“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


Turning Stumbling Blocks Into Building Blocks For Success!

About Barbara May

Barbara May has spent a life-time 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 two 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 discover new ways of solving problems in the workplace such as dealing and communicating with co-workers and bouncing back from mistakes with confidence.

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 business leaders build stronger, more resilient teams.

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.

In her keynotes and seminars, Barbara shares and teaches her Stumbling Blocks philosophy—the 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."


“Thank you for overcoming all those stumbling blocks years ago so you could be here today to educate, engage & inspire us!”

Megan Maltman, HR Manager, Edmonton West Primary Care Network

Barbara May's Career Highlights

  • Founder and CEO of Stumbling Blocks Team Building Seminars.

  • 25+ years experience working as a school counsellor, special education teacher, hr/program manager, sport consultant, career and employment consultant, and executive director.

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

  • Emceeing the University of Alberta's Panda & Bear 30 Year Gymnastics Reunion.

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

  • Contributing to the development of Coby Iwaasa, 4 time Canadian National Racquetball Champion and Pan American Games bronze medalist.

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

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

  • Helping the Military Family Resource Centre receive the Standards of Excellence Award from the Association for Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services.

  • 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.

  • Serving on the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors.

  • Acting as Director of Registration for the 1994 Alberta Winter Games.

  • Serving as President of the CTM Plus Toastmasters Club - Edmonton.

  • Achieving the CTM and ATM  Bronze award designations from Toastmasters International.

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

  • Receiving the Alberta Gymnastics Federation's Volunteer Service Award.

  • 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


“An interview with a camera in your face can be intimidating and make you self-conscious, which I definitely was at first, but that stopped after only a  couple ground-breaking sessions with Barbara May.”  

Kathryn Kohut, 2nd Runner Up, Miss Universe Canada

“After I launched a weekly feature on local television news many people gave me helpful advice. Barbara May's coaching was the best of all. Everyone noticed an immediate improvement. Barbara removed my TV stumbling blocks.”  

Dave Lieber, CSP, and columnist for The Dallas Morning News


Barbara's Story

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 conflict. There will be accidents, injuries, and illness.

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, I want to help you build a stronger, more resilient team.

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


“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