s altruism is motivated by a remarkroutinely send to customers for the sole intenGareri will be speaking to ably pithy credo. “I believe, generally, people tion of brightening their day. business and thought leaders at are good,” he stresses. “I believe shit happens Gareri’s commitment to happiness is the St. Clair Centre for the Arts. to them, and then they get miserable. perhaps best represented by his company’s Tickets are available for $99 “First and foremost, I believe I am so Roma Wish initiative. While Roma had been each by emailing blessed,” he elaborates. “I truly believe every philanthropically active on a modest scale for jennifer@landscapefx.com by most of its history, it became clear a few years day is a gift. As such, I believe it’s in part our March 22. ago that the company’s “giveback” was neither obligation to help others. I think, personally, as outsized nor as progressive as its other work. we get more than we give. We’re all there as


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Mary Jo Haddad: CEO, Chairwoman, Chancellor. uwindsor.ca

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DR. MARY JO HADDAD, a former hospital CEO and leader in the field of children’s health, is the first female Chancellor of the University of Windsor. “I’m honoured to be a champion for the students, faculty and the University and all that it stands for.”


COACH DRIVE

THE KINGSVILLE KINGMAKER

FOR NOAH FLEMING, AN INTERNATIONALLY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS MARKETING COACH AND CONSULTANT, THE GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER . . . EXCEPT WHEN IT IS.

By Jesse Ziter | Photography: Heike Delmore Photography

Kingsville’s Noah Fleming capitalized on his first market inefficiency at eight years old. A budding entrepreneur before he could spell the word, Fleming had noticed that boats would congregate for hours at a time around the marina in his hometown of Port Colborne—a Niagara Region border community quite similar to his current Kingsville base in size, lifestyle, and proximity to Lake Erie. Naturally, he started building his first nest egg on warm-weather weekends by slinging sodas to the thirsty boaters who had limited options otherwise. “My mother would take me to the grocery store, and I would buy soda and ice, fill the cooler, and pull a red wagon around,” Fleming recalls fondly. “On a Saturday morning I would make 50, 60, 70 dollars.” Then as now, he understood the benefit of effectively writing his own paycheque. It’s nice work if you can get it. 40

Today, Fleming is a fresh-faced 38 and still in business for himself. A successful marketing coach and consultant, he helps businesses around the globe attract, service, and keep customers by avoiding some of their own worst inclinations. Fleming Consulting & Co., his one-person operation, boasts a client roster that reads like a list of international capitalism Mad Libs: a large manufacturing client in New Zealand that supplies the greenhouse industry; a billion-dollar oil and gas concern working in Texas and California; an online-only guitar manufacturer; a Broadway theatre company; the Washington Capitals. It goes on. While these businesses might have few surface-level similarities, they all have customers. “What I’m finding is that it all translates,” explains Fleming, who relocated to Kingsville as a high school senior. “A lot of the time, companies need that outside set of eyes. You have to invest in your company’s growth to get better. That doesn’t always mean new equipment. It means expertise, knowledge, and best practices from other industries.”


PEOPLE COACH DRIVE

“My mother would take me to the grocery store, and I would buy soda and ice, fill the cooler, and pull a red wagon around,” Fleming recalls fondly. “On a Saturday morning I would make 50, 60, 70 dollars.” Fleming’s 2015 book Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving, firmly secured his roots as a “thought leader” in the customer retention space. Its provocative thesis renegotiates the popular metaphor of the “leaky bucket”—in which unsuccessful businesses prioritize attaining large customer volumes only to watch them gradually drip away—in fresh, arboreal terms. In his version, it’s better to be an “evergreen” company capable of retaining its customers than a transactional, fly-by-night outfit that sheds them every few seasons. Put another way: most organizations are addicted to sex as opposed to looking for love, which is to say they eschew stable, mutually beneficial customer relationships in favour of the thrill of chasing new business. “You have to treat every engagement like a relationship,” says Fleming, who certainly practises what he preaches. “If there’s a legitimate opportunity for us to work together, I will get on a plane and fly out to see you, on my own dime. If you’re asking somebody to invest money in what you do, you have to be able to invest money in that trust.” Fleming has certainly invested in himself. A decade and a half after divesting himself of the soda operation, Fleming left the University of Windsor with a Communications degree and a penchant for sales and marketing. The world, so he thought, was his oyster—or at least his marina. Ultimately, after a year and a half of searching, Fleming landed in an entry-level role at the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association, eking out nonprofit-level paycheques from a windowless room. Barely in the job long enough to get acquainted with the office photocopier, Fleming sat down in his new home with his new wife to propose a radical new career in consultancy. For a while, Fleming picked up piecemeal contract work for small Kingsville businesses like Jack’s Gastropub. He’d take on “anybody and everybody willing to write me a paycheque for helping with their sales and marketing efforts,” he explains. “I kind of bumbled along. As I was coming into my thirties and my wife and I were starting to talk about children, I had this feeling that I needed to get serious about this and build a legitimate business.

