Young Professionals Mingler: Inspirational Talks and Connections Fall Edition – Recap

And that’s a wrap! My 2nd Young Professionals Mingler event bringing together young professionals in Vancouver for an evening of inspirational talks, tangible lessons on healthy habits and new connections. As I mentioned before, the most validating piece of feedback from my first ever, POYmeetsworld hosted event, was, “When’s the next one!?” so I’m happy to have created this second one before the year was up!

The image above was taken by the entrance of the Shebeen Whiskey Bar, where I am with 3 of the returning supporters from the previous event, Sarah, Dhia (photographer extraordinaire! (@dhiasnaps) and Poonghi! Photo taken by my amazing volunteer team of George and Justin.

Smiling faces between new people – always a good combination!

On the Agenda

My favourite success story from the last event, was actually from my good friend Tina, sharing her experience about unique connections – you can read about it here in my recap:

It’s no surprise then, that I wanted to have her on my line-up of speakers that could inspire, motivate and teach. Bios below of the 3 speakers

Tina: “Cancer taught me a thing or two. On a mission to educate, inspire, and empower.” Tina writes over at and has co-created her very own Alive2Thrive transformational healing retreats to enable and empower young adults who have faced cancer. As a young thriver, Tina knows that cancer is a harsh reality, no matter how you look at it. Still, she has come to learn that cancer is as much of a teacher as it is a bully. Come hear some of Tina’s lessons on thriving!

Mike: You may recognize him from his days playing for the Vancouver Canucks! At the NHL Professional level of sport, you learn a lot about dedication, discipline and striving to be you best. Mike will share some insights on his journey and some lessons that he’s taken from sports, into the next phase of his career.

Jennifer: In her youth she was a competitive Speed Skater with many Provincial, National, and North American titles. She was a longstanding member of the Provincial Speed Skating Short and Long Track Teams and competed in the Canada Games in 1996 bringing home Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and setting a Canada Games record along the way. At age 15 she was selected to represent Canada at the world Junior World Championships. She earned a diploma in Physical Education from Douglas College and became a Police Officer in 2000. She has competed in cycling, placing top 10 in two professional races. After giving birth to two children she has recently taken up figure competition, winning open c division of her first show.



Hosted this at another fun venue: hidden gem, Shebeen Whiskey Bar in Gastown

Thanks to feedback from the last survey, I gave each of the 3 speakers more time to speak so that the audience could get a deeper understanding of their journeys. In between the speeches, I kept the same dedicated networking portion with fun prompts (taken from the New York Times article of questions to ask to fall in love!), such as:

  • If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

  • If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

  • Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

Finally, there were several door prizes at the end!

Recap of the speakers:


Each of the speakers had their own unique story and background that helped them achieve success (I’ll post some highlights below), with a common message of: You do you! Sounds simple, but also, so powerful!



She opened up by having us all close our eyes and just breathe and be in the moment. While her speech started off on a very serious note, there were also moments that had us all laughing! Below are some excerpts, along with a few call to actions.


I know what it’s like to wake up suffocating. I know what it’s like to be drenched in sweat and blood. I know what it’s like to have a body that fails you
Our bodies are our vehicles, vessels
I used to focus on the doing, not allowing time to rest, sleep and relax

When we’re young we don’t think about death
We’re all going to die!


Remind yourself every day, that this vessel is temporary
We’re all going to die!
[more laughter 🙂 ]

So you might be thinking what I mean..Vessel for what?

We are spiritual beings in physical bodies
You would think I would have jumped up and down when I learned was cancer-free!

I was sad and confused

Why wasn’t I celebrating to be alive?
Thankfully, I had a moment of clarity
My encounter with cancer allowed me to grieve who I once was
Cancer was an incredible blessing
It allowed me to think: perhaps the way I was living, was not true to me

At 21, I was a college dropout, working my way up the corporate ladder
High heels way too high
Skirts way too tight..
And glasses, that I didn’t actually need!
I was chasing what everyone else was: money, sex and power
When cancer came, I thought, well maybe this isn’t actually what makes me happy

So cancer allowed me to stop, and reflect, and realize I wasn’t happy

I encourage you to: Slow down, Reflect, Get honest with yourself
Create enough distance between your doing and being.Ask yourself: who am I? Why am I here?
I got to connect with the things that make me truly happy
Love, peace and connection
As soon as I realized that, I started to create a life that cultivated those values
Never felt richer in my entire life

I’ll say it again: happiness is something we find in here, not out there
When I started to listen to my heart, that’s when I began to truly live

3 calls to action:

  1. Remind yourself that you’re dying every single day

  2. Make time to stop, and to reflect, and ask yourself often, who am I, why am I here

  3. You DO YOU



Jennifer started by acknowledging how powerful and meaningful Tina’s advice was. You can read Jennifer’s bio and it’s easy to be impressed and inspired by all the hats that she wears. So, how surprised was I when she admitted feeling nervous around the other speakers! I’m so glad Jennifer came out and spoke, here’s what she had to say:

Sport and competition have always been very important to me. It all started when I became hooked on Speed Skating at 5 years old. I was driven and extremely motivated from an early age. As a junior I was winning titles, setting records and competing internationally.

