A Year, Less a Day

•August 22, 2010 • 5 Comments

For those who didn’t hear, I am finally employed. On Monday I started with the London Heritage Council as the new Heritage Portal and Social Media Coordinator. For those unfamiliar with LHC here is an overview:

The London Heritage Council (LHC) is a not-for-profit umbrella organization established in 2007.  The mission of the LHC is to enhance the quality of life of all Londoners through the preservation, promotion and celebration of heritage and cultural resources and activities, and to encourage a sense of place and civic memory in London’s diverse cultural community.

After applying for countless jobs over the last several months, I was relieved to receive the news that I would be joining the team at LHC. I was also thrilled with the opportunity to work in a role that I feel really supports my current skills and will help to develop skills I am interested in. The news also came at a bit of personal milestone for me. On August 14th, 2009 I left my “steady” career in the automotive sector to go back to school for Not for Profit Management and start making positive change in the world. Exactly one year less a day later my goal was achieved. This gave me a great sense of accomplishment and pride that had been missing from my life when I decided to leave the factory. I am not one to believe in fate or destiny, but it was pretty darn cool!

I was excited to start my first day on Monday and couldn’t help but be a little bit nervous as well. This was the first time in a long while that I was going into an organization as a new employee in an existing role. My nerves were calmed almost instantly as I walked into the office and was greeted by the excited and eager faces that I would call my new colleagues, not to mention the “London Fog” tea waiting at my new desk for me. I instantly felt like one of the team and was excited to get up to speed on my role, the organization and the future of the heritage community. After a lengthy discussion with the Executive Director, Andrea Hallam, I was amazed at the progressive culture that she has created within the organization. Future focused and willing to take chances is not something you usually hear of in the Not-for-Profit sector. Her respect for personal time and understanding of Work/Life balance was also a refreshing bit of good news. Andrea definitely has an amazing grasp on team morale, organizational development and the satisfaction of making change in the community and this only made settling in that much easier.

The rest of the week was filled with meetings and introductions to some of the other people and organization that I would be working with. At the end of each day, I felt like I had accomplished more and I actually started to settle in to my work. I look forward to taking on the coming week as I now feel like I am a functioning part of the team.

A big shout out to all of you (you know who you are) who sent positive recommendations to Andrea during the selection process. I feel truly fortunate to have your support and it has definitely been great inspiration to do you all proud.

Another HUGE shout out to Kevin Van Lierop for all his support. Kevin and I were both struggling to find our place in a rewarding career in London and we often vented to one another about the challenges of finding a career you can be proud of. Kevin is an extraordinary community contributor and has taught me a lot about being a valuable citizen of London. I wish Kevin the best of luck as he continues his career search and look forward to maintaining a strong friendship with him.

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I am not an Artist…..

•July 23, 2010 • 11 Comments

I felt inspired to expand on my tweet from this morning as I am feeling frisky, so to speak!

Most of you who know me now probably think of me as a pretty positive person (I hope), but just a short time ago my life (unfortunately) had a lot of negativity attached to it. I was stuck in a career that I felt was moving backwards, finances were tight, I was facing a pending automotive sector meltdown and most of the time I was a prick. I can still remember the day that things got really bad and I pretty much gave up on the world. My job became nothing more than a vehicle to sustain my life and nothing more. I approached every day of work with a frown and a sigh. My work suffered almost immediately and the worst part was that I didn’t even care. It wasn’t until I started to insert positive energy back into my life that things started to move in a more positive direction. Getting more involved in the community and contributing my skills to different causes and organizations made me feel valued and gave me something that had been missing in my life for sometime. The tipping point towards positive change came after I watched The Secret (believe it or not!). Although most of the ideals in the film were a little too far fetched for me, there were some key points that really hit home like the power of attraction. If your thinking and acting negatively, you will inevitably attract more negative energy. The final push towards positive change came after seeing Dave Howlett speak at a conference in London. His 3rd gear philosophy helped me to change my attitude and live my life without negativity. I now came into work with positive thoughts, a smile on my face and kind words to say. I still hated my job but knew it was only a matter of time before I could put it behind me and start to contribute to an organization that recognized the talents I could bring to the table. The final step was to completely remove myself from that employer and start career path 2.0. I am happy to say that it has been almost a year since leaving and I have not looked back once!

