Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A few weeks ago, my Mom and I went to see the musical Wicked when it was here in Calgary.

From the opening song to the closing curtain, I was entranced.  It was fantastic.

Basically, Wicked is the prequel to the Wizard of Oz.  It tells the story of how the Wicked Witch and Glinda came to be, and how the Scarecrow, Lion and Tinman all came to meet with Dorothy.  One of the things that makes the story so wonderful is the hidden pieces, complicated history's and bizarre happenings that bring all of the characters to the story we all know.

In case you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you; suffice to say, it really made me think: what if all is not as it seems?  What if we go around making decisions, judging people and situations, without knowing the full story?  Based not on reality, but on our perception - one little piece, our viewpoint in to the situation - but that usually doesn't tell it all.

So, a loved one gets upset with you over something that's normally insignificant; the reality is, they've had a really tragically bad day and this small situation puts them right over the edge.

A driver goes just under the speed limit in front of you, and all you can see is that she's making you late for work; her reality is a nasty accident 6 months ago that she can't quite shake the memory of.

Your co-worker doesn't follow through as promised, leading to you not delivering on a project; all she can think of is her parent, recently admitted to hospital for symptoms that seem life threatening.

Nothing is easy about these situations - not the side you're on, and not the other.  And the reality isn't that we should let other people do whatever they want just because they're having a bad day or struggling with old memories.  Rather, by understanding where others are coming from, or accepting that we may never know and still choosing to perceive and judge them kindly, we can all be happier in our own skin, and more loving to each other.

Personally, I'm committing to trying to see the other perspective sometimes; and when I can't, to simply not judge.  What about you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yikes... a test??

I'm pretty sure I have the best job in the world.  Every day, I get to talk with people who are interested in investing in kids and families in Calgary, and help them find ways to take action to directly and positively impact  the lives of kids and families.  Technically, my job fundraising - though I can think of many other, more descriptive words that could be used - and it's a role I never, ever thought I would be in (which is a whole long story in itself).

Recently, after more than six years of working as a fundraiser, I became eligible to go through the certification process to receive a CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) designation.  I was thrilled - a few years ago, after discovering how much I enjoy fundraising, I committed to one day becoming certified.  For me, this not only acknowledges my commitment to my profession and to doing all that I can to do the best possible work, it also is an opportunity and motivation to continually learn, grow and contribute to a greater community of people working to make our communities better.

So, excitedly, I submitted my application and, upon it's acceptance, signed up to write the exam.  And then I stopped.

An exam.  September 9th, 2011.  I haven't written an exam since... well, forever!

To make matters slightly more complicated, there is such a broad and exhaustive list of possible study resources (approximately 40 book recommendations, last time I checked) that it's impossible to cover them all given any amount of time - never mind the three weeks I now have.  So, I'm attempting to focus on those areas where I have less experience... and relying on what I already know for the rest.

For those of you have taken this exam, any advice?  Or, if you haven't - any other advice about studying, exams certifications, etc. in general?  Either way, be prepared for my rants/complaints/inspirations/etc. about studying these next couple months!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What I'll Do

Turns out, I am a terribly scattered & random blogger.  Timing of my posts are completely random, all over the map - I write tons in a day, then nothing for 3 weeks.  In addition, I let fear paralyze me.  After all, what I write will be out there, for everyone and anyone to read, forever - right?  What if I'm wrong/insult someone/change my mind/etc?

Sometimes, I let all that get the best of me.  I forget the good things about blogging, the reason I enjoy it - the opportunity to start conversations, process thoughts and ideas, and pass on and absorb inspiration.

Clearly, I also forgot that sometimes, it doesn't matter if I'm right, or hold the same opinion forever.  It's ok if things change, and it's alright to put as much or as little as I want to in this space.

Most importantly, I found that I miss the outlet, miss having a great space to write and think "out loud".

So, in an effort to re-inspire myself and re-commit to something I really do feel the benefit of, I threw a question out on Twitter - and got some great responses.

Danelle recommended a blogging schedule (allowing for bursts of inspiration)
Michelle suggested setting a daily goal (a paragraph each day, for instance)
The people managing the U of C's Kinesiology Alumni Association reminded of the importance of focus
And Shannon suggested podcast inspiration - one of my personal favourite sources of gym motivation :)

So, this weekend, I re-committed.  I've written out a loose schedule with some ideas I've been thinking about to write on (with lots of room for new and interesting ideas), and will be doing at least 10 minutes of writing each day.

And, since I've said it here, on the big intranetz, I have to do it now... right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Social Media for Breakfast?

Social media is a big, wide open subject - and often, users (or prospective users), especially those who want to use its power to do good for their business or organization, struggle to find ways to optimize their use.

Luckily, because this is such a wide open subject, there's lots of room for discussion and debate about different strategies.  Even more fortunately, Calgary's social media community is incredibly warm, open and interested in discussion and sharing.

It's in these conditions that Social Media Breakfast Calgary (SMBYYC) began in our city over 18 months ago, based on a similar event in other cities.  I've attended many of these as a guest and participant, and have learned a great deal, and been provoked to think, discuss and learn on many facets of the use of these tools.  On July 22nd, I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with the group about how many nonprofits are using (or not using) social media, and the challenges and advantages they may experience in doing so.

However, the most interesting part of the conversation (at least for me!) took place around measuring the return on social media after the main presentation.  What do you think - can the benefits of social media be measured in numbers?  What are your goals in using social media, and how do you know if they're being met?

