Tea with a Titan: Conversations Steeped in Greatness |Achievement | Olympics | Olympians| Success | Athletes | Entrepreneurs | Actors | Authors | Philanthropy | Business | Artists

Tea with a Titan is a weekly podcast during which seasoned interview-buff Mary-Jo Dionne speaks with those people who have one thing in common. The quest for authentic greatness. Be it entrepreneur, athlete, entertainer, artist, philanthropist, thought-leader, or difference maker, if the target is greatness -- even in the face of hurdles -- Mary-Jo will be having tea with them.
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Tea with a Titan: Conversations Steeped in Greatness |Achievement | Olympics | Olympians| Success | Athletes | Entrepreneurs | Actors | Authors | Philanthropy | Business | Artists



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Now displaying: January, 2017
Jan 31, 2017


What we cover: In the seven months that this series has been my Labour of Love – my Love Child – we’ve been fortunate to chat with a number of those fine human specimens who fall under the “Olympian” banner. What I love about these conversations, is that these people undeniably rank as the best of the best. There is no question; it’s not up for debate. But in sitting down for tea with each of them, they’ve all proven one thing: Beneath the shiny hardware and accolades and the glory, are people. People with struggles, people with sometimes negative self-image issues, people who suffer from the famous “imposter” syndrome. People who are, in fact, just people. For me, someone who is your everyday participant in life – I will never stand on a podium while they play my national anthem – I get more comfort from these connections than I can possibly articulate. And today’s talk takes the proverbial cake. (The proverbial gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, organic free-range-egg cake. Because more and more that’s just what cake today looks like.)

She’s a two-time Olympic rower. She’s a silver medalist. She’s supermodel gorgeous. She’s fit and smart and funny and author of her awesome and inspiring new book “Beyond the Finish Line: What happens when the endorphins fade”. She’s Krista Guloien. But despite her success, what I love best is that she’s a self-professed “functioning hot mess”. And she admits it all: That in her life, she’s occasionally been plagued with self-doubt, times of insecurity and uncertainty, times of not knowing who she is and who she’s meant to be. But she shows up. And she shows up. And she shows up. And when she falls, you know what she does? She gets back up – stronger than before.

This could very well be one of the most relevant conversations I’ve been blessed to be part of.

She reminds us all that how we see ourselves is not how others necessarily do. Krista has a life philosophy and it’s three simple words. “Find a way.” If something matters to her – and this is a beautiful reminder for us all – she will find a way. Because in applying this one simple mandate, she’s been able to identify what is no longer serving her. If she finds herself making excuses, saying she’s too busy, simply put – not finding a way to make it happen, she knows it’s because it’s not really a priority for her. When she shared that with me, I nearly fell off my chair. Find a way. Those words are going to live on my fridge for the next 60 years of my life. (Since I intend to live to 104, that math does work.) As Krista says: “When you really want something, you show up. You find a way.”



Jan 24, 2017

What we cover: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson

Michelle Tremblay is poised and zen and calming and self-assured. But she wasn’t always this way. She was once shy, uncertain, insecure, and scattered – as she puts it. Then, after the tragic suicide of her fiancé, an event that clearly sent her reeling, she sought out the comfort and meaning and the guidance that awaited in martial arts. And she did the work – she peeled back the layers of pain, the layers of hiding, and the layers of limiting beliefs. Today she is a 2nd degree black belt in Karate, and she’s made a life for herself – both professionally and personally – as an empowerment advocate, through her company MPower Lives. That’s a capital “M” and the word power. M for Michelle. M for Martial Arts. M for Mindfulness. M for Meditation.

As principal of MPower Lives, she is a speaker, a workshop facilitator, a coach, a teacher, and she’s a frequent visitor to both schools and the workplace -- places that may be suffering the ill affects of bullying, harassment, and toxicity – she comes in from a place of peace and openness, and she and her clients get to the bottom of the issues of fear and aggression and their opposites, love and inclusivity – together. She’s worked with more than 8,000 people in this capacity.

Today’s chat is lovely and enchanting and warm and – at times – very emotional. It’s a bit of a departure from the past. This is not a conversation strictly about achieving authenticity in the ways that we typically address the topic -- through hard work and tenacity. This is an episode dedicated to forgiveness and love and empowerment and of dusting ourselves off when we fall, in a more caring, mindful, and fully engaged way. It’s about being present-minded. About being grounded. And about embracing the slowness.

More than anything it’s a dialogue about empowerment. Being empowered from a place of compassion and empathy, and not one of belittling others in order to feel bigger. Being empowered from a place of lifting others up, not tearing them down. Being empowered from a place of showing our vulnerabilities – understanding that there is, perhaps, no stronger act than the one of sharing our weak places and asking for help.

