In my job at Summit Team Building, facilitating team building and leadership programs, I am on the road a lot!
And I often find myself delivering Team Development and Team Building programs to clients along that stretch of road between the GTA and Ottawa area. It’s a long drive and not always as “efficient” as I’d like it to be. Be it weather, traffic or construction, I find it always takes longer than Google Maps tells me, and this is all very discouraging!
Something that has kept me motivated lately is setting my sights on fun places to pit stop on my way to or from my programs when travelling along this stretch of highway. I love my burgers and I am a huge fan of the Food Network – one of my favourite shows is, “You Gotta Eat Here!”
So, I thought I would put together a little “trail” of spots along the 401 that would be worth stopping into if you’re looking for a memorable burger (and trust me, there are other delectable dishes at each of these locations)- and they just all happened to be featured on the show!
First stop, without having to travel outside of Toronto too far, is Pig Out BBQ in Pickering, ON. I would suggest the signature “Pig Out Burger” if you’re looking for a little extra something…like a juicy slice of beef brisket atop your amazing burger patty! And there is certainly nothing wrong with having an extra surprise inside your burger as well. So, if that is what you’re looking for, try the “Gourmet Cheese Stuffed Burger.”
Next stop along the 401 is Olympus Burger in Port Hope, ON. All their burgers are named after the gods of Olympus, but you can pretty much choose any one of the delicious options from their menu! For those wanting something extra special, check out their “secret menu” where you’ll find little (well, not so little) gems like the “Titan Burger”— topped with Montreal smoked meat, mustard, caramelized onions and dill pickles!
About the halfway mark when I am making my way to the NAV Centre conference centre is Burger Revolution in Bellville where they claim, “Burger Revolution is a Flavour Revolution!” Voted “Best Burger in Ontario” by Days Out Ontario, so many wonderful choices here. On the top of my list: The Propaganda- homemade BBQ sauce, house-smoked cheese curds topped with deep-fried pickles all on a warm pretzel bun! You can’t go wrong. Check out the Bohemian burger as well with homemade peanut butter, bacon and cheese…trust me, it totally works!!
Kingston is such a great city along the water, and chock-full of amazing restaurants, but if you want a great burger make sure to stop in at Harper’s Burger Bar. One unique offering is their Umami Burger. The tastes of sweet, salty, bitter and sour are familiar, but there is a fifth taste we can perceive with our tongue. Called umami, its taste has been described as rounded, rich and savory. This lamb patty is grilled to perfection then topped with an onion-mushroom mixture done in soy and balsamic. A generous slice of Brie and some white truffle aioli and this burger will become one of your favourites!
Last on our trek is our Nation’s Capital! You’ve finally arrived in Ottawa and you are hungry— burger and fries? Or Mexican? It’s always my biggest dilemma! Why not combine them at Burgers n’ Fries Forever (BFF) and try their Burgeritto. Deliciously tender patty (seasoned with their secret 7-spice mix) topped with all the fixings, including a chipotle adobo mayo, nestled in a soft tortilla to create the perfect burger burrito. You are now fuelled up for all that Ottawa has to offer.
So when the prospect of a 5-hour drive along the 401 Eastbound is getting you down, plan to stop at one of these great establishments and reward yourself with a burger experience you will not soon forget!
I am excited to tell you that earlier this year, I wrote a blog post, where I interviewed my colleague, Dave Gibson. You can read all about it here. I am excited to tell you that throughout 2017, I will be giving you a behind-the-scenes look and interviewing each member of our fantastic team. This month I would like to introduce you my friend, talented colleague and the person at Summit who has been training me over the last seven months, Mary Barry.
Hi Mary. Tell us about your journey. How did you find your way into Team Building and Team Development?
At my previous place of employment, I had a lot of opportunities to try on different “hats” and one of them revolved around Training and Development. It turned out to be a great fit. I loved seeing people reach those “aha” moments and realized it was something I not only loved, but that I was good at. When I left that organization, I stayed home with my very young children for a while but soon discovered Summit Team Building through some friends. I did some contract work for a while but as my kids grew, Summit grew, and it seemed a natural fit that I would join the company on a full-time basis. That was over a decade ago and the experiences I have had since then could fill a book.