If you're so inclined, you can view a video of the presentation here (discussion on return starts around 40 minutes in).  The video that I tried to use in the presentation can be found here.  As well, a few people asked for a link to the study on funds raised through social media; it's located at www.netwitsthinktank.com.

Huge thanks to all who supported SMBYYC 20!
Breakfast sponsor: 
Video taping:  and  
The organizing committee:
Alex Poda -  @LexPoda, @McQDesign
Scott Baird - @mediapirate
Mike Spear - @mikesgene
Roger Kondrat - @west17media, @roger
Chett Matchett - @chett12, @podiumventures, @binstinctsgroup
Donna McTaggart - @donnamct
Eric Vondran - @nscafe, @dheadspaceb, @reviewskawphy
John Bardos - @smbyyc, @smbyeg @ideaeconomy, @jetsetcitizen

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Recently, as the busyness of life has built around me and pressure has settled in, I find it more and more difficult to make strong, sensible & healthy choices in other areas that are less pressured.  I suppose this is a kind of mental compensation, but that doesn't make it good.

Then, I recalled this piece from page 206 of Seth Godin's Linchpin.  He credits it as being Ishita Gupta's meditation.  It goes as follows:

Every day is a new chance to choose.

Choose to change your perspective.
Choose to flip the Switch in your mind. Turn on the light and stop fretting about with insecurity and doubt.
Choose to do your work and be free of distraction.
Choose to see the best in someone, or choose to bring out the worst in them.
Choose to be a laser beam, with focused intention, or a scattered ray of light that doesn't do any good.

I don't know about you, but that reminder of choice is exactly what I've been needing to hear.  Now, to put it in to action...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's all mental

Last year, I was running in my first 10K - the Calgary Women's Run.

I was thrilled to find that, on this particular day, I was running harder & faster than I had in some time.  Part of it was that I was running with a friend who runs faster than me, and I just focused on keeping pace with her - didn't have to think about anything but keeping up.  As well, I was prepared - ate a good breakfast, rested the day before, and had trained and prepped to go the distance.

Somewhere around the 6K mark, it occurred to me that so much of running is mental.  Your body can handle a lot, but so often the brain makes you slow down.

How many situations is this true in?  How much of what we experience and are challenged with can be won or lost mentally?  And in those situations, how much stronger would we be if we simply recognized this truth and used it to our advantage?

The truth is that your body, physically, can handle a lot.  You can run as fast and jump as high as you can possibly imagine.  Similarly, your brain can do more than you know.  You can think through more complexities and solve greater problems than you ever have before.  Yet, you have to believe you can.  You have to allow yourself to do it, push yourself to do it, and trust and know that it is possible.

So often, we stop before a goal is reached, or before we've accomplished all we could.  In most cases, this isn't because the dreamed-of goal is un-reachable; it's because our negative self-talk and debilitating perception drags us down, stalling progress and eliminating any chance of achievement or success.

This isn't to say that you can achieve anything if you simply believe - if that were true, I'd be able to fly.  But, perhaps if you believe, and talk to yourself as if you do, you can achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

JCI Conference

Why should you consider going to a JCI Conference?  Why spend your time, energy and money going to training sessions you've never heard of with people you may not know well?

No matter which JCI Conference you choose to attend, days of valuable information and training and evenings of fun and networking are nearly guarunteed.  From training sessions on positive attitude to practicing speaking skills, you will likely find a number of opportunities to learn something new.  And, evenings will be full too; from receptions to suites hosted by various JCI Chapters, there will be many opportunities to kick back, get to know some people and have fun.

Take, for instance, the recent regional convention hosted by the JCI BC/Yukon Region.  Seven members of JCI Calgary were fortunate enough to attend this weekend event in Richmond, BC.  This event featured three training sessions.

Patrick von Pander opened the weekend with a session on credibility and leadership, reminding everyone of responding to our audience and speaking from experiences.  This was followed by a scavenger hunt throughout the casino (complete with being yelled at by security) and a number of fun challenges that helped everyone get to know each other.

The next morning, Wilf Mulder and Kathleen Dubois led an engaging morning session about Roberts Rules (yes, engaging - even at 8am!).  Roberts Rules is a structure for operating orderly, fair and focused meetings and making decisions.  The great information in this session was helpful, particularly for those who don't currently use this structure, providing some great ideas for keeping meetings on track and discussion flowing.

The next morning session was led by Patrick Knight, an inspiring and engaging speaker who is certified as an International Trainer by JCI.  Patrick's session focused on the Power of Positive Seduction, and was full of ideas that anyone can implement to move their own lives in a positive direction and have a positive influence on others.  Patrick's session was inspiring, relevant, motivational and I'm certain each person left with a strategy they can implement right away to point their own lives in a positive direction.

An afternoon Effective Speaking competition gave a number of participants a chance to present their ideas on this year's topic, "The Power of One".  Within this topic, each speaker presented their own prepared speech, all very passionate and compelling.  Then, each participant had a chance to present an impromptu speech, on a topic that was given only moments before they spoke.  All the speakers performed well, and it's always exciting to see people take on the sometimes intimidating task of speaking in public.

A High Roller gala topped off the evening, with some deserving award presentations and a live DJ and dance.

So, why attend a JCI Conference?  Great people, excellent training sessions, a chance to visit a new city... why not?  There are lots of conferences coming up - check them out here.

As an added incentive, if you're a member of JCI Calgary, you have an opportunity to apply for travel funding for eligible conferences.