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.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Making Change

Everyone can make change.  What kind of change are you making?

If you don't think you can - and there are lots of excuses and things that seem to get in your way - check out this TED.com talk with Jeff Skoll for some inspiration.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stop Talking. Just Do It.

You know that thing you've been thinking about for weeks?  Talking to friends about, reading up on.  Asking for advice, and turning it over in your head.  The thing - idea, challenge, decision - that just keeps coming up.

So, what are you waiting for?

Perhaps you're scared.  Things might change, or the result might be bad.  Perhaps you just don't want to - waiting is more comfortable, or taking action seems like too much.  Or, maybe you aren't sure what the first steps are.

Whatever it is, make a decision.  This is the first step - just because you've been thinking of doing something doesn't mean you should.  So sit down, think it through and decide.

And then, follow through.  Either do it - take a step, begin, make progress; or do not - put it out of your mind and move on.

Stop talking.  Just do it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Women On Top

We've all heard the stats... less women then men in the workforce, in management.  Women work more in the home, even when they work full time jobs.

In this video from TED, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, looks at some of the reasons why - and suggests what can be done about it.

Good stuff, though I am inclined to wonder about the story beyond the numbers of women in a particular role.  For instance, how many women want to work in management, and aren't?  How many women are qualified to hold a particular position, and don't?  Are there things we can be doing - beyond encouraging women to stick it out, focus on their jobs, become invaluable - that would increase the balance of genders and perspectives in our businesses and workplaces?

What do you think?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I'm watching you...

If you choose to tell me, even without really trying, I can know everything about you.  If you choose to tell, we can all know what you had for dinner, what time you go to bed, what colour your hair was 3 years ago and the real reason you were late for work yesterday.

If you choose to put this information on Facebook, Twitter, your blog or out there some other way, a simple Google search will find it - or may not even be required, if we are connected in these spaces so that I get notified every time you post.

Yes, there are also ways this information is posted with less action on your part - newspaper articles, other people's blog posts - but for most of us, sharing about ourselves is a choice.  The difficulty this leads to, as I see it, is not privacy necessarily (though this is important - guard your information and don't share more than you would want a stranger to know).  Rather, one large challenge is to ensure that the person you portray yourself to be - kind, professional, jealous, hard-core partier, etc - must be congruent across each of these channels.  And more than that, must be congruent with the person you are in real life.

Email your office to say you're sick and staying in bed today?  Well then you'd not only better watch that you don't see any colleagues at the grocery store, but also ensure that you're not posting about a hard workout or great lunch with a friend on any social media.

Or, just had a major fight with a friend?  Best not to air out your frustration in Facebook statuses and tweets... not only might that friend see your posts, but other friends will begin to wonder what you might post about them.

Social media need not be scary, or invasive.  But just like any other communication, be careful with.  One rule of thumb to consider: if you wouldn't say it to friends in a coffee shop loud enough for strangers to hear, then don't post it online, anywhere.

Monday, April 25, 2011

You Are Valuable

At what point do we forget how inherently valuable and important we are?  When is it that we lose that initial sense that we are special, powerful and can change the world?

I have the great pleasure and fortune to spend time with many wonderful and inspiring people who speak in to my own life in many ways.  In recent months, I've noticed one of the recurring themes in many conversations has been around recognizing self-worth and importance.  Though it's been brought up through these particular conversations, I am beginning to see these topics thread through many areas of my life (perhaps the way owning a new red car makes red cars seem to appear everywhere).

The thing is that the people who often seem to struggle with feelings of low self-worth the most are those who are so beautiful, so unique and so special.  But they simply can't see that - and no amount of outside reinforcement of the truth is sufficiently convincing.  No, what is required is to realize that it is within each of our own power to realize and know our value.

There are lots of ways to build your own self-esteem, and lots of people trying to tell you how to do it.  I couldn't find Canadian statistics, but apparently the self-help industry in the United States in 2008 was worth $11 billion - no small amount of people willing to spend good money to improve their self-image.

I would suggest that the answer is both easier and more difficult than something that can be bought, and it's not going to come from a book or talk show.  Perhaps the only way we can come to believe our value and worth is the same way we come to believe in our worthlessness.  It is not from an outside source, from the praise of friends or co-workers or even the love of family - for all of these things can be lost.  We must believe, inherently, that we are valuable just because we are.

It's not easy, and I would never suggest that it is.  But it is possible.  People can do this.  And if you want to, you can too.

I leave you with one of my favourite quotes...

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

What are you giving your consent to?

