September 2014 STS – Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now? Maggi_Chicoine
by Maggie (Milne) Chicoine, CAPS Atlantic

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it”, said Winston Churchill.  

Charter Members of CAPS were in good company in 1996-97 as we began to debate and write our history.    In the months that followed we mused, cajoled, designed, and revamped multiple versions of CAPS as we know it now.  

Who were these passionate people?  Why were they involved? What is their version of the story?  

In this second column of the series, “Where are they now?”,  each member responded to three pithy questions “in their own words” and in their own way.   Read on!


As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

I am, by nature, not a ‘joiner’ but I also realized that what we do is so unique that we cannot learn the skills, master the platform, understand the marketing and business side of this wacky ‘speaking, coaching, training’ biz anywhere else...except from each other.  So, I wanted to be a part of making that happen.  Did I, for one minute, think that CAPS would become the extraordinary national organization that it has...absolutely not.  And that is all to the credit of those who have given so much of their time and wisdom to make that happen.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic? What is it now?  

I stuttered as a teenager, struggled to memorize anything and grew up pathologically shy.  I’d cross the road so as not to have to say “Hi” to people with whom I had grown up.  The most dreaded part of every school year was the “Public Speaking Contest”.   

I started speaking, accidently, in 1991, at the age of 50.  My ‘almost famous’ ladies fashion store, in Markham, Ontario, had been voted Canada’s Outstanding Retail Business of any kind and a guy called me from Chicago asking if I’d speak at his global Retail Marketing Conference, for free...and I’d have to pay my own expenses.  For some reason, I said “Yes”, went to Chicago, spoke for 40 minutes about vision, integrity, passion and brilliant execution, came back home and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing for 22 years.  

So, I started speaking to retailers about the customer experience, innovative marketing and doing the right thing extraordinarily well.  Over the years, this has mysteriously evolved into speaking to business owners and managers in over 40 industries around the world about my unique, holistic and effective approach to rethinking and reinventing every part of their business to sell more, manage smarter, grow their bottom line...and have a life. Although I started out as a keynote speaker, my work has evolved to include 1 and 2-day Management Boot Camps and 1-on-1 coaching for business owners and family businesses who have ‘difficult stuff’ to sort out.    
What’s happening in your business?

I continue to reinvent myself.  For example, after doing a few projects in the Tourism field 2 years ago, I began to understand that industry in a number of different ways and then created a 197 page ‘Tourism Idea Generator Guide’ and a 1-day Workshop to go with it, that helps Tourism experience providers to partner together to create and market seamless, niche experiences that will be compelling to specific individuals and groups.
I’m now partnering with well-known, respected experts in a number of different fields to co-deliver my 1 and 2-day Management Boot Camps.  They have the industry database, the respect of their industry and the industry-specific knowledge.  I have the proven Boot Camp format and the unique and effective business management and marketing insights.  By co-presenting, they do the marketing, I don’t have to do the intensive industry research and the attendees get a much more relevant and helpful experience.
I have one more major re-invention that I’m working on...but it’s very ‘hush hush’ for now.
What’s happening in life?  

I take more damn pills every morning than I ever thought possible; I’m busier than ever doing the most important work of my life. The same wonderful woman loves me after 25 years; and we have a marvelous 2½ year old grandson ‘Gus’ who has changed our lives in more ways than we can count.   


As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

I learned so much about business building from my early associations with NSA. So when the idea of CAPS was proposed, I was delighted at the prospect of an opportunity to keep learning and building relationships with speaker colleagues right here at home.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic?   What is it now?  

I started my business in January of 1986. My focus then was on organizing skills for home and workplace. My current focus? Growing people in value and worth – energy, enthusiasm and insight.
Tagline:  Press pause…think again!

Where are you now? (What’s happening in your life and business?)

