The Best Of…

A Look Back at two years of Cocktails with KB

When I started this column, I didn’t really think about where it would take me.

24 interviews. 12 men. 12 women. 24 unique personalities. 24 sets of fascinating answers. My goal with this column was always to provide our readership with a sneak peek into the people behind the title. We know what these people do, but who are they? What has shaped them, taught them? What do they get excited about? How do they like their coffee (or tea)?

I felt a great privilege to be able to sit with the most inspiring people I know, learn from them, laugh with them, and become so incredibly inspired. I’m grateful for this opportunity. I would encourage our readership to take some of these questions with you, and learn about other people. Instead of asking, “What do you do?” at the next networking event or party, instead ask, “What inspires you?” You don’t even need a cocktail. I promise you, the answers you get will shape your life. These 25 answers have shaped mine.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing.

If you could wave your magic wand over Hamilton, what three things would you want to accomplish?
I don’t want to speak out of school on this, because I don’t work there every day. So this answer is qualified by that caveat. I think Hamilton has a profound opportunity to urbanize and become an urban place that offers a high quality of life in a sustainable environment that is walkable and transit-oriented. In order to get there, there’s a tension: You need to have the amenities that then draw the investment, and it’s somewhat circular. If you don’t have the amenities, you won’t attract the investment.
The first thing I would do is wave a magic wand over the downtown, and sprinkle re- investment in the public realm, in heritage buildings, and in infrastructure that gives the city a sense of identity.
The second one is to address the challenge of critical mass. I would add population density to the downtown, starting along the corridors and building them out to become urban avenues where you have mid-rise development and a variety of housing types. This would be a great way to add affordable housing for families in walkable communities.
Third, once that density is in place and once re-investment has been kick started, I would give Hamilton the best public transit on earth. That would be an ode to my youth, because I spent so much time on the bus. I spent so much time waiting for the bus in Hamilton, just standing there, praying to the gods of public transit that a bus would actually come, because I was never quite sure that a bus was actually going to come. Cities that don’t get transit right will be left behind.
These three things would create a virtuous cycle. With spectacular public transit would come more reinvestment and more population density that would create a real urban place that would result in a high-quality, sustainable urban life.
JENNIFER KEESMAAT – Chief Planner, City of Toronto – MAY 2016

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Over the years, I have been really fortunate to have lots of really smart people give me lots of good advice. Everything from “read everything you can” — in other words, don’t censor yourself or limit your understanding; make sure that you take in what somebody else is saying — to “listen to your gut,” which I interpret to mean I should have faith in my own decisions, my own opinions. But I’m going to say that the very best advice I’ve received in the last little while is to take time to reflect. I’ve learned that reflection is a really great way for people to get to the right decision, get to the right place. It allows you time to lis- ten to other opinions, stories, taking the time to think about things … It’s a constructive way of being able to do the right thing.
CAROL KEHOE – Executive Director, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra – APRIL 2016

Who is on your guest list for your ideal dinner party?
I would love to meet so many inspiring people but I really would just love the opportunity to meet my Grandpa Roque who I never met. I wonder about the man who immigrated to Canada from a small little town in the Azores. I would ask him to tell me the story of how he came to Hamilton, the fears he felt, and why he took the risk with so many little children. Now that I have my own children, I am so interested in where I came from so I can teach them their roots and traditions.
PATRICIA ROQUE – COO, Roque Land Development Corp. – MARCH 2016

What’s the best thing about what you do?
Being part of the wonderful creative experience of telling and sharing great stories with our audiences without ever having to be on stage and remember lines.
LORNA ZAREMBA – Executive Director, Theatre Aquarius – FEBRUARY 2016

You have two full days off of work and all work obligations, and the sky is the limit. What are you going to do?
Well, I’m going to spend it with my kids. If it’s the winter we’re going to ski, and if it’s the summer we’re going to be riding our bikes in an interesting, historic town, probably some- where in Western New York, with Civil War history and water and a great bike path and an interesting restaurant that we discovered.
TERRY COOKE – President and CEO, Hamilton Community Foundation – JANUARY 2016

What’s your mantra?
I have a couple of mantras. There’s a quote by Steve Prefontaine, a middle-distance runner from the States. His quote was, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” I try to live by that; every day is a gift. What can you do with that day? What’s the most you can make of it? Another one is simply, “Every day.” Every day is a day to improve yourself, to grow as a person. You need to look for opportunities to grow every day.
CRAIG SPEAR – Owner/Operator, Momentum Fitness – DECEMBER 2015