Monday, April 18, 2011


I just finished the most longest, most relaxing vacation that I've enjoyed in years.  It was 12 days of rest, new culture, celebrating friendship, great conversation, new foods and shopping.  In fact, it took  about 7 days to realize I hadn't thought about work since boarding the plane - something that hasn't happened in at least a year.

And now, I'm back and ready to hit the ground running.  With renewed energy and passion for work, volunteer commitments and all the things that make life great, it's going to be a fantastic spring.

I'm so grateful to be able to take time to spend with my best friend, to rejuvenate my own energy, and to come back ready to take on a world of excitement and opportunity.

Some photos...

Beautiful old street in Sydney.  Much of the city's beautiful heritage has been well-preserved.

Town Hall.  Again, this old building really shines.

These crazy beautiful, noisy birds were everywhere.

Something gross in the Fish Market. 
Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Robyn and I making 'tourist' faces.

This storm was coming. We were on a boat. You can imagine the rest.

Seriously amazing dessert.

The San Francisco Ferry Building, where I had fantastic lunch during a layover on the way home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do

Why is it that good habits, the ones we work and toil to build and refine, are so much easier to break than bad ones?

It's easy to stop leaving for work on time, especially if a warm bed or interesting tv show beckons.  Forgetting good driving habits - turn signals and merge rules - is apparently very easy.  Snacking on a bowl of ice cream every night for a week after a long habit of healthy eating becomes way too quick and simple.

And yet, the bad habits are so hard to shake.  The stop-smoking industry makes an incredible amount of money each year from people who are struggling to quit something that's killing them... if that's not incentive enough, I don't know what is.  Many people fight to stop an ongoing habit of negative self-talk that pervades their self-conscious and affects every minute of every day.  But these thoughts and actions, the ones we know (or at least say we know) we don't like are so difficult to quit.  They just seem to hang on... sometimes for years, or forever.

Here's a radical, if easier-said-than-done, solution: treat breaking bad habits the same as we treat breaking the good ones.  Pick one bad habit - just one - and focus on all the reasons it's bad, and all the good that will come from leaving it behind.  Make a list, if it helps.  Think of things you can do instead, ways you can replace that behaviour.  Then, just...

stop.  Just stop.

Whatever it is, just stop doing it.

If you're thinking it's not that easy, I'd agree - it's tough, brutally so in some cases.  But you're tough too.  Every day, you choose to get out of a comfortable bed to do things you need to do.  You make tough decisions, and commit to and accomplish difficult things.  This decision is something you have in your power.  We each choose our own actions, our thoughts, our words, our reactions.

So what are you waiting for?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Moments That Shape Us

In which moments, from which memories, do we learn the most profound lessons?  What part of each individual's experiences is the most impactful, the most lasting?

There are the moments of pure, unadulterated feeling - deep joy, pain, or anger.  There are the memories so often photographed for preservation - birthdays, first steps, weddings, new homes.

But I wonder if the moments that leave the biggest impact are often the ones that are initially unnoticed.  Perhaps it's the small things - the casual comment someone makes about your outfit that makes you walk a little taller, leading to you keeping the item for a long time because of the confidence it instills.  Or the realization you build over time about your own ability to cook, as you practice and experiment and build small successes.

It's the everyday, often unnoticed moments then, that shape our learning, understanding and experiences.  And, conversely, it is our smallest comments and actions that most often have a profound affect on others.

If it's these "little things" that make such a big difference, I am inspired to pay closer attention - both to the small things I do that impact others, and the way I am changed and impacted by things that happen around me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Am A Giraffe

Each month, JCI Calgary members are invited to get together to discuss what's happening in our community and enjoy a presentation from a speaker or trainer.  This month, our speaker was Shelia Morrison, a local Realtor, who shared her perspective on sales and behavioural styles.  One of the personality profiles that Shelia mentioned is called Surviving the Serengeti - a short quiz that gives some insight in to your personality based on which animal you share personality traits with.

I took the quiz and, it turns out, I'm a giraffe - without the long neck, of course, or the spots.  No, apparently the giraffe is identified by grace and, as this particular profile defines it, a compassion and love for others.  In reference to my own personality, I agree with some of the statements and definitely not with others.  However, this was the paragraph that really struck me:

"Our ability to develop grace isn't based on what we have or don’t have. What matters in terms of grace is whether or not we appreciate what we do have, and how we interact with those around us."

I strive to appreciate what I do have, and to treat others with respect and love - and can only hope to live up to that every day.