Today, Fleming estimates that 99 per cent of his business originates from his “Tuesday Tidbits” newsletter, which lands in more than 30,000 executive-level inboxes each week. He never, ever misses a week. Weary of ending up adrift in a sea of soul-sapping LinkedIn influencer #content, Fleming sets out every Tuesday to craft a uniquely vulnerable promotional vessel by couching his business tips in specific stories from his own life. Today, he’s confident the quintessence of his success is something along the lines of what every small business owner will call “the personal touch.” “When somebody reaches out to me, they feel like they know me,” he explains. “They know my kids’ names, they know the trip I was on or something that happened to me recently. There’s no possible way that you can build a relationship with somebody if the only time they hear from you is when they’re asking for money.” While it’s not exactly a noted technology hub, Kingsville nevertheless provides Fleming with the perfect platform to run a home office while doubling as a sort of breakfast-making, school-run-shuttling superdad to his two children, ages five and eight. “Being home is definitely a priority for me,” says Fleming, who has that annoying successful person’s habit of starting his days at 5:30, reading until the lights come on elsewhere in the house. “But, if I need to be in California tomorrow, it can be done.” For now, there’s still time for his daily trip to the gym and a couple of client calls before he meets the school bus at the end of his driveway. Fleming can’t help but smile. “I look at everybody who works 9 to 5 in an office, and I can’t imagine how they can do it all.” D.

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“I took a huge gamble and leap of faith,” continues Fleming, who’d recently stumbled upon Alan Weiss’s startlingly large library of Million Dollar Consulting books. “I invested about $40,000 my first year for help in trying to build this consulting practice.” THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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COACH DRIVE

JOY DIVISION: The Ripple Effect of Corporate Investments in Happiness HOW AN EDUCATION AT BIBLE COLLEGE TOOK ONE WINDSOR WOMAN TO THE TOP OF THE CORPORATE LADDER By Jesse Ziter | Photography: Syx Langemann