However this week I found myself in a negative place and had to think back to the revelations I had a couple of years ago to move past it. Heading into Monday, I was feeling a little down on myself and the lack of progress with my continued job search. With 3 job postings open in my web browser, I couldn’t seem to find the energy to even open up Word and start the process of applying – and these are jobs I have a real interest in! I feel I’ve reached the point where it doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Applying for over 40 jobs since April with only 1 interview is less than motivating and I was finding it hard to put the effort into something with so little return on my invested time. It wasn’t until after a meeting with Richard Dew that I realized that I needed take a different approach to this whole process. He told me the story of a friend who sent old shoes to potential employers that had notes attached saying “Now that I have my foot in the door, how about we set up an interview?”  After hearing this story and realizing that one of the jobs I was looking at applying to was with a local arts organization, I decided to try something similar. This “project” was not just a way to try to set myself apart from other candidates for the job but also to give me positive motivation to continue with my job hunting. The idea I came up with was to express that I may not be an artist (by painting several terrible watercolour based pictures), but I do have many other skills to contribute to the organization. I headed to Wal-Mart for some supplies, turned on some great tunes and came up with the following:


*This is still in development and only a small sample of the entire “resume”

This, along with an amazing brainstorming/venting session with Kevin Van Lierop later in the week has definitely lifted my spirits and I feel like I am back in a positive state of mind personally and professionally.

So I guess the moral of the story is this: Negativity can create more negativity. If the cashier at the grocery store seems sour, instead of walking away and complaining to your friends, why not try to make him/her smile. You could very well change the entire direction of their day. We all get down every now and again, but I think it’s important in helping us to realize how lucky we have it the rest of the time. Sometimes life sucks…..get over it, get over yourself and start changing the negative things in your life in to positive.

Stars Aligning?

•July 7, 2010 • 5 Comments

I had a moment this morning and I am not sure what to do about it.

For those who don’t know, we are selling our house and have been looking to move to the Old East Village area as we feel that we are die hard EOA folks. With the municipal election coming this fall we wanted to see what Ward we would be moving to so that we can start researching its candidates to make  an informed vote when the time comes. I was kind of surprised to see that we will still be in Ward 4 which has been our ward for the last 5 years. This is what got me thinking.

Over the last 5 years I have devoted a lot of my time to the greater London community with many different organizations including London FusePark(ing) Day, London Poetry SlamThe Arts Project, Pillar Nonprofit NetworkReforest London and London Fringe. I get involved because I care about my community and I truly enjoy filling up my schedule with things that I know are making a difference for someone. I have already stated to Katrina that I would like to get involved with organization that already exist in our new community such as the Old East Village Business Improvement Area and the Old East Village Community Association and I look forward to bringing some new ideas to the table. 

My interest in municipal politics has also been growing over the last couple of years. Seeing the impact of my efforts with smaller groups has sparked my interest in working on a much larger scale for much larger impacts. Events like ChangeCamp London have also played a part in my growing interest of politics and engagement. The thought of running for council and even mayor have definitely crossed my mind a time or two but was quickly dismissed as wishful thinking.

Finally, as of August 6th I will be once again with out work as my contract with Pillar will expire. My hope is to secure another job by then, but as fewer and fewer jobs show up in my job search I am worried that I will be back to day long track pants and movie marathons (not complaining). So what dawned on me this morning was the idea to combine my love of community involvement, growing interest in politics and pending unemployment by running for council in Ward 4. By no means is this an announcement that I am actually heading down to City Hall today to fill out my papers for candidacy, but rather just and exploratory reflection. There are some major issues that would come along with running that I am struggling to get over.

  • Campaign Costs – Buying a house, not having a job and running a campaign don’t seem to mesh well together.
  • Experience – Granted my experience with many Not for Profits and my schooling would led some experience, but is it enough?
  • Timing – The election falls dangerously close to one of the busiest times of the year for me, LSFS season!

I am not sure how this well develop but I have sparked a fire inside myself to at least look into it deeper and explore my options. I would love feedback from all of you as I truly value your opinions and know that elections is an important step in shaping the future of London. Are the stars aligning or is heat playing tricks with my mind?

Not-for-Profit Issues at ChangeCamp London

•June 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This is a common phrase from donors in the nonprofit sector:

“What percentage of my donation goes to the cause?”

“This perception is deeply flawed, gives dangerously misleading information, and can reward charities that provide poor service and hurt those that are doing the most good. It also shows how these measures force charities into a fearful and perpetually cautious posture, and prohibits them from pursuing their boldest dreams of a better world. ” Dan Pallotta

Well some of Dan’s ideas are a stretch, his main message is clear. Change is needed in the way we think of our donations and how they are used.  Executives and staff in the nonprofit sector enable and mobilize the work around the causes we care about and they should not be simply viewed as overhead or wasted money that could have been directed to programs and services.

More from Dan:

The other big reason we need to focus on supporting the development of skilled workers in the sector is due to its size and scope.

“It’s almost impossible for me to overstate the sheer economic significance of the not-for-profit sector in Canada.  In fact, as a percentage of GDP, Canada’s not-for-profit sector is the second largest in the world, behind only the Netherlands.” Helen Burstyn

If the nonprofit sector were to just disappear  tomorrow, what do you think would happen? Like it or not, we depend on the sector more than you might think, and by not supporting change we are setting it up to fail in the future.

People who work in the nonprofit sector should not be ashamed or punished for receiving financial recognition for their ongoing commitment, compassion and sacrifices that come along with their career choice.