After surviving the agonizing loss of Randall, a man who she now is able to recognize wore masks in order to hide his own personal battles with hardship – battles we will all know at one time or another – Michelle became committed to encouraging others who are in pain to reach out. She has a message for us all and that is this: Do not be ashamed. And for those of us who may love someone who is going through a difficult time, she reminds us to be on the lookout for the signs of depression. Not a short-term sadness, but a deep, ongoing one. We may think someone is simply “stressed” or “struggling” and that they’ll “get over it”. But often, we only realize how bad it was when it’s too late. I want to thank Michelle for her incredible openness, the sharing in this episode is deeply admirable. And I am grateful to you for it, Michelle.

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Jan 17, 2017


What we cover: For those of us who watched the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and sat glued to our television sets for the Opening Ceremonies of the 31st Olympiad, there was a feeling -- just like there is at every Games -- that what we are seeing is a collection of the world’s beautiful people. The fittest, shiniest, most glowing versions of human potential anywhere on the planet march through one arena under one roof carrying hundreds of flags – all at one time. There’s an excitement in the air, to be sure. And if I’m being entirely honest, there can almost be a sense of envy. Look at them, having the time of their lives, celebrating the full actualization of their biggest dreams – while I am here on the couch eating rice crackers, only hypothesizing what that might look like for me. That said, make no mistake, on my end, the envy is more than out-balanced by the sense of inspiration. It’s sort of like, 2% envy, 98% inspiration, really.

However, today’s guest met my envy-honesty head on. She swiftly debunked the mythology of the flawless Olympian and pulled the curtain back on what’s really going on behind the scenes. Behind the toothpaste-ad smiles and the sports gear-endorsement television spots, and behind the magazine cover photoshoots. She pulls it all back. And I love her for it.

For as superficial as it may sound, she’s stunningly beautiful and, as an Olympic runner in 10,000 metre, she’s undeniably kooky fit. So, without meaning to emit it, there’s a vibe of: Well some people are just blessed, I guess. However, after the heart to heart, she and I shared, I am truly ashamed of myself for being so shallow. There, I said it.

Not only is she super likeable, turns out, like the rest of us, she’s also very human. And, as we all know, being human comes with its fair share of downward spirals. She talks about the anxiety she has had to contend with, the insecurities, the injuries, the heartache, the frustrations of waiting more than a year to get the email confirming whether or not she even had a spot on the Olympic team… and having to train everyday in spite of this great unknown. All of us non-Olympians are going to go through times of incredible angst and fear of the unknown and even times of deep sadness. Tasha talks candidly about her journey, and how she had to work through the sometimes debilitating downs, then get back up, dust herself off, and then represent her country – Canada – as she performed on the world stage.

This is a woman who can run a 1 hour 11 minute half-marathon. True story. She can run a 2 hour 35 minute full marathon. True story. But for as surreal as those times are on paper, this is also a woman who has overcome a tremendous amount of pain in her personal life and made the decision to run not exactly from it, but through it. Her 2013 divorce sent her reeling, and so she made the conscious choice to use the hurt and the anger and to dig deeper and run faster. The week of her separation, she ran the fastest 8km run by a woman in Canadian history with a time of 25 minutes 28 seconds. She took her hardships and made them work in her favour. And don’t we all have the power within us to do that? No matter what our difficult times look like, and no matter what our goals may be.

The reason I love this chat so much, is I think as an everyday person, which is the camp I fall into (I have said many times I’m a participant not a racer. Nothing ever has come really naturally for me when it comes to those Greek God and Goddess like skillsets and attributes. And hey, I typically have kid barf in my hair or down the back of my shirt at any given time. A;; told, I’m just a normal person.) I think we can feel perhaps discouraged at times. Almost like there’s a “them” and an “us.” A “them” who slips on a pair of short shorts and makes a bee-boppy high ponytail and then has to fight off all the people who want to pay for their proseco on a night out. And an “us” who find ourselves curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth because it can feel so hard just get it right some days. Turns out, we’re wrong. There’s not a “them” and an “us.” There’s an “us” and an “us.” And I love Tasha because she sits down and tells it like it is.

Runner or not, you’ll love her too.




Jan 10, 2017

What we cover: The one thing we all have in common is that no one is immune. We will all go through periods of adversity. That fact is the great equalizer. What sets us apart however, is how we choose to handle the adversity.


Today’s episode might just be one of the most important conversations I’ve had. Not just in terms of this podcast, but in the bigger picture as well. We all have a choice – every day – to be the kind of person who squeezes the juice out of the gift of life that we have all been given. Or we can be a moaner and a groaner and a grumbler and a victim.

