Straight Talk

Co-host of ET Canada

Q: How do you give back over the holidays?
A: Each year around this time I try and go on a humanitarian trip to an underdeveloped country. I just returned from Cambodia and will be putting together a story for ET Canada about my journey and how others can give back.

Q: Why are child-focused charities so important to you?
A: Children’s charities have struck a chord with me ever since I was young but especially since I had my own child, Noah. My heart goes out to kids in need and I try to do whatever I can to make their lives a bit more enjoyable.

Q: Favourite winter activity?
A: I absolutely love the winter season. As a family we love skating; we spend a lot of the season down by the rink on the waterfront. I also love snowboarding, while my wife, Angie, loves to ski. We love going to Quebec for weekend getaways.

Q: Which Canadian athlete are you keeping your eye on at the 2014 Winter Olympics?
A: Canadian bobsled athlete Jesse Lumsden is most definitely one to watch at Sochi for these Winter Olympic Games. Of course, I’ll be glued to the TV during all the men’s and women’s hockey games. Can’t wait for the games to begin!

Q: What book is currently sitting on your bedside table?
A: I have two: John Meyer’s second travel fiction novel, Bulls, Bands and London, and the biography Nailed!: The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra.

Q: What is your most memorable moment from co-hosting the New Year’s Eve at Niagara Falls event?
A: My most memorable Niagara Falls NYE moment has to be flying over the falls and the city by helicopter. The lights at night and the power of the falls were incredible.

Olympic Mogul Skier &
Plan Canada Ambassador

Q: What is your most treasured holiday memory?
A: We were in Europe on a week-long break between World Cup Freestyle Ski competitions so we flew to Agadir, Morocco, to go surfing. The surf was great but the best part was playing with the roaming camels and eating authentic chicken tagine.

Q: Preferred winter activity?
A: Right now, my favourite winter activity is cross-country skate skiing. Having my heart pounding while being out on the wooded ski trails in the crisp winter air is pure bliss. My favourite trails are in Mont-Sainte-Anne near Quebec City. This winter, I look forward to pulling my six-month-old son behind me in a sled as I ski.

Q: Is there a particular charity that is important to you?
A: B2ten and the Because I am a Girl Initiative by Plan Canada are two organizations that are very important to me. I achieved my goal to stand on an Olympic podium simply because I was afforded tremendous opportunity. I believe that opportunity should be shared.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: A live chicken in Burkina Faso, West Africa! I was there to see the Plan school scholarship program for girls. Despite facing great hardship, this community [of people] was honoured to share their wealth. I was greatly touched by their generosity.

Q: How does supporting Plan Canada benefit those who gain from the efforts of others?
A: Plan Canada is a fantastic child-centred organization that approaches community development at a holistic level. This approach is crucial but it is hard to communicate in a couple of sentences. The focus of my million-dollar fundraising challenge was on girls’ education. When you educate a girl you give her the tools to lift herself and those around her out of poverty.

Q: What are your hopes for Canadian athletes attending the Sochi Games?
A: On an individual level I hope that the athletes can reach the same outcome that I always strived for: to have no regrets. As a team, I hope that we continue to build on our overall medal count from Vancouver. The men’s moguls are going to be particularly exciting as Alexandre Bilodeau seeks to defend his Olympic gold medal against his biggest rival, Canadian Mikael Kingsbury.

Q: What are your goals for 2014?
A: My biggest priority is to slow down and enjoy the opportunity to be home with my son. In February, I will be an Olympic analyst with CBC and I hope to fully share the power of sport with Canadians through telling the stories of our Olympic athletes.

President & CEO,
Women of Influence Inc.

Q: What does Christmas morning look like in your home?
A: Growing up, we spent 90 per cent of our Christmases in Florida and, as an adult, that caught on with me as a good thing to do. Travelling over the Christmas holidays has brought me to some great destinations, including New York City, Kenya, the Caribbean and Cape Town, where we went to the Nelson Mandela hotel for a big holiday dinner. Christmas changes a little in that the traditions we bring with us tend to be pretty simple. A card exchange generally happens, but what makes it special is that Christmas begins with a swim in the ocean. As an entrepreneur, this is really the only time in the year I feel I can truly take a vacation, probably because the business is physically closed and no one is calling me.

Q: What charities do you support, and why?
A: We support the Canadian Women’s Foundation, particularly its Girls’ Fund because, for obvious reasons, I’m a huge supporter and believer that women can be great leaders. The Fund creates programs across Canada for girls to gain access to role models and leaders at a young age, when it’s so critical for them to develop their confidence.

Q: Best gift you’ve given to someone over the holidays?
A: It’s never really been about the gift-giving for me. On the first Christmas that I spent with my current spouse, we fed the homeless at the Good Shepherd Centre on Queen St. E. Feeding Christmas turkey dinners to the homeless was really different and meaningful, and a pretty humbling experience.

Chair, TEDxToronto

Q: Best gift you’ve received?
A: It’s often that my busy schedule doesn’t permit me to spend a lot of time with friends and family. So when the holidays roll around, we really try to take advantage by creating opportunities to hang out. And that’s actually the best gift we all enjoy. Instead of going out and buying a $100 or $200 gift for someone, we actually put that money toward a gathering so everyone can come together, eat and drink and share a great experience. The pictures of that, and the memories created, are more valuable than any gift you can get.

Q: Favourite winter activity?
A: I like to go to a cottage that’s about half an hour south of Parry Sound. It’s so beautiful and quiet. For the first few hours in the morning or late at night, all you hear is branches moving around. This year we’re planning to add sound by bringing up a couple of snowmobiles and riding across the frozen lake nearby.

Q: Canadian athlete you’re keeping your eye on at the Sochi Olympics?
A: Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to keep up with any of that this year. But the thing about the Olympics is that you don’t necessarily have to know anyone’s name, you can sit there and just feel the energy. The ambition and courage that goes into these events is inspirational.

Q: Favourite charity?
A: The SickKids Foundation has always had a special place in my heart. Additionally, I have recently been paying attention to Childhood Cancer Canada.

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