Gordon

•June 14, 2010 • 8 Comments

Sad post today, but this morning our dearest feline friend Gordon passed away. Gordon has been my cat for about 13 years (our cat for about 6) and he filled our lives with love, laughter, sometimes anger and of course lots of random cat craps throughout the house. He often like to do his own thing, but every once in a while he showed how much he loved us back, mostly when he was hungry. In his last couple of years, he became the kitten we always wanted him to be and if you have never seen a 25lb cat run around the house you are missing out. Gordon now rests in the great outdoors, the one place he never got to play. Please leave a comment with your favorite Gordon story as we know there are many. Gordon you were one of a kind and will be missed!

Facebook Fan Page and the Unhappy Customer!

•June 2, 2010 • 2 Comments

Recently a distress call went out on Twitter from the City of London (http://bit.ly/ax3i9E ) in regards to a person posting inappropriate comments and questions on the Fan Page wall (comments may have been removed at this point –http://bit.ly/aVKqYk ). The administrator of the page explained that the “City’s Facebook page is not the appropriate channel through which a complaint can be addressed” and then forwarded on the appropriate contact information. This got me thinking, how should an organization deal with situations like this so not to offend its audience, but still maintain positive brand association on these social channels?

I am sure a lot of people heard about Nestle’s Fan Page disaster earlier this year(http://bit.ly/cJkDEa ) and this story certainly showed us how NOT to respond to negative comments in these digital spaces, but how can this situation be dealt with to end in a positive outcome? My opinion is that Social Media sites are a great place for businesses and organizations to keep engaged with their customers and answer questions or concerns that they may have in a timely and personal manner. The power to comment or voice your opinion on issues is one of the reasons that Social Media has become so popular in today’s society however it is often abused which can put businesses and organization in a tough place.

So let’s keep this discussion going, how would/has your organization handle this type of situation? Please post your thoughts in the comments.

Ode to My First Car

•April 9, 2010 • 3 Comments

Yesterday was the end of an era. My first car (1993 Dodge Spirit) was finally removed from its resting spot at the end of the driveway through the Ontario Retire Your Ride initiative. This program offers great rewards for trading in you old car, like $300 cash, incentives towards a new bike or new car or transit passes. They also come and pick your car up for you, and recycle it in an environmentally friendly way. So it’s really win, win ,win!

But out of these wins, come a great loss. “The Spirit” was my first car and it was given to me by my parents at Christmas time. They pulled a quick one and actually had the car parked across the street for several days beforehand and wrapped up the manual and key as my gift! I was just chatting with my mom the other night and she says she can still remember my face when I opened that amazing present. I am not sure if I ever told my parents this, but after coming back from my buddy’s place (to show off my present of course) I almost put the car in the ditch. Could you imagine, hours after getting it, wrecking it! Luckily my amazing driving skills saved The Spirit from its premature demise.

By no stretch of the imagination was this car a “hot rod” and it never really had that head turning effect, but I still made it cool. After growing tired of the factory tape deck, I decided to try to install a stereo from a friend. That worked for a while, but then it was time to really make this car pound so I installed a new CD deck, new speakers, a 500 watt amp and a 15″ Subwoofer. Let me tell you, this was a very loud car. There was a lot of parties where The Spirit was the DJ and that’s when the legend was born. The pulse of this car could be felt all the way through its red velour covered seats, designer floor mats and sleek spoiler. Then out fitted with some creative stickers, and a Hot Wheels steering wheel cover,  this car was ready for the showroom.

One of the most important things to consider when getting a used car is if it’s in good shape. My parents got a great deal when they found the Spirit because it was already 7 years old, and only had 34000km on it. I proceeded to put on 60000km in the next year, but this car still held together. I have a hard time remembering a time when my car broke down and I was left “stranded.” Granted there were several times that small inconveniences sprung up like a flat tire at 2am after the bar, or losing a wiper on the 402 in a torrential downpour, but these can happen to the best of cars. The Spirit was a solid car almost till the end. One of the reasons it sat dormant at the end of the lane way was because it finally started to show its age and the cost to repair just became too much. That when I decided to let her go!

But all is not lost. Yes, there will be a new car taking up space at the end of my driveway very soon. About 5 years ago I bought a 1970 El Camino, and it has been in storage at my parents since I bought it. I have done some work on it in the past, but it is hard to really work on a car when you have a 1 hour commute to get to it. This year my sister is getting married at my parents house, and they want the car gone before then. Personally I think it would have added a cool element to the wedding, but that’s just me. My goal is to finally drive this car as a reward for leaving my old job, going back to school and starting a new career (hopefully soon). I am sure I will keep everyone updated on the El Camino’s progress, and the soul of The Spirit will be reinCARnated into this new, true, hot rod.

Until then, I say Farewell Spirit! You were a great car, and you will be missed! Please leave comments about your first car experience, or your encounters with The Spirit.