This week someone asked Ellen, “do you have a favourite Episode?” It made her think of ‘Winnie the Pooh’. When Winnie asks Piglet, “What day is it? Piglet answers, “It’s today.” Pooh responds, “My favourite day!” Every Episode of PGB Connects is Ellen’s favourite because she has the privilege of showcasing the most phenomenal people.
This Episode wraps up our third season. We dedicated this season to community legends; role models we look up to with the upmost respect. This final Episode features esteemed and extremely accomplished leaders. Every step they take makes an impact to all those watching with admiration. The lessons we will learn from them are invaluable and we are so lucky to have these leaders and role models.
Our first guest was Jay Rosenzweig. Jay is a humanitarian, a philanthropist, a trained lawyer, and a leadership strategist. He is the founder of Rosenzweig & Company, and is an expert in designing, building and attracting world class teams.
Jay is passionate about global human rights’ causes and has been internationally recognized for the Annual Rosenzweig Report on equality. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Irwin Cotler’s Raoul Wallenberg Centre For Human Rights. In addition, he sits on a number of other purpose-driven boards supporting causes ranging from healthcare, youth empowerment, refugee protection, and anti-gun violence. Rosenzweig is an outspoken advocate against all forms of hate and discrimination.
Jay’s work has been featured in several publications, including Forbes, The New York Times, BNN and the Globe and Mail, just to name a few. He earned three degrees at McGill University. In addition, he completed the Harvard Law School Negotiation Program. Jay is also an avid songwriter and film producer.
Jay spoke about a few themes, one of them was the law of giving. He said, if you want joy, give joy. If you want love, give love.
Leading by example was another theme. Jay was lucky to have had role models such as his parents and educators. He said to look at the world as half good, half evil. As one good deed can tip the scales and turn the world for good. The Talmud says, that if you save one life, it’s as if you save the universe, just like the acts of Raoul Wallenberg. He transformed our world and proved that every life is valuable and precious.
Jay’s last piece of advice was with regards to success. Success is riding the waves, like with surfing, where waves will go up and down. Enjoy the ride! We are all on our own path, so embrace the beauty of life and live to your own potential. For that is what is true success and leadership.
Michael Kalles is someone Ellen is so proud to know and love. Michael is the President of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage. His vision and leadership are a large part of the continued success of his family company. One of Michael’s core values is giving back to the community. Michael and Harvey Kalles Real Estate support over 250 charitable organizations! Currently, Michael is a founding member with Baycrest @Home. He is the Co-Chair of the Holocaust Survivor’s Fund and, Board Member of AGPI and a Fundraiser with UJA Major Gifts. Michael attends every single Project Give Back Connects taping sessions as well as most of their weekly Jake’s Jam Concerts.
Michael’s advice was to be more like Ellen Schwartz, as she embodies true goodness.
He also spoke about three key themes:
- Take the word ‘just’ out of your vocabulary. The word is limiting, as in, “I’m just a stay-at-home mom”. For everything you do, you can bring meaning to.
- Sometimes we wait to find our passion. Pick something, become good at it, and you will become passionate about it. Work hard and make a greater commitment and you will find your true passion.
- Pay the price, and with that, you have the opportunity for autonomy and independence.
Up next was Lily Librach. Lily is a regular at Sunday Jake’s Jam concerts, a Zoom concert for all ages and abilities. Lily is a massive talent. She is a singer, actor, dancer, creator, and a professor of voice at NYU. She graduated from Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre undergraduate program. Lily was named a top 10 finalist of Mirvish’s worldwide Show Tune Idol Competition. She has also sung the national anthem for the Toronto Blue Jays three times!
When it comes to leaders, Lily thinks of Ellen, Jacob and Marylou, a former teacher, who sadly passed away. Marylou loved the Beatles, so in her honour, Lily performed the song, ‘Come Together’.
This next guest, Dr. Jeremy Friedman, was one of the doctors who attended to Jacob, when he was just a year old and fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit at Sick Kids Hospital. After building a friendship with Jacob’s family, he then sat on the Board of Directors for Jacob’s Ladder for years and served as medical advisor to their family.
Dr. Friedman has worked at SickKids Hospital since his training and is currently Associate Paediatrician-in-Chief and a Professor at the University of Toronto. His passions include looking after sick children and their families in hospital, teaching medical students and residents, and his volunteer work, as the medical advisor for Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Dr. Friedman spoke about his early life in South Africa, calling Nelson Mandela his hero and from whom he has learned many life lessons. After 30 years in jail, Mandela persevered and became one of South Africa’s most esteemed presidents. Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.
For Friedman, his parents told him, if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life, for it won’t seem like work at all. So pick what you like to do.
Dr. Freidman also said that being able to help is a privilege. If you have the opportunity to help, do so. His own volunteer work as a medical advisor for Make-A-Wish Foundation has been rewarding. As a doctor, the best prescription he could ever write, is the granting of a wish.
The final lesson he shared is, to treat everyone with kindness and respect. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Don’t judge people by their appearance or status, for ultimately, people are often judged by the way they treat the most vulnerable.
A final word came from Kindness Corner and Lindsay @One2GiveTo. With summer approaching, there is always some learning loss, so the simplest way to continue education is to expose kids to books. Free libraries are all around the city. Try to place some extra books, for all ages, inside them. You can even request to have one placed on your own lawn!
Thank you to all these incredible leaders for sharing their sage wisdom, passion and advice.