Anyway, on the whole, I agree with some of the qualities of the giraffe, and am quite certain that I do not embody others.  (Ever see me try to roller skate?  Yeah, not graceful.)  But, an interesting quiz all the same!

**JCI Calgary provides personal and business training and skill development for people ages 18-40 as they strive to make a difference in their communities.  Interested?  Check our website for details - and come check out an event!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Magic pen & paper

There's something magical about writing with a pen and paper.  Generally, I consider myself a pretty high-tech person.  Much of each day in the office, if not in meetings or visiting other areas, is spent firmly planted at my desk, typing away on projects or emails.  I nearly go in to withdrawl at the thought of being without my Blackberry, and refuse to run without my iPod & Nike+.

For all that, thought, I sometimes find my best writing and thinking comes while holding a pen and writing on paper.  Something about the colour of ink, the act of scratching out a mis-spelled word or (let's face it) simply bad idea... it just makes the words flow and sentences fit together.

So, dear whoever first put pen to paper: you're brilliant, and I thank you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spinster? Really?

This is not a rant on single-dom.  Far from it.  But, you may have to read the entire thing to find that out...

Last week, while reading the paper, I stumbled across this article.

On one hand, the author describes Jennifer Aniston (and the masses of single women like her) as empowered and powerful - "...loud and proud in singlehood".  Yet in the next breath (in fact, much of the rest of the article), single women are described with pity, sadness even - "sucker punch to the lovelorn heart of the average single woman".  These women are described as part of "Spinsterhood 2.0".

For the record, I would be one of those single women.  Also for the record, I am not lovelorn, sad, desperately searching for love, nor (hopefully) pathetic.

And so just as I got to the end of this piece, and feeling slightly put off with the perspective I was receiving, the author threw in this paragraph:

"If Jennifer Aniston can't seal the deal, maybe that's proof that there
really isn't someone for everyone, that love -at least the kind of love
that we are programmed to spend our lives looking for -isn't everything."

I don't know about being "programmed", but I would agree that the kind of love many of people - men as well, though I've noticed this with women particularly - spend much of their lives waiting, hoping & searching for includes a relationship, a partner.  And while these relationships are no doubt incredibly valuable and important, profound and deeply meaningful even, they can not possibly be the only kind of love that matters.

While I do intend to marry one day, when the time is right and I've met someone with whom I could live forever, I find my right now every day filled with other kinds of love - friends, family, and important and valuable people who surround.  It is this love that gives me a sense of purpose, of fulfillment.  And while I can believe that the kind of partnership and love found in a spouse is deep, wide and beyond my wildest expectations, I wouldn't give up the love and relationships I have right now for anything.

See?  Not a rant - instead, let's call it a passionate plea to celebrate the many kinds of love each of us enjoys.

But really... spinster?  Even if it is describing Jennifer Aniston... can we please find a better word for people who are living lives filled with love and happiness?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Sometimes, a story captures, touches and inspires.  Today, for me, it was this one.

This tells the story of twin women who have autism and area also brilliant savants.  Perhaps this hit me because I have worked with families who have kids with autism for a number of years, and so personally feel attached and sometimes fascinated by the challenges that people live with.  Perhaps it was because the story of their lives - from sheltered and mis-understood childhood's to finding enjoyment and some independence as adults - shows an arc of determination and growth that is inspiring.

Anyway, it's a bit long, but well worth the watch.

What do you think?  Oh, and... any Dick Clark fans out there?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


How do you start your mornings?

I find that I am most effective in the morning - best time for writing, being inspired, learning and understanding.  Unfortuantely, it's just so early!

Beautiful sunrise in Seattle
For the past year or so, I've gotten up each morning around 5:15, read a couple blogs, and then walked over to the gym, followed by rushing home to change and head to work.  But, I feel like I've been missing some time - time to write a few emails, ponder a blog post, and really settle in to some early thinking and working prior to starting at the gym.

To combat this, I am starting to get up even earlier - about 30 minutes earlier - in an effort to use the time that I am at my most effective.

When are you most productive?

Monday, February 7, 2011

JCI Leadership Academy: Part 2

A continuation of this post regarding the US Jaycees Leadership Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma...

Saturday at Leadership Academy was another packed full day.  Following a quick breakfast, everyone was grouped together for photos - an exciting and complicated process with 170 people!

The US Jaycee National Board

Then, we spent the morning in a couple of interesting sessions about signing up new members and community surveys that taught me a lot about the way US Jaycees operate - and gave some interesting new ideas for JCI Calgary.

