Sam Sullivan's Public Salon hosted an inspiring line-up of mostly male speakers who voiced strong opinions, provided educational content and, in one case, created a top trending topic on twitter. Here's a summary of the event with a photo set, also by Alice Zhou.
Below: Wynston Winckler on upright bass, John Korsrud on trumpet and Stephen Fisk on electric guitar, opened the evening.
James Tansey (in the photo below), CEO of Offsetters, a company that sells carbon credits, and conducts environmental audits and consulting, Tansey points out that the typical North American citizen produces 14 tons of carbon in a year. His company, with the money from carbon credit sales, invests in the tangible environmental projects like the Great Bear Rainforest as well as in the Congo.
The Public Salon promptly started at 7:30pm after a performance by Mark Takeshi McGregor playing flute to Kenneth Broadway’s piano.
Jonathan Becker (below), the principal at Thrive Digital, a well to do internet entrepreneur spoke about looking at life while measuring the winning and success, but also looking at failure as a chance to learn and grow.
Rabbi Yosef Wosk (below) spoke about the tremendous effort involved in building a community, and how he has often been asked to play leadership roles in a variety of community building capacities, which in recent years he has declined due to burnout.
The next speaker was the fun and spunky Alexandra Gill, the restaurant critic for the Globe and Mail.
I really loved her presentation, from her Austin Powers style musical fun intro, to her tale about how her love affair with Vancouver turned sour after she discovered how “regional” and inclusive the Vancouver restaurant scene really was.
Alexandra Gill was followed by Henry Yu (below), a Vancouver-born historian and professor at UBC.
Henry spoke passionately to remind us that we are all guests on someone else’s land. That without a common past we have no common future. He talked about the head tax the Chinese immigrants had to endure, the camps the Japanese families had to endure during World War II, and many other injustices and discrimination immigrants experienced as apart of the Canadian history. Henry shared that he led the $1.175 million “Chinese Canadian Stories” project involving UBC, SFU, and over 29 community organizations across Canada which was recently been nominated for a LEO award. The LEO Awards are aired on CBC across Canada.
Textile artist Bettina Matzhuhn (below) said that she learned the craft of tapestry from her mother and grandmother, and she was fascinated by the art due to the storytelling aspect.
James Tansey spoke about his projects to help restore tempera rainforest in BC as well as in Congo. He was followed by David Lemon, the founder of Health Arts Societies, which sends musicians and artists to perform for the sick in hospitals and senior centres.
The one speaker that blew me and everyone else in the audience away was Bruce Haden (below), principal architect at DIALOG. Haden told about his father's alcoholism's and the damaging effect it had on his family when he was growing up.
He also shared about his younger brother, a licensed chemist, who died two years ago in a tragic accident while making drugs.
After his gut-wrenching talk, many people went to him to show their appreciation, gave their condolences, and tweeted like mad. So much so that it was trending that night. I had a chance to speak to him briefly. I asked if he was afraid of the repercussions of his speech. He replied, "As a leader, one must stand up for what you believe in, even if it's unpopular".
Henry George said he thought the evening was well done, interesting and he especially liked Bruce’s speech.
I also caught up with Aaron Freschi, who really enjoyed the evening as well, and when asked who he think should be the next speaker, suggested his father Bruno Freschi, a famed local architect.
On an ordinary Thursday afternoon, while browsing Facebook for the latest amusing article, shocking video or funny picture, I came across a notification for a free seminar titled “Discover Your Sacred Gift” from a Facebook contact who gave a glowing testimonial to the seminar facilitator Monique MacDonald. Being an avid personal development fan, and someone who bores easily, this looked like the perfect way to spend an evening in the comfort of the HIVE. I filed into a small boardroom in the Hive with 9 other people to be greeted by the friendly and high energy Monique, a lady in her early 50’s. She happily introduced herself as a registered nurse who had worked at St. Paul’s hospital for 35 years, then one day realized she could no longer do what she’s always done, listened to the little voice and quit. She went through a very painful transition of figuring out how she could really feel “on purpose”, and after much soul search and reading, and spiritual exploration, she came upon the material which became her main business which is to help others discover their sacred gifts. She has been doing this and has been on fire for the last 10 years.
Monique tells us, if you feel like your job, business, or something you do is sucking the life out of you, and you are getting physically sick, and having nightmares at night, it’s a big sign that you’re not living on purpose. The formula to living a life on purpose is using your sacred gift towards something that is meaningful and needed by others. Of course at this point, we were all under Monique’s spell wanting to know what were these sacred gifts and how would it apply to each and every single one of us in our lives. She handed out a word list filled with action verbs like listening, mediation, taking risks, etc. She asked us to circle any word that resonates with us. Then we went around the room and each person shared his/her top 5 words. At the time, we didn’t know how this was relevant, so Monique began her proper lecture.
She began her teaching with the concept that we as humans are made up of our humanness and beingness. She said that we are human beings, not alien beings, not purely spiritual beings. We are human beings therefore we have a humanness aspect to ourselves that encompasses everything from our personality to our likes and dislikes, our gender, our roles, our labels, our stories, our culture, religion, experiences, conditioning etc. Everything that makes us human. Our beingness is a part of us that is not connected to or dependent on our humanness. This is where our sacred gifts reside. They are in us but not really of us. They aren’t part of our DNA. They can’t be explained as being learned from our parents. They allow us to do certain things extraordinarily well that we may have never been trained in or taught. A simple example that most people can relate to is someone who is extraordinarily good at singing. Their parents don’t sing, they’ve never been trained in singing, they may not have attended any singing school, yet they can just sing. And when they sing, people listen. No one can explain why they can sing. This is something that is in their beingness. This is what we call a gift. And everyone has several of these gifts in their beingness. Sometimes they are in complete contrast to your humanness. Like a gifted public speaker who is super shy. Or a gifted writer who can’t spell or is dyslexic or autistic. You can’t explain it. It defies humanness.
