How to be Kickass in Life: An Interview with Freelance Writer and Peak Performer Amanda Sage

Posted on by jafremow

amandaCanadian Amanda Sage is a peak performer in the game of life – she is focused on reaching her true and full potential. Amanda demonstrates a commitment to excellence in all of her professional pursuits by promising big, but delivering bigger. This engaging and energetic freelance writer is the founder of, the owner of the Wonderpress, and the director of Sage Words. In this exclusive interview, Amanda discusses the “kickass” concept, or the metaphor for the kind of excellence she highlights on her company website.

JIM: Thanks for the interview. Tell us about all of your professional interests and activities.

AMANDA: My pleasure! Thanks very much for the opportunity. I’ll have to let your readers decide what’s fantastic, but I can outline some of what I’m working on. I’m a freelance writer, and I write all sorts of web and print communications materials, as well as scripts for videos and interactive modules. I’ve also written and self-published three children’s books, one for each of my nephews. The books are available through my shingle Wonderpress ( in both English and French.

I write for my website,, which I launched in January 2011 to feature inspiring Canadians. I recently added a podcast to the site, called Keeping Up with the Kickass Canadians ( I also have a film blog ( and dabble in photography (

I’ve got several ideas for future projects, but right now, I’m most excited about two things. One is my recent return to filmmaking, after many years away; I wrote, produced and directed a short movie called Bliss, which I shot earlier this year and am currently submitting to festivals around the world. The other is the potential for Kickass Canadians to bring people together and raise support for great causes.

Last year, with the help of some wonderful friends and, in particular, Laura Nicol and Rosemary Tassie from CARE Canada, and Terry and Randy Fitzpatrick from Petit Bill’s Bistro, I organized a fundraiser called Kickass Talks for Care. You can read the details at, but in a nutshell, during one afternoon we raised more than $6,000 for CARE Canada (they got 100% of admission donations) and Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa (they got 100% of silent auction proceeds). I’m currently working on a fundraiser photobook that will feature photographs by local (Ottawa-based) shutterbugs, both professional and amateur, as well as quotes from the Kickass Canadians and a few other tidbits. All net proceeds will go to CARE Canada, and I’m hoping to get a few sponsors to cover printing costs so we can give 100% of sales to the charity. Once the book comes together, I’ll plan a launch event in Ottawa that will involve the Kickass Canadians. You can ‘Like’ for the latest news on the book, launch and all things Kickass.

JIM: How would you define a Kickass Canadian?

AMANDA: For the purposes of my website, I’d say a Kickass Canadian is someone who inspires others by being unique, generous and courageous. Each of the Canadians I’ve profiled has taken chances and lives according to what drives them – their passions and beliefs. And they care about giving back to the world, whether through official charities and initiatives, or by sharing their knowledge and time with people in their communities. Many do both. They also each have something extraordinary about them – talents and gifts above the norm.

JIM: Who are some of the athletes you’ve profiled, and what about them was kickass?

AMANDA: I can’t single anyone out because all the athletes I’ve profiled are kickass people. So I’ll name them each and keep it brief. Here they are in alpha order:

Al Charron, rugby player – world-class athlete and as humble as they come; very sweet and approachable.
Julie Drury, runner, triathlete – strong, tough and endlessly positive.
Glenroy Gilbert, sprinter – incredibly accomplished (five-time Olympian with a gold medal to show for it), secure in who he is, leads others to succeed.
Norm Hann, basketball player, standup paddler – soulful, in tune with nature, deeply kind and compassionate; also fiercely competitive and always ready to give his best.
Colin Harris, distance runner – determined beyond belief, never backs down from meeting his goals.
Shannon Loutitt, honour runner – loyal, dedicated and perseverant; also bubbling over with life and energy.
Blaine Penny, ultrarunner – incredibly accomplished in all areas; one of the most positive people on the planet, with an astonishing perspective and a ferociously strong heart.
Jonathon Power, squash player – phenomenal athlete and extraordinary person; his generosity and philanthropic initiatives are mind-blowing.
James Raffan, canoeist – a true nature-lover, passionate about his beliefs and devoted to standing by them; always gives his all.
Doug Smith, hockey player – focused, driven, talented; willing to admit mistakes and keen to overcome any perceived flaws.
Ryan Steeves, hockey player – incredibly big-hearted, always looking for ways to give back, also has a strong competitive side (but always with great humour).
Niobe Thompson, ultrarunner – multi-talented, dedicated, committed to uncovering the truth, unafraid to march to his own tune, always looking for ways to push himself and share his knowledge for the betterment of our planet.
Alyson Walker, ultimate player – a true team player, gifted athlete, very multi-dimensional person with a wonderful spirit.
Richard Weber, cross-country skier, Arctic and polar explorer – unusual, devoted, hardworking, always up for a challenge, amazing stamina.
John and Ray Zahab, ultrarunners – ultrahuman, yet the most humane people you’ll ever meet; kind, generous, funny and super-fit!

JIM: What is your most memorable interview, and why was it memorable?

AMANDA: When I look over the list of Kickass Canadians to date (, it’s hard to choose just one person. They’re all such amazing people.

A story that sticks with me is Kinya Ishikawa’s. His life journey and his love story with his wife are inspiring. Our interview was a very special conversation. Shortly after, I received a box of beautiful Ishikawa pottery as a gift. I visited Kinya at 1001 Pots last July and spent a truly enchanting afternoon visiting with him and touring the exhibition. Kinya generously donated his pottery for the silent auction at Kickass Talks for CARE. (Many of the Kickass Canadians donated items and/or their time for the fundraiser. See? Wonderful, giving people!)

I could spout off anecdotes and cherished memories from all of the interviews, but I’ll leave it at that. I feel blessed to have come into contact with Kinya.

JIM: If you could offer three “kickass” tips to live by, what would those tips be?

AMANDA: I’m still learning – it’ll be a lifelong process, I’m sure. So I’ll try to combine what I’ve observed with the principles the Kickass Canadians life by:

1. Always do your best.
2. Embrace risks and challenges.
3. Give back to others.

Please visit and to learn more about Amanda, and to nominate any Kickass Canadians of your choice.

Dr. Jim Afremow is a leading mental coach, a licensed professional counselor, and the author of The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive (Rodale, 2014.) Though his private practice is located in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Afremow provides individual and group mental training services across the globe to athletes in all sports, as well as to parents, business professionals, and all others engaged in highly-demanding endeavors. His website is