Roy McBeth is joyful and happy, and he spreads optimism. He isn’t a complainer. And yet, for many years he was growing increasingly ill on account of kidney disease. He saw members of his family succumb to the same disease, and rather than use the possibility of this eventual fate as a crutch, the reason for him to opt out of life and be miserable, he chose to use it as the opposite. It catapulted him forwarded. He is an elite cyclist and an unbelievable triathlete. He’s also a detective with the Domestic Crimes Unit with a police force in the Vancouver area, about an hour outside this city, in Abbotsford. And he talks to us about he maintains perspective in a job that is obviously heartbreaking at times. And, of course, after being the recipient of a healthy new kidney, a gift that altered the trajectory of his future, today he’s avid organ donor advocate.

This is not the episode for people who may be suffering from kidney disease. Or who may be in need of a donor. Or who may be thinking about becoming a donor. This, quite simply, is the episode for every one. Literally, the demographic of today’s episode is absolutely anyone on the planet. Because, as I said, we are all going to go through hard times. And we would all do well to heed Roy’s life philosophy. To suck the marrow out of each day.

When Roy was so so so sick, he was the living embodiment of what is possible even in our darkest days. He took off to Asia, with only 16% kidney function, and qualified for the XTERRA off-road triathlon World Championships in Maui. Today, on the other side of a successful transplant, he is the living embodiment of living big – of making each day count when you’ve been given another chance. Which is something we’re all given. Each morning when we wake up, we’re given another chance.

Roy’s is a story that exemplifies the best of humanity. It showcases just how important the living donor program is, and what kind of person actually steps up to save someone’s life. We hear all about Kevin, the hero of this story; the colleague who changed Roy’s life when he basically said: “Here, you can take one of mine. I don’t need two of them.”

On January 14th, we say Happy kidney-versary, to Roy and Kevin. And at the same time, I will say a Happy 1-year kidney-versary to my mom, Sheila, and to my mother-in-law, Jane, who share a similar story to Roy and Kevin, when my mom donated a kidney to Jane last November 30th. See? I am surrounded by greatness.

There’s a lot of sniffling in this episode. While I do live with two toddlers who’ve had colds for the better part of the last couple months, the sniffling is because often I just couldn’t hold back the tears.

Despite the beauty and emotion in this episode, the part I just adore above and beyond the obvious, is an added plus. For anyone out there -- we’re at the start of a brand new year -- who might have a goal they want to achieve but who feels it’s bigger than they are, Roy walks us through what it was like to be someone who couldn’t swim one length of a 25-metre pool and then go on to clock a kooky fast 1 hour 6 ironman swim just 11 months later. He walks us through the psychology of that transformation. The net take-away? We are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

Wherever you are listening from -- today we have people joining in from nearly 50 countries – please let your family know your intentions to be an organ donor. Sign the back of your drivers license. Or, take that act of heroism a step further and pop into your local hospital to learn more about how you can become a living donor. Like Kevin. And like my mom, Sheila.

Unrelated, but every bit as important, Roy and I talk about his role in Domestic Crimes. If you are experiencing an unhealthy relationship, and a growing sense of isolation, please reach out to someone as soon as you can. Do not suffer in silence.

Keep in touch with me at And check out the Podcaster tab for all things pertaining to Roy and in particular, how you can learn more about organ donation.


Jan 3, 2017

What we cover: On May 23rd 2016, Liz Rose became the 17th Canadian woman to climb Mount Everest, the 2nd youngest Canadian overall to summit, and she’s on track to becoming the youngest Canadian to climb all Seven Summits – which is to say she’ll aim to tackle the highest peak on each of the seven continents. She’s surprisingly humble, not at all arrogant, and just generally likeable and accessible, and very human. And at just 25 years old, she is already most-assuredly a titan.

This is a conversation steeped entirely in greatness – ripe with metaphor – cause really, what’s more figuratively perfect for the rest of us to glom onto than the idea of finding our own Everest? It doesn’t have to be that each want to climb Everest – all that matters is that we each have our own Everest. Along the way, there will be the proverbial frozen oxygen mask – something Liz actually experienced on her climb -- for us all. But one step at a time, and before we know it, we’re on top of the world. Liz shares epic stories of what it takes to reach the top, and just how harrowing the way down really is. And she also lets us know what's coming up for her in the next six months. To paraphrase what the bear in the childhood song might have experienced: "She saw another mountain, she saw another mountain, she saw another mountain, was all that she could see..."



Liz, I owe you one rescue puppy called Summit.