The most impressive professional development event to ever be held in Kelowna is less than a month away.

Level Up — a one-day, dawn-till-dusk marathon conference — will feature eight world-renowned speakers.

Each of them will talk about just one topic: leadership.

“When I saw the ad for Level Up, I couldn’t believe the calibre of speakers that were coming our way,” said Jonathan Friesen, the CEO of real estate development firm Mission Group, who is bringing 30 members of his team to the event.

“It includes two former prime ministers of Canada, among many other high, high level leaders including a past vice president of marketing at Apple.

“So I simply opened it up to everyone in Mission Group. I think the investment is well worth it. If we come back with one idea that materializes into something, our whole organization benefits.”

To bring the exceptionally high quality leaders to Kelowna, the hosts — NowMedia and Csek Creative – made a huge commitment.

They have spent $500,000 in speaker fees alone.

And yet for an entry-level ticket, attendees will be paying the equivalent of just $40 for each speaker – a remarkable bargain.

But what has prompted a local company to put on an event of this magnitude in Kelowna rather than the likes of Vancouver and Calgary?

For Csek Creative CEO Nikki Csek, the answer is simple – the city is where her firm began, and it’s the only place she’d ever think to bring something like this.

“I have been a part of the business community in Kelowna for 20 years now – we started our business in our living room, with just me as the single employee,” she explained.

“We are that grassroots, homegrown success story that says: ‘Dream big, put in the work and it will come.’ And leadership plays a big role in that growth.

“We talk about leadership all the time and we foster it within our team.”

One of the big success stories at Csek’s firm is Ryan Lahay, who was hired at the age of 15 and is now a partner and leader.

Karen Montgomery, a former schoolteacher who joined the company as a marketing associate but rapidly rose up the ranks after demonstrating her leadership skills.

She is now part of the executive team.

Level Up is an opportunity for anyone in business, from young entrepreneurs to long-established CEOs, to share in the wisdom of some of the wisest leaders in Canada.

It is a chance for them to write their own success stories.

Al Hildebrandt, president of the Kelowna Foundation, said: “I have been in business, the healthcare IT sector, for many years in this community and across the country.

“And in that area I have been able to attend many conferences outside of Kelowna and hear the best speakers and on September 27, many of them are coming here.”

For veteran journalist Kent Molgat, the opportunity to moderate during the event is “thrilling.”

“To sit down in conversation with two former prime ministers in one day is incredible," he said.

“Between Mr. Chretien and Mr. Harper, we see 20 years in the prime minister’s office, and two different styles of leadership. It’s going to be fascinating.”

Executive director of the Central Okanagan Foundation Laurence East, meanwhile, is also excited about the high standard of speakers.

“It’s not often we get the opportunity to see such incredible talent and calibre of leadership training in our city,” he said.

The hosts of Level Up are particularly keen to see small-to-medium-sized businesses – the lifeblood of the Canadian economy – benefit from the conference.

They are delighted that a plumbing company is bringing 30 staff members from across Canada, and that among the attendees are workers from restaurants, banks and auto dealerships.

Those coming to the conference will benefit not only from the spectacular speakers, but also from a once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunity.

“It’s an exciting time for us as we prepare to welcome global leaders from a variety of fields,” said Dan Rogers, the executive director of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a rare opportunity for us to learn.”

But time is running out to be a part of Level Up.

There are fewer than 100 level one tickets – which cost $299 – remaining.

The same is also true of the VIP tickets.

VIP Premium tickets, which include lunch and a banquet with the speakers, are another option with availability.

There are also group rates available for businesses bringing teams. To learn more about that, email:

For Csek Creative strategist Jim Csek, there is one speaker he is especially excited to bring to Kelowna.

“I have been taking professional development my whole career for my designation, and while the quality of professional development for over 25 years has been amazing, I have to say that Darren Hardy has actually changed the way I see the world and the way I lead,” he said.

“He is easily one of the best mentors that I have ever encountered when it comes to learning to be better every day.”

He added: “I encourage everyone who has a business, who wants a business, and who works in a leadership position or wants to, to make this one-day investment of time and this small monetary investment to be better not only for your business, but for the community as a whole.”

“Education is never too heavy to carry around.”

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