Reflecting back on my time living in the 416

As I sit here on my last Sunday morning as a Toronto resident, I reflect back on the last 5 years.


Five years ago, my wife and moved to Toronto when I had the opportunity to work alongside two amazing people who I have a world of respect for. Working with AW and CP at BlueCat gave me some of the most rewarding personal and professional experiences. There, I met a bunch of people I will consider close friends for life.

We recently met up last Tuesday and rehashed this amazing memory:

A story of Alcohol, Leadership, Agility, Inclusive Team Building, and Love - Leading with Imperfect…
The last few weeks I have been meeting up from friends from a past software company I worked at a few years ago. This…

Living here, I discovered new independence I’d never experienced, being able to use public transit and other rideshare accessibility options that only big cities can support.

Week 1 - Crip in The Big City - Leading with Imperfect Feet
My first week in the city has been an awesome life experience. Monday morning rolled around with Kelly getting me up…

One of my favourite moments was attending the 2015 American League Division Series Game 5 in person with my brother-in-law. We were originally supposed to go to game 2, but our work schedules forced us to sell those tickets and go to game 5 instead. We were supposed to be in the nose bleed 500 seats, but the staff moved us to the 100 level instead. We had a whole area to ourselves.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed after the game:

It also brought extreme struggle that brought growth:

Can't Stand the word "Can't" - Leading with Imperfect Feet
The word "Can't"bothers me. It strikes a nerve with me. When I hear the word "Can't" I interpret that as someone is not…

The years all brought growth and reflection:

2015 was a year of change... - Leading with Imperfect Feet
It's hard to believe that 2015 is already coming to an end. This year has been one of the most challenging years I have…

2016 was a year of choice... - Leading with Imperfect Feet
If 2015 was the year of change, 2016 was the year of choice. I chose who to spend time with. I chose where I wanted to…

A Look Back on 2018 and Thank You! - Leading with Imperfect Feet
The year 2018 was about amplifying . Amplifying my message , thoughts , ideas , inspiration and passion . My energy and…

We met a bunch of new friends, we shared many experiences with our family, and made the most of five years.

I will hold my Toronto experiences as an amazing experience both personally and professionally.

People ask what is so special about Waterloo. Waterloo is the place I first discovered my independence, when I went there for University. Waterloo is the place that my wife and I grew as a couple. Waterloo is the place where we met friends who became our family. Waterloo is our home. As I reflect now and even admit Toronto is better for accessibility reasons, when you are with your loved ones in a place you call home… that creates accessibility that knows no limits.


Dave, Waterloo Resident!

My Summer — Making the most of it!

As humans, we always sit back and ponder the things we wish we did. Take vacations, spend times with loved ones, take up a hobby, write, etc. I coach many professionals that are well accomplished and still miss those things. This summer, I motivated myself to focus on the things that were important to me. Connecting — with family, people that we consider family, and people who are not in my frequent contacts.

Many people reached out to me this summer, asking if everything was ok with my health and wellbeing because I have not been posting often. I am so flattered people care enough to check in. This summer was full of fun, accomplishments, and changes. I took the time to experience moments and create a platform that will provide the opportunity for more enlightenment.

First off — Fun:

Kelly and I traveled to Whitehorse, Yukon for my cousin Kathryne’s wedding. She married an amazing guy. As you get older, the time left to spend with family and loved ones gets shorter. It was so amazing to connect with cousins I have not seen in a long time. It was so special to spend those precious moments with them.

We also went to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a long weekend and spent time with our tribe. It is great to meet people who become your foundation and inspiration. Wine helps too!


I am doing the final round of editing of my book. Writing a book has always been a bucket list item for me. The book is about leadership and how leaders can develop the same skills to deal with their organization’s disability, via the same skills I have used to deal with my disability. It is a deeper dive into the TedTalk I did last year. I am hoping my book will inspire others to push through change and adversity.


Kelly and I are moving back to Waterloo October 1st! I am being transferred to split time between the Waterloo office and Toronto. Waterloo has become Kelly’s and my adopted home. Waterloo is a place that I first discovered my independence, my identity, and who I wanted to be when I went to University. Kelly and I spent our first 10 years as a married couple in KW. It provided the foundation of our continued love for one another. It’s been a place of innovation, independence, and love. It is a place with my tribe that makes me whole. A journey worth continuing. Life is short, spending as much time in your happy place is important.

Our New House:

Click to scroll through pictures

Toronto was a great experience. The independence discovered here will motivate me to find ways of maintaining it and expanding it in Waterloo.

Without the care and support from Aimee, my experiences in Toronto would not have been possible. Aimee, I cannot thank you enough for providing me the care and support to allow me to experience all of the 416. In the darkest times, when my other support would quit without notice, not show up, drop me, or not do what was required, you were the light that kept me inspired to move forward. Thank you.


Life does not promise us eternity, but if you make choices on what you want in life that makes you whole…your life will always be complete. Make your choices — no time to waste.


Until next time…

Why Does it have to be so damn hard?

As many know, I use Personal Support Workers to come in every morning to get me out of bed, shave, shower, and dress me to go to work.

The last few years I have had a lot of trouble securing good ones consistently. I have had one but the other ones required to form a team of part time people to support me has been a nightmare. I have had to recruit, interview, hire, and painfully train over a dozen people on my routine. To articulate why training them is so painful, imagine that every few months you had to explain in great detail how you need to be washed and shower. Think about the detail of use this sponge, use this washcloth, put this amount of soap, wash in this direction, be careful to watch for x and y, remember to rinse everywhere to avoid rashes, stand me this way so you don’t drop me…and the list goes on and on. Did I mention that these people were complete strangers only days before? I am mentally exhausted before I even get into work. My job as a Global Vice President at a major bank is tiring enough.

Why does what should be routine be so damn hard?

Why does what should be routine be so damn hard?