What is your favourite intersection in Hamilton?
I am going to be super biased, but I’m going to say Wilson and James. It’s changed so much. When we moved into there, the parking lot that is adjacent to us was gravel. James was a roaring four-lane one-way street. I’ve seen everything on that intersection, like major accidents every few minutes because people would race to meet the synchronized lights, squealing tires. It’s such a barometer of the downtown, even more so now. The changes that have happened at that intersection or near that intersection, are a barometer of the health of the downtown. You can look at it as a microcosm.
MARK FURUKAWA – Owner/Operator, Dr. Disc – NOVEMBER 2015

What’s your motto?
“Stand up for what you believe in” is a big one for me. When I first got here, I saw a group with plenty of potential, but not inspired. And my management style is put them in the position to succeed and watch them go. I don’t micromanage. I expect them to come up with ideas, and respectfully challenge each other.
For any job, you’re representing the company you work for. For us, it’s fun because it’s sports. You can feel the energy, so I want our team to get the feel of it. Each person needs to know that they are as important as anyone else in the organization. When we win, there’s as much of it as anyone, and when we lose, they’re going to feel it as well. Everybody’s important, and here for a reason.
You have to lead by example – professionalism, friendships, camaraderie. That’s the team spirit that I felt in hockey, and know can work in the office. Once you have that sense of pride, you can’t wait to get to work, and can’t wait to represent our team and our vision and we’re just getting started.
STEVE STAIOS – President, Hamilton Bulldogs – OCTOBER 2015

What’s the best thing about what you do?
By far, the best thing about working at St. Joe’s Foundation is being able to witness every day the power of philanthropy and the impact that the contributions from the hospital’s donors make in the community and to our hospital. Whether it’s helping to build the new surgical centre on our Charlton campus or the new Margaret and Charles Juravinski Centre for Integrated Healthcare on our West 5th campus, funding research or a special piece of equipment, philanthropy really has the power to change a patient’s life, and to change healthcare in a significant way. For the foundation to be a part of facilitating that discussion between the hospital and its supporters and grateful patients is really a privilege and to see it come to fruition is very, very rewarding.
SERA FILICE-ARMENIO – President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation – SEPTEMBER 2015

What has been the biggest learning experience of your life?
I have done some remarkable things (in terms of people remarking on them) in the public eye, time and time again, in a big way; some positive, some not. You can pretend to be uncaring, but abuse is abuse. Learning that people who don’t know you or care about you are commenting (both positive or negative), it doesn’t matter. There are things that I do that are very public. The tangible result is for public enjoyment, but that is on the work, not on me. Whether it’s a theatrical presentation where people loved what I did; so what. I’m glad you loved it, but you are only a consumer of the product I make. Or, conversely, when you book a festival line-up that people don’t like. You can’t take either side of it seriously; positive or negative. That being said, I do take pride in my work.
LOREN LIEBERMAN – Director, Festival of Friends – AUGUST 2015

Why Hamilton?
I am from here, born and raised. I went away to school. During my time away, I was constantly defending this place to everybody that I met — people in Montreal when I was at McGill, people in Halifax when I was at Dalhousie. It was evident that this is the only place I’m really passionate about. I had opportunities to work elsewhere but I didn’t pursue them because I wanted to be here. In sum, Hamilton because it’s me, it’s family, and I’m very passionate about the place, about the city. I want to see it succeed and continue to get better, as it is, every single day. It’s probably pretty cliché, but it’s right, it’s me, it’s who I am.
LOUIS GRILLI – Lawyer, Agro Zaffiro – JULY 2015

What has been the biggest learning experience of your life?
I traveled much of Southeast Asia and China for about seven months living on $250 USD per month. I had met Kathy a few months before I left and went gaga over her. After I begged her to come join me for about two months, she finally acquiesced and joined me for the last five months. We were with each other day in and day out. We took only low- budget transportation, slept in very low-budget accommodations (imagine no air conditioning in Calcutta in 45 degree weather at night), and came across extreme circumstances (two criminal take-downs in China, mudslides, a number of narrowly avoided altercations with police, border guards, and anti-American Turks, and streams of humanity rocking our train back and forth on the tracks late at night). We were exhausted, weren’t eating that well, and had some strong illnesses. It was amazing. We were fantastic travel partners and continually learning about ourselves and each others’ tolerances, habits, joys, and hates.
ILYA PINASSI – Vice-President of Operations, Parkway Motors – JUNE 2015

Can you think of someone who, over a short period of time, significantly influenced your life?
My sister, she was in a car accident when she was 12, and since then, she has taught me a lot about motivation, about strength, about being involved in bettering your community.
KRISTEL BULTHUIS – Editor, urbanicity Magazine – MAY 2015

