May is NABS month

May is NABS month, raising awareness of the charity (formerly known as the National Advertising Benevolent Society), which since 1983 has quietly been working behind the scenes as a support system for media, marketing and communications professionals who find themselves in need of counselling, financial assistance or career advice.

With demand for NABS’ services never higher, dozens of fundraisers have been taking place across the country.

I’ll be the moderator at one of those fundraising events on Thursday, May 30 in Vancouver and unlike most business networking opportunities that feature an entrepreneurial success story, this event is focused on resilience and bouncing back from failure.

The fundraiser is the brainchild of Kalina Donald, the co-founder of Vancouver-based consultancy Living Brand Result, which works with businesses and organizations to help create more humanized workplaces and in doing so increase productivity and growth

Donald thinks it’s time to hear more about entrepreneurial failure and shift the conversation on what individual success looks like.

Let’s Be Real: Failing Forward Conversations with Entrepreneurs will feature an honest, roundtable conversation with a group of local entrepreneurs that includes Bernie Pawlik, owner of Pawlik Automotive and host of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast; Olympic Bronze medal-winning swimmer Brent Hayden, who along with partner Nadina Zarifeh, has founded clothing brand Astra Athletica; lawyer and serial entrepreneur Richard Sehmer (Twin Sails Brewing, Factory Brewing, Trim Hair Salon); and tech executive Vivian Chan, COO of Eyexpo Technology; in addition to Donald.

The conversation will touch on the stories behind and before their successes – from Hayden competing unsuccessfully in three Olympic Games before bringing home a medal for Canada, to Chan’s experience with burnout and the realization that she wanted to leave Silicon Valley behind to work for a startup.

“I want to talk about getting up eight times after falling down seven…everyone thinks they need the dream job, but that is not reality,” says Donald. “Success is being exactly who you were meant to be.”

“Everyone sets out to be Richard Branson. Why aren’t we focusing on what’s right for us instead of modelling our lives on what the world says is successful? What success is is actually individual,” says Donald.

Donald, a veteran of the business networking scene, says while big name executives are often featured at similar events, hearing from small and medium-sized businesses is more relevant with 99.8% of Canadian business falling into those two categories.

More info on the May 30 event here.

In addition to raising funds, NABS board of directors hopes #nabsmonth will help promote awareness of the services available, and how they’re unique to the marketing and media industries. NABS understands that as much as people love working in the industry, it can come with a price.

NABS by the numbers

Use of the NABS support line is up 20% over the last three years.

  • Usage was way up in January and February of this year, with 176 cases in just these two months alone (+73%), compared to 102 for the same two months last year
  • Jan. 2019 was NABS second biggest month ever (Sept. 2016 had 97 cases)
  • Clients continue to be very satisfied with the service they receive from the support line, over 92% satisfaction in all major categories

Counselling Categories:

  • Workplace related issues continues to score very high, 30% of all calls
  • Many are worried about career opportunities, or lack thereof (19%), and are dealing with stress from their work situation (12%)
  • Counselling related to depression continues to grow, representing almost 8% of all calls
  • This coupled with anxiety at 11%, almost make up 1/5 of all calls
  • Almost 10% of callers are dealing with financial worries related to debt/credit


  • 30-39 continues to be our largest category for supportline usage (38%)
  • 40-49 now makes up more than a quarter of calls (26%)
  • We are moving closer to the industry average of 60/40 (female/male) usage, at 62/38


  • Usage in Quebec has slightly decreased, to 47% of usage
  • Western Canada has grown to account for 23% of calls
  • Ontario has decreased to less than a 1/3 of calls (28%)


  • Largest growth is in media (agencies) making up almost ¼ calls (22.4%)

For more on NABS Canada, listen to our podcast featuring Bryan Press, director of sales for NABS Media here:


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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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