World Values Day 2019

At Thinking Partners we talk a lot about values and strive to live them vibrantly. Working with our clients, we help them identify and connect with their core values, to bring them more to life for greater fulfillment and impact.

World Values Day 2019
A walk in the forest (pics from last weekend in Stanley Park) always feeds my wellbeing.

This year’s World Values Day theme on October 17th is “Values and Wellbeing.”

“When we are not aligned with our values, our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others will suffer.” A first step to increasing your own wellbeing is to identify your core values, and this handy “Take a Values Break Guide,” prepared by the organizers of World Values Day, can help you identify those values that are important to you while you drink your morning coffee.

Coach Danae Johnson celebrating World Values Day 2019

Once you’ve identified your values, it’s important to act on them. That could mean going for a walk in nature, turning your cellphone off for an entire weekend, learning a new language (might take more than a weekend!) volunteering with a local organization, calling a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. It’s the action that propels you towards a feeling of increased wellbeing and happiness. The more often you take actions that help you to live your values, the greater the sense of wellbeing!

Here are some ways to get involved:

 Happy World Values day!

How Does Coaching Actually Help Leaders?

Have you ever wondered how exactly coaching helps leaders? Or maybe you’re curious about the leadership coaching process itself. In a detailed and informative article in Forbes, writer and coach Carley Sime walks the reader through the top benefits coaching clients cite when asked about their coaching experiences. From increased self-awareness and confidence to an improved family life, recent research suggests that coaching has significant positive impacts, especially for female leaders.

benefits of coaching for leaders
Coaching benefits leaders in measurable ways.

Read the full article in Forbes

What is your experience of the benefits of coaching? Are there others you would add to Sime’s list?

Report on Canadian Values Conversations

On May 1st 2018 we co-hosted the very first Canadian Values Conversations – Vancouver, part of a national initiative to understand more about the values Canadians want to see more fully lived in their families, communities and across the country. Our colleagues, and national organizers, David Jamieson, Sharon McIntyre and Marilyn Taylor, created a report explaining the results of the Values Conversations and how they connect to the overall goal of “to make talking about our values a habit”.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the Vancouver conversations, and we hope you find the report enlightening and informative. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the results and/or ways in which you’re talking about or living your values – please share in the comments section below.

Danae & Charles, Canadian Values Conversations – Vancouver co-hosts

5 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Community

In May, with our colleagues at CE Holmes Consulting Inc., we co-hosted the Vancouver edition of the Canadian Values Conversations, and had the privilege of hearing from some Vancouver BC residents about what matters most to them.

One of the key questions we all walked away with was, “How can we bring our values more to life in our communities?” In this blog we’re exploring 5 simple ways you can use your own values to make a real difference in your community – whether that’s your family, group of friends, team at work, associations you’re part of or more broadly.

1. Identify what matters most to you

leadership coaching

It’s easier to take action when you are clear about your passions. What do you value most? As values can change, it’s a good idea to do a check-in with yourself every few years to discover – or re-affirm – what matters most to you. You can do this in a few different ways.

  • The DIY route – reflect and note down 3 times over the past year that you’ve felt most happy or fulfilled. Think about: what you were doing, who you were with, what did you feel connected to? Draw your values out from these experiences.
  • The assessment route – the Barrett Values Centre offers a free, online values assessment that will help you to identify your core values:
  • The coaching route – partnering with a coach is an effective way to uncover the values that are most important to you, especially if you are looking to bring those values more to life personally and professionally.

2. Connect with others

monarch butterfly

Now you know what your values are, a next step can be to connect, either with those who share similar values or by exploring values that are different to yours. If you are looking to connect with people who share some of the same values and find your community or “tribe”, check out your local newspaper, Facebook groups or ask friends and colleagues. If a group or organization does not yet exist in your passion or interest area, consider starting one by reaching out to people you feel might share similar values.

3. Listen


You know what matters to you, and perhaps you’ve found others who share these values, so what next? Listening is a powerful tool when you want to make a difference. Listen to understand others’ needs and dreams; don’t offer solutions or even ideas for now, just really listen to what they’re saying. Once you feel you have understood what those around you need, you can move on to taking action.

4. Take Action

take action

Whether you’ve gone through steps 1 to 3 or found another route that works well for you, taking action will likely be your next move. What “action” looks like will depend on many factors. For some, it could be updating language used on a website or newsletter so it better reflects an organization’s core purpose; for others, it could be sending off funding applications, starting a coffee morning for new Canadians, reflecting on 3 things you are grateful for every day, or making a new habit to connect with people you don’t know well – actions can be small or big. What matters most is to do something that you feel brings your values more to life…

5. Inspire others

danae johnson thinking partners

Positivity is contagious! Celebrate and share what you, others and/or your community are doing to inspire others either to join you or take action in a way that fits their values. Use social media, email signatures, word of mouth, letters or articles in local papers, community centre notice boards, and so on. Use the hashtag #WorldValuesDay to share your efforts and be inspired by others who are taking values-based action to make positive changes around the globe. World Values Day happens once a year, but the positive impacts it inspires happen every day!!

community involvement

Co-Creating a Canada by Design – Canadian Values Conversations, Vancouver

On May 1st, 2018, 50 people gathered at Christ Church Cathedral in the heart of Vancouver, BC, to be part of a conversation about what matters most to them.