It is so much taxing attention, energy, and anxiety of them not showing up for a shift that gets so damn frustrating. I need to be more patient, but it is mentally trying to have to reteach my routine that should just be automatic. I hear people that dream of climbing big mountains, wanting to achieve some professional level like CxO, cure disease, make a difference, etc. I just want to dream what it would be like to be capable of taking care of myself. To get up, shower, shave, dress etc. completely on my own. I dream of table steaks. I imagine that if I could do my care myself, my 48 years would make this routine automatic requiring minimal mental effort. My only struggle would be figuring out where my wife keeps the new shampoo when the other empties mid-shower. What would that be like? What would it be not to worry if the new personal care worker was going to show up? What would it feel like you are not being a burden to your wife and family members when they do not show up? A man can dream…

This frustration and struggle are likely what made me who I am. I am grateful to everyone that has pitched in to help all these years, allowing me to be me. We all have struggles, these are simply mine. Struggle makes us stronger.

Frustratingly, the journey continues…


Delivering the Least Scope

One common misconception of agile is that it simply allows you to get everything done faster. This is simply not true. Agile allows us to plan a much smaller scope of work, delivering iteratively and incrementally to deliver the least amount scope needed to solve the problem/capture the opportunity. The speed comes from only delivering what the customer needed. This is in contrast to how we used to scope a release when we delivered everything we thought they might want. 

Focus on being skeptical and delivering the minimal instead of trying to deliver everything in the release.

Focus on being skeptical and delivering the minimal instead of trying to deliver everything in the release.

Focus on being skeptical and delivering the minimal instead of trying to deliver everything in the release.

This is stakeholder debt. I define stakeholder debt as the difference between everything they scoped for the release subtract what the customer uses.

The only way we can do this is we relentlessly support the team to get to done in each review. You might not decide to release yet, but you could if you wanted to. Currently, you likely have a lot of overhead in getting a release out which makes it more expensive to release. Hence, you try to put as much in a release to justify the overhead. Invest in reducing this cost.

What can a leader do to support this?

Continuously remove/minimize organizational legacy processes. Chances are they have not been challenged or updated in years.

Invest in dev ops, tooling, and automation.

Ask what you can do to help them make done possibly. As a leader, when was the last time you asked what you could do/invest in doing their job better.

The purpose of modern product delivery is to go from vision, to value, to validation in the shortest time possible. This allows us to sense and respond to our understanding of customer and user behaviours. We need to prioritize metrics for learning. We need to make learning a first-class citizen.

How can you support this as a leader?

Create learning metrics, quantitative and qualitative.

Prioritize these metrics alongside financial.

Invest in innovation and research based on these.

Build enough, not everything. Challenge yourself to build the minimal to either meet the goal or maximize learning.

Every keystroke is precious for a leader with Cerebral Palsy so I will end here. Below is my recent Vlog that touches on some of these.

Lead how you would like to be led!

Learning has to be a first class citizen (1 minute, 50 seconds)

A common misconception about agile is that you get everything done faster. The speed comes from delivering less. By delivering the most important thing early and stop when you met the goal. This allows you to shift from defending the scope to being continuously skeptical if you want to invest more as you already met the goal.

Leadership for the Knowledge Work Era

In working in today’s knowledge work economy, it surprises me that many leaders still use traditional ways of leading their people. Leaders still put most of the focus on the work to be done instead of focusing on the people to create an environment where great work can be done. 

My suspicion it has to do with legacy industries and businesses. They still see work as straightforward and the leader has the most experience to break down and explain the work so many people can execute on it to finish it.


In today's complex, rapidly changing landscape the team you build better be supported to rapidly learn and have an environment that fosters continual validated learning if they have any hope to survive. The team needs to be more knowledgeable than the leader in this new era. This is the complete reverse from the industrial era where managers were the most knowledgable. Furthermore, leaders need to continually foster and grow their people. Customers and technology are changing at an incredible speed. Not only in skill but more challenging opportunities. Don't worry about losing them, as they move on they serve as your ambassador and recruiter for their replacement.

Leaders that create a learning and courageous environment will have people with a variety of domain expertise greater than their own. Their job changes to inspiring people to go beyond their expectations and creating the safety and space for that learning to happen.

Having Cerebral Palsy I had to learn to give up control to move forward. Accepting to not having to know more than your team is giving up control.

In everything complex, it is all about balance. Focus on your people, but keep an eye on the objectives to ensure you are headed in the right direction.

Things you can do as a Leader:

Move from focusing on the work to focusing on growing the people to do great work.

Move from giving the solution to asking open questions to unleash possible solutions.

Move from having to know everything before allowing the team to move forward to setting guardrails to allow teams to innovate ahead of you know all the details to learn.

Lead how you would like to be led!

Typing is very challenging for me. In an attempt to share more I’m starting a Vlog of quick videos on #Leadership — Here is my first one on focusing on #Growth. Hope you enjoy. (2 mins)


A Look Back on 2018 and Thank You!

The year 2018 was about amplifying. Amplifying my message, thoughts, ideas, inspiration and passion. My energy and stamina are not what it once was. The journey ahead of me is smaller than the one behind me. I have been purposeful and deliberate about spending my time on things that would help me have a louder voice, align to a collective voice, for change and leadership. Unleashing the power of diversity and inclusion to deliver global products in a digitally connected world. I believe this has the potential to create a highly engaged workplace that can keep up with the rate of change of our ever growing fickle customer base. Teaching companies the importance of innovation and the courage to disrupt themselves before someone else does.

It starts and ends with people. You do not change an organization, people change the organization. They are the spark, energy, healthy scepticism, creative, forward-thinking drivers of these organizations. I love people — employees — customers — people. I want to talk with all of them, but only have a finite time to do this. I did not waste time in 2018.

