Apr 07

May Speaker Profile: Aaron Smith

Growing up on a fruit farm in Canada’s Niagara Peninsula, Aaron Smith was taught an early appreciation for what it means to work in harmony with the land. Little did he know then that this would plant the seed of inspiration to launch GoVoluntouring many years later.

After finishing three years at George Brown, he and journeyed 4500 kilometres west to the mountains of British Columbia where he spent his first years in a hospitality management capacity, running bars and small restaurants at Silver Star Mountain, a popular ski hill in the Okanagan Valley. Looking to settle down, Smith attended British Columbia’s Institute of Technology’s Marketing Management program in Vancouver, and held down a full-time junior marketing position for a local company. After graduation, he accepted the role of Western Canada Marketing Manager with Flight Centre North America before he was promoted to VP Marketing for Flight Centre North America.

Following his position at Flight Centre, Smith went on to work for a collection of remote resorts in British Columbia as Director of Marketing and Operations. Concurrently, Smith enrolled in and completed the Commerce program at Royal Roads University where he graduated with distinction.

Today, Smith blends twelve years of senior tourism management experience with a passion for community service. He has travelled extensively throughout North and Central America, Europe, Australia and East Africa. He is a multi-award winning marketer who adds a humanistic approach to his work, and a deep network to the experiential travel industry.

A husband, father to two young daughters, and a proud East Vancouverite, Smith is excited by his latest venture that marries his training and education with his principles.

“I have been very fortunate to see many things throughout my travels. There is no denying that the exposure that has been blessed upon me has shaped much of my values,” says Aaron Smith, founder of “At the same time, and as any father would, I want the best possible opportunities for my children. In weaving both of these influences together, I am left believing that if we do not take action in supporting our social and biological environments, that there will not be much of a future, economically or otherwise, for the next generations, with my two daughters included. I built this business, because I know we can enact positive change, perhaps not in every situation, but certainly in a great many.”

Flight Centre acquired GoVoluntouring in February 2012. The collaboration takes advantage of Flight Centre’s bricks and mortar retail selling strength and air expertise combined with GoVoluntouring’s existing platform of world recognized volunteer and humanitarian organizations. For Flight Centre, the investment into GoVoluntouring reinforces the company’s industry leading commitment to social and environmental stewardship, and was a logical next step. Together, the two companies have begun developing an integrated site that will improve the user interface while embedding greater tools of connectivity, as well as steps towards increasing accessibility, and transparency. Smith remains at the helm of GoVoluntouring as it continues to grow and develop.

In 2013 Smith was awarded Business In Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, and was also one of BC Business magazine’s Top Innovators for 2013. Smith is contributor for both the Huffington Post and the Vancouver Sun, as an expert in the purposeful travel space. He has recently launched Holidays for Humanity, an innovative attempt to emulate the organic grocer experience for the tourism community.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
I define creativity as the ability to solve a problem with personal influence. For my career its been used as a tool to frame travel differently, to help transform the sector into one that is personalized, and delivered more as an experience, and less as a commodity. It’s also a tool that has allowed me the opportunity to weave my personal values into core business objectives.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Simple. I find the greatest creative inspiration when I’m around other mentors, or creative super-hero’s that have their own distinct take on life. I don’t find inspiration from a place. It’s inspiration through interaction. It’s from learning.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Think big. Work backwards. The road ahead can be daunting if you look at all the steps ahead, but if you can project yourself to the finish line, then try to visualize the step right before the finish line, and then the step before that, you will find that it’s a far more positive look at things. It’s not what we have been taught. We are taught to build up, not to tear down and take notes.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Tonio Creanza of, Perhaps the most interesting, inspiring, and down to earth person I’ve ever met. He’s the Italian version of the Dos Equis man, and we’re lucky to have his influence in Vancouver, even if it’s just for half the year.

What fact about you would surprise people?
OK, this is on the heavy side, and I don’t talk about it much because I am hyper-aware that it makes most people feel uncomfortable. Regardless, I’m a sexual abuse survivor that has battled depression most of my life. For me, every day starts with an internal pep talk on how I can live in the moment and begrateful for the friends and family around me. Some days are better than others, but every day is a gift and chance to make a small amount of change.