Karolyn Hart knew things were going to grabbed a gun and shot me back. Everybody like the Boy Scouts of America. Concisely, it helps teams build tight communication work out the day she shot her boss in the head. burst out laughing!” She didn’t immediately realize it, but that networks by connecting the dots across dozens As a twentysomething financial services professional, Hart had stretched the definition “all-in” moment shaped Hart’s understanding of individual points of access—like email, of her social committee remit by introducing of how quick bursts of joy can form the internal company websites, dusty private Nerf guns into her team environment. By bedrock of a vibrant corporate culture. “You intranets, and project management tools like covertly transforming her office’s sea of desks can create those moments of humour,” she SharePoint or Slack. “We fix the problem with all staff commuinto a makeshift battleground, she found she shares, “and it doesn’t have to be contrived. was able to facilitate meaningful engagement He was always a fierce leader, but ever since nications,” says Hart, aware of the boldness of her claim. “We get rid of all the confusion, then, he engaged. It was humanizing.” among colleagues. This is a dramatic example, but Hart which instantly builds morale. People know On this day, she caught her vice president approaching the fray. Intimidating in the way really has built a flourishing corporate career that they’re not out of the loop, and being many high-performing senior executives invari- out of advocating for a bit more humanity in able to have a moment where you can ‘like’ something or add a fun emoji or comment ably are to junior staff, he hadn’t previously the workplace. provides a source of joy that you wouldn’t have demonstrated much enthusiasm for this sort Today, Hart is the chief operating officer had otherwise.” of ostensibly unserious teambuilding. Sensing of InspireHUB Inc., a Dallas-based app develLike Hart’s own career narrative, the an opportunity, Hart lined up her sights, glint oper known for a streamlined corporate in her eye, and delivered a plushy headshot communications platform called IHUBApp. company’s history is a pitch-perfect example directly to her corporate superior. The silence She describes it as “a private social network, of what she understands as “the ripple effect.” It’s a long story, but the operation’s original was deafening, but only for a moment. but on steroids.” purpose had to do with facilitating philan“As he turned around to face me, I Originally intended as a fundraising app thropic engagement and rerouting supply-line blew over the barrel of my gun,” says Hart, for charities, the app is a comprehensive, audibly smiling. “Without missing a beat, he time-saving suite used by major organizations logistics to address a paediatric healthcare THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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COACH DRIVE crisis in South Africa. It started with a phone call from a close friend medical supplies. What are you up to, Karolyn? At the time, there was a of Nelson Mandela. disconnect from what I wanted, because I didn’t understand that a life “The true story,” shares Hart, who hails from Little River Acres of serving people and meeting them where they’re at is worthy service. in east Windsor, “is that the reason I found myself sitting in South “Life is hard, and we all wear a lot of masks,” continues Hart. Africa, working with the Mandela family, is because I wrote probably “Being able to create a place of refuge in work for our employees is the most boring technical whitepaper on automotive digital signage.” an honour. For some people, who are depressed or isolated or alone, that opportunity to feel a sense of connection or community can be a Quite the succession of ripples. life-saving moment. In a way, it’s a sort of ministry.” In 2008, Hart’s document, essentially a drily technical problemThis is true in a very real sense. This fall, a new “Belonging Baromsolving guide, came into the hands of an Arkansas-based businessman eter” study by Ernst & Young (EY) asked more than 1,000 working named Ron Loveless. This earned Hart an invitation to a summit of Americans where they feel the greatest sense of belonging. The conclubusiness leaders, some of whom had an interest in digital signage. sion: in 2018, workers were more likely to feel “at home” while in There, she quickly struck up a mutually beneficial rapport with the workplace than anywhere else save for their actual, literal homes. Loveless, eventually challenging him to be her professional mentor. According to EY, when workers feel like they belong, they are more “We talked every other week,” relates Hart. “He lifted me into the productive, motivated, innovative, and engaged; a sense of belonging stratosphere as far as who I work with today, because he actually lifted up correlates sharply with positive employee contributions. the phone and put me in front of people. “For the first time in history, the workplace is replacing neighbourhoods and places of worship as where people get their sense of belonging from,” clarifies Hart. “That’s a huge deal! If you’re not getting a sense of community or belonging elsewhere, then we as workplace leaders have a massive responsibility. I’m in this curious place, where here I was wanting to serve in an altruistic role and, as it ends up, I am.

“I, for whatever reason, have had these wonderful humans who decided to pour into my life; they brought me into places that I had never even considered for myself, and it ends up I’m passionate about those things.”

While Hart lost Loveless to cancer in 2016, his influence continues to inform her approach to professional mentorship. “When you have people generously pour into you, there’s this compulsion that you want to generously pour into others,” she shares. “The very best thing you can do is simply pay it forward.”

“I don’t think we realize the impact that we have on one another.” As her Nerf gun story can attest, this sentiment is true both figuratively and literally. D.

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Originally, Hart foresaw a different avenue for her generous impulses. She left Windsor after high school to attend Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, imagining herself one day working in international development, or maybe with the homeless. “You don’t go to bible college with the intent that you want to be an all-powerful business tycoon!” she stresses. “You’re signing up for a life of service.” Out of school, Hart initially learned the ropes as a tech support trainee within a Fortune 500 company, where she benefitted from the sort of internal white-collar apprenticeship most millennials would regard as the stuff of fantasy. In the years since, she’s worked, to some extent, as a tech support agent, a software tester, and a solutions consultant. Today, Hart heads a development team as a product owner and manager. In the early years of her career, Hart struggled to reconcile her complicity in helping make rich people richer with her background in bible studies. Granting herself permission had a freeing, almost sacramental effect. “I remember getting all these alumni newsletters,” says Hart, slipping into the voice of a former classmate. “I’m in Jakarta delivering 44

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Not exactly as shown.


PSYCH DRIVE

Failure as

FEEDBACK By Dr. Andrea Dinardo | Photography: Steve Halama

With time, I have come to realize that failure has always been my greatest teacher. Each failure pointed me in a better direction and helped me to develop strength and authenticity, ultimately unveiling who I was and what I was destined to become.

