Sarah McVanel

Recognition Expert

Sarah McVanel is passionate about guiding people to discover their own greatness, and recognize the greatness in others. In her curated, customized talks, she offers the evidence that backs up how recognizing greatness is a fundamental key to improving morale, increasing top talent retention, and generating a positive corporate culture – all of which lead to sustained business success and a stronger bottom line.

The author of Forever Recognize Others Greatness: Solution Focused Strategies to Satisfied Staff, High Performing Teams and Healthy Bottom Lines, Sarah has excelled in the field of organizational development, training, and communications for over 15 years. Additionally, she holds a Master’s Degree in family therapy and research, as well as an Honours BA in Psychology.

Sarah has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector, including healthcare at a senior leadership level. She has overseen functions including training & development, organizational development, library series, public relations, change leadership, government relations, integration and community partnerships.

With clients including Resorts of Ontario, Horizon Utilities, Compass Group, and the Spark Women’s Leadership Conference, Sarah’s talks are perfect for everyone from teams struggling with low engagement to organizations experiencing high turnover.

Whatever the challenges we face, Sarah shows audiences that when we discover our true potential and ignite enthusiasm for what we do, we will bring growth not only to ourselves, but to our workplaces as well.


Recognition in a Virtual World

Rebuild connection and deepen engagement across the digital divide

Contrary to popular belief, remote workplaces are NOT disconnecting your people.

The problem is not slow Wi-Fi, or videos turned off, or people in sweatpants. The problem is that before the rise of remote workplaces, we did not have authentic recognition practices hardwired into the cultural fabric. What we know today is the need for clarity and conviction to make recognition practices strong, authentic, sustainable, and owned by all.

The good news is that recognition is one of the most practical, accessible, and cost-effective ways to fuel healthy working relationships, trust, and retention. It allows your people to connect across the digital divide to participate, voice their opinions, brainstorm, and collaborate.

And guess what? You can do it from anywhere!

Consider recognition to be your cultural glue – whether you’re in-person or online. Let Canada’s Recognition Expert, Sarah McVanel, walk you through her three key remote recognition ingredients: nutritious, delicious and luscious. Never has recognition been more important and as digestible.

Learning outcomes:

  • Learn the most practical, virtual-friendly ways to appreciate at an individual, team, and organizational level
  • Hear what the most recognition-rich remote workplaces are doing that boost collaboration and deepen connection
  • Develop greater confidence in giving and receiving authentic virtual compliments
  • Transform your face-to-face rituals that worked and amplify them into virtual practices that are sustainable and infectious

The F.R.O.G. Effect

Superglue your culture through meaningful connection and abundant appreciation

If you had the easiest, fastest, simplest and no-cost strategy to engage, unite, and retain everyone in your organization, would you want to know about it?

There are so many passionate, brilliant, hard working people wanting to do their best yet feeling unappreciated and overworked. Similarly, there are well-intentioned leaders who want to show appreciation to their people, but they’re busy and unsure if their efforts will make a difference.

Add to that, a stale and misaligned corporate recognition program, and what you have is the perfect recipe for disengagement and turnover!

How do we bridge the gap between what employees need and what organizations are prepared to do?

Recognition is the answer. And it’s easy! All you need to know are the 3 universal strategies that work instantaneously. As a result you’re going to raise trust, boost satisfaction, deepen a sense of belonging, and you will go down in history as the best boss and colleague – ever!

This work is magical. And it creates a ripple effect. It gets leaders, employees, and everyone in between excited again. It gives people hope that they could actually LOVE work again.

In this session, we will introduce you to a proven process for self, team and organizational recognition called F.R.O.G. Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness™. You will walk away ready to take action to shift your culture right away.

Tap into this universal need that everyone has and isn’t getting enough of. Join Canada’s Recognition Expert, Sarah McVanel, in creating a recognition movement that will be so contagious it will cascade through your event and beyond.