In your spare time, what do you like to do for fun?
For the most part I am a home-body. I love to spend time with my now teenage boys and husband. We live on the lake and love to take long walks with our dog every chance we get. I also volunteer with the local rowing club doing anything from timing races, to announcing at major events. Jim and I have both rowed in the rec (wreck) league and both of our kids have rowed competitively for years. It’s a really great community to be involved with. I can’t even begin count the friends we have made through this sport. I also love to get away to a sunny and hot beach for a week during the winter without the likes of those boys and just spend some time relaxing and laughing with some girlfriends.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? How did this person impact your life?
Without a question, that would be my mom. She was a little ahead of her time I think and so was her mom. Professional, funny, hard working, and so much more. She also made time to do volunteer work that I was sometimes involved with and she is pretty much just an all-round awesome woman. They say you turn into your parents some day…I hope so.
How long have your worked for Summit? How did you and Scott Kress first meet?
I first started working here in 2003 with the company’s previous owner. When Scott bought the company, I was part of the deal. I think I met him in the conference room at work and I was not sure if I would like him… it turns out I do. He is a great leader and leads a pretty amazing life. He is very supportive of my decisions around how to manage work, life and, all of the little glitches that come along with both.
Do you have a favourite or memorable experience working with Summit?
Not one, but many. One that stands out is when a participant stood up and told me that this team building event was probably the dumbest thing they could do and that it was going to be a total waste of time. All of this was before I had uttered a word. We were upgraded to “OK ” by the time we were done. I call that a win.
Do you have a funny story from working with Summit?
One of our contract facilitators had a book called “Would You Rather?” It basically gives you two scenarios that are both ridiculous and asks which one you would choose….and you MUST choose. She read this to a van full of people on a long road trip to a program and at one point I had to make her stop reading because I was fearful that my uncontrollable laughter might drive us into a ditch.
What have you most enjoyed and appreciated about working with Summit?
Flexibility, autonomy and team support. Sometimes I like to steer my own ship but I know that I can always count on back up, guidance and other perspectives when I need them. You learn a lot from others’ point of views and in the end, we are all working together to grow as individuals and as a team.
How could you help a new employee (like me) understand the culture of our organization?
We all come from different backgrounds both personally and professionally. It is those experiences that makes our team richer and better able to relate to our clients. We don’t all say things the same way or act the same way. It’s about finding your voice and using it to build relationships. You wouldn’t be here if you had nothing to contribute – do it your way.
Do you have a favourite quote or axiom that you live by?
It’s easier to ask for forgiveness later than permission ahead of time (I’m a bit of a rebel they say).
What are some characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?
Compassion and optimism.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Coaching and supportive.
What are a few resources you could recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
What are the top three books you have read on leadership?
Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Dan Pink – A Whole New Mind.
Patrick Lencioni – Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Diversity in the workforce. People in their 50’s and up have very different expectations than people in their 30’s and down. It is a tricky balancing act to make everyone happy and engaged.
In your opinion, how can leaders build stronger teams?
Spend some time to find out what makes everyone tick. It’s got to be deliberate and approached from a true desire to understand how you can leverage the strengths and desires that lie within your team. Identifying strengths help build better teams. Understanding desires helps a leader know how to motivate.
Thank you so much Mary.
I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. I learned so much from Mary. I value her honesty, humour and inspiration. And don’t you just want to meet her mom now? I know that I do.
Note: I borrowed some of the questions I asked Mary from this blog post
The Best Team Building Activities – The Elusive Formula
If you are looking for Team Building Activities that will result in the development of a high performing team and don’t know where to start what do you do? Well, you might ask Google and like so many of life’s other questions, Google actually has the answer and it surprised even them as explained in a recent HRM Canada article. http://www.hrmonline.ca/hr-news
After two years of research and hundreds of interviews, Google discovered that of the multitude of Team Building Activities out there, no single one provided the magic bullet they were looking for to put together the best team possible. Many HR professionals spend a lot of time and energy developing Team Building Activities that would group individuals with complementary skills together in order to maximise that team’s effectiveness. Finding the right balance of introverts/extroverts, or developing the perfect matrix of academic credentials would seemingly provide the best foundation for building the ultimate dream team in your industry.