This year Scotiabank and have given me a platform for teaching over 500+ people in Product Ownership, Leadership, and Scrum (a catalyst for change). I cherish spending each moment with them. Hearing their struggles, successes, and learnings. Creating agents of change. When they leave the class — the people they will inspire when they return to their job. I have got to see people change career paths as they got a sense of who they wanted to be in that moment. I thank them for inspiring me. I thank my awesome team of Sandra, Matt, and Aaron. 

Scotiabank and enabled me to travel to Boston and work with Joshua Seiden, Erik Weber, and Gary Pedretti to collaborate on a future course designed specifically how to learn customers, opportunities, and validate them in 30 days or less. I thank Scotiabank and

Early this year I was invited to be on the Digital Advisory Panel for Waterfront Toronto to help voice digital usage, governance, and innovative opportunities to better serve people in communities. The panel is comprised of super smart experts, academia, legal, and business. Fortunately for me, I get to be the dumbest person in the room to be able to learn, challenge, and ensure we are serving a greater cause. I could not ask to work with two more amazing people then Kristina Verner and Alaina Aston. These ladies help inspire, motivate me, to do more to better everyone. I am grateful to all of them.

I was able to achieve a major bucket list item in 2018. I was selected to deliver a Ted Talk in May. After the initial selection, I was super excited, followed by the anxiety of now what do I talk about?. 

My parents worked so hard to allow me to have a voice in a world that was not ready to listen. I wanted to talk about agile, leadership, and courage. Courage to be the change. Sep Pashang was a huge champion and supporter of what I had to say. I cannot thank him for his continued campaigning of why I had to be on stage to be he heard. Marisa Tam was an incredible teacher and provided tools for me to be the best speaker I could hope for. Lastly, I cannot thank Aaron Sampson for all of the hours we spent before work, after work, and weekends creating a compelling talk that got an audience of 1700 people to stand from a speaker who struggles to stand himself. Aaron is my true example of how a follower can become a leader. I hired and mentored Aaron for the last four years…he is the Leader that I want to report to. The student became the teacher, friend, and brother. My love for you is undaunting and real. Thank you for continuing to remind me that my view of the world and life need to be heard.

I spoke at numerous conferences on topics on Product Ownership, Agile in Marketing, and Agile and Inclusion (Agile is a Catalyst for change, Inclusion is ensuring we bring everyone along with the change).

In 2018 I Had the most thought-provoking, reflective interview I have ever experienced in my life. It did a great job in helping me articulate me. Gregory Boyd was amazing to allow me to realize that the passion of what I do is a reflection of who I am.

Man on the move | Scotiabank Perspectives
Here are three things you need to know about Dave Dame:He has Cerebral Palsy, so he uses a wheelchair to move…

This year would not have been possible without my never-ending support of my wife, Kelly, my tribe, family, and all my friends past and present, near and far, and the audience that inspires me to do more.

Me and Kelly

Me and Kelly

What do I have planned for 2019? I want to write a book. The book will be everything not included in my Ted Talk and Scotiabank interview. I will also be keynoting the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Townhall, keynoting the Cerebral Palsy Gala in my hometown in Windsor, and hopefully numerous other speaking engagements that allow me to share my passions and experiences. More teaching classes. More social media, not for vanity, but to share…and hopefully inspire.

Looking forward to struggling, growing, experiencing, sharing and living in 2019!

Holidays, Reflection and aging with Cerebral Palsy

This Christmas was the usual good things.  Go home, visit family and friends, reflect and think about the future.

I visited my mom every morning during my short visit.  My mom suffers from dementia.  She has good days and bad days.  Mornings seem better.  Sometimes she remembers everything, sometimes very little.  This breaks my heart. A woman who has accomplished and sacrificed so much for her family cannot truly see how they impacted my world.  My cerebral palsy has taken away some things, but not a true sense of who I am, which dementia has stolen from my mom.

Me and mom

Me and mom

How do you thank someone, who with my father, helped me have all the true great things in life?  Love, friends, and a fulfilling purpose.  How do I thank my mom that someday I would find ones who love me for who I am? That those bullies will become the smaller number of people compared to friends who become family?  How do I explain that your child who struggles to stand enabled 1700 people at TEDxToronto to stand up to applaud a message on change and leadership?  How do I think her for being stubborn, something I am proud to be accused of?  Oh well, I guess I will sit across the room with her and my wife…spending quiet time to allow her to share the moment.

The younger version of myself would visit everyone under the sun in the tight window that I visit home for the holidays.  Rushing from home to home, squeezing one hour here and there.  As I age with Cerebral Palsy, I do not have the strength, nor stamina.  I try my best to see those that I can and am saddened for those I cannot visit. Each visit matters.  Christmas has grown from valuing getting Christmas gifts to spending those moments with friends; remembering those memories that brought you together, and the bond that keeps you struggling to find those rare moments to reconnect.

As you get older you value the impact you can cause for others as the real gift of life.  This year we were able to give a thoughtful gift to cause my in-laws to tear up and cry.  The real meaning of Christmas.  Sadly, because of my Cerebral Palsy, I could not see this reaction.  The TV we all went in to get them was too big to put under the tree so we had it in the basement, where it would be setup.  This was absolutely no ones fault at all.  I married into a very inclusive family that thoughtfully includes me in everything.  However, I cannot help think of the parallel of how my mom’s dementia that steals her of memories that my Cerebral Palsy might be starting to take away sharing new memories.

Although I have to be selective with my finite energy, last night I got to share precious time with people who have become my family.  Participating in conversations and just listening taking in the moments of how their lives were going to change in this new year.  I got to share this with my wife.  Being in the room listening, laughing, and sharing.  I love sharing my life with them. Although I sometimes can’t talk loud enough, taking in the moment is everything. Maybe this is how my mom feels during my visit with her. I look forward to making new memories with them.

Memories are the chapters of the book of our lives.  I am so open on social media to share, influence, and inspire others.  I hope to one day be able to download all of it so I have something to re-experience if my memories are lost.