The Vancouver event was part of a national initiative: the Canadian Values Conversations, which aims to “create a national awareness and an understanding about values to foster a sense of shared purpose that spur change in neighbourhoods, communities, cities and regions across Canada toward a future that we want for us and for our children and grandchildren.”

canadian values conversations

CVC-Vancouver facilitators prepare for a dynamic evening of conversation and dialogue on what matters most to Canadians

Beneath the beautiful cedar beams of one of Vancouver’s oldest surviving buildings, participants were invited to take their place in a large circle for a few moments of silent reflection. After introductions from the core organizing team, including an introduction to the space and overview of intention and process, the larger group dispersed to the 10 values stations that had been set up around the cathedral.

Each value station corresponded to one of the 10 Future Values as chosen by Canadians in the national survey. At each station an experienced facilitator guided lively and interesting conversations about values ranging from affordable housing to future generations.

The breadth and depth of input from participants was astounding, and the feedback received at the end of the evening suggested these types of discussion are much needed in today’s Canada.


“I was moved as we talked about what our personal values mean to us, especially as we don’t do it very often. To this day I still believe it’s one of the fastest ways to connect with another person. The evening was a powerful and intriguing mix of Canadians’ unique perspectives and also what we have in common.” ~ Danae Johnson, Co-Host of the CVC, Vancouver event

“This evening felt like the beginning of a conversation that would ripple out from this incredible space. As we sat in a closing circle people suggested that the evening provided an opening for conversations that would continue in dining rooms, restaurants and coffee shops. We hope the insights, care and compassion continue to ripple!” ~ Charles Holmes, Co-Host of the CVC, Vancouver event

Feedback from participants after the event:

“It highlighted for me the importance of such dialogue in the various circles we each move in. When done in a safe space, like that one was, it can really help us understand other people’s perspectives and how much they care about the same things even if they show it differently.”

“Congratulations on a most excellent event! I think we need to do more of this. Our democracy could use this kind of medicine.”

“I want to acknowledge the work you put into this and the passion you demonstrated. It was wonderful being a part of the conversation and meeting some great people.”

Stay tuned for more updates on the National Values Survey and outcomes! This conversation is just starting to blossom!

What Do You Value Most? The Vancouver Values Café & the Canadian Values Conversations Initiative

As Canadians, we pride ourselves on being “unique.” But what does that really mean?

In a rapidly shifting global context what values do we want to be reflected in the future of Canada? How much do we differ or align in what we want for Canada across gender, generations, regions, ethnicities?

vancouver values café

These are the kinds of questions currently being asked by the Canadian Values Conversations initiative.

The initiative hopes to create a national awareness and an understanding about values to foster a sense of shared purpose that will spur change in neighbourhoods, communities, cities and regions across Canada toward a future that we want for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren. This year is the first of what we hope will be a national Canadian habit every couple of years to revisit our hopes and to track our progress! We want to foster citizen engagement toward a future by design!

2 key ways for citizens to be involved:

Do both or do one – either way, get involved! At the end of the online survey you’ll be able to see how your values compare to those of your fellow Canadian citizens.

Vancouver Values Café: An Opportunity for You to Shape Canada’s Future!

This will be an interactive space for you to share thoughts about your values and the values you would like to see shaping the future of your community and country. Values will be chosen based on responses from the Canadian Values Conversations survey.

As a member of the Canadian Values Alliance I’m excited to be co-organizing this event with my colleague Charles Holmes.

canadian values conversations

Everyone is welcome to attend this evening of sharing, learning and great conversation – we hope to engage a diverse group of participants in these conversations. The event is free.

Sign up now to participate and ensure your voice is heard!

We look forward to seeing you on May 1st!

World Values Day

Today is World Values Day and all of us at Thinking Partners are taking the Values Challenge! Join us in choosing a value, acting on it and sharing it…

Read more at World Values Day


Value: Wellbeing
Action: When busyness builds up, I’m reminded that health can’t be taken for granted. Rather than just keep ploughing through, I’m remembering to step back and listen to what my body needs. A walk in the trees, eat my veggies, dinner and laughing with my friends… when the going gets tough, I need to take care of myself first.



Value: Health
Action: Aware of our mortality, I’m being mindful of life routines and eating habits to maintain good health, while supporting loved ones who are dealing with illness.