F. A. I. L. = FIRST ATTEMPT IN LEARNING

SUPPORTING SOMEONE THROUGH FAILURE The key to supporting someone experiencing failure is to not rush them through the healing process. Yes, in the long run, the gifts of failure outweigh the costs, but we must be sensitive to how dark it feels in the eye of the storm. Only in darkness can we move towards the light.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO SEE FAILURE IN A

• The failing grade I received on my first exam in graduate school taught me how to ask for POSITIVE LIGHT? support when I needed it most, no matter Under the right conditions, failure strengthens how shameful I felt or embarrassed I was. us, adds to our self-knowledge, and enhances • The end of a long-term relationship taught the quality of our lives. me how to value my time alone and make • If it weren’t for failure, I would not have met tough decisions for myself, no matter how my husband John. weak I felt or lonesome I was. • If it weren’t for failure, I would not be a • T he layoff from a job I loved taught me psychology professor. how to let go, look forward, and trust in • If it weren’t for failure, I would not have something so much bigger than myself, no written three textbooks. matter how scared I was or irrelevant I felt. • If it weren’t for failure, I would not be the person I am today.

WHAT DETERMINES OUR REACTION TO FAILURE?

Failure is the opportunity to begin again.

Learning from failure is the ultimate goal. That said, not everyone responds to failure in the same way, at the same time.

YOUR TURN: WHAT LIFE LESSONS HAS FAILURE Our reaction to failure is determined by TAUGHT YOU? several factors, including:

If it weren’t for failure; I:

• The timing of the failure.

• The magnitude of the failure.

• The attribution attached to the failure.

• The level of support during the failure.

• The confidence and belief in starting over.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 46

Visit DrAndreaDinardo.com to learn more about her TEDx talk and positive psychology workshops. Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


SOCIAL DRIVE - FEATURE

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LIFE DRIVE

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LIFE DRIVE

Painting

HIMSELF OUT OF A CORNER LIFE INSIDE AND OUT OF A CULT By Millar Hill | Photography: Syx Langemann

There are very few times a journalist gets the opportunity to interview someone like Asaph Maurer, gaining insight into what an upbringing is like for a child born into a cult.

sheltered from all influences outside of the cult. There was no access to doctors, public school, music, television, or books. The cult members were raised with the belief that the The Children of God is a cult that began world was evil and it was run by the devil. in the United States during the late 1960s by Only the Children of God were free of this its founder, David Berg. Berg’s cult spread like evil because they were God’s chosen children. wildfire and he claimed to have 130 religious “I never met the leader of the cult, but he communities around the world by the 1970s was the one who raised all of us,” Asaph said. filled with men, women, and children. Members of the cult lived in communes

bible and Berg’s teachings. Eventually, they were sent out into the world outside of theirs with the intent to convert others into their way of thinking. During his time inside the cult, Asaph got married and had five children.

“That kind of environment lends itself very easily to abuse and there was a lot of of physical and sexual abuse of children,” he said. “It was a childhood I had no control over but Asaph was one of those children. consisting of 30 to 50 people living together after I became an adult, I realized this is not Born in Mexico, Asaph lived there for the under one roof. They were separated into the way I wanted to raise my family.” first six years of his life before he was uprooted groups by age and homeschooled. Asaph says At the age of 28, Asaph and his wife to India. The formative years of his life were every spare moment was spent studying the escaped the cult, fleeing to Toronto from

THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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India. Living in total isolation with no exposure to the outside world, they started their lives from scratch. “We were out of the daily brainwashing and indoctrination that allowed us, very slowly, to realize what it was that we had been born and raised into,” he said. “So, we never went back to it.” Eventually after living together for some time in Toronto, their marriage didn’t work out and Asaph and his wife separated. There was a short period before moving to Windsor where Asaph lost a sense of what he was doing with his life. With his marriage over and his future unclear, he turned to alcohol. “Combined with the fact of having such a sheltered upbringing, I defaulted to the most rebellious activities: drugs and alcohol,” he said. “The real problem was that I didn’t have any kind of clear picture that connected with me for my life and since I didn’t, my life became a series of going out and making decisions that could have been replaced by better decisions. It got to a point where my life was in shambles and I couldn’t stop. This lasted for nearly six months. Towards the end, I couldn’t function without alcohol.” Asaph took the necessary steps to recovery. He found his own path, providing himself a life from which he no longer needs to escape with booze and drugs. “Through my experience, I learned that any step that a person wants to take to recover their lives is a perfectly good one,” he said. “It’s the right thing, it’s the right step. Even if it is going from a very harmful drug to one that is less harmful. The idea is that you can’t get better if you’re dead.” Asaph struggled to find his place in life, but because of his tumultuous childhood that had kept him sheltered from the very world in which he now lived, the path forward was unclear. So he turned to a hobby he’d been chastised for in his youth: visual art. Asaph had always harboured a love for art and creating it—getting lost in drawing faces for hours. There were very strict rules for what creativity was allowed inside the cult and that stifled his creative process. “In my teens, I had a phase where I drew nudes or semi-nudes and those got collected and were burned for being inappropriate,” he said. “There was always creativity in me but I didn’t have much of an outlet inside of this religious organization. I think once I tasted the standard job offerings of society, I had to look at the path of pursuing education or a different route where I would pursue my own interests. “I took the second route,” he added. 50