Merry Christmas - with love,


A story of Alcohol, Leadership, Agility, Inclusive Team Building, and Love

The last few weeks I have been meeting up from friends from a past software company I worked at a few years ago.  This was one of the greatest high performing teams I have ever been a part of.  We worked hard and played hard. We made mistakes, we learned, and we delivered. Meeting up with them and this being St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of one of my favourite times in my life.

A few years ago, our team just hit a major milestone that took a lot of late nights and weekend work to meet…so we were going out to celebrate.  The team arranged a night out and made sure that we were going to a wheelchair accessible venue to make sure I could join.  Being new to Toronto I found this incredibly heartwarming.  I told my wife that I was going out after work for a dinner and a couple drinks and I shouldn’t be too late (so I thought at the time)…especially given this was a Thursday night.

high performing.jpg

We celebrated like the world was ending.  Drink after drink.  We laughed, we bonded, and we drank.  We were discussing future features and functionality…and drank some more.  When I was having trouble holding shot glasses, my team would quickly help.  At 10:35pm I simply texted my wife, “I’m drunk”. 13 shots of Sake will do that.


My team members escorted me home.  They first tried to role in the wrong condo.  I tried to tell them that it wasn’t my condo, but not until they saw the upset resident who was not too happy that they were trying to roll in a drunken disabled stranger into his house at 1:40am on a work night that they finally believed me.  He was not nearly as upset as my wife was when they finally rolled me into my condo.

At 1:45am I rolled into the condo.  My wife met us at the door.  To say she was not too happy would be an understatement.  People she never met was rolling her husband home on a weeknight.

She was not angry at me because I was drinking all night with my colleagues, she was upset because she was scared that her disabled husband was drunk and lost in our new huge city of Toronto.  Her inconsiderate husband neglected to keep her up to date about his whereabouts.  Her husband has learned a lesson and was incredibly apologetic for weeks after.  In a related note, I emailed apple about programming the iPhone Siri to better interpret drunken slur voice commands. 


I said, “ Hey honey, meet my friends…”  I learned that introducing my friends to my wife at 1:45am is not the best time to do this. 

I fell asleep with the look of death starring at me only to wake up with the same look of death.  

Filled with Adrenaline at 6am I had my helper throw me on my exercise bike.  Five minutes in I realized I was still intoxicated.  So I jumped off.  As my helper was doing my morning routine he could not help to laugh.  He has never seen me drunk/hungover before.  There was a coelation between his laughter and how angry my wife was getting.  I said, “Hey Chuckles, keep it down.  I want to feel like George Jettson and go through the production line of shave, shower, and dress as autonomous as possible”. Soon as my wife left for work with only a few hours of sleep, I cancelled my morning meetings and handed my helper the tv remote.  I said I will pay you for a few extra hours if you let me take a nap before heading to work.

I rolled into work about 11:45am. Although I was freshly showered and dressed I could still smell last night’s alcohol.  It turns out that we must have spilled on the armrest of my char when we were doing toasts the night before.  Only me and one other person from the team made it into work that day.  I rolled to him to ask him how much I owed him for the wheelchair cab home.  He said that there were no wheelchair cabs available so the team flagged down a delivery truck and they lifted me and the power-chair into it to be driven home.

I emailed my wife to share this new piece of information and she said, “This is sending like the Hangover movie”

That night we were meeting her family to go out for her birthday dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.  I emailed her to ask her if she could get off work early to help me into bed so we could go for a nap before dinner out.  I will paraphrase her response to keep this blog post PG and say her response was a ‘no’.  It never ceases to surprise me that in my head at the time it sounded like a logical request.

I left work early, bought her birthday gift, and went out for dinner.  However, I was in bed by 8pm.

Important concepts:

  • Leadership - I empowered the teams to make decisions and produce a way home for me.
  • Agility - Transparency - I should have been more transparent with my wife on my whereabouts and well being
  • Agility - Definition of Done for a night out drinking needs to include washing the power-chair of alcohol spills
  • Team Building - Creating an exercise in which you bring home a teammate that has drank too much is effective
  • Equality - A husband with Cerebral Palsy can be just as much of a jerk than a husband without a disability

Our old team met up a couple weeks ago to do dinner as one of them was moving back home to the Philippines.  I told them that my wife had one request, “Please don’t come home drunk at 1:45am again with strangers”.  They replied with, “We have already met her, so we are no longer strangers” 😃  I was home by 9:30pm.

 You will always remember those teams you have been a part of that were incredibly effective.  They share things in common - they do amazing work, they challenge each other, and they have each other’s back.

I’m happy to say my wife and myself will be celebrating 14 years of marriage this September.

A Degree in Independence - Post Secondary Crossroads

This is the time of year where soon to be graduating high school students learn which Universities or Colleges they have been accepted in.  They now have to make the gut wrenching decision of where to go.  They will look at many factors - programs, reputation, scholarships/bursaries, etc.

This made me think back to when I had to make the same difficult decision.  In addition to what other kids had to consider, having Cerebral Palsy, using a power wheelchair, and needing to find personal care to help me shower, dress, etc.  This made the decision even more incredibly difficult.

I was torn between my loves of Computer Science and Business.  Also, what was seeming attractive was to take a year off to discover myself like some of my other friends.  I was really struggling.

My dad was watching me struggling to decide.  He said, “Let’s be real, your not going to be a policeman, fireman, or construction worker.  You know what else your not going to be?  Living under my roof for free the rest of your life!  You better decide.”

My dad had a way to be direct and real…

Only now I can appreciate what anxiety my parents were going through.  Not only were they going to have their youngest leave home to start their life journey, but for the first time they were going to have to trust complete strangers to take care of their disabled child who is dependent to have someone get them ups in the morning, shower, dress, get to class, etc…”.  They fought numerous battles with schools and governments to give me this opportunity…now…we were all vulnerable to what was going to become our new lives.  