Value: Family
Action: Keeping my work schedule flexible so my children can have lunch at home twice a week this year + taking 1 full day each weekend as a fun family day (no emails, work calls, appointments).


What means the most to you today?



Celebrating our Thinking Partners: A Conversation with Shelly Berlin

This is the second installment in our “Celebrating our Thinking Partners” series to mark the 10-year anniversary of Thinking Partners. Following on our interview with Charles Holmes, in this piece, we are delighted to share our conversation with Shelly Berlin, senior management consultant, executive coach and managing partner of Berlineaton.

I met Shelly when I was first started out on my own after leaving my corporate role, feeling very ‘green’ in the big world of consulting and self-employment. Through working with Shelly, and the team at Berlineaton as an associate, I learned a lot about creating a thriving business with both heart and purpose. As someone who is such a successful entrepreneur, savvy business leader and who truly exemplifies integrity, Shelly has made a big impression on me over the years, which has encouraged me to raise my game and be more courageous in my work. I’m honoured to count her as a colleague and friend.

coach Shelly BerlinCan you share with us a little about: how you know Danae, how long you’ve known her, the context of your work together; and a little about yourself and the work you do.

I’ve known Danae for almost 10 years, and met her through another associate who introduced us. We were building our coaching practice at the time and we invited Danae to join us as an associate. She has been an associate of ours since that time, and although we don’t do a huge amount of work together, we very much value her presence on our team.

Our mission: Berlineaton provides management consulting services to visionary leaders in the public and private sectors, helping them build stronger futures for their organizations.

coaching services VancouverDescribe the impact of working with Danae and Thinking Partners?

Increased our depth. Danae is a great coach, and watching her in action has been transformational for me. It has made me appreciate the value of coaching, the unique talents good coaches like Danae possess, and this has helped me become a better coach.

What are you most proud of (in your career)? What gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction? What do you love most about what you do?

Successfully running a business for 20 years. My satisfaction comes from seeing our clients succeed not just at a corporate level, but more than that – at an individual level. Seeing our clients have breakthroughs because of our work, coaching and influence.

organizational development Vancouver

What is the most significant change or shift that’s happened to you over the past 10 years?

Figuring out how to raise a family and build a business.

10 years from now, what do you think will be the change/shift?

Doing less, influencing more.

Who’s inspired you the most?

My mom and dad. They had very clear goals for our family. They were both from small communities and large families and they knew that educating their kids was a way to providing us with more opportunities than they had. They were unwavering in their commitment to this and made lots of sacrifices on our behalf.

What 3 leadership characteristics do you most admire?

  • Focus,
  • Judgement and Balance – in all aspects – for example, being goal oriented and people focused; being assertive and reflective; knowing when to act and when to pause; knowing when to lead and when to follow; knowing when to be decisive and when to collaborate.

What 3 values are most important to you and why?

  • Integrity – to me this helps everyone – it helps all of us do better and expect more of ourselves.
  • Gratitude – there is so much to be grateful for, and this is something I try to remember and express every day.
  • Abundance – I grew up with a sense of scarcity, and I’ve learned that when I come from a place of abundance this opens doors and builds relationships.

leadership development workshops Vancouver

What is the gift you still hold in exile?

Knowing I am a better person in all ways when I have less to do.

What gratitude do you hold that’s gone unexpressed?

A big thank you to my parents for the lessons they taught me and the sacrifices they’ve made. I’ve expressed it to them, but I don’t think they can ever fully comprehend how much of a difference it made in my life.

coaching questions

Pick one: rock, water or wood? And why?

Water – movement, creates energy, it has the ability to change direction and change things around it, it is necessary for life.


Danae Johnson & Thinking Partners

To read more about Shelly Berlin and the work she does, you can visit

We are continuing to celebrate our thinking partners in 2017. Stay tuned for our next inspiring conversation!

Celebrating Our Thinking Partners: A Conversation with Charles Holmes

Thinking Partners, a consulting company committed to improving business results and leadership capacity through coaching, strategic people practices and values-based cultural transformation, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. To honour this important milestone we are launching a series of conversations with some of our own thinking partners – people we have been lucky enough to partner or collaborate with over the past 10 years. These people – and many more besides – have positively impacted the work we do and who we have become; we are thankful for the unique gifts they bring to the world and delighted to share part of their story with you.

Our first conversation is with Charles Holmes, a master convener, gifted facilitator, skilled educator and empathetic coach. Charles has been an extremely influential colleague and has become a dear friend over the past 10 years. We have partnered on a number of impactful projects, including a dynamic culture transformation project with Blueshore Financial and many others.

coach Charles Holmes

Who’s inspired you the most?

