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“Barbara May has an appeal and likeability that can move an audience into a space we rarely see... inspiring!”

Bob Angeli, Owner, The Comedy Factory

Barbara May Lions Park Sitting.JPG

About Barbara May, B.Ed 

Barbara May has spent a lifetime knowing how to get up after a fall. But she figures doing that and getting a laugh at the same time is a lot more fun. She is a former national-level gymnast, award-winning coach, aspiring drummer and mother of two who joked her way into the Guinness World Records by performing in the longest stand-up comedy show in history.

With more than three decades of work experience behind her in fields as diverse as sport and recreation, education, not-for-profit management, entertainment and government, Barbara brings a uniquely powerful mix of personal stories, humorous examples, and real-world insight to her programs and clients. By talking openly about her struggles and triumphs, Barbara helps people see and get past their stumbling blocks and be happy, motivated and productive at work. 

Barbara May has a great deal of experience and first-hand information to share about overcoming stumbling blocks at work. She has interviewed business owners on the Learning & Job News, hosted Access Television’s May We Talk, and facilitated more than 500 career and employment workshops. She draws upon this experience to help people discover new ways of solving problems in the workplace such as dealing and communicating with co-workers and bouncing back from mistakes with confidence.

It was a health crisis that prompted Barbara May to build her business, Stumbling Blocks Team Building Seminars. At age 46, she suffered life-threatening pulmonary emboli—blood clots in her lungs. Every moment felt like a hurdle, like a trial, as she experienced it, so every moment looked like a victory as she looked back at it. That health crisis was what lit her light bulb and showed her her unifying purpose: helping people get past their stumbling blocks.


At every one of her team building sessions, Barbara shares and teaches the “Stumbling Blocks” philosophythe belief that you can get past your stumbling blocks—to help people in the audience understand and embrace her key message: If you get back up, anything is possible.

Barbara May is a Leadership Communication Expert, Team Building Facilitator and Award-Winning Coach 


  • Founder and CEO of Stumbling Blocks Team Building Seminars.

  • 25+ years of experience working as a school counsellor, special education teacher, program director, career & employment consultant, and executive director.

  • Serving as President of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) - Edmonton Chapter.

  • Facilitating more than 500 career & employment workshops in partnership with BGS Career and Corporate Development and the Government of Alberta.

  • Providing virtual onboarding and training of Purolator's new employees in partnership with Flint Learning Systems & Educational Mentors. 

  • Helping injured workers upgrade their computer and customer service skills in partnership with ReTrain Canada and WCB.

  • Receiving the Care & Caring Award at the 2017 Patient and Provider Experience Summit.

  • Serving as Racquetball Canada's Director of Interprovincial Relations and helping develop the Let's Play Racquetball and Hall of Fame programs.

  • Creating the Racquetball Practice Program with Canadian National Champion Kris Odegard and receiving more than 500,000 hits on youtube.

  • Managing 3 programs and 30 employees at the Military Family Resource Centre.

  • Appearing in several television commercials including Bright Nights, BCom Computers and Buffet Royal.

  • Joking her way into the Guinness World Records by performing in the longest stand-up comedy show in history.

  • Hosting ACCESS Television's May We Talk.

  • Interviewing business owners on ACCESS Television's Learning and Job News.

  • Receiving the 3M Coach Recognition Award for "Outstanding Contribution to the Sports Community."

  • Teaching the National Coaching Certification Program's "How to Coach" course for 15 years.

  • Attaining Level-3 Coach Certification with the National Coaching Certification Program. (NCCP).

  • Growing the Horizon Gymnastics Club from 140-400 members.

  • Graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Education Degree.

  • Winning Team Gold at the 1984 (CWUAA) Canada West Universities Athletic Association's Gymnastics Championship.

  • Being a varsity athlete (University of Alberta's Panda's Gymnastics Team) and receiving the Jimmy Condon Athletic Award.


“Barbara helped propel me towards my goal of representing Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games. Her loyalty, ongoing encouragement and support not only helped me but helped all of Alberta Racquetball.” 


Coby Iwassa, 4 Time Canadian National Racquetball Champion and Pan American Games Bronze Medalist

“Barbara's willingness to share her story has impacted me in a very remarkable way. It has impacted our journey as a hospital." 


Dr. Curtis Johnston, Chief Medical Officer, Royal Alexandra Hospital



Everybody has their share of personal obstacles; I'm no exception. 


I've made it literally my business to talk to people about personal obstacles and to help people overcome theirs. I've been doing it for more than 20 years. It's become kind of my thing. 


But I haven't always understood what I have to offer people as clearly as I do now. I've spent years gathering knowledge about what works and what doesn't in many different employment and organizational circumstances. 


But to get to where—and who—I am today, I had to live through my own life-changing stumbling block. 


Like I said, for many years, I've been giving workshops and motivational talks about things like communications, coaching, and career planning.


Yet, I always felt like I was going around in circles. I was reasonably successful, yet I didn't feel as if I was moving forward. My motor was idling. I came to feel a strong desire for my own personal breakthrough. 


Well, be careful what you wish for. 


At age 46, I suffered life-threatening pulmonary emboli (blood clots in my lungs). I survived, as you can tell. But I didn't just survive; that event, and my recovery from it, turned out to be the breakthrough I needed.


You see, my health crisis had slowed me down big time. I felt as if I had tripped, stumbled, and fallen as I walked my own life path. But I had used my accumulated knowledge, observations, and wisdom to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep on truckin'. I felt mentally and emotionally stronger than I've ever been. 


That, that is what I offer people. The ability to recover from tripping over a stumbling block, and the ability to learn from the setback and grow stronger as a result. 


Looking back on that health crisis was what lit my light bulb and showed me my unifying purpose. That's how I created "Stumbling Blocks". I saw that as long as organizations are made up of human beings, there will be mistakes, controversies, and conflicts. There will be accidents, injuries, and illnesses. 


These stumbling blocks can create anxiety-ridden days, sleepless nights, a churning in the pit of your stomach and other miseries. But I can show you how to overcome them. 


That's what I had to do— minute by minute, day by day—during my illness and subsequent recovery. Every moment felt like a hurdle, like a trial as I experienced it, so every moment looked like a victory as I looked back at it. 


Now, with that enormous stumbling block behind me, my mission is to help individuals and teams see and get past their stumbling blocks and be happy, motivated and productive. 

When you're caught between two hard places, don't feel suffocated; feel inspired. I'll show you how. 


It's a mission I take seriously because we spend our lives working. So when we work well, it's a whole lot easier to live well. 


You can get past your stumbling blocks. Trust me. I did, and I'll help you do it too. - Barbara May

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