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HowdYYC: Meet Mark Sawdon

by Calgary Downtown Association


Greeting everyone with a friendly smile comes easy to Mark Sawdon, even behind the mask. As a former Curbside Ambassador for YYC and now a Downtown Ambassador for our 9Block program, whether it's lending an ear or pointing someone in the right direction, Mark is no stranger to being the embodiment of Calgary's iconic western hospitality.

What drew you to the Ambassador role?

I was a Curbside Ambassador at YYC for 3 years and on an average day I would meet around 1000 people. My mantra was to always say "hello" or "good morning" to everyone I met, whilst smiling at them. This resulted in me advising the CEO of the Airport regarding project Northern Star, which was to make YYC the best airport in the world based on customer service. We knew we couldn’t beat the facilities of airports like Singapore, Dubai, but we could be the best by smiling, being polite and listening to what the customer wanted. 

I met people going through severe trauma, people very sick, sone who were grieving. It was a job I loved. 

What do you look forward to the most with the Ambassador role?

Every person  I come into contact with, hoping I can make a positive change to their life. Calgary is currently the 4th best city in the world to live in, let’s get to number 1.

Do you communicate in another language? If so, how do you say 'howdy,' or 'hello?'

No, but it’s a fact that 95 percent of all communication is non-verbal. So I could say Yes! When you say "hello," mean it, realize it’s opening a door for further communication.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

So many, people who are positive, happy, and never give up

If you could say one thing to everyone in Calgary right now, what would it be?

We are all Calgarians, we are in this together, we will succeed.

What are you afraid of?

Snakes and spiders, I will never live in Australia.

What inspires you?

The Rockies. I'm not sure if it’s the elevation, so we are closer to heaven, or the nature. If I need to detox, or come up with a good idea, that’s my most inspirational place.

What's the happiest you've ever been?

Hmmm, there’s a lot, but probably when my son was born. He was very close to not making it, but the NICU at the FMC saved his life. Hence his name is Nikolai, which means Victory of the People.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

I love working downtown, so I want the Calgary Stampede to happen, I believe it will bring more people downtown.

What makes you laugh?

Life, it’s unpredictable, it’s amazing, it’s often funny. I also like “Saturday Night Live”

What's your favourite thing to see out of the window?

The sun, the trees, the world.

What three things do you think of the most each day?

Coffee, chocolate, staying positive.

Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

Definitely half full, 50% of the enjoyment is gone, but 50% is still there to enjoy. And you can always refill it.

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