It turns out that this kind of thinking is all wrong and many HR professionals and managers are starting to learn that the best kind of Team Building Activities focuses more on the human side of things. Relationship building, fostering trust and collaboration and establishing a culture where people care about each other and the work they do makes for a much better recipe for success than simply looking at the experience and background folks bring to the table.
This revelation was great for us at Summit to hear…our team building activities focus on creating experiences where people can get to know each other better so that relationships can grow, teams can flourish and participants can have some of those “aha” moments that can be catalysts towards high performance.
In fact, this discovery was something that Summit President Scott Kress talks about in his keynote and book, both entitled “Learning in Thin Air.” Scott has climbed mountains all over the world and has been largely successful. There was one expedition however where the team didn’t make it to the Summit despite all of them possessing excellent credentials. The reason? Little collaboration, lack of trust and not sharing a common goal. That experience did provide a great learning experience for him though and as a result, future climbs featured some team building activities with his crew that ultimately laid the foundation that would result in standing atop the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest.
So, if you’re still looking for that perfect team building activity, take Google’s advice and focus on things like how your team interacts, how work is structured and how your people view their contributions to the organisation. Just like Google’s analysts, the results might surprise you!
Trying to find a motivational speaker in Toronto is easy – there are a ton of them. Trying to find a motivational speaker in Toronto that will have a message that resonates with your organization is a little tougher. Remember, you are not only making a financial investment, your team will be taking time away from work to listen to this message so it’s a good idea to think about what they should be walking away with before you start.
Many motivational speakers in Toronto are talented, entertaining and can easily engage groups with stories and anecdotes for an hour or so. People leave feeling energized and have shared some laughs with their colleagues. Then they go back to work and the energy fades, the message doesn’t stick and no return on investment is realized.
Steven Covey wisely said that successful people always start with the end in mind. In keeping with that idea, here are a few questions to ask when hunting for the right motivational speaker in Toronto.
What are the key messages my team will hear? If this is part of a conference or offsite there are usually themes that you will want to focus on. Having a clear vision of this before you start searching for a speaker will save you a lot of time and effort.
Are the messages relevant and applicable to the work we do? Most motivational speakers in Toronto and beyond can tell you about their experiences but often fail when attempting to relate what they learned to the world their audience lives in.
Will the presentation be entertaining and interactive? Sometimes it’s great to just sit back and let someone else to all of the talking – but when participants feel as though they are part of the presentation the message will have far better staying power long after it is delivered.
Is the motivational speaker a subject matter expert? Whether it’s leadership, creating high performing teams, change management or anything else, it is vital to know that the person behind the message can back up his or her story with real life experience and present it in a way that will make it easy for listeners to connect the dots to their own lives.
If you check out the Summit Team Building website at and then go to Programs and Keynote, you can learn a little bit about Scott Kress’ keynote option. Hundreds of organizations have hired Scott to be their motivational speaker in Toronto and around the world. He has demonstrated an incredible ability to relate to audiences from all sectors and cultures. Scott’s passion is mountain climbing but the lessons he has learned in those high altitudes are the same ones that effective leaders and teams must learn on their journey from good to great.
Scott has two main presentations; High Performance in the Death Zone and Achieve the Outrageous.
High Performance in the Death Zone presents Scott’s story of his ascent of Mount Everest. Not only is this an exciting story, but it is a very educational story. Built into this story are various models, tools and strategies that can be easily applied to climbing your mountains. This keynote has a strong team building and leadership focus.
Achieve the Outrageous tells the story of Scott’s recent expedition to the South Pole. Being one of the hardest expeditions on earth provides fertile ground for learning. This exciting story focuses on the setting and achieving of big goals. It is obviously about team, but mores o about the individual within the team and what they need to do to keep on track. Scott will present his 7 key factors for success.
Visit the Summit website to find out why Scott Kress could be the next motivational speaker you engage for your team.