You have many opportunities to lead in your workplace. If you’re lucky, you get assigned a special project that impacts many, you work with an amazing group of people, and you create a memory that makes you smile years later because you know what you did helped others. That happened to me and it taught me something about leadership I will never forget.

Lead from a place of service.

When you lead with service, your thinking shifts. Your mindset is one of serving others. It becomes all about the people you serve and that means external clients as well as internal ones and your own employee teams. You want to help them in whatever way you can to lighten their load, keep them in good spirits, and provide the support they need to get their jobs done.

A certain project I worked on a while back, called, “Operation Tim Hortons”, taught me how a small gesture like a cup of coffee can make a big difference. Sometimes you don’t even realize the impact your project has on others until something hits you in face to tell you. 

That’s exactly what happened to me.

A local military museum wants to feature me in their upcoming exhibition. Say what? Yes, this time I’m not behind the scenes planning the exhibition opening like I did for many years as the Director of Communications and Promotion at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. This time, I’m actually IN the exhibition.

Niagara Falls Military Museum features Marion Grobb Finkelstein as a Niagara connection to the Timmy's kiosk in Afghanistan

I still remember the email Jim Doherty, President of the Niagara Military Museum, sent me. He was looking for a Niagara connection to the Tim Hortons Kandahar kiosk story. They googled and found me. He asked about my involvement in the first-ever Tim Hortons kiosk installed in the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan for our Canadian Forces members and our allies. Yes, I explained, it was I who oversaw our organization’s communications on this project and liaised with the Vice-President Communications of Tim Hortons (at that time) to coordinate our joint communication efforts. Yes sir, he had tracked down the right details and the right person. 

My role at the time (2006) was Director Communication of the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency (now called The Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services) and I was part of “Operation Tim Hortons”. Along with the other team members, I received an award for leadership from the Association of Public Executives (APEX) for overseeing the communications regarding establishing a Timmy’s outlet in Kandahar Airfield for our troops and allied Forces. I discreetly keep that plaque in my office now where few ever see it. But I do, every day, and it reminds me to lead from a place of service.

APEX leadership award to Marion Grobb Finkelstein re: Operation Tim Hortons

I am absolutely humbled. My only intent was to serve those who served.

The exhibition, housed in a small room about the size of a two-car garage, provides various perspectives of Canada’s military experience in Afghanistan, from the terrorist attacks of 911 and their impact on Canada, to vibrant displays of the Afghan people and culture, as well as the role Tim Hortons played in boosting Kandahar troop morale. Particular attention is given to showcasing those from Niagara and Southwestern Ontario.

I look forward to attending the exhibition opening on JUNE 18, 2022 at the Niagara Military Museum at 11am and invite you to join me. Public is welcome to the opening ceremony followed by a visit to the exhibition. And yes, Timmy’s coffee will be served. No admission costs, just donations to the museum should you wish, to help them keep our military history alive. 

This exhibition is a chance for all of us to honour our CF members who served in Afghanistan. Lest we forget.

Let me know if you can make it and feel free to share this info with others.

And remember, lead from a place of service. Our military does.


PS: This Museum runs on volunteer power and needs all our support to allow them to continue honouring our heroes and sharing their important and moving stories. In case you’d like to help keep our military stories alive, I’ve set up a Facebook donation button and hope to raise $100 to surprise the museum. Just click here and donate what you want, if anything. Even the price of a cup of coffee makes a difference — because small gestures have big impact, when you lead from a place of service.

©2022 Marion Grobb Finkelstein (MarionSpeaks)

Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Recipient of APEX “Award for Leadership in Service Innovation” 
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Leadership communication expert, Marion Grobb Finkelstein shows leaders at any level how to build resilient and respectful workplaces by changing how they communicate. Chat with her at or and sign up for her FREE “Marion’s Communication Tips” at

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Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.


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