Eventually I found myself training with the Canadian National Long Track Team in Calgary, which was a dream but as a result of being away from home at such a young age and not having the support I needed, I burned out both mentally and physically. I had spent my entire life chasing the Olympic dream and now I would need to regroup and figure out a new dream. I needed to go home.

After high school I went to college, and then started a career as a police officer, a very proud moment for me. But, I still had this unfulfilled competitive urge.

[I ended up meeting my husband]. Shortly after that we had our first child. I found being pregnant extremely challenging and almost depressing watching my body change and my athletic abilities diminish. After the birth of my first child I quickly started to work out again. My drive to succeed was back except I was in the position to have to change my focus from competitive sport to being healthy and physically fit.

Towards the end of the second pregnancy, and more so afterwards, I noticed I was feeling unwell and had an upset stomach all of the time. My doctor ran some tests and diagnosed me with a chronic GI ailment that basically flipped my life upside down.

I had two small children, I was sick, I was feeling terrible about the way I looked because once again I’d gained so much weight and I could not lose this weight to save my life.  I still had no support network and I was consumed by what was happening with my stomach.

From speed skating, one of the lessons I learned was the importance of a support network. So we moved back to BC to be near my friends and family. That helped quite a bit but I was still struggling and not really focused. On a whim I hired a trainer to help me. He asked me if i wanted to enter a figure competition.  I was kinda caught off guard and I kinda just said…o…k wondering what I had gotten into.

I felt that I had nothing to lose. But I listened to my coach and I trusted the process. I went in for my first weekly check in and hey…look at me, I lost three pounds.  My mind was officially blown. He even cut my cardio and I was actually eating real healthy food and still losing weight.  I found a bit of momentum, and once that happened it started to build.

Well, we know how the story ends – Jennifer got 1st place at her very first Bodybuilding Competition!!

5 pieces of advice:

      1. Use your support network when you need it.  Whether it’s a friend you are using for accountability or family member when you have fallen on tough times.  Use them. They will help you just like you would help them.

      2. Get some momentum and keep it going. Any small victory is momentum that’s worth celebrating. It may be hard to catch at first but if you tough it out and keep going you will catch it and you will see positive results.

      3. Identify your points of failure and come up with a plan to address them. In my case this was food preparation and I ended up getting a meal service

      4. Know and leverage your strengths and motivators. I really enjoy weight training, and am motivated by competition, and I found a sport that optimizes for these things.

      5. NEVER GIVE UP OR STOP. And don’t start Monday….start today!




VANCOUVER, BC – OCTOBER 8: Mike Santorelli #25 of the Vancouver Canucks lines up for a face-off during their NHL game against the New Jersey Devils at Rogers Arena on October 8, 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike is a pretty accomplished individual having played several seasons for the Professional National Hockey League – the most elite level! Growing up in Vancouver, and Canada, hockey is a pretty big deal! I know I used to be glued to my television to be up to date on game day action for the Canucks. I hadn’t actually spoken to Mike for awhile (not since I helped to organize my High School Reunion!), but when I came up with the event concept on health/fitness tips and reaching your goals – Mike immediately came to mind!

You would think someone of his calibre would be super comfortable to speak, but even he was a little bit shy and needed a push! We met up for a coffee just before the event to go over the details and agreed in the end, that his portion would be conducted in an interview style, since he was most relaxed doing those (drawing on his hockey experience during intermissions and post game!).

Can you tell us about a pivotal or defining moment about your road to the Pros?

[He told us about getting cut down a few levels in the regional hockey leagues]
I got cut and r
emember my dad sat me down, and said, “You have to make a decision, we will support you no matter what. You can continue for fun, but if you want this, you need to dedicate your life to this”.

My dad took me to Trout Lake, and I was scared of dogs at the time, and he had them chase me around!

Once I made the NHL, a pivotal point in my career was when I played for Nashville. I was having a tough time adjusting and only getting 3 minutes a night and the coach wanted me to produce points, but, that’s tough on the bench.
Coach told me, “I can’t give you special pill or potion for confidence”. That conversation was the fuel for my fire to go out there and prove everyone wrong.
I had a great Summer, and started scoring goals after.

What was your greatest accomplish in NHL?

Playing for the Vancouver Canucks, my home team.
It was a tough year, another setback, more injuries and I needed to reestablish myself.
I took a 2 way contract – with the NHL and Minors, which meant I had to make the cut for the team.
First day of camp, there was a 2 mile run test, and you had to do this under 12 minutes.
For those of you that don’t know miles, that’s uh pretty tough!
Only 3 of us that did it.