What’s your motto?
I have two. One of them is: “common sense is not common.” The other one is: “tragedy plus time equals humour.” That’s one that we live with at home. There might be something that is absolutely horrible in your life right now. Give it some time, and you’ll be able to see the humour in the situation. Perhaps it’s a death. You’ll go through the stages of grief. But then, enough time goes by and you’ll be able to laugh and remember the fun times.
JOCELYNE MAINVILLE – Leasing Manager, Real Properties – APRIL 2015

What’s the biggest learning experience of your life?
On a daily basis, you can’t take anything for granted. Every day is a new day; every week is a new week. You just have to keep your head down, and keep working. I learned that from my grandparents and from my parents. Everybody in my family worked hard and continues to work hard. Things are not going to be just dropped on your lap; you have to work hard. But work should be fun! That’s how it all ties together!
TIM POTOCIC – Sonic Unyon Records, SuperCrawl – MARCH 2015

Why Hamilton?
I grew up in Winnipeg, in a poor family, and when I moved here with my first husband, Hamilton was so accepting, and I sincerely believed that Hamilton gave me a life. Respecting that, I wanted to embrace the city … although when I first arrived in the ’70s, I thought that Hamilton was a little bit behind the times, relative to what I was used to Winnipeg. For example, we lived in West Hamilton and Paddy Green’s was the pub everyone went to but they had a “women’s only entrance” which I thought was so bizarre. But that was a reflection on old world Hamilton. One never knows about how life is going to unfold. You work hard, you move forward, and I loved everything about the energy of Hamilton and the music. I wanted to be a part of influencing positive change for a newer Hamilton.
JUDY MARSALES – Broker, Judy Marsales Real Estate – FEBRUARY 2015

Choose three words to describe Hamilton.
Hamilton is a proud city. I have met so many people here that are really behind the resurrection of the city and they are fiercely proud to call it home. I am one of those people. I would like to see more people appreciate the small wins that are evident every day in the downtown core.
It’s gritty. This is a tough city. It’s taken its punches, and it’s had industries that have taken punches over the years. That said, I have seen measurable improvements almost weekly in the core that inspire confidence.
Evolving. I see the city through relatively new eyes, having only been here since 2011. That said, I have already witnessed an evolution of improvement in the downtown area. It is pretty inspirational when you are looking at the new industries that are emerging, and the impressive new pool of talented people that are moving to town every month.
JAMES LEFEBVRE – Associate Vice-President, FirstOntario Credit Union – JANUARY 2015

What are the criteria that will allow you to say, four years from now, your mayor-alty was a success?
Have we moved the yardsticks? Everyone wants our city to progress and there’s opportunity for that to happen. We don’t need to turn the world upside down. I think what we need to do is keep Hamilton moving toward a progressive, innovative, creative society that people can be proud to call home. If we can get to that place —I think many people are there — if we can get the rest of the community there to say, “I love my Hamilton, I love my city,” I think that’s the measure of success I’m looking for. The moment that happens, much more good, positive things will happen in our city.
FRED EISENBERGER – Mayor, City of Hamilton – DECEMBER 2014

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.
SHENDAL YALCHIN – General Manager, The Hamilton Club – NOVEMBER 2014

What’s your motto?
“High risks, high rewards.” However, as I’m getting a little older and have more responsibilities (ie: a kid), it’s getting a little harder to make those big leaps. I’m happy I started my business so young when I was so naive. It’s not as comfortable now knowing all the risks in taking out another loan of a couple hundred thousand dollars to try out a new location or a new venture, but blessing or curse I don’t have it in me to stop or slow down and I just keep coming back to that motto. I want to grow my business and my ambition is endless, so I’ve got to be bold and just keep pushing forward.

Best thing about 2014?
My wife’s career success. Last year was about moving into our house and me getting this job. This year is really about Trish doing what she’s doing professionally [at Mohawk College]. I am not a 9-5er and I wouldn’t want my wife to be a 9-5er either, but because of that, our domestic affairs have become more complicated. We spend a lot of time coordinating schedules and I have to leave work at 5 o’clock some nights (though my in-laws provide us with a ton of help with the kids), but I love that my wife is moving forward in her career. I’m so proud of what she’s accomplished this year.
KEANIN LOOMIS – President and CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce – SEPTEMBER 2014

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My Uncle John once told me, “Never take a sandwich to a buffet.”
JORDAN MCCARTER – Pearson Dunn Insurance – AUGUST 2014

What do you want your audience to take away from your work?
A new perspective of the city. The fact that Hamilton has been known for so many years as a steel city, just being able to have people see a new identity for the city. I want them to walk away with inspiration and a new vision for what’s in the city.
LINDA MICHELLE – Photographer – JULY 2014

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My mentor told me, “If you’re going to be a woman in business, accept that you’re in a world of men and act like a man; never let them see you cry, never moody, always be hyper-rational.”
ERIN DUNHAM – CEO, The Other Bird Restaurant Group – MAY 2014

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