During lunch, World President Kentaro Harada presented about some of his goals for JCI for the year - exciting stuff!

In the afternoon, Suzette Plaisted presented about Managing the Human Side of Change.  She talked about the four factors that influence how people feel about change - basic needs, wants, fear and threats.  And, Suzette used this personality profiler to highlight some of the ways that each of us is different and can lead and handle change in different ways.

More afternoon time brought a second presentation by President Kentaro Harada, expanding on his three major goals for the year:

  1. Promote relationships with and support for Nothing But Nets and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals
  2. Build JCI's commitment to the Global Compact with the United Nations
  3. Encourage local chapters to participate in the Omoiyari Campaign to remind all members to do the right thing, with the right attitude, in our daily lives
President Harada inspires us

Following this, some future leaders of the US Jaycees inspired us with speeches on the topic of Realized Potential.  And then, we enjoyed a huge buffet meal at Tulsa's River Spirit Casino!

When Sunday morning arrived, we enjoyed an inspiring wrap-up from the US Jaycees President Joanie Cramer and other members of the National Board.

All in all, an inspiring and exciting weekend that I am thrilled I got to participate in.  Thanks to the US Jaycees, the US Jaycee Foundation and JCI Calgary for providing this fantastic opportunity!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

JCI Leadership Academy

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the United States Junior Chamber Leadership Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  This training conference has been hosted every January since 1999, and is designed for current and future leaders of local, state and national JCI chapters in the US.

Luckily for me, the US Jaycees (aka US JCI or Junior Chamber) extended an invitation for two chapter Presidents from JCI Canada to join the Academy, and so I joined Kelly Faubert, President of the Winnipeg chapter, in Tulsa.  The US Jaycee Foundation was generous enough to sponsor the Academy, and to provide partial sponsorship of my attendance.

The Academy is filled with 2 and a half days of training workshops, US Jaycee board meetings and ceremonies, and lots of time to have fun and get to know JCI members from other chapters.  There were about 170 people in attendance, most from a wide variety of different states, chapters, and having different experiences and perspectives.

Following an early morning in Calgary to catch a flight to Tulsa via Denver, I arrived late in the afternoon and got to the hotel after dark.  I got settled, grabbed dinner at a Panera Bread down the street (which was fantastic – Panera may be one of my new favourite fast food joints in the US) and headed in for the first session of the Academy – Breaking the Ice!

Breaking the Ice was all about – well, perhaps you’ve guessed it – icebreaker games.  Suzette Plaisted, a JCI International Training Fellow (ITF #85), facilitated our participation in a whole bunch of icebreaker games, conversations and challenges.  Not only did this help everyone get to know each other a little better, but it gave some great ideas for icebreaker and team-building activities to use with our own boards and chapters!

The icebreakers were followed by an opening ceremony and scavenger hunt game that went late in to the evening.  All in all, a great first day!

Friday morning started early with a quick breakfast and full morning of training.  This morning session, again facilitated by Suzette, was called Leadership Flexibility.  This was a very useful session, applicable to any number of situations.  We learned to identify how to lead, coach and support people who are at various levels of working through a project or situation, and how to modify our own leadership style according to what that person needed in that situation at that time.  For instance, someone who is highly committed to a project but doesn’t yet have the skills necessary to make it successful needs very different leadership and support than someone who is highly skilled in an area but doesn’t have the commitment to it.  I can see myself using the skills learned here very often, and would love to share this training with our members here at home!

Following lunch, there were a whole series of shorter sessions, including:
·         How to run effective meetings
·         Talking about JCI to future members
·         Dealing with difficult people
·         Effective communications

Following dinner on Friday evening with my new friend Solveig Malvik (current Director of Marketing for JCI UK), we headed over to the US Jaycee Service Center.  Aside from being the headquarters for the US Jaycee offices, the Service Center also hosts a historical archive and account of JCI’s beginning, expansion throughout the world and current operations.

From JCI’s beginning in 1914 in St. Louis, through international expansion in 1944, to it’s spread throughout the world today, the Service Center tells a fascinating story.

A US Jaycee membership ad.
Speech bubble says "All who are willing to work are welcome".

The original JCI creed. There are 3 errors - can you find them?

Solveig, from JCI London, in front of the state plaques. Each state has one here.

And that completes Friday evening!

More to come regarding Saturday and Sunday! J

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

JCI is...

JCI (Junior Chamber International) is an international organization based around teaching leadership skills and building networks for people ages 18-40 through local chapters.