LIFE DRIVE In only a year and a half, Asaph, now 37, has built himself a career working as a full-time artist in Windsor. He bounces back and forth between his studio at home and the Accelerator on Howard Avenue. You can find him spending roughly eight to ten hours painting each and every day. His niche is portraits. “I use acrylics on gallery-wrapped canvases,” he said. “I will use mixed-media as well, but primarily acrylics. Most of my art is black and white. I find that there are fewer artists who work in black and white and I find beauty and creativity within the two contrasts with the shades in between. I find it to be a great challenge.” Asaph uses techniques such as splatter art and another called piping. Piping is when paint is funnelled through cake piping bags or snipped Ziploc bags with different sizes and shapes of holes in it. It gives the paintings more texture and depth. He says piping is his most dominant technique and a lot of his work has some form of it. When I asked Asaph about his creative process, I was surprised to learn that he doesn’t require intense focus on the task at hand. Instead, Asaph will listen to audiobooks while he paints, focusing on not one, but two things at once.

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As reading was banned within the cult, it wasn’t until Asaph escaped nice years ago that he picked up his first non-religious book. In the nine years since, he’s become a voracious reader. “I have read nearly a thousand books,” he said. “I am very pleased I’ve been able to read that many books. I think it’s the core of any ritual that I have. I’ll put on a good audiobook and I’ll get to work while I listen about the lives of great achievers, which then inspires me to try to achieve greatness.” Our time together was wrapping up and I couldn’t help but feel inspired by Asaph. Despite such a sheltered past, he escaped his prison and found himself in a world about which he really knew nothing. Through acknowledging his addiction to alcohol and overcoming it, he braved the decision to pursue his passion. “The word addict, I think it’s a beautiful word. It can be applied to anything. The people who are the highest achievers in life have that same tendency. I have always had it. For a while, it was channelled to actual addiction but now I am channelling it towards something better. I wake up, make a painting, and as soon as I’m done—I want to make another one.” D. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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PROFILE

Valente Contracting Inc. The man behind the building plan

Valente Contracting Inc. may only be a year old, but they’ve been an active part of the Windsor-Essex community for much longer than that. Steven Valente, the “man behind the building plan,” has been a major player in local land development for 26 years, and Steven says it seems like it’s been even longer. His roots began at Valente Construction Ltd., which was owned by his father. “He started the construction company over 50 years ago and I learned a lot working alongside him,” says Steven. “My dad started as a home builder in 1967, and he never really retired after that—he just shifted focus to land development. He was a great inspiration and a very prominent developer in the community.” Mario was someone who had businesses popping up everywhere from Windsor to Chatham and as far as Dallas, TX. He bought the property on Manning and Amy Croft, owned commercial spaces, and even owned apartment buildings. At this time, Steven was in high school and worked construction part-time and through the summers. He took to the civil engineering side of the business, which inspired his studies in college. This meant veering away from the family business for a while, as Steven worked on municipal and privatelyowned projects. Steven worked as a civil engineer for 10 years, constructing residential subdivisions and municipal roadwork, and he eventually became a project manager at RC Spencer and Associates. All the while, Mario’s business was growing rapidly, so returning to help him was the right thing to do at the time. In early 2002, Steven shifted and re-joined his father at the construction company. Steven started bringing in ideas from the planning stages all the way to the end of construction and began working subdivision projects. “As it evolved, I started building the buildings for our own developments. I knew I needed to start this other company and branch out. This way we could help the community and provide good quality service and products for anyone who needed newly constructed buildings or renovations,” says Steven about the start-up of Valente Contracting. The construction company still exists, and is co-owned by Steven and his brother Michael. The Valente family has been a success in the community just by word of mouth, but it’s about time Windsor-Essex knew who was behind some of the newly renovated or built commercial buildings in the area.

