Good Sports @CAC_ACE #SportLeadership

Singer Angela Marie poses with Jowi and Voyageur First of all, I want to acknowledge that my friends at the National Speakers Bureau really do try to sell the Six String Nation experience to conference clients but I know it can be a bit of a tough sell. After all, if you're organizing a conference for health information management professionals or financial services technologists or hotel franchisees, it may not be apparent why you'd want your keynote speaker to talk about a guitar. But time and again I have the experience of sharing Voyageur's story with an audience and there's this moment that happens when I feel a profound connection with the room. It's the moment when the audience realizes that the story I'm telling is actually about them. At that point, all the connections that the project makes possible kind of come to life and everyone in the room feels that the story is a reflection of their own story, their own experience, their own organization. It's a beautiful thing.

I was very fortunate for this past weekend's event at the Westin Ottawa for the Coaching Association of Canada's PetroCanada Sport Leadership Conference that I had a couple of strong advocates in conference organizers Krista Benoit and Kelly Michael, who recognized the Six String Nation message as a great fit for the gathering. That opinion might not have been shared by everyone (or more likely it was just the result of over-indulgence at the awards gala and afterparty on Friday night!) as the ballroom was only about half filled on that first-thing-Saturday-morning slot. But gradually people filtered in and as I got further into the story, the more I felt the room was with me. It turned out to be one of the most profoundly affecting experiences for me of any presentation I've done. Here, after all, were elite-level athletes, coaches and association representatives who must be constantly aware of the relationship between individual contribution and national identity, cultural diversity and common purpose. It all capped off with a spontaneous request from the crowd for a rendition of "O Canada" which left not a dry eye in the house. I was honored and moved to be a part of the event.

The "performance pocket" was handled beautifully by Ottawa native Angela Marie (pictured with me, above), who did two originals, "Built for Breaking" and "Like Shania" as well as a cover of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" – fitting in the singer's home town and I believe the first Alanis song sung with Voyageur!

Following the presentation and the impromptu anthem, we repaired to the foyer where I signed books and people stood in line for over an hour to meet and hold Voyageur. I was so grateful to meet with such a warm and enthusiastic reception and have so many people offer to advocate that Six String Nation find a role at the PanAm and ParaPanAm Games next summer. It's something I've been trying to do on my own but haven't had much success with... yet. I was especially touched by Paralympic multi-medal winning swimmer Stephanie Dixon who co-emceed the event with fellow Paralympic swimmer Benoit Huot and hung around to chat about a number of things once the line up had cleared. Stay tuned, we may be hatching a couple of really interesting initiatives in the future!

Thanks to everyone who attended, I'm glad you did. Thanks again to Kelly and Krista, Angela, Stephanie and Benoit as well as Dan Lamoureux, Conrad Hijazi and the rest of the EPS Canada crew who made everything run so smoothly. Thanks also to Lori Wagner from Porter Airlines not only for their support of the event and my travel to it but also for their ongoing support of Canadian amateur athletes and the great care they take with Voyageur every time we fly Porter. And an extra special thanks to my dear Sarah Gillett who handled book sales and made the whole weekend seem a holiday.

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