Learning outcomes:

  • Develop greater confidence in giving and receiving sincere and authentic acknowledgements
  • Understand where your organization is wasting time and money on recognition programs that do not work (and what to do about it)
  • Be inspired to apply simple recognition habits at home and at work
  • Understand the data and evidence substantiating the exponential power of recognition from a neuroscience, behavioural economics, and work psychology lens
  • Explore what retention-rich organizations do differently that transforms their employees into an army of recruiters

The Flip Side of Failing

How unconditional recognition ignites resilience, relationships and retention 

Failure is a tough nut. Either we treat it like the other ‘f-word’ or we’re espousing the virtues of it for learning. Let’s face it. We don’t have much resilience when failure comes crashing into our lives and careers.

Most often, we play it safe. We avoid it or feel shame or blame when failure inevitably happens. We’ve had plenty of experiences that tell us failure should be avoided at all costs.

Before you think this is your “unmotivational” speech, trust me when I say that this is empowerment personified. We will be challenging the very definitions of success and failure that we’ve blindly accepted and it’s sabotaging our well-being, performance, and satisfaction.

What does failure mean to you? Does it define you? Can you give yourself the permission to fail?

In this session, you will truly experience and absorb the F.L.I.P. framework: Fail, Learn, Ignite, Praise. Each dimension of FLIP allows you to harness the power that comes from failure and let go of ego or judgement.

Learning from your failures creates your path to greatness. These lessons will forever change you and help you become more decisive, confident, and action-oriented.

The question is… where’s your FLIP? How can you become more failure resilient?

If you’re ready to explore how unconditional recognition of yourself and others can ignite passion and performance, this session is for you.

In this energizing and entertaining session (with a few fun twists), you will awaken possibilities, deepen connections, source solutions, and improve individual and organizational performance by recognizing greatness in a whole new light. Rather than kryptonite, let failure be your superpower.

Learning outcomes:

  • Develop greater failure resiliency by deconstructing unhealthy failure resistance
  • Identify how to best share, explore and leverage the inevitable failures to fuel performance and innovation
  • Experience the flip side of failing firsthand and reflect on its relevant personally and professionally
  • Create a failure resiliency intention at a self, team and organizational level

Recognition: Your Customer Retention Superpower

How to fuel customer retention with a forever philosophy

How do you retain, delight, and exceed the expectations of your clients when it seems like the bar is always being raised? How do you bring your whole team along with you to fuel this exceptional customer experience? How will this enable you to maintain a healthy lifestyle while growing your heart-based business?

It’s actually simpler than it seems. Every person needs to feel heard, valued, and appreciated. There is one overlooked, yet simple and powerful customer-facing strategy that every team member can execute on, regardless of tenure, role, or seniority: recognition.

We give a lot of lip service to “customer satisfaction” and spend money measuring it. However, do we truly seek to form the deepest, most meaningful connection with our customers through micro-moments and long-term rituals? Do we truly value our customers and continually earn their trust and loyalty – even when we don’t have to?

What does it take to cultivate a raving fan base? Customers who are as passionate about you as you are about them. Imagine what it will look like when your customers have an insatiable need to tell everyone how great it is to work with you.

This session is designed for business owners and sales associates who have a deep desire to delight customers for life. But wait – everyone has a customer! This means that this session is also for those who are working inside organizations and are committed to a collaborative, harmonious, and mutually satisfying relationship. In other words, anyone involved in the customer journey (internal or external) who wants to retain, elevate, and enhance the relational customer experience will walk away with boundless ideas and actionable possibilities.

Learning outcomes:

  • Build your customer retention and recognition approach with a forever philosophy
  • Better understand the importance of knowing where you fall on the ‘Relational to Transactional’ Continuum
  • Identify micro customer delight improvements that create a substantial return on investment
  • Discern where appreciation can be hardwired into your customer experience journey
  • Plan your next steps to elevate your customers (internal or external) to create a deeper connection

Unleash Your Inner Superhero

Tap into the 5 secrets that will ignite your greatness

What if you were a superhero and you never knew it? You may think you’re just doing your job and it’s “normal.” Whereas, to others, the work that you’re doing is extraordinary.

Let’s uncover and explore your unique gifts, strengths, and talents. Here’s the opportunity to refill your greatness gas tank, recharge your resiliency batteries, and activate your superpowers.

Now, imagine doing this together! Imagine the influence, shared sense of purpose, and cohesive collaboration that comes from activating your collective superpowers. BOOM!

