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.


The Frog Factor: The Secret to Attracting and Retaining World-Class Talent

Energize yourself and your workplace through this fun, informative and inspirational session. Get ready to turn your notions about recognition on their head by exploring it through a powerful solution focused lens. A proven process for self, team and organizational recognition is offered, F.R.O.G. Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness™, inviting you to identify key ways you can begin to shift your organizational culture right away. By the end of this session, you will be ready to trial easy, inexpensive and proven techniques for recognizing others in your workplace that support meaningful connection and lasting change. Let’s focus on the strategic language, business case and human case for recognition that will convince, inspire and influence decision makers. Whether you’re burnt out or energized, in a boom or bust economy, you can’t afford NOT to recognize…starting now!

The audience will leave with:

  • An effective “catchy” way to elevate individual, team, and organizational performance
  • The strategic language and business case to position engagement as the key driver of business success
  • Tools to immediately impact healthy culture through leading practice recognition strategies
  • A clear understanding of their role in creating healthy work cultures and strong relationships
  • The next step to resuscitate healthy organizational culture

This program is perfect for:

  • Middle managers and executives
  • Associations serving human resources, organizational development, change, training and essential “back-office” professionals
  • Teams struggling with low engagement
  • Organizations experiencing high turnover & low engagement

Living & Leveraging Your Greatness

Are you able to use your talents, passions and virtues every day? Are they valued? Are you energized? Are you elevating everyday to your potential? Doubt is not an option here; operating from a place of greatness fuels yours and others’ success. Don’t accept the alternative: disbelief, gossip, distraction, discomfort. Get present today to what is possible for you. Through Sarah’s humourous and inspirational stories of people like you and I, who have started doubt in the face and rejected it, you will see how making a choice to stand for greatness enables you to elevate thousands of others, ultimately realizing your goals in life and business. Get ready to step in to your greatness and elevate everyone’s around you!

The audience will leave with:

  • Clarity of the three barriers standing in the way of realizing your greatness goals
  • At least one juicy goal that will accelerate your success in life and business
  • Movement toward continually achieving satisfaction and resiliency
  • Tools and strategies to elevate performance in both professional and personal realms

This program is perfect for:

  • Staff and middle manager groups
  • Conferences focused on advancing women in leadership, caregivers, support professionals, and post-secondary students
  • Associations in the caring profession or those undergoing transformational change
  • Human resources, organizational development, and training professionals
  • Educators, career counsellors and therapists

The Flip Side of Failing

Failure isn’t something we like to talk about, let alone experience. We play it safe. We contain our expectations. We hide it and wonder “what’s wrong with me?” or “what’s wrong with this place?” What if, instead, we could accept failure as an inevitable, undeniable reality, and by doing so, build failure-resiliency in our organizations? Through powerful stories of greatness — from Everest Climbers to 3M Scholars, from award-winning Journalists to Olympians — learn how failure was their gateway to success. And how these transferrable lessons can be for your company culture. In this energizing and entertaining presentation (with a few fun twists), you will awaken possibilities, deepen connections, and improve individual and organizational performance by seeing greatness in a while new light.

The audience will leave with:

  • Renewed energy and compassion to shift from surviving to thriving
  • Healthy perspective on youths’ strengths and challenges
  • Concrete resiliency strategies
  • Clarity about what’s working and one area for improvement
  • The most important questions that accelerate learning from failures
  • A model for resiliency that bolsters wellbeing, performance and connections
  • The framework to share, explore and leverage the inevitable failures that happen every day

This program is perfect for:

  • Middle managers and senior leaders
  • Teams committed to continuous improvement
  • Organizations struggling with employee engagement, job satisfaction and innovation
  • Industries with high error rates (e.g., healthcare, tech) and turnover

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