I had a huge amount of anxiety just dealing with going away for school like all other kids do.  Away from my family.  Away from all my friends.  Away from the only town I have ever known to move to a new city.  

I went away.  I handled the harder academic workload.  I trusted and managed my personal care.  I learned to figure out how to manage to go shopping to buy shampoo and food.  That magical shampoo bottle I had growing up at home that never ran empty did not come with me.  My magical fridge that miraculously replenished itself with more food was also left behind.  
I learned. I overcame. I was lonely. I made lifelong friends. I have amazing experiences, some of them make me appreciate that I went to university pre-smartphone and social media era.  I made mistakes. I got opportunities. I became me.

I have multiple degrees and a diploma as I’m a lifelong learner.  However, what I learned about myself, resilience, and independence far exceeds my academic achievements.

Thank you mom and dad.  We did it. I love you.  

No Heros Required - A Callout to be better humans

I have been struggling over what I experienced Tuesday morning on the way to work.  

In the morning we are all in a rush to get to work to do all the things we need to do and not enough time to do.  On Tuesday, I was on my way to work to teach the Professional Product Owner Course.  I was running a little late and 3 TTC trains came that was too full for me to board with my power wheelchair.  While waiting a lady came in a walker.  I told her when the next train came I would block the people on my right to let her board first and sit in the blue seat designated for disabled people.  The next train came, doors opened and I moved to the side to block people on the right to let her board.  Some guy stepped over me to get in and shoved this lady back causing her to fall backwards on the platform.  I heard the thump and walker slide.  The rude guy waved for me to enter...but I stayed behind.  I was the only one that remained, the train left.  The once crowded platform was now empty.  I asked her if she needed me to call 911?  She said, “No, I will wait until someone comes that can help me get to my feet”.

I kept talking with her to make sure she was coherent.  I finally offered that if she held onto my powerchair that I could pull her up…and she agreed to try.  As I began to backup to get her to her feet, I had a sudden fear.  I don’t want to pull her up too fast and have her fall into my lap.  When I’m dressed for work I look pretty hot and don’t want to give her mixed signals.  She stood up and we made our way to the bench.  After a couple trains we boarded…she got off the stop before me and seemed fine.


A little frazzled, I shared my story, people called me a hero for helping her.  I’m no hero.  I have many faults.  I can be mean, I can be politically incorrect…I am imperfectly me.

A hero is someone that has to offset jerks in the world.  At best, a hero or champion is simply overcompensating for an imbalance of ignorance. At best, I was simply not being a that moment

Let’s spend less time celebrating perceived heroism and just all try to be better humans.  This way together we can help each other in this unfair world to enjoy our time here.

Until next time...

Confessions of a Rolling B@st@rd - The Need for Speed

In my previous post I talked about the whole operations of recruiting/training/managing my personal care to get out the door each morning to work as a professional with Cerebral Palsy.  Now I will share my commute.

With my recent expanded role, I am spending more time in the downtown office which makes it easier to get to work.  Although I have to take an extended journey as not all subway stops are accessible, I have found a new exhilarating sport…slalom pedestrian racing!


When I get off the subway I have to roll from one end of the Eaton Centre (huge mall) to the other.  With the super waxed flooring it is the perfect opportunity to dial up my power chair to top gear, full throttle.

At 7:30am the mall congestion is light enough to make top speed possible, but enough congestion to make it irresponsible.


With my headphones blaring ‘Bulls on Parade” I blast off!  I love the feeling the wind against my face.  Things blurring as I race past them.  I love how people jump to the side when they hear me coming up on them.  Oncoming traffic (people) that are in my path look at me with fear as they are not sure that I will be able to swerve around them.  The truth is that I don’t know either…I’m just trying to beat my previous time of 3 minutes, 23 seconds.  As a coach, I help people face their I'm just doing pro bono work in the morning. 

I have learned that if I keep my swerving tight that I get a way better time.  This means I just graze their coats.  I see them saying something to me as I fly by…but my music is blaring.

As I proceed to the PATH the hallways narrow, more people, with rolling luggage….that’s when the fun doubles.  There are people that always try to squeak through the individual doorway.  These people are the brave.  If I hit you there is a good chance one of us will be hurt…I like my chances.  

Once I make it to the office my brain is clear.  Ready to start my day.

Find the joys in life no matter what your circumstances or limitations you have.  It's there if you look for it.

*Disclaimer* - there has been no able bodied people harmed in racing to date…but the journey continues.

A Story of a Professional with a Disability - Moonlighting on the side...

Being a professional with a disability is like working two careers:  

* The one I get compensation for - leading organizations to adapt continuous change.

* The other career - managing an organization of personal support workers to allow me to have a full life.

Multiple jobs...

Multiple jobs...

 This post about the later, managing my care.  Recently I came to the realization that not every professional in the world has to deal with this…and it is a very stressful activity.  Before I go any further, I recognize that everyone has things to do in the morning to start their day…and I’m not saying mine is more, rather unique.

With my Cerebral Palsy (CP) I need help getting up in the morning to get out of bed, dress, help with my workout, shower, shave, and dress for work.  I hire personal support workers to help me with this.  Although my wife assists me in emergencies and vacations…I prefer to keep the role as wife and support worker separate.  I am responsible to recruit, interview, hire, train and manage my support workers.  I have a well refined process or each step in my morning routine which requires details that if they are overlooked is the difference between an ordinary day and a disastrous day.

Competing for PSWs

Competing for PSWs

There are a lot of great personal support workers out there.  The challenge is that I can only offer 5.5 hours a day.  I’m competing against other employers like nursing homes, group homes, etc. that can offer full-time hours, benefits, and a lot of flexibility for time off as they have a full staff of people to cover one another. I employ 2 personal support workers that coordinate time off with one another.

I have a huge need for reliability and dependability for the morning shifts.  Being a professional, I cannot miss work unexpectedly or be late as it might be weeks or months before I can get back in Executive’s calendars or make decisions in important meetings.

