What You Didn’t Know About Sarah (But Suspected It All Along)

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

There is a little corner of my office where you can learn pretty much all you need to know about how I arrived at the place I’m at today, writing to you, speaking, and writing books about recognition of self and others.

Do you know that it all clocks back to one magical decision? What uni I chose.

image of the Brock University logoI did my undergrad in psych at Brock University, a fantastic school near my home in Niagara wine country in Ontario, Canada (and where I grew up down the street in Niagara-On-The-Lake). Brock gave me so much more than an Honours BA.

They gave me opportunities that I could never have dreamt of, and I had no idea how much I needed them.

  • They introduced me to the magic of adult education; I was a Teacher Assistant (I TAed in years 3 and 4), and loved it so much, I took adult education certifications
  • They supported my foray into authorship; I wrote the first TA Guide to Brock University
  • They let me launch my career as a speaker (on awareness about date assault)
  • And the list of lifelong gifts (like dear friends for life) and doors they opened up goes on…

So when my daughter decided she also wanted to pursue psychology, I was more than a little biased. Although it was her choice, I do admit to some strategic coaxing (offers to make her home-cooked meals, no rent, a car, and use of my hair straightener any time she wants). You can probably see where this story is going. She launched her psych journey at Brock in September.

And no surprise, she is LOVING it! That said, her journey is already a little different than mine:

  •  image of Sarah and Simonne McVanelShe truly believes she has the world’s best first-year psych prof ever (I had good ones too, don’t get me wrong!)
  • She will do her third year on an exchange, studying in the Netherlands at one of the world’s renowned psychology schools
  • She has fewer multiple choice exams in her first year than I did (okay, that one I added in…not that I’m bitter or anything!)

In all seriousness, her delight about psychology and mine couldn’t help but boil over. And you do you know what form that is taking?

A podcast!

You might have caught some of our “coming soon” updates on social. In case you haven’t, I wanted to officially introduce you to our bi-weekly adventure and welcome you to subscribe wherever you enjoy your podcasts!

Welcome to The Greatness Together Podcast…

image of the greatness together podcast logo with Sarah McVanel and Simonne McVanel
Here’s the scoop:

Greatness Together is our intergenerational podcast where we – a dynamic mother-daughter duo – unpack a different psychology concept every episode. Join us as we weave personal stories, research, and expert insights to make psychology not just understandable but also relevant to today. It’s our delightful journey through the wonders of the human mind that we’re thrilled to share with you. Some things are truly great when shared together!

Do you know someone you would like to enjoy this podcast with?

  • Your mom and grandma
  • Your daughter, step-daughter or daughter-in-law
  • Your colleagues
  • Your therapist (kidding, not kidding!)

Why not send them the link to subscribe or forward this article?

Don’t worry; you won’t miss a thing by subscribing here to Greatness Together, as we will release it every other Thursday (bonus mail!). You can opt out of receiving the podcast updates if it’s just not your jam.

Do you have any requests for topics? Comment below!

Greatness Together Podcast: Curious Minds Unite – Mother-Daughter Conversations that Delve into the Heart of Psychology!

We can’t wait to get started!

Want more recognition ideas for the New Year? Check out these previous posts for some yummy ideas to get your recognition program on track:

Disclaimer/Humble Brag Moment: 100% of this content was human-generated (by us folks here at Greatness Magnified). We are committed to authorship integrity and will inform you what percent, if any, is AI generated.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

Some of the Great Organizations We Serve