This session is not a ‘rah rah rah’, Instagram filtered, #MotivationalMonday, artificial platitudes, lollipops, and unicorns type session. This session is designed to reveal the truth, facts, hard evidence, and reality about your undeniable greatness.

You know you want to Unleash Your Inner Superhero if you’re a team that is committed to remaining resilient, you’re a leader who wants your staff to be energized and work to their fullest capabilities everyday, or you’re an organization that knows that happy and engaged staff are those who stay (and at your next appreciation event, you can demonstrate this through a delicious and engaging experience).

Stop minimizing your greatness. Start getting inspired and into action so you can make the biggest impact.

Learning outcomes:

  • Tap into the 5 secrets that will clarify and mobilize your unique strengths
  • Apply the 3-step process to dream bigger and decide your next action steps
  • Determine your most important priorities and decide between a “heck yes” and a “no way”
  • Solidify what brings you joy, resiliency, and energy so you can be productive and satisfied
  • Unleash your inner superhero and flex your greatness muscles (gym membership is optional)

The Exponential Power of Recognition: Love Your Job & Reject Burnout!

Whether you’re 20 or 70, are you living your greatness life? Your highest purpose? With passion every day? Get ready for exploration, intention setting and life energizing focus where you will:

  • Recognize your unique greatness – reflect on how are you already using it and can leverage it further
  • Stop behaviours standing in your way – understand what your ideal day looks like and create that reality
  • Look at your life holistically – consider what’s in balance, what’s not and what needs to shift
  • Set your 5-year roadmap – leverage the trifecta of your strengths, your passions, and your best profitability pat

The audience will leave with:

  • Renewed energy and levity
  • Tools to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue through recognition of self and others
  • A sharpened focus on what’s working to celebrate successes & strengths
  • The next step to resuscitate healthy team culture

This program is perfect for:

  • Individuals considering or making a life or career transition
  • Conferences focused on advancing women in leadership, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and professionals
  • Professionals looking to accelerate business growth and improve quality of work-life
  • Educators, career counsellors, and caregivers

The Greatness Roadmap: How to Set & Reach Goals in Life & Business

Whether you’re 20 or 70, are you living your greatness life? Your highest purpose? With passion every day? Get ready for exploration, intention setting and life energizing focus where you will:

  • Recognize your unique greatness – reflect on how are you already using it and can leverage it further
  • Stop behaviours standing in your way – understand what your ideal day looks like and create that reality
  • Look at your life holistically – consider what’s in balance, what’s not and what needs to shift
  • Set your 5-year roadmap – leverage the trifecta of your strengths, your passions and your best profitability path

The audience will leave with

  • An accelerated path to achieve their unique 5-year plan
  • A clear sense of priorities – what to say “no” to and what to say “yes” to
  • Renewed energy, resiliency, and excitement in personal and professional realms
  • A sharpened focus of their unique talents, passions & virtues they refuse to stifle!

This program is perfect for

  • Individuals considering or making a life or career transition
  • Conferences focused on advancing women in leadership, entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals
  • Professionals looking to accelerate business growth and improve quality of work-life
  • Educators, career counsellors and caregivers

**This program requires the Zentention Booklet, available at a reduced cost when bundled with this keynote.

Collaboration in Action: Solution Focused Leadership

Sick of people talking about dynamic issues as “problems”, pointing fingers, casting blame and fixating on things they can’t control? You can help them shift focus to a solution focused approach, awakening their creativity, adaptability, resourcefulness, commitment and productivity. Get ready to explore how to use a solution focused leadership approach to support highly functioning, healthy and enjoyable working relationships that produce results. You will leave with ideas, practical strategies and a clear intention to put these effective, empowering and accountability-oriented practices immediately into place. Your colleagues and staff will thank you for attending!

The audience will leave with:

  • Shift from fire-fighting to collaborative solution finding with staff
  • A toolkit bursting with strategies to help employees find their own solution versus solve employees’ problems
  • Resiliency and energy to lead through time of change and challenge
  • Heightened self-awareness and a plan for successful implementation of relevant strategies

This program is perfect for:

  • Middle and senior leaders
  • Emerging leaders and top talent
  • Teams and organizations managing significant change and transition
  • Leaders ready to get out of telling/firefighting mode and into empowering/accountability mode
  • Organizations looking to be more solution-focused versus problem-centric