My day starts at 5am.  When I mentioned the details, the margin of error in aligning my shirt, pants, underwear is millimetres.  It’s the difference between being comfortable all day & able to use the washroom and pressure sores, being uncomfortable all day, and washroom accidents.  Once I leave for work, I’m locked in until I get home…I don’t have the luxury of adjusting clothes myself throughout the day.

I need the trust that someone will show up…on time.  If they are late it causes instant anxiety as I am trapped in bed and my wife has to start rearranging her morning to backfill. 

A lot of resumes

A lot of resumes

A few weeks ago, one of my helpers gave their notice.  They had a full-time offer somewhere else.  Although they gave two weeks notice, it was a week before I left for vacation.  Immediately I had to post a job description on job boards.  My best case is that I would have someone selected before vacation and onboard/train them when I returned from vacation.  I received 40 resumes, screened them, and conducted phone interviews to decide who I would bring in for a face to face interview.  I conducted 28 phone interviews describing the role and emphasizing the need for dependability.  One person said, “5am is a little early for me, can I do 9am?”.  Unfortunately, my Cerebral Palsy wakes up when I do…so I passed.

The week before vacation I managed to schedule 4 interviews with my wife and me.  It’s important to have my wife involved in the selection process as these people will be in our home. None of them showed up. I left for vacation and extended the job posting.

When I returned I screened 45 resumes, 20 phone screens, and scheduled 4 face to face interviews.  Only one showed for their interview.  Luckily, this candidate had experience working with a professional with a disability.

This week they start and I had to put a schedule together for training.  This week I have critical meetings and presentations first thing 3 out of the 5 mornings.  Luckily I found 2 consecutive days that I can afford to be late.  Training causes me the biggest anxiety in the process.  I have to be ‘on’ and sensitive to articulate and explain every detail of showering, dressing , etc.  The morning routine will be 50% longer.  I will be incredibly vulnerable as I will be naked in front of someone that was a perfect stranger only days ago.  I will likely be dropped, fall down, and be pinched. 

Vulnerability of being exposed and defenseless

Vulnerability of being exposed and defenseless

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  After a couple weeks this will be a common routine to the new worker and it will be our new normal.  Until they move on to a job with more hours…than it starts all over again.

This is my normal. I’m not complaining as this allows me to go to engage with my passion and work with a lot of incredible individuals.  All of the above has made me the leader and change agent that I am today.  These skills and experiences has gave me the grit to build great products and organizations.  

I am so thankful to all my co-workers and boss who immediately asked what they could do to help me through this difficult time.  Their offering of support made me forget about what I was going through for a moment.

I am blessed for my amazing wife.  Without her support and love…this would be unbearable.

Now I need to spend some time preparing this week for the job I get paid for.  Until next time...

2016 was a year of choice...

If 2015 was the year of change, 2016 was the year of choice. I chose who to spend time with. I chose where I wanted to lead. I chose my health. I chose to live...

February we chose to go on vacation with dear friends we met the previous year on vacation from Sarnia.  Kelly and I love spending time with them. My tweets from sea the first day went in this order:

  1. "I like my drinks served to me like I like software - continuous delivery' ~1:35pm
  2. "I'm drunk" ~ 3:10pm
  3. From Kelly " Having dinner with friends as Dave is passed out in our room a sleep for the night" ~6:43pm

Although Day 1 at sea was not productive by most standards - it was followed by walking up 60 steps to go on a waterslide for the first time in my life. It I climbed the stairs in fear. I slid down the slide with excitement. I stood at the bottom accomplished. You do not grow without passing through fear.  I also walked into the ocean and looked back to the beach and saw the world from a new perspective.

I did a number of speaking engagements in 2016. I did talks on 'Leading with Imperfect Feet' which talks about my walk on the beach, into the ocean and how that paralleled my leadership style in leading change in large organizations. I got the extreme privilege to do my first keynote ever at Agile Ottawa.  Although I have trouble standing, I was humbled to inspire 500 people to stand and applaud after my talk.  I'm still choked up.

I chose to move on professionally in 2016. I left my previous company to take on leading the Agile movement at Scotiabank's Digital Factory.  Although my time at BlueCat was short, the relationships I made with amazing people who I engaged with 16-18 hours a day in helping develop a leaderful-innovative culture will always be something I remember.  I do not get emotional at work often, but when 85 people assemble in your office the last day to share what you meant to will bring tears to you. Love you all.

Every end is followed by a new beginning. I have the privilege of serving my amazing team of agile rockstars and Senior Leadership across the organization.  The first six months have had me focused on Digital Operations in Canada with this year also working with Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Columbia.  This has been an amazing experience both personally and professionally.

In 2016 Kelly and I chose to spend time with our family and dear friends. We have fantastic memories of Blue Jay games, the Science Center, ROM, house parties and over priced pots and pan parties.  It's frustrating not to see everyone we would love to see, but it fills our heart with the ones we do.

In 2016 I chose to continue swimming and build up my cardio conditioning.  Spending countless hours with Aimee has made me a way better swimmer.  Late this year I made the choice to start doing weight training and stretching after a 24 month hiatus I was disappointed and ashamed that I let it fall, but glad I chose that to be the start of a comeback instead of the end of the story.  If my body continues to respond favorably...stay tuned for the next challenge.

I did not get to blog much personally this year.  As I get older the years go by quicker.  No matter how fast life goes I want to make sure that the ones I love know how much you mean to ma and how you inspire me to fight through the struggle of pushing on through my challenging amazing life.  Kelly, family, and friends...I love you.  Happy New Year! 

Me and my everything

Me and my everything

2015 was a year of change...

It's hard to believe that 2015 is already coming to an end.  This year has been one of the most challenging years I have faced because of all the change.  In the last year I have changed cities, changed jobs, and changed as a person.  Change is really scary because were leaving a story that has already been written to a story that has yet to be told.  This year was to start of that story for me.