Before doing it, I knew I had to go all out, leave everything out there.
And, I got the top time in camp!
From there, I really established myself on the team, and showed the coach, “I’m here to stay”.
He and I got along; Vancouver was a great year, playing in front of family and friends and reconnected with relationships of the past.

What are some lessons from hockey that you’re applying today?

I’m feeling like a 20 year old: I’m at UBC with a real estate job where I’m starting at the bottom.
I would say, don’t be afraid to fail.
People are scared to take risks, or put themselves in awkward position.
But that’s how you grow and achieve your goals. That’s how successful people get to where they are.

I’ve played hockey all my life. It was simply – I just needed to take care of my body, and be mentally prepared.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to photocopy stuff at work.
I was frustrated when it wouldn’t work – Why is this thing not printing?
Then, a colleague came by, and helped me out by saying, “this is out of paper!”
Well, I didn’t know how to change the paper either!

The point is, you got to put yourself in awkward spots
You’ll get to where you want to get to.

Anything else to add – tips? ?

What Jennifer and Tina said.. Be you.
If someone doesn’t like you, it doesn’t really matter.
I know when I was playing, when I cared what people think, that’s when I got into trouble.


Behind the scenes (aka my own setbacks!)

This was the original promo for my event below. You’ll notice that I had to change up my speakers last minute!

Being flexible, adaptable and quick to move were keys for my success in still delivering a valuable and fun event!

As with the first event, I wanted to offer benefits, in addition to inspirational speakers – that’s why I worked with Soul Cycle in Yaletown to offer complimentary spin classes to all attendees so that they could put personal goals into action immediately! I loved their classes and the process of living and breathing the motivational mantra while in a dark, sweaty room. The instructor, Daniela, was incredible so I reached out to her to be my next speaker!

We were all set, but then we had a setback with her acting schedule.

I was really disappointed that she couldn’t come, but luckily, I have cultivated a vast network of talented and ambitious people. Including, my personal trainer and bodybuilding coach, Jennifer Weintz! Jennifer was instrumental in my journey to placing Top 5 at my first ever competition last Fall! In an uncanny twist of events, Jennifer emailed me introducing the other Jennifer, as someone who just placed 1st in her category and would be great at motivational speeches!

As with Mike, there was a bit of hesitation on Jennifer’s side. But, we chatted on the phone and I’m so glad she was open to the idea. Once at the venue, I’m happy she got to experience the warmth of the audience that my event attracts!.

So there’s my personal anecdote of embracing challenges and hiccups in the road, and pushing forward no matter what!


Value Add for ALL Attendees – Prizes and Promos

HUGE THANKS to the generous Supporters!!

I’m also pleased that several sponsors were on board to promote their healthy products and services.

Soul Cycle Spin Classes (Yaletown Website)



2 Guys with Knives – Healthy Meal Delivery (Order on their website)

Amazing local healthy meal prep company, 2 Guys with Knives, offered a $50 door prize AND a promo code to everyone involved to get a complimentary item with their 1st order purchase – #POYmeetsworld.  They create new, innovative menus each week! It’s such a time saver and is SO delicious.

Our household has been ordering from them for over a year so the proof is in the pudding how good their staying power is!

Here’s a shot I took of what one of their weekly deliveries looks like:

Use #POYMEETSWORLD promo code to try these complimentary with your first purchase!

So many people have asked what my secret was to getting fit for my bodybuilding competition journey last year.

Well training: lifting weights and cardio was a big part. But DIET is 80+ % of the process!


Partners: Elletourage and HundredFold Productions also generously supplied some door prizes

Elltourage (Website)

I was delighted to meet Sam at the launch event for the new Elletourage website back in the Summer! It’s a community for women to make new friends online, most to a marketplace and share events! I was keen to help get the ball rolling on their new site and encourage more people to post their events. Thanks again Sam for donating a prize and for your work in building communities!

HundredFold Productions (Website)

In a true act of living what he preaches about growing networks, Sam from Elletourage also introduced me to the creative team behind HundredFold Productions and they offered a $400 valued headshot photography package! A great prize for many in the audience looking for more professional photography to grow their business!


Well that’s a wrap for now!

One final thanks to the speakers for getting up on stage and sharing your lessons with everyone present. Thank you to the amazing attendees for adding your energy to the crowd! And finally, thanks to the volunteers at registration and those who captured pictures and videos, and friends who helped to spread the word even though they couldn’t attend in person 🙂

Let me know in the comments or on social media what you thought! The next one will be in the new year – subscribe to updates via my IG:@poymeetsworld and stay tuned on this site and also my Facebook Page, Women in Innovation.

Read the last event, Summer Mingler here:

More Photos from the evening from the lovely Dhia (@dhiasnaps)


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