Valente Contracting Inc 25 Amy Croft Drive, Lakeshore, ON 519-915-3377 www.valenteinc.com

If you’ve driven by the CIBC on E.C. Row past Manning or popped by the newly renovated Kelsey’s just around the corner, then you’ve seen the work of Steven Valente and his team. They deal with major clients and brand names, such as Sherwin Williams, Kumon Learning Centres, Dollarama, Bell, Windsor Honda, and are even building and leasing the space that will house the new Starbucks location across from Lakeshore Cinemas. Who could you trust more with your commercial or residential project than long-time members of our community? Sponsored by Valente Contracting Inc.


LIFE DRIVE

Robert Higgins is HIGGI SINGER, SONGWRITER, FIREFIGHTER, AND COLLEGE PROFESSOR HITS A HIGH NOTE WITH HIS HEARTFELT SONG, “THIS OLD BAR.” By Michelle Laramie | Photography: Syx Langemann

Robert Higgins, the former owner of Koko Pellies, is no stranger to working tirelessly to follow a dream. He has been a firefighter for 17 years, the lead singer in a band for eight, and teaches at St. Clair College, among many other things. With so many successes to be grateful for, what do you do when a dream comes to its natural finish? You write a song about it. 54

The DRIVE recently sat down to an open and candid conversation with Higgins about how he lays it all on the line in his first solo song “This Old Bar.” He sings about the good, the bad, and the ugly of living through his dream. “This Old Bar” is about owning and eventually closing Koko Pellies, a downtown watering hole that was frequented by many Windsorites during the slow demise of Chatham Street.


LIFE DRIVE “Thirteen years of running that place and six Then after about an hour someone knocked acoustic debut on February 9, 2019, at Higgi’s years to write a song about it,” laughs Higgins. on the door and was like, ‘you can’t park there’ Harmony in Action Bash at Average Joes Sports Bar, 1286 Lauzon Rd., in Windsor. “That’s the reality of this journey.” and I thought, oh yeah, I don’t miss this.” Higgins kept the bar running for much The song lyrics speak to anyone who has Harmony in Action is a program that assists longer than he intended to because he was had a dream and played it out to the finish. adults with developmental and physical holding out for the long-hoped-for revitaliza- While remembering and singing about the disabilities, giving them the opportunity tion of Chatham Street to begin. “I feared that many years of running a bar, Higgins takes to experience personal growth and social I would close, something would happen in six you through your own losses to the other side integration. Higgins started throwing the February fundraiser as a tribute to his sister. months, and everything would be back to what with a sense of pride and gratitude. it was. I was going to be kicking myself for not sticking it out,” said Higgins. “That’s why I stuck it out too long. Now it’s been six years since we closed the place and it still says ‘For Lease’ on it. The marquee I put up out front is still there.”

With the full support of his band Drop Dead Famous, Higgins produced “This Old Bar” as a solo venture. The decidedly country feel to the song was a departure from the band’s pop/rock style, so it made more sense for Higgins to do the song on his own. But even though the single may be a solo project, the help and support he has gotten from his band has been instrumental—the song was co-written with guitarist Dave Sinewitz, whilc keyboardist Chris Blais helped with the music video.

Higgins said when he went into the bar recently to shoot the music video for “This Old Bar” it was like walking through a time machine. The bar was gone but many of the things on the walls and some of the stuff in the office, like notes he had written to himself, “We are all like brothers,” says Higgins. were still there. “There are five of us and we’ve been together “Walking in there was overwhelming after for eight years doing this thing. This song six years. I stood there and I was like, how doesn’t signal my departure from that in any many times have I walked through this door? The way; it is an extension. I feel like I wouldn’t be things that I saw,” reminisces Higgins. “The here without them.” proposals, the fights, the bands, everything. “This Old Bar” will have its official

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“My sister Jenny, who was mentally challenged, went to Harmony in Action. She was like this huge, huge spark in our lives. She was the funniest, happiest person I have ever known and she just loved, loved, loved music,” said Higgins. Jenny passed away about five years ago and Higgins still holds an annual fundraiser for Harmony in Action. “I have probably done at least 10 or 15 charity events for them with the Higgi’s Harmony in Action Bash,” said Higgins. “We try to do an event once or twice a year to help raise money for them.” Higgins has some more country songs in the making and hopes to head to Nashville for some recording time. To check out his music, visit soundcloud.com/higgicountry or dropdeadfamous.org. D.