I can see that I'm closer now to the end of my career than the beginning. I still love writing and speaking – mainly about renewal and appreciation. See more at

More recently, my adventures in art have hijacked my attention (happily so). I'm actively engaged in creating, publishing and marketing my watercolor paintings. Many skills from the speaking business are transferable, and in other ways it's a whole new ball game in a whole new arena. You can check it out at


As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

I knew about NSA in 1986 but didn’t join. I was one of the founders of our Calgary Chapter before it was CAPS. When we formed the chapter, I realized that there was a tremendous opportunity to learn about the speaking business. I knew we had something of value when we had 45 people attend one of our first meetings. I became the third President of our chapter and we saw tremendous growth to 150 members.

I believe that the reason for many of the members being successful today is because we have an organization that shares their success openly - helping other speakers to learn and grow.  I also believe that clients are starting to recognize that being a member of CAPS means that you are a professional speaker.

I have been a Chapter President, twice, as well as a National Board Member.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic? What is it now? 

I started speaking professionally in October 1985, don’t remember the date. I first started out delivering training programs on Presentation Skills. A short while after that I was asked to be a business trainer for the FDBD and speak to small business owners on the topics of Marketing, Advertising and Sales. Later I was also asked if I would deliver a program on Time Management. I guess they figured if I could run an advertising agency, and meet deadlines, I could talk about Time Management. Because of my background as an Advertising Creative Director (think Don Draper in the TV show “Madmen”), I was asked to deliver sessions on Creativity.

When I first joined, what was to become CAPS in 1995, I became known as the “PowerPoint Guy”. I had been producing multimedia for corporations and was one of the only speakers in Canada using technology. Really, I was a marketing guy who found a niche – speakers who needed to learn about PowerPoint and multimedia. 

Where are you now? (What’s happening in your life and business?)

Today, I don’t do a lot of Time Management presentations. I speak to businesses and associations on Marketing, Advertising and Sales, as well as Innovation and Creativity. Occasionally I get asked to do a Presentation Skills program.  I have also worked as a Master of Ceremonies. Most of my presentations now are keynote or seminar format - 60-90 minutes. I often get approached to do a consulting project, or customized training, as a result. A large portion of my work is in the Canadian market but I have spoken in a number of countries.

I have 4 companies, 3 of which are a speaking/consulting combination, Spark Communications (speaking, training and marketing consulting), Purple Feet Inc. (a wine import agency–I deliver presentations about wine), and Following the Equator (I deliver presentations about recreation and retirement properties in Central America).

I continue to contribute regularly to our Calgary chapter meetings and I am a program leader in our 6 month “Fast Track” program. I have also spoken to a number of chapters across Canada and speaker conventions in other countries about marketing and sales. I continue to work with speakers to develop their brand, presentation content and their promotion.
I don’t see myself slowing down any time soon.  

We still have a ways to go to build our CAPS professional image to be able to gain significant recognition in the market but we have come a long way since 1995.

As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

The establishment of CAPS was a very exciting time. I had been a member of the Ontario Speakers Association and suddenly there were like-minded professional speakers all over the country. I was involved in all the work for the founding but I certainly benefited from day one. Some of my closest friends and colleagues live across the CAPS territory and I depend on them in so many ways in this lonely business.

I think we need to reach out and engage present and future speakers who are in their teens and 20s to become members; maybe a new category for folks who are students. Most of our members already belong to the Old Farts club and the profession needs lots of new blood.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic? What is it now?  

My hot topic when I began was all over the map, but I did manage to eliminate Time Management fairly quickly as I couldn’t possibly be congruent about it. It took over 12 years of being in the biz to discover that my topic is Influencing and Persuasion. It’s now been 22 years with that topic and it still feels right.

Where are you now? (What’s happening in your life and business?)

Where am I now? I have expanded my speaking businesses (one in Canada and one in the UK) to many international partnerships. Started a software company, where we have worked with AI and Computational Linguistics scientists to create software that can identify what is motivating someone when they write. It gives hints on the words to use to respond, and will even rate your response and give tips. We have two US patents filed.
Right now, I am hibernating my business as I go through chemotherapy etc., until next year. I will be taking time to rest and heal. Early next year, I will rethink my business models for all three companies. My hubby, Micha, who lives in Berlin, is coming to spend much more time with me here in Canada.

And in Oct 2014, I will be a Bubbie (Yiddish for Grandma) for the first time. Yippee – they have invited me to Kamloops to participate in the birth.


