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  • Writer's picturePeak Benefit Solutions Team

Healthy Capacity: Knowing your limit and staying within it

by CHRIS ZELASKO


Trends and Connections

The best part of taking part in professional conferences is being reminded how important these events are: of course, for face-to-face interactions with out-of-town partners and clients, but also for tangible learning opportunities and practical reminders to shake ourselves of unproductive habits.

In April of 2023, Peak Benefits Solutions hosted our annual conference, Strategies for Success, at Kawartha Downs outside of Peterborough, Ontario, replete with a mocktail bar, fantastic food, a live band and even an entertaining drive-by from a harness-racing sulky.


The venue was given splashes of local colour (literally), thanks to a flower bar by Miss Grove & Co. where guests could make their own bespoke bouquets, while graffiti artist Jason Wilkins worked his magic to the pleasure of onlookers.


But days and weeks since the conference, what stayed with me was the wisdom imparted from guest speakers; even as I write this I’m checking whether I’m practising what they preached.


Matthew Savino, founder of Savino Human Resources Partners (SHRP), kicked off the event with laser-focused insights on the impact of labour shortages on and medium-sized enterprises (SME).


His professional acumen is all the more valuable knowing that SME are responsible for 10 million jobs in Canada producing 50% of the national GDP made.


Speaking directly to these same owners and HR specialists who made up our conference audience, Mathew provided facts and figures that likely surprised no one, but followed with strategies and resources for increasing hiring and retention success rates that will be useful to all.


The next speaker was Julie Brown, registered psychotherapist and noted speaker on wellness. Her talk, “Why we need to Unplug to Recharge”, focussed on controlling the distractions we often simply complain about.


The one question that made many of us pause was this: Are we using smart devices or are they using us?


Brown shared the concept of “deep work”, as coined by author Cal Newport, which means striving for daily 90-minute sessions absolutely uninterrupted productivity.


I have to wonder how many of us can honestly claim this pure focussed time on anything in our daily lives?


With pings and beeps and buzzes, most of us live lives with constant interruptions. Brown quoted studies and specialists who provide results that range from sadly-not-surprising (that it takes us 20 minutes to re-engage concentration after a distraction from work) to the sublimely horrifying (that when we jump out of work mode to check emails and scroll, our IQs actually drop 10 points, double that of the impact of consuming cannabis).


This drove home her point: Are these comforting us or numbing us?


After a fabulous lunch, we were treated to keynote speaker Melanie Sodka, an international thought leader and TEDx speaker who was also featured in Forbes magazine and included in the list of Top 50 Most Influential People of 2019.


Melanie talks a lot about ‘capacity’ and made some thoughtful points about recognizing the difference between a healthy hustle and an unhealthy grind that often leads to burnout.


She suggested we ask ourselves three questions for assessing our ability and need say yes to anything: whether taking on an extra task, joining another committee or accepting a shorter deadline:


1. Energy check: If we say yes, is the pace sustainable?

2. Purpose: Is the task aligned with our goals?

3. Connection: Will saying yes strengthen an important relationship?


She also suggested we go through a mental checklist of why we are considering taking on something when deep down we simply don’t want to be that busy:


1. Is it about impulsivity? Is there a bit of the thrill felt just before getting on a roller coaster?

2. Does it feel frantic or forced? Is there pressure to not say no?

3. Could it be tied to people-pleasing?

4. Would my mentor think it’s a good idea?

5. Would I withhold some info if I was sharing this idea with a friend or colleague?


As Sodka says: Every time we say yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. Does saying yes mean missing your kids’ sports leagues, weekly visits with elders or that always-energizing walk with a friend?


The final speaker of the day, Mekeli Villamour, talked about how to foster inclusivity before inviting his band, Big City Lights, to join him on stage for an acoustic performance – a fabulous way to wrap the day.


Based on the tremendous turnout we had at this conference, it’s clear that my colleagues, clients and partners have their priorities straight: because missing a day at the office is a healthy price to pay in order to learn, recharge, socialize and yes, have fun. Balancing our personal life within our professional development and goals is essential. And on this particular day, I’d say both were accomplished.


If you want to get a feel for the day, visit our sizzle reel here.


Entire videos of presentations by Mathew Savino, Julie Brown and Melanie Sodka can be found here. https://www.peakbenefitsolutions.com/conference2022



Chris Zelasko
Chris Zelasko
Executive President

Peak Benefit Solutions


Chris Zelasko, CEBS (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist), CHS (Certified Health Specialist) brings close to 20 years experience with him in the benefits and insurance industry to the Peak Benefit team. He provides an individualized focus to each client he meets with and ensures all plans are designed to provide competitive options that achieve the company’s goals. His approach is to ensure his clients develop and understand their benefit plan objectives and provides them with sound advice in determining options that best meet their needs. Chris’s advice is based on thorough knowledge of the insurance and benefits industry where he is a recognized leader for his solid guidance and superior customer service.

Chris lives in the Clarington with his wife and 2 boys. He is a member of the Bowmanville Rotary Club, Clarington Board of Trade, the Durham Chapter of Advocis and the Darlington Soccer Club.




Peak Benefit Solutions Inc. was established in 2008 and have helped more than 400 clients from entrepreneurs, manufacturing, professional services and public organizations with their comprehensive benefits planning. Every step of the way, we are with you.



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