Marnie McBean

Marnie McBean, O.C.

Canada’s Chef de Mission, 2020 Tokyo Olympics | Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist

Marnie McBean is one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians, and an expert in turning potential into performance. As Canada’s chef de mission at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a former Specialist in Olympic Athlete Preparation and Mentoring for the Canadian Olympic Committee, McBean prepared athletes emotionally and psychologically to ensure that they performed at their highest level. Drawing on her years of experience as a performance coach and a top competitor herself, she leaves audiences with a recipe for success that can be applied to all endeavours.

McBean has attended 10 Olympics games as an athlete, member of the media, mentor, and chef de mission. She is one of only two Canadians to have ever won three gold medals in the Summer Olympics, and one of only two women globally to have won a medal in all the Open Women boat classes. In total, McBean has won 12 World and Olympic medals.

During the 2020 Olympics, McBean made headlines as the chef de mission for Team Canada as she led them through the incredible disruption of the one-year delay caused by the global pandemic and the multitude of restrictions, cancellations, and adaptations that followed. As a head of delegation and spokesperson for the team, and a mentor for the athletes, coaches, and staff, her aim was to create an inclusive environment conducive to optimal performance despite the extraordinary challenges.

In recognition of her record-breaking rowing career, McBean is a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. She is also actively involved in helping to promote the safety, health, and activity of Canada’s youth. She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been awarded with both the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

McBean holds a degree in kinesiology from the Western University, as well as four honourary doctorates. She is also the author of The Power of More: How Small Steps Help Us Achieve Big Goals.

The Recalculated Road to Tokyo

Marnie McBean, O.C., Canada’s chef de mission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and long time mentor to Team Canada shares her insights and stories of the leadership and resilience that contributed to Team Canada having its best Summer Games despite globally challenging times.

The Power of More: How Small Steps Help Us Achieve Big Goals

Marnie McBean’s ideas regarding performance — rigorously tested and proven — pave a path for the preparation, communication, and teamwork that are essential to winning in any competitive environment. With anecdotes and hard-earned wisdom, she connects with audiences as a real person and leaves them with a framework for success that transcends sports and can be applied to any competitive endeavour. McBean helps your team do what she has done time and time again: turn potential into outstanding performance.

Be a Career Champion: Training to Win on the Bad Days Too

In sport and life, flukes count but relying on them is an anxious bet. “Career Champions” are those who manage to succeed in any condition; almost despite the system or environment. Marnie McBean has coached countless champions and shares some of the secrets to their success.

Start Happy, Finish Happy

How do you keep the “fun” in a long career? As we progress through a career, the joy of achievement, learning, and “winning” starts to get nudged out by expectations.

Marnie McBean looks back at the nine Olympic Games she’s been involved in, and the lessons and impact they left her with, perhaps one of the most important being, “you can’t finish happy if you don’t try to start happy.”

In this keynote, McBean describes the four key elements to “starting happy”, using relevant and interesting examples to illustrate her points and leaves audiences with immediately implementable takeaways to start on the path to personal success:

  • Be aware of your “done” list.
  • Don’t wait to start hard conversations.
  • Use the expectation of change and challenge as a weapon.
  • Know that you are the somebody that you’ve been waiting for.

Our Hidden Impact: The Impact of Effective Mentoring, Teaching, and Leadership isn’t Always Obvious

There are some lessons that require objective measurement, such as improving test scores and performance, but there are many areas where leaders, teachers, and mentors have an impact that is not quantifiable. We can’t measure growth in confidence, focus, values, or commitment, and yet improvement in these areas tend to give us the greatest satisfaction. As a mentor to Olympians, Marnie McBean takes no credit for the performance of the athletes but knows the importance of being part of their preparation.

Host / Emcee

Start Happy! Finish Happy!

Workshop Goal

To take team building to a higher level, further instilling confidence and courage into staff so that they are exactly the kind of people who can achieve huge goals. Quick group exercises will give attendees the tools to reinforce their commitment and dedication to challenging tasks as demands increase.

Workshop Content

This workshop focuses on the 1st and 4th pillars of Starting Happy: [i]

1) Be aware of your Done-List

2) Start Hard Conversations

3) Use Expectation (of change and challenge) as a weapon

4) Know that you are the Somebody that you have been waiting for

Team Behaviour – More starts with you

Using a set of questions, your group will discuss amongst themselves and ultimately decide how to answer the statement “My Team Is…”

~Who do you want to be?

~What kind of co-worker/colleague do you want to be seen as?

~What kind of work environment do you want to work in?

~How do you want your competitors to see you?


Communication – Starting Conversations

Whether in sport or in business, communication always lays the foundation for effective team collaboration and goal achieving. This exercise goes beyond simply asking what your team members need from each other to be successful – it directs them towards how they can get it. They will discover that more often than not this is achieved simply by starting a conversation. This is how the best teams work, grow and win together.

Confidence – Know what’s on your DONE list

The nature of ambition requires that we focus on our To-Do list, but confidence and swagger come from a proud awareness of our Done List. In small groups, your team will be asked to recall, list and discuss some items on their Done list – personal & corporate – that make them who they are. It’s pretty impressive and motivating when the whole group puts there Done items into a pile.

Going Forward – Getting to Finishing Happy

At the conclusion of the workshop your group will have answered the question “My Team is…” and, having been freshly reminded of what they have already accomplished, they will be confident and eager to achieve more! The Done list that they just created as a group is an objective reminder that they are very ready to be, and to achieve everything that they want to.