As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

I remember coming back from NSA, Dallas in 1993, my first NSA convention, thinking it would be great to start a chapter in Calgary because we often had people calling our office saying “I want to be a speaker”. I’d try and meet with as many as I could and I too was “just learning the ropes” so I called a few people and we met at the Coast Plaza for lunch to discuss the possibility of having a chapter in Calgary. There were a few folks thinking it was time so we launched our first meeting in March 1996 with over 80 in attendance and I believe we had 60+ sign up that day and I believe the Calgary chapter has never looked back.

There were a number of speakers in Canada who would attend NSA. (Our first “official” Canadian Night was in 2001 when Linda Tarrant and I received our CSPs. However, for some reason, poor Linda didn’t have the right address and unfortunately missed the CSP celebration!) I remember the unique Canadian presence and the board decided to adopt this tradition and it has grown over the years to include family, other international folks and a growing number of Canadians at each summer convention. NSA used to say the Canadian attendance was their “profit margin”! Having as many CAPS members attend NSA each year was a great experience not only in learning but in training our leaders to know how to form an association and run a convention.

Also in 2001, as CAPS National President Elect, I attended Camp NSA along with President Jim Beaubien in order to experience NSA’s leadership boot camp for chapter leaders. It was fantastic that all 11 of our chapters sent their President along for the training (yes, CAPS went Chapter 11 when I was President with Winnipeg joining us!). This became a tradition of NSA to extend the olive branch to us, knowing CAPS would one day form its own Leadership Summit and be able to develop the same in Canada. I served on the Camp NSA Leadership Team for 5 years during the transition and it was great to have the support from NSA while still maintaining a unique Canadian presence. They even hung our flag! With great training and support, the knowledge of how to keep people involved, the numerous CAPS members who have served very successfully in leadership roles over the years, CAPS was bound to succeed.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic? What is it now?  

I first began speaking with a “Women in the Workplace” theme in 1994 and had a partner, Candi McLean. I crafted Win-Win Assertiveness and I had my big break at a Teacher’s Convention when I had 800 people in my room because they thought Brenda Finley (TV personality) was the speaker. Oh my!

As far as a “hot topic” I struggled with that for years like many speakers do until 10 years into my career speaking to a hospital in Los Angeles, this nurse came up to me and said, “This is good stuff about how to get along with people, but you don’t work with “Edith” so what do you do when...?” I had no clue so I started to ask, study, read and discovered workplace bullying (which was what she was experiencing). I realized this was not a light topic and therefore developed a blog for four years offering tips and insights and made sure I had the expertise to tackle this topic area. Now I am full time speaking on workplace bullying with a full company not just providing speaking, but many resources as well.

Where are you now? (What’s happening in your life and business?)

I am also completing my graduate studies in Texas in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation. I am enjoying this very much and when I thought in terms of expertise, it was a solid idea to do this. I’ve been asked to teach at a few universities, however, I’m not an academic. I’m a practitioner, so I license my materials now.


As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

Honestly, at the start of my involvement with the Association - both at the Chapter level as founding member and President as well as the National level - I was not concerned at all about the future of the organization. My first convention was in 1998 and I was determined to make this my profession, as I was still a trainer for a large Canadian telecommunications provider. All I had in mind was to be part of this industry as a keynote speaker.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic? What is it now? 

I launched my solo career January 1st, 2000 and spoke mainly on the subject of self-leadership. Although it is still part of me, that subject has evolved and sharing ideas on how to best succeed in a changing world has become a main part of my curriculum.

Where are you now? (What’s happening in your life and business?)

After over 2000 presentations in 15 years, 3 languages, 6 countries, 16 states and hundreds of cities, I am preparing for the next 30 years by renewing myself as a human being first, and making the best of what the new medias and platforms offer.


As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

I love being a member of CAPS. I have been a member since 1992, when then my only option was NSA. I have “been along for the ride” for many years. We have a great group of dedicated leaders and I am happy to be part of an organization that really cares about its members’ growth and development, both personally and professionally.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic? What is it now? 

