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!