I first was introduced to Joost Janssen through his childhood friend and former Halifax MLA Joachim Stroink. The two knew each other as youngsters, growing up as Dutch immigrants in Nova Scotia in the 1970’s.

Joost Janssen was born in Holland but his parents moved to Halifax from Holland when he was very young. As it is with any immigrant family, it wasn’t an easy transition.


In some ways, Joost still considers Nova Scotia home, however, he is now living in San Diego, California. His life has been an amazing journey with tremendous highs and, as you will hear, some earth-shattering challenges.

After a particularly dark episode, Joost was determined to become a US Navy SEAL Team member. It is perhaps the most difficult of all military training regimens and is notorious for taking participants to the very edge of their capacity to endure.

In this episode we’ll explore Joost’s experience in Halifax, the reason he chose to join the Special Forces and the exciting career he has embarked upon now training Hollywood actors on the realities of military technique.


His credits include such big-budget features 13 Hours, a story he has a personal connection to, American Assassin starring Michael Keaton and Dylan O'Brien, and most recently, the Prime Original series Jack Ryan.

I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with the navy seal who turns actors into assassins, Joost Janssen.


Fall Back Up is supported by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. CFIB provides political advocacy, business support and savings to 110,000 small- and medium-size independent businesses across Canada. To find out how CFIB can improve the odds of your business success, visit www.CFIB.ca. CFIB, In business for your business…


Donald Savoie is one of Canada's most respect public policy minds, but above all, he is a Maritimer.

I first encountered him with his book Governing from the Centre: The Concentration of Power in Canadian Politics which was shortlisted for the Donner Prize. His 2013 book, Whatever Happened to the Music Teacher? How Government Decides and Why was shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. His biography, Harrison McCain: Single-Minded Purpose, was nominated for the 2014 National Business Book Award.

His articles have been published in leading journals of political science, public administration and public policy. His work has been reviewed in leading peer-reviewed journals of political science, public policy and public administration and some of the world's leading newspapers.

In 2006, author Donald Savoie wrote a seminal book on economic development in the Maritimes, Visiting Grandchildren. His plans were “to exit the field with this book.” Just over a decade later he returns to the subject with Looking for Bootstraps. Concerned about the region’s future, he sought to explore and explain the reasons behind its lack of economic development spark a much-needed debate about the future of the Maritime Provinces.

I sat down with him in my office in Halifax and I hope you enjoy this somewhat “in the weeds” discussion about the political history of the Maritimes and Atlantic Canadian public policy with the illustrious, Donald J. Savoie.


Starr Cunningham had a 23-year career in broadcasting and became one of Atlantic Canada's most well-known television personalities.

In 2013, a pivotal realization took her career in a completely different direction.

Accepting the position as CEO of the Nova Scotia Mental Health Foundation she is now pursuing her passion to raise awareness of mental health issues.

In the role, Starr is raising the organization’s profile while introducing new programs to make people’s day-to-day lives easier.

But it's a big challenge. Mental health and addictions are becoming a larger focus of our health care system as awareness of the issue grows.

It's a challenge Starr is embracing. I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with the candid, compassionate and dedicated Starr Cunningham


Michael Melski is a Nova Scotian award-winning writer-director of feature films, as well as one of Canada’s leading playwrights. His Merritt and Dora-nominated Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad was a smash hit at Toronto’s Factory Theatre and named one of the ‘Top Ten Plays of The Year’ by the Toronto Star.

His many other plays have been published and produced across Canada and in the U.S. 

A writing resident of Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre, his first feature film as writer-director was the comedy Growing Op, starring Rosanna Arquette and Wallace Langham. A hit at film festivals in 2008, Growing Op has since sold to over fifty countries worldwide and continues to stream on Netflix.

Michael’s second feature, the dramatic thriller Charlie Zone, swept the awards at the 2011 Atlantic Film Festival, winning Best Feature Film, Best Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Actor.

Michael also wrote the feature films Mile Zero and Touch Go, and has written and directed for network television, documentaries and music videos.

More recently his feature documentary Perfume War has gained international accolades. His five years in the making supernatural thriller The Child Remains, starring Suzanne Clement and Allan Hawco, continues to open to strong reviews at a multitude of film festivals internationally and in theatres across the country.

I hope you enjoy this wide-ranging conversation with the creative, thoughtful and frank, Michael Melski


Joel Plaskett is one of Atlantic Canada’s best-known performers. Joel saw early success during the rapid growth of Halifax’s indie scene in the 1990’s. His band Thrush Hermit along with bands like SloanEric’s TripJaleHardship Post and the Super Friendz set the tone for a fresh Atlantic Canadian sound.

Joel’s career grew with his band the Emergency and as a solo artist through the 2000’s. Using his own unique take on 1990’s Halifax indie rock…a stripped down, acoustically oriented feel with pop hooks, strong melodies and lots of harmonies.

Through this period the awards and award nominations were rolling in and a relentless touring schedule built a strong fan base across the country.