Monique then shared five sacred gifts with us in detail, with characteristic, behaviour and case studies to drive home the point. It was a revelation. Many of us were totally hooked and expressed our appetite for more, to which Monique happily informed us there would be a two-day weekend seminar where we could get the full meal deal. She also parted with the knowledge not to let your ego get in the way. Someone fought hard with her to say that they had all the gifts. She said that isn’t helpful to your life. Most people have 5-6 sacred gifts, and it’s good to know which sacred gifts you do not have so you can plan your life properly, instead of feeling paralyzed with your gifts pulling you in different directions.
Monique also shared with the participants that perhaps some people seem flaky to us because they provide a professional service to others, yet that area of their life is a mess. She pointed out that many healers have poor health. She explained that we should not judge ourselves or others when this happens, because our sacred gifts are activated when they are in service of others. So your sacred gift of organization might be in full swing when it’s helping your neighbour to clean up his garage when yours is in distress, and that’s perfectly normal. Or that you’re a financial planner who will need to hire your own financial planner to get your money situation under control. Monique clearly explained that many of us develop skills and talents to a very proficient level, yet they’re different from sacred gifts. You can observe and find out which gifts you have by thinking back about the positive response or compliments you received from others around you when you did something that came naturally and effortlessly to you. When you operate within your gifts, you should derive joy, passion and energy from it, and would want to do it even if you’re not getting paid from it.
At the end of the class, everyone shared his/her own observations and learnings. One man stated how this was similar to Myers Briggs and other types of personality testing. Monique MacDonald protested and invited him to attend the full workshop to learn the difference. It seemed to me that, having done Myers Briggs and many other types of personality assessment tools, this is indeed different. Gifts are the source of our motivation, whereas Myers Briggs tells us our tendencies and leaning towards certain behaviour sets which are favourable to certain jobs.
I did sign up for the weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face, as well as meeting many new friends along the way. We went through all twenty-four sacred gifts and it was an emotional journey. When I watched a clip from the TV show “Undercover Boss”, the gift of service was showcased so vividly by a man who is the most dedicated janitor at a fast food restaurant. He buys environmentally friendly cleaning products so the children who eat there will not consume toxic chemicals from standard cleaning products; he is passionate about his job and treats every customer with the biggest smile, and then goes to his church to volunteer for the soap kitchen as the chef. I was moved to tears by his daily heroism. As Monique says, this particular gift, which we see often in people working in the customer service or retail industry, is taken for granted. Yet it’s so crucial. They recognize the humanity in others and, although that is not a part of their job description, go that extra mile to make it special for others. Some of the sacred gifts really threw me off, such as “being single”.
Throughout the two-day workshop, we wrote down from the very beginning our intentions for the outcome, and shared many of our “aha” moments as we went along. Some very personal and emotional discoveries were shared with the whole class of 60+ people. Many shared what they’d like to get rid of, and also hoped to gain, and we as a class blessed them with the saying “so it shall be”. It was empowering and a great bonding exercise. One man shared that he was a veteran RCMP officer and he wished all his colleagues could go through this type of training, as it is so useful to police officer to able to have this knowledge and use it as a tool to interact with the public. Another man who is a veteran corporate HR manager shared how growing up in a very conservative Asian household, in all of his life, his father had only said “I love you” three times. Most of the time, there were expressions of disapproval, leaving him feeling very resentful. I could so relate to the hyper achieving, negative Asian parents syndrome! It was this powerful workshop and Jeffrey Armstrong’s Ayurvedic Body Type 1-day seminar that gave me my powerful “aha” moment – that being that all the things I do is because I fall under the personality type that seeks approval, and not feeling worthy is my tireless drive to stay busy to achieve success.
Monique is a very talented and nurturing teacher and facilitator; her workshop is full of energy involving different learning modalities to keep you engaged visually, intellectually and emotionally. My heart was definitely activated and wisdom poured into me to allow me to understand more of why I was put on this earth. It helped me clear away my own fears and emotional baggage in the way of my own knowing. So on the last day, I shared my dream with the whole class and asked for their support to help me turn this dream into reality, and 6 hands went up! Two people actually stood up and quite a few enthusiastically asked me if they could join. One man approached me afterwards and we have since been talking details of gathering a core team to make it happen.
I felt so grateful to have listened to my intuition, followed my curiosity that opened so many doors through Monique’s Sacred Gifts workshop, to unveiling my destiny to myself, and learning how to operate so that I may stay on purpose. If any of this interests you, and you’re at a cross roads of your life or just want to see how you can take your life to the next level, visit www.yoursacredgifts.com. Monique offers an online course of what we went through so you can do it at your own pace. She is also a talented coach, so you can receive one-on-one coaching to clarify your sacred gifts and apply them. You may also join her 6-month mentoring program to get a more in-depth training. If you’re in a career transition or you’re a coach, you can also receive her certification program.