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
That I am constantly making myself, and that I can create a difference in the world, even if it’s just a small one. As cheesy as this sounds, casting one stone really does create countless ripples.

Mar 31


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Mar 11


Mar 07

Lola Frost: Profile + Q&A

As Vancouver’s Rock ’N’ Roll Flapper, Lola Frost is best known for combining her anachronistic styles of vintage and modern — a true 1920s starlet with a kiss of Ramones grit.

A passionate stripteaser since 2006, her pieces are a sensorial experience to behold, an elegant blend of dance, theatre and fervent striptease.

Performer, teacher and mentor, Lola is co-director of the Vancouver Burlesque Centre and integral member of Sweet Soul Burlesque. She has been internationally recognized at festivals such as Teaseo-Ramma, the Colorado Burlesque Festival, the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival and The Burlesque Hall of Fame, where she was awarded second runner up in the Miss Exotic World competition 2013.

A published and noted writer she has been featured in 21st Century Burlesque Magazine and in Berlesker: Handcrafted Literary Journal along with keeping her own blog with a steadily growing following.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is pulse that runs throughout your veins. The essential ingredient to taking thought into acton, the unique way you solve problems or make your projects come to life. In my art form, creativity is applied to expression and presence, to allowing yourself to be seen on all levels in an interesting, artistic, passionate and sexual way.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
In the moment. In nature. In the gritty. In the real. In the beautiful and breathless moments you can’t inhale. In observing your environment for the nuances that whisper to you when you least expect it.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Trust yourself, you already have the answers. You are worthy of showing your creative expression, whatever that might be.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Sandra O’Connell: storyteller, writer, lover, visionary.

What was the best advice you were ever given?
Let them love you. Your audience doesn’t want you to fail; don’t hold back, don’t shy away, be bold, be vulnerable, be generous - let them love you.

What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?
That some ideas and projects, while amazing and meaningful, might be best explored through an alternate medium. I learned you should always try, explore and push, but in the end it might not work. The processes is always valuable despite the outcome.

Photo by David Denofreo.

Feb 26


Feb 07

Wendell Phillips: Profile + Q&A

Vancouver photojournalist Wendell Phillips is the CreativeMornings/Vancouver speaker for the month of March.

Wendell has three decades of experience in editorial and human development photography and is the recipient of 30 Picture-of-the-Year awards from North American news organizations and of two National Magazine Awards for his work on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He was voted Canada’s News Photographer of the Year in 1988 and nominated for Canadian Photojournalist of the Year in 2007 and 2009.

The Photographic Society of America honoured Wendell with the International Understanding through Photography Award recognizing his socially engaged documentaries and public lectures with a humanitarian perspective. Phillips has documented the diversity of the human condition on 5 continents. A few of those stories include include Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan, Haiti, Greenland Narwhal hunters, refugee camps on the Syrian/Iraq border, World Cup Surfing to the Olympic Games.

His work has been exhibited at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California and the United Nations in New York City. His images have been featured with the New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC World News, South China Morning Post, and The Atlantic.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Photographing humanitarian narratives requires creativity but aestheticizing tragedy has raised questions of intention, subject’s dignity and the public value of social documentaries. As a self-described “conscientious” photojournalist, it’s my objective to make authentic images in ethical ways while paying close attention to visualization of space and articulation of light.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Studying genres of art that express social narratives and influences

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Don’t surrender individuality by imitating.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Wade Davis: anthropologist, ethnobotanist , writer.
Rumana Monzur: former assistant professor of Dhaka University, Fulbright scholar now pursing Law degree at University of British Columbia

What are you reading these days?
The Race for What’s Left: The global scramble for the world’s last resources by Michael T. Klare
Half the Sky: Turing oppression into opportunity for women worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
Not sure this qualifies but facing the question of obligation and responsibility to vulnerable and marginalized people in the world while working my first overseas assignment in Peru (1982)

Feb 03


Jan 23


Jan 15

The photos from last week’s event with Elaine Carol are now up on Flickr!

The photos from last week’s event with Elaine Carol are now up on Flickr!