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2019

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LIFE DRIVE

A Lasting Friendship WINDSOR TOMCATS HOCKEY CLUB By Tita Kyrtsakas | Photography: Syx Langemann

In 1989, a friendship was born that is now in its 30th year. A group of transplants from Toronto, London, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Oshawa started playing in a basketball league at St. Vladimir’s Church in Windsor. They dubbed themselves the Fabulous Thunderbirds. After two years, they traded in their basketball and equipped themselves with floor hockey sticks.

Steven Jaworiwsky is one of the original members. “In the early days, we had about 12 guys. The goalies wore a baseball glove, volleyball knee pads, and a hockey glove as a blocker. We played three on three and in the early days sometimes there were no spares. Today, goalies wear full equipment with masks but are not allowed to use a goalie’s stick. They use a regular junior player’s stick so that they cover less net for more goal scoring.” Jaworiwsky crafted a new name for their team: the Windsor Tomcats. “The Tomcat name came from the F-14 Tomcat, a fighter jet used by the air force in the late ’80s. If we were to be starting today, I guess the name would be the Windsor Hornets, as per the F-18 Hornet fighter jet used at the present time by Canada and the USA.” The group welcomes new players who are brought in by current ones. Before the new guy can join (and then enjoy a beer afterwards), he has to pass the selection process. “You have to present the player you want to bring out and explain to us who he is and if he is a good guy. Hockey talent is not the major factor. If he is a nice guy, he will fit in.”  This group of friends isn’t about throwing any punches. “I remember when we first started, I was told about a hockey league at the Ciociaro Club. You basically paid $5 to fight, and very little hockey was being played. We all have full-time jobs and need to go to work in the morning and when all is said and done, the fact that you won a game or two that night means absolutely nothing. Like Jerry Seinfeld says, ‘we’re THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM

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LIFE DRIVE just raindrops on a windshield.’ Guys get it, so we don’t have any problems.” The Windsor Tomcats now have about 26 players who come out and play on a fairly regular basis. “There has been a board of directors for about 20 years and the board deals with everything from issues on the floor to expenditures to discipline (if needed).” They play on Tuesdays from September to mid-April and take a three-week break at Christmas. “When our kids were younger, we used to have pool parties in the summer and kept the guys together. That evolved to a golf tournament, which was held in the third week of June. Now we say our goodbyes in April until the third week of September.” Jaworiwsky started a newsletter called The St. Felix (named after Felix Potvin, the goalie for the Leafs at the time) in 1992 to keep the guys interested in coming back, and eventually produced 181 issues, writing funny, fake quotes from the players like, “We got a lot of calls about the Rake like we do every trade deadline, but the other teams were never offering enough for this superstar player and so we decided to keep him.”

From left, Kevin M. King, Moe Mailloux Sr, Moe Mailloux Jr, Partners

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These issues are archived on the Windsor Tomcat website, along with their current weekly blog and summer announcements. Each player even has his own nickname. “Guys will tell me they’ll be out with their wife and run into a fellow Tomcat at Home Depot, and they’ll introduce them to each other like, ‘Oh honey, this is the Falcon. This is my wife, Betty.’ After they part, the wife would ask, ‘What’s his real name?’ and the husband would say, ‘I don’t know, I just know him as Falcon.’” Tuesday nights and their February tournament are the Tomcats’ time to have fun. “No matter how hard a player will play against another player, the guys will have a laugh afterwards as they enjoy a cold beverage. The friendships and camaraderie over the years has been incredible. As long as we have been running the hockey, we have also been going to Battle Creek, Michigan, on a golf trip. Twelve guys go in the second week of September and we call it training camp.” One of the players, Sniper Chevy says, “If you don’t like to laugh, play golf, and drink beer, then this trip is not for you.” The Windsor Tomcats have played against outside teams, but the Tomcats saw the high levels of competition and the fun was lost. After those experiences, Jaworiwsky explains, “a famous Tomcat said, ‘I’m not playing travel ball hockey anymore.’” At the end of the day, it’s all about laughter, togetherness, and enjoying a long-loved game with friends. D. 58

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