Shendal Yalchin | Cocktails with KB

One of my favourite things to do is have a cocktail with a friend, or someone who will become a friend by the time the glass is empty. Cocktails with KB is a monthly column that allows you to get to know some of Hamilton’s most exciting people! So, pour yourself a cocktail and enjoy!

I have had the privilege of knowing Shendal Yalchin, General Manager of the Hamilton Club for a few years. She is a person I have looked up to, admired and respected since the day I met her. She carries herself with grace, class, elegance and confidence. To have a chance to sit and have cocktails (Chardonnay for Shendal, a cosmopolitan for me) was a major highlight for me. Her advice, the way she leads her team and what she believes is important for our city have stayed with me and have popped into my mind quite frequently since we sat and chatted at the Hamilton Club on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. I am so happy that the cocktails with kb column provides an opportunity to get to know so many exceptional people in our city. So, pour yourself a glass of wine, or a cocktail and be as inspired by this fabulous Hamiltonian as I have been.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received and advice I give to others: “Never burn bridges.” Hamilton really is a small town in a big city. You never know where fate will lead you. Sometimes it’s right back to where you began. It doesn’t matter what situation you’re in, you leave on good terms, or you try to mend and resolve whatever situation you had and then you move on. People can grow and change, so always give someone another chance.

Why Hamilton?
Hamilton is my home. I’ve been here since I was 2. I was brought up in Stoney Creek, now I live in Dundas. I have always worked in Hamilton. I’ve been involved with my community in terms of fundraising and sitting on boards for probably almost three decades. I feel so connected to our City. Hamiltonians really do support each other. When we fall we help each other, and we are the first to celebrate our successes – together. I don’t know if I would ever feel as connected to anywhere else. I really don’t think if it is like this everywhere. I like to think that Hamilton is special in that way.

Three words to describe Hamilton.
Can I change that to one word? Quilt. I know, it sounds cheesy but it’s how I picture our City. Hamilton is made up of a patchwork of communities that when apart are unique in detail on their own, but together we make something spectacular.

What does Hamilton need?
Strong leaders with vision. We are a community of hard workers that’s for sure; we just need strength and leadership. Show us the way and we will come together and get it done. I find there can be too many personal agendas. We need to come together as one big ego. It’s not about you making the difference; it’s about US making a difference.

What’s the best thing about what you do?
I work with a great team here – our staff and our members. They make me happy to come to work every day – I actually look forward to coming to work! I’m also very lucky to be in a position where I can make a difference. We’ve [The Club] been here for 141 years, but we can still be ahead of the trend in our industry. We have to stay relevant but remain connected to our heritage, it really is a fun challenge and I love the fact that we are accomplishing that.

What’s the worst thing about what you do?
Dealing with the repair and maintenance of a building that’s almost 200 years old! There can be a lot of surprises; one small repair can lead to a big job. We always knock wood before we start any new project. I’d rather spend a little and make a big difference, sometimes it doesn’t take much to make an impact. Spending money where members can see it is always more exciting than behind the scenes.

What’s your motto?
Whatever you do in life, be the best at it. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, be proud of what you’re doing and be the best. Do the best possible job, regardless of what everyone else is doing, because at the end of the day, it’s you that’s going to get ahead.

What’s the best thing about 2014?
Ask me when the year is over – we still have time! But, for me; I’m not a football person, but the best thing I did this year was purchase my Ti-Cats season tickets. My thought process was; this is my community, we have a CFL team in our hometown, and a brand new stadium let’s support that. It’s exciting to go to the games and see your friends, feel the electricity in the air; you’re proud to be a Hamiltonian, you’re proud to be a part of the game.

What has been the biggest learning experience of your life?
Always be yourself. Trust your instinct, don’t ever lose your identity, and don’t lower your standards for anyone. Always surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.

How can the Hamilton Club continue to be a strong presence in the community with this new generation of leaders?
The younger generation is eager to connect with our community leaders and we like to help make that happen. It’s very rewarding when you can connect people. I see the younger members meet and mingle with our older members and then see big things come out of those connections. It’s great to know we have played a small but important role.

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