One of my greatest inspirations is Milton Wong who passed away 5 years ago [Dec 31 2011]. He was an incredible mentor. I remember the first time I met him – he saw me, it was at a conference, but it became more important for him to engage with me than to go back to the conference that he was even presenting at, I think. He was really masterful at listening deeply to discover and understand others. He was a consummate connector, and he knew so many people and was so committed to projects and causes that made a difference to the community, the environment.

Another person, Peter Block, who has been a teacher. Just his body of works, his books, have always been very influential and inspiring to me. Having the chance to work directly with Peter and see how he connects with people and helps connect people, in a room, is a learning experience.

[For both Milton and Peter] it’s about care and curiosity. They don’t come from a place of agenda and a plan or a need or anything other than to learn about you – what’s important to you and how they can help you.

Thinking Partners coaching

Is there any work in particular that has felt impactful, enjoyable to you, that has helped you grow in some way?

All of it – all of my work with Danae, and it’s about how we work together that has challenged me to be aware of how I show up and what I’m in service of when I’m with her. A more specific response would be the work we did with BlueShore Financial – we not only helped the client immensely we also co-created and learned how to use a body of work and set of tools in ways we hadn’t before.

Danae and I gave a keynote presentation [at the 2016 CTT International Conference] back in the fall with Marni from Blueshore [Marni Johnson, Senior Vice President, HR and Communications, BlueShore Financial]. Their head office is a few blocks from my house, so I see the impact inside the organization and the impact the organization is having on the community; I see how it is positively impacting the people within the organization.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Franck Cordier

What is the most significant change or shift that’s happened to you over the past 10 years?

I’m playing around with 4 seeds… the first one is that I’ve become much more centred which connects to the second seed, which is a greater capacity for patience and understanding, and the 3rd seed is connected to my capabilities and practices, which have given me a greater sense of competence and confidence in my ability to help people and organizations in their individual and collective change journeys [4th seed].

Do you feel that this has this been a gradual process or have there been any moments that have stood out for you in terms of change or moving towards a new level of understanding?

There have been some key or crystal moments but most of them have come through working closely with people that I care about that provide the opportunity for focused reflection and learning. And certainly in some ways my experience of working directly with the Dalai Lama 10 years ago started a trajectory that has been an evolution of deepening my own capacity for reflection. It’s interesting, I think I’m only realizing much later how profound and powerful [this meeting] was and is because it continues to have impacts and ripple effects years beyond.

lake view

And is it easy to take that quite personal work into your professional dealings or is that something you’re always working on?

I fundamentally believe that the work we need to do in the world, and working with organizations, is deeply personal. It goes back to the journey of the self in the context of the work in the world, and the more grounded, centred, developed, evolved, whatever language you use, you are, the more capable of being impactful in your work in the world you are. So there may not appear to be a direct connection – here are the teachings of the Dalai Lama so therefore let’s follow these teachings – it’s bigger teachings: here are the learnings, I apply them in practice and then I show up differently – in the way I engage with everyone, family, friends, clients.

10 years from now, what do you think will be the change/shift?

Connecting people will continue – connecting people both with themselves and with others. The last 10 years has probably been more about connecting people with others, I think the next 10 years will be more about connecting people to themselves, helping them discover and realize the potential and possibilities that live within each of us, and that we may not realize.

I believe firmly in the power of setting an intention versus creating a plan. Don’t get me wrong, plans are important when they’re very specific to the task, but in the context of my own personal growth and the growth of what I do, I have an intention, and that intention is to be in service of others in ways that help them realize and discover and share their unique gifts. And by holding that intention I’m often curious to discover and help others to discover what their unique gifts are, and then to link people who have gifts who can benefit others which ends up benefiting them and those that they’re connected with.

tree stumps

What are you most proud of (in your career), especially over the past 10 years?

The first thing that I’m most proud of is the development of my now late adolescent/adult children. My kids challenge me and ask me the tough questions about my own behaviours that others might not. They are my teachers through the questions they ask and the ways they will challenge me…

In the context of my work – I think I’m most proud of the hundreds if not thousands of connections between people who would quite likely have never otherwise met if I hadn’t connected them or created opportunities for people to connect across differences and boundaries.

coaching questionsPick one: rock, water or wood? And why?

Wood because it represents so many things, it represents growth, resiliency, beauty.

A grain of wood represents opportunity, you can make things, create things, shelter things, it represents home, tree, animals, insects.

And you do work with wood, you’re a woodworker, is that right?

Yes, I’m working on a carving project right now. I’m carving and shaping a very big slab of redwood that has more character in the form of different grains, embedded pieces of rock. I’m not sure what it will transform into yet, could be a table, a window sill or a sculpture, I don’t know yet…

Danae Johnson & Thinking Partners

To read more about Charles Holmes and the transformative work he does, you can visit his website.

 We will continue celebrating our thinking partners in 2017. Stay tuned for our next inspiring conversation!