In 1992, my topic was “Wellness” and it was Wellness because I worked for Participaction and someone saw me speak doing one of my promotional wellness 10 minute presentations and asked if I would come and speak to the staff at BC Hydro. They were having a “ Wellness Day”. My topic eventually turned into Stress Management, and eventually turned into “Work/Life Balance”.   

I believe my business grew because I was funny and entertaining.  The funnier I got, the more bookings I got.  When I started, I had a typewriter, a phone and a fax machine.  Yes, that’s how long ago.

Where are you now? (What’s happening in your life and business?)

Many years later, I still am known as the Work/Life Balance lady, Personal Accountability,  and Get a Life expert. I am currently finishing my latest book (I have written several) and it’s called “Holy Crap I’m Busy - Finding Peace in the Chaos”.  Most of my research has been around this topic in the past few years.  As the poster family of busy… it seemed appropriate. I have been speaking since before my girls were in my tummy, now I just have a tummy.  They are grown and the only thing I don’t like is sitting on planes.


As a Charter Member of CAPS, what were your thoughts about the establishment and future of this organization?

When I first started speaking professionally (1993), prior to helping create CAPS, 4 of us would drive from Vancouver to Seattle each month for our NSA meeting... it was worth the drive but after a year or so we thought, "maybe we can start a chapter in Vancouver". We investigated and discovered CAPS was in its infant stage with Toronto (NSA Chapter and Calgary as a subchapter).  So, we moved ahead and had our first meeting on April 16th, 1997 with Jeff Mowatt as our guest speaker... we launched, and the rest was history. I had seen and experienced the value of working with other professionals in this industry within NSA... and my hope was CAPS would grow to provide that to my fellow speakers. It has been my contention that when you are in an industry and there is a professional association you need to be an active member to learn and to grow...that has certainly proven true here in CAPS... I have marveled at the growth and the amazing people we've attracted and those I've gotten to know and work with... this has become my family and it is a supportive and encouraging one for this sometimes challenging business.

When you first began your speaking career, what was your Hot Topic? What is it now?  

When I first started speaking (spring 1993), I began with what I knew. I had been a very successful kitchen designer and was good at managing multiple activities and people... and was doing 'How to remodel your kitchen and stay married' programs as a way to attract clients (even got to headline the BC Home Show with my own 'Kitchen Idea Center'). So I started with a program called 'I'm Already Running As Fast As I Can! and added a program on customer service shortly thereafter.   I then started doing presentation skills training and coaching on request as I encountered clients who wanted help.

Along the way I discovered an audience with a thirst for enhanced leadership and/or productive business skills and started to develop programs to serve their needs. Note: We re-wrote the productivity book this year with a focus on helping leaders...  it is now called 'Running TOO Fast? Creating time to lead and still have a life!' and continue offering that program to busy business owners, executives and leaders in an effort to help them be more productive and still have some fun. We added training for sales leaders and business owners as well... and I continue to share my 'Speaking for Success' with audiences across Canada and at time around the globe.

I love how my career has evolved to include the writing and other areas that serve my clients and audiences. Who knew!

Where are you now? (What’s happening in your life and business?)

I remarried in 2008 and Irene has stepped in to help with some of the logistics in my business... this has allowed me to accomplish more than I had ever imagined... my writing and publishing has grown exponentially and this provides new connections to prospective speaking clients as well as a nice revenue stream. I am working to edit my life and business activities so Irene and I can take more time to travel when she retires next year. I am also going to start accepting more off shore speaking opportunities where she can come too. For example, I have agreed to speak for the PSASA convention next April (2015) in Cape Town, SA. Irene will come along and we will play tourist following the convention. I continue to speak and love challenging my audiences to act and see their 'Ideas AT Work!' and am enjoying the expansion of our publications and other on-line services to assist our clients and audiences.
I stepped off the CAPS Foundation Board and local chapter boards at the end of 2013 to focus on the publishing side of my 'semi-retirement' plan - we have re-written and re-released 4 books in both print and kindle form since Jan 2014. This is also a strategy to connect with targeted clients we would like the privilege of working with over the next few years.


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