Joel Plaskett 2

Now 43, Joel continues his musical journey and has become an entrepreneur with the New Scotland Yard emporium, a cooperative venture with Taz Records, Elk’s Haircutting and Joel’s recording studio at 45 Portland Street in downtown Dartmouth… As Joel says, “Come buy a record, get a coffee, get a little off the top or book some time at the studio and cut your next record. Music is at the heart of it and all are welcome.”

I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with the thoughtful, charming, and very talented Joel Plaskett…


If you were to conjure up an image of a custom dress shirt maker from Fredericton, New Brunswick, you could be excused if your imagination didn’t veer far off the rack of button-down Oxford cloth. Nothing could be further from the reality of Jeff Alpaugh.

Jeff graduated from business school and promptly joined the Canadian Armed Forces. The war in Afghanistan was a clarion for Jeff however, it wouldn’t be a lifelong career. Following an emotionally devastating turn of event, Jeff rejoined civilian life and headed back to a business that had given him his start.

An appearance on the television show Dragon’s Den provided Jeff’s burgeoning company a promotional shot in the arm, but the story is not exactly as it seems.

Jeff Alpaugh Custom produces what Jeff has branded the World’s Most Dangerous Shirt. They are vivid, creative, custom designs aimed at empowering the wearer with a creative edge. Jeff and his business and life partner Emilee Boychuk are building their business on a philosophy of fit, fashion, and fun.

I met Jeff in his shop in downtown Fredericton. I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with the energetic, creative and dangerous…Jeff Alpaugh.


Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray became Saint Mary's University's 34th President on July 1st, 2015.

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Robert came to Canada in the 1980s receiving his Ph.D.n Geography from the University of Toronto.

 He has served in a number of senior academic roles, including the Dean of Social Sciences at Mount Allison University and as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University.

He is a respected educator, having received the Tucker Teaching Award, the AAU Distinguished Teacher Award and a 3M Fellowship. His research areas include historical geography, environmental history, industrial heritage, archives and narratives, GIS and cartography, the work of New Brunswick literary figure Charles G. D. Roberts, student mobility and internationalization.

I met Dr. Summerby-Murray through our mutual work on Nova Scotia's Business Education Council, a group organized to advance entrepreneurship in the education system. He continues to be very active in promoting business growth and innovation in Atlantic Canada

I met with Robert at his office at Saint Mary's to talk about his life, his thoughts on education, innovation, immigration and the future of Atlantic Canada.

I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with Robert Summerby-Murray


Lisa Coates is a driver. She was born in Los Angeles in 1964. Her mother was a white Scottish Cape Bretoner and her father a black musician and teacher.

Lisa moved back to Cape Breton with her mother and then on to Boston as a teenager to complete her education and begin work.

Being a mixed-race child in Nova Scotia in the 70s came exposed Lisa to racism from both sides of the cultural divide. The experience hardened her resolve.

She explored real estate in Massachusetts following 9/11 but eventually packed it in to return to Nova Scotia. Her experience with real estate provided a foundation for the creation of a contracting company.

She has built her business, Level Ten Landworks into a well-respected construction firm, doubling her revenues from year one to year two. It is truly an entrepreneur's story.

I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging candid conversation with the energetic and opinionated, Lisa Coates.



Steve Poltz is taking the world by donkey. Originally from Nova Scotia, Steve left with his family as a child to move to California.

He attended the University of San Diego, earning a degree in political science, where he met guitarist Robert Driscoll and formed the indie band The Rugburns.

He holds dual citizenship and regularly tours Canada playing folk festivals, music venues, and house concerts.

Steve is best known for a song he co-wrote with Alaskan born artist Jewel, You Were Meant for Me which achieved huge recognition ranking number 20 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.

His one-man shows are a combination of storytelling and music, laying open his philosophy and satirical social commentary using simple yet innovative songs.

I met Steve 20 years ago when he first played the Economy Shoe Shop in Halifax while touring to support his album One Left Shoe.

He regularly appears at the Carleton Music Bar and Grill in Halifax, and has developed a strong local following along with a worldwide network of loyal fans. 

I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging candid conversation with the brilliantly creative and delightfully weird Steve Poltz.


This is Fall Back Up, conversations with business leaders, innovators and high performers from Atlantic Canada. 

Fall Back Up is supported by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. CFIB provides political advocacy, business support and savings to 110,000 small- and medium-size independent businesses across Canada. To find out how CFIB can improve the odds of your business success, visit www.CFIB.ca. CFIB, In business for your business…

George Armoyan is one of Atlantic Canada’s most successful developers and investors. George’s family arrived in Boston from Syria in the early 1970’s. George came to Halifax to attend Dalhousie University and decided to make Nova Scotia his home.

Since he was a kid, George has been making deals. His philosophy in business has been to find undervalued firms and turn them around to create value for shareholders and generate wealth.

He uses the simple principle of buying low and selling high in creating a highly successful, highly diversified business empire.

He is the embodiment of a straight shooter. He’s not shy with his opinions and doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers to get to where he wants to go.

George agreed to sit down with me at his historic residence on Young Avenue in Halifax to talk about his life, his family, his successes and his failures on the road to building his fortune.

I hope you enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with the ambitious and enigmatic, George Armoyan.


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