The beginning of 2015 caused me great remorse.  I was leaving some very special people that I've met over the last nine years.  People that have watched me grow.  People that have watched me succeed.  People that have watched me learn from my mistakes.  People that made me feel loved.  I still remember in particular having to say goodbye to my awesome team that I had the privilege of building and accomplishing great things.  I still have vivid memories of B and I hugging in tears as he was telling me, "stay stubborn brother".  B is somebody that has seen me and my best and worst times and that help support me to be where I am today.  I remember closing the door of our house for the last time in Waterloo before we headed to Toronto.  That door closing was symbolic.

The year also started with great frustration and struggle.  I had to hire new PSW's and have strange people responsible for helping me with my morning routine (shave, shower, dress, etc.).  Hiring one PSW when you have a group of solid ones is somewhat challenging… Hiring a PSW without a base is extremely scary.  We have found one person… The rest have been horrifying experiences.  Hey, I still lived to tell my tail.

I cannot say enough about the support my wife is extended to me both emotionally and physically.  She is filled then to help me when these other PSW's have failed.  She was there to comfort me when I had 1 million things going on and struggles.  She is my everything.  She went through the same things I did… And she was able to get her designation and score a job.  I cannot think of any other person that I want beside me as we embrace life.

For the first time in my life I was able to commute to work completely on my own via the subway.  There is nothing more empowering than to be able to go where you want, when you want, and by your own power.  This new freedom has made a large city seems small.  This new freedom allowed me to go to baseball games to meet friends from Waterloo… In one case I walked to the stadium with a couple that had a daughter that was in a wheelchair.  As I shared with them my story they got all teared up and thanked me for giving them the inspiration that their daughter can still have an amazing life.

This new freedom was not my only life experience this year.  Kelly and I went on a vacation alone for the first time in ten years.  I cannot come at a better time as we were in the middle of all this change.  On this vacation I was able to walk barefoot in the sand for the very first time.  On this vacation, I was able to go snorkelling for the very first time.  On this vacation, I was able to meet some amazing people that have become great friends.  These people were the reason why Kelly and I were able to experience everything we did at the end of our vacation.

I continued the pursuit to helping out great causes this year.  I did my damnedest to raise awareness for the John McGivney Centre to help their preschool program stay open.  I was fortunate that my YouTube video went viral.

I was able to work with the company to help them make great strides towards agility.  I got to work face-to-face with a bunch of amazing people.  I have been able to assemble a fantastic team.  I have been able to form some fantastic relationships with these people outside of work.  A group of us went out for drinks one night that resulted in me having way too many shots… This combined with the lack of wheelchair cab's had these new people flagged down a delivery truck to bring us back home.

I was able to start swimming again.  My sister-in-law (who we've been able to build a closer relationship with) trained to me three times a week in the pool and at the gym.  Being in the water opens up even greater freedom.

This year filmmaker Edward Platero release the documentary about my life and doing the Terry Fox walk.  Watching myself in third person crossing the finish line was incredibly emotional for me.  Being in the moment I now realize how much of an achievement was at that moment.  Hearing all those amazing things from people that I care the world about in that documentary inspires me to keep going on.  The amount of emails I've gotten because of the documentary helps me appreciate the impact I have on others.

This is the story of my 5km walk I did in 2014 and growing up & living a full life with Cerebral Palsy. The story is told by my lifelong friend and brother, Edward Platero. I like to do the best I can today and hope to do even better tomorrow.

At the end of this year I was finally able to realize a goal that I've had for some time.  I was able to kick off my own consulting company (Dave Dame Inc.).  I was also able to speak at a couple conferences.

I learned a lot this year.  As every year, I had a lot of ups and downs.  I miss a lot of people dearly and I have had the opportunity to meet some new amazing people.  Kelly and I realized that Kitchener Waterloo will always be home for us.  We will be back there again someday.  KW is who we are.  Until then… The memories and experiences we gather until then will make our life amazing.  I am grateful to have the people, family, and amazing wife I have.

For 2016 I hope to experience many more things.  I hope to release a book that describes my challenges and tenacity of my life of being a professional with a disability and the parallel of the challenges and tenacity you need in creating high performing organizations.

The journey continues.

Looking back on the journey – one year later

Crossing the finish line (49 secss)


Today is the one-year anniversary of the 5 KM walk that I did to raise $30,000 for the Terry Fox foundation.  This was nearly a year and a half of preparation physically and mentally to accomplish this.  A year ago at this moment Alex was stretching me as I was hearing people starting to gather outside.  Ed Prichard was trying to keep me relaxed by being his usual humorous self.  My wife was right there with ready to support me every step as she has the last 14 years.  Alex and I spent two years training.  Our first goal was to shed 60 pounds.  Our second goal was to prepare for this event.  You build a close bond was somebody that you spend three nights a week training for over twenty-four months.

My adrenaline was flowing strong.  This challenge was not going to beat me.  This challenge was going to be a stepping stone for the next.

What made the walk so special was that I was able to reconnect with a lot of people that I have not had the chance to spend much time with for a while.  Individual lives take us in different directions and priorities.  This day allowed us to align our directions and priorities if only for a few hours.  The laughter and conversation help me forget the pain that I was going through each step of the way.

Completing the walk showed me and others that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.  Looking back it also taught me the importance of having a fantastic support system of my wife, friends, and family.  It is a moment I will always cherish.  Not only the training.  Not only the walk.  Not only crossing the finish line.  Not only experiencing this with friends and family.  Not only doing this step by step with my wife.  It's all of the above!