JCI Calgary has about 70 members - fantastic people with a huge variety of backgrounds, professions, interests and personalities.  The chapter has a diverse calendar of events, from training in business and personal skills to networking and social events, there are tons of opportunities for members to learn new things, have new experiences and meet new people.

I am proud to have been part of JCI Calgary for 3 years, and honoured to have been elected as President of this chapter for 2011.

People interested in becoming members are always welcome!  Drop by an event soon and check us out :)

You will hear much, much more about this group from me!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Sometimes, reading something else hits exactly the right spot and strikes some great thinking.  This great post from Simon Sinek did that for me last week.

Friends are one of the most valuable, critically important parts of my own life.  Friends that I've known for a long or short time, who share values and ideas and energy and sometimes even secrets.

True friends are what keeps us going when we just don't think there's anything left.  The way someone knows us, inside and out, and love us in spite of it.  The nod, smile or subtle message shared that gives us the strength to face whatever comes.

Good friendships are invaluable, irreplaceable.  They are worth fighting for and waiting for.

Go, find a friend, and tell them that they matter

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Too busy?

“How are you?”  she asked.

“Good” he replied, “busy, but good.”

How many times a day does this exchange occur?  How often do each of us utter such phrases, qualifying our mood, our day, by bemoaning the busyness of our own lives?  Of course, almost simultaneously, we look to take on more projects, make more commitments, say yes to doing more.

Allow me to suggest something radical here: you are only as busy as you choose to be, and you are NEVER too busy.  Each of us has 24 hours each day to eat, sleep, travel, work, plan, laugh and love.

We can choose to spend those 24 hours however we want.  Yes, there are basic requirements – at some point you may fall over if you don’t sleep for a few hours – but for the most part, you control your own time.

When we use busy this way, it too often equals stress, tired, not real busy.  Perhaps, this kind of busy means that you are choosing priorities – you are not too busy to do something, you are choosing not to make it a priority.  That’s not something to apologize for, as priorities are important – but admitting that it’s just not a priority can bring great clarity of thinking.

In my own life, I’ve discovered that “busy” is relative – sure, I have a full schedule, but who doesn't?  What's important is that I choose to allocate my day in areas of passion and love.

A challenge: spend as much of your 24 hours as you can in ways that you are passionate about.  See how busy you feel then.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Best Version of Me

I read a lot - books, blogs, magazines, ads... you get the point.  The best are the ones that inspire me to do better, think better and be better.

One of my favourite hard-core, super-tough fitness girl blogs is The Clothes Make the Girl by Melissa Joulwan.  Melissa inspires me because she's tough, but totally real - and she shares some fantastic, very vegetably, recipes!

Also, Melissa wrote my possibly all time favourite blog post the other day - Best Versions of Us.  As someone who doesn't make new year's resolutions per-se, but does set goals all year round, this was a great way to kick-start some rethinking.

So what, you might ask, is the Best Version of me?

Well, the Best Version of me has friends & family over, and makes the time to sit and talk and laugh with them instead of worrying about the dishes.  The Best Version of me sleeps enough, eats lots of veggies & some chocolate, and bakes a lot.  The Best Version of me laughs out loud, blogs regularly, and hits the gym or yoga every morning.  The Best Version of me is surrounded by kids, doesn't worry if the house is cluttered, and is so organized it's a little painful.  The Best Version of me asks hard questions, sets goals like running 1/2 marathons (1st one is this spring!!), and travels lots.

Perhaps most importantly, the Best Version of me isn't perfect, but realizes that mistakes happen & rolls with them.

I'm going to work really hard at making 2011 the year where I refine, add to, and focus on the Best Version of me, so that I can give and love and share with every bit of energy.

What does the Best Version of you look like?

Monday, January 10, 2011

2 Blogs... 1 Personality

Today, I'm excited to start a new blog - The Joy of Giving.

Every day, I am fortunate enough to work with people who want to make the world a better place for kids and families.  As a fundraiser, I talk to people who are making investments that make individuals and the whole community stronger.  And, as someone of the Millennial generation, I have a unique and different perspective on this fundraising.  This new blog will be a space to talk about working to build community, being a nonprofit professional who is also a Millennial, and the fundraising and nonprofit community in Calgary.

Meanwhile, I intend to re-commit to blogging in this space about life in general - books I've read, inspiration from other sources, and my own personal life - training for a 1/2 marathon, family, friends, and everything else that makes life wonderful.

I look forward to talking with you in these, and so many other, ways!