Since the event the journey has continued.  This last year the journey has brought me and my wife to a new city, new jobs, new opportunities, and new lives.  This has been an incredible struggle that exceeded the walk as it is pushed me personally and emotionally.  I felt incredibly vulnerable at times.  I second guessed my choice at times.  However, it's opened a world of new freedoms.  For the first time in my life I'm able to independently get around because of public transportation.  I'm able to go to and from work completely on my own.  I'm able to go meet clients without having to organize helpers to bring me.  I'm able to go meet friends for a drink or for dinner.  I'm able to run errands to help my wife.  This summer has made this huge city smaller.  (However, with the winter approaching it would dramatically impact my quality of life as I do not do well in harsh weather.  Having this new freedom makes me appreciate summer more… And despise winter more.)  

This year has also allowed me to walk barefoot in the sand for the first time.  To snorkel for the first time.  To enjoy places around the world with my wife.

This year has seen Alex move to a new city as well.  His family added a new baby.  Alex has changed careers.  His journey still continues. Although we are apart...our bond is forever.

This year I had to say goodbye to special people.  This year I got to reconnect with old friends.  This year I got to build closer friendships with friends.  This year I got to make new friends.  This year I've had the opportunity to build closer relationships with family.

The journey has taught me so much more than achieving a goal.  It has taught me The timportance of having fantastic people in your life.  I have been purposeful in keeping relationships over the last year.  I'm purposeful in telling them what they mean to me.  After the popularity of this walk I have realized the influence I have on others.  Be the person you want to with mistakes not regret...struggle makes you stronger...

Luckily, Facebook memories and the amazing documentary that Edward Platero put together will always remind me of this special time.  I'm looking forward to having another compelling event to bring everyone together.  Life is a collection of these events.  The journey is not always easy… But it is definitely worth it.  What does next year have in store?  Stay tuned… Because the journey continues.


I was scared. At times I had self doubt. It was going to hurt. It was going to be a challenge. Cerebral Palsy was not going to stop me. Life is hard, but it's worth it.

This is the Documentary about my journey...not only to walk 5km...but my Journey through life. This touches on all aspects of my life to the big day. Growing up, finding 'The One' in my soul mate Kelly, my career side, and who I am as a person. My friend/brother - Edward Platero could not have told this story any better. I like to pride myself as someone who does not shed a tear...but I shed a few while watching this. I love my wife, friends, and my life. Thank you everyone.

My life has changed a lot in the last year...and it will continue to change...because The Journey Continues.

To Watch the video click here -

A Complete Day

Today was a cool milestone for me. I travelled to the Rogers Centre completely on my own to meet a couple of good friends for a Jays game. I have *never* been there on my own. I got to the subway filled with discovery. When I got off the subway I saw a family with a girl in a power chair all dressed in Blue Jays gear.

I asked if I could follow them as I was new to the city and I was meeting up with a couple idiots that I call friends:) While travelling they were asking a bunch of questions as they seemed enthused on how independant I was. Their daughter was 15 attending special classesand was curious how I ended up in Toronto. I shared with them my story, growing up, my parents, University, getting married, professional career, etc.


When I got to the Rogers Center I thanked them so much for allowing me to follow them. They were both in tears and thanked me for giving them inspiration for their daughter. I take forgranted my life. I met up with friends for an awesome time, the jays won, I downed my citcris wine cooler like a boss, helped a family, and had a life moment of getting to a game all by myself.
Pretty amazing day.

What's Life Without Living?

Most people count you out when you are born  in the 70s with a perceived short life expectancy and physical limitations.  This motivates you to exceed those expectations.  My life was focused to being able to wake up another day, establishing myself professionally, and/or meeting the next goal or challenge I set for myself. Life was focused on proving them wrong.

I have fought hard to overcome daily pains and logistical challenges to continue to get up each day.  Pushing myself to achieve professional goals and helping enterprise organizations change to optimize delivering high value to customers and their market space. Putting in a ton of hours to exercise to get the most that I can from my body, being able to walk and be more mobile.  I put all this work in to have a life.  

However, I was not leaving anytime to use this life to live.  To live to experience new things.  To live for seeing and feeling things that I did not know even existed.

Life will happen, Living it has to be deliberate.

For the first time ever my bare feet felt the sand of the beech.  It was as if I was stepping on a fluffy cloud.  I have never felt such an unusual, awesome feeling before with my feet.  It was warm and the sand hugged my feet as I walked along the beach with my wife at my side.

Virgin feet on sand

Virgin feet on sand

I snorkelled for the very first time and got to see the most beautiful tropical fish with vibrant colours that cannot be described.  The water was the most beautiful blue I have ever seen.  The fish swam all around me.  I felt such a freedom.  I did not have to fight gravity, I was simply free.  Like floating in a beautiful new world, so peaceful, so tranquil.

Diving down to heaven.  Yes, those are SpiderMan water wings...don't judge....

Diving down to heaven.  Yes, those are SpiderMan water wings...don't judge....

My wife and I have worked very hard at being a couple, excelling at work, and doing a number of community activities supporting various causes.  Time was flying past us, before we knew it, 5 years had gone by since we last went away somewhere outside of Canada, ten years since we had went outside of Canada just the two of us.

This made me realize that I need to balance life with living.  I’m still going to push myself both personally and professionally, but I need to take the time and reap the benefits of life by living and experiencing these moments.  I need to take advantage of this while I’m blessed to have the mobility I do and my wife s able to join and assist me with us experiencing living.

Walking barefoot in the sand and snorkelling for the first time might not seem like a big deal to most, but for me it was something that I would have never dreamed of.  

Thank you Fred...

Thank you Fred...

I’m always in awe of the awesomeness of people.  During our vacation we met awesome peeps that made the above experiences possible.  We always see on TV and read about the people that suck.  However, the people that go above & beyond are rarely mentioned or noted as the exception.  The last two years I have seen mostly the awesomeness of the human race, making the people that suck the exception.  

Continue to push yourself.  Continue to achieve.  Remember to live for the moment, live for the experience, live for the memories, live while you can enjoy the most...simply live!

Losing a close friend this year taught me that we all have a finite amount of is more than putting in time.

The Journey Continues