focus2040 top 10 national finalist

well well well… it’s been 7 days since i heard i made top 10 finalist, in focus2040, a national business competition [i have been competing in the competition since mid-january, see previous posts].

let me take you back to last saturday… i had uni in the afternoon and then had some roommate bonding with stephanie. anyways, i was so nervous all day… crazy nervous, i’m telling you… it wasn’t good. focus2040 had said we would hear on saturday at some point. so blah blah flipping out all night, wanting to know why i didn’t get it… and what do you know….1am MST (which is 3am EST – which is where they are – weird!), i heard that i made it!! woohoo! so much emotion running through my body! not crying emotion though ;) – let’s make that clear now. happy happy joy joy!

thank gosh, a week earlier i had put together a “if i make top 10” list… in other words, i was organized, motivated and ready to go. that night i put my plan into motion!  by making top 10, i have been invited to present my vision of work in 2040 on march 23, 2010 in hamilton, ontario.  judges from across the country (and international too i believe) are being flown in for the final presentations.  so why is this important? i will have an opportunity to network with executives from many international organizations, i will be able to further develop my presentation skills, i get to share my vision of the workforce (how cool!), and i’m in the running for the grand prize: a human resources-ish paid internship at BPI group’s institute of leadership in paris, france!!! eeek!! there are also two or three business internships available in toronto, ontario. i am looking forward to this opportunity, how can i not be?

i have 9 days to complete my submission and presentation.  this week has been absolutely amazing. from the get go, i have had a very “gen y” approach to this competition.  this week i created a facebook fan page >>>, to act as a collaborative site.  i wanted to energize young people on the topic of the future and give them a forum to voice their opinion.  to date, 163 fans… success.  i’ve been posting “question of the day” to keep them thinking and utilizing the discussion board.  there is lots more going on (from a submission preparation standpoint) but as this is a public website, can’t disclose all on here – after all, my competition may be watching ;)

early in the week, i also had the opportunity to get my headshots done with shannon hilton photography.  oddly enough, i found shannon through twitter – and had recently tweeted on the calgary feed about someone doing free headshots, and guess what! she responded! went to her dodgy basement studio (just kidding, shannon! :P) and she managed to ease my nerves, and we got some good pics! the university of lethbridge also organized a photo shoot at olympic plaza later in the week. they are going to profile me in their management magazine, and wanted to turn this success into a promotional recuitment campaign for the calgary campus.  partnering with creative intelligence, a wicked cool advertising agency, we spent an hour outside in the cold taking “ivy-league” photos (whatever that means) – stay tuned for pictures.  oh yes, there has been a lot of wicked success from the publicity – but i will speak more to that once the competition ends.

i have a lot of great people in my life, so even though words cannot describe how grateful i am, here are a few thanks:

  • melissa wusaty: we both always have lots going on, but you absolutely make time when i am in crisis-mode. thanks for always coming to my editing rescue and honesty when critiquing my work.  you were a big reason both of the two submissions got in on time, with close-enough to perfect grammar and sentence structure [a big whatever to the judge who wrote “choppy & difficult to decipher” lol]. i look forward to us working together over the next few weeks – not so much for english, but for your fashion plans… [to everyone, i plan on wow’ing everyone in all aspects of my presentation not just the powerpoint :)].
  • haley lonsdale: a positive light at the end of my sometimes dark day. thank you for being you.  there is so much i have already learned from you, thanks for bringing that constant energy into my life.  i’m blessed to have you in my life – to keep me going – to believe in myself.
  • shannon hilton: it’s funny how things work out. when you said this…  “if i had a million dollars, i would hire you to teach my daughters to be exactly like you” … it made my heart melt. i’m thrilled that this competiton allowed me to meet you and i look forward to us learning from each other.
  • pete williams: in a round-about-way, thank you for your book. thank you for opening up my eyes to the world of publicity and for explaining clearly how one can write a press release. i owe a lot of this week’s success to the knowledge that you have shared.  there are many reasons why you should read pete’s book, so check it out here: or his website here:
  • matt burns: it’s odd to me that i’ve never met you and that i feel like i know you so well. you get this huge high five for being an active supporter of my cause.  thank you for taking every effort to seeing me succeed in this comeptition.  i appreciate your constant dedication to all aspects of this two-week final stage preparation. colleen did good, you are definitely the whole package. :)
  • human resources institute of alberta: thank you for your faith and belief in my abilities.  this organization made me realize that top 10 is an achievement in itself… yes i am striving for more, but if this is as far as i get, then c’est la vie. i’ve already proven my abilities.  my professional organization has already offered me more than i could ever ask for – stay tuned for details, an exciting opportunity has come my way :D

i feel like i should end this blog post with some sort of credit to the book i’m holding in the above picture.  for years, at least 5 years actually… i have been criticized for being an over-achiever, determined, driven, and an independant woman.  guys i have dated have told me to “slow down your life,” “be involved in less,” “focus on us, not you,” “don’t finish uni” etc – needy needy needy.  well hello, that’s a load of…. :O yah let’s continue with this horrid support system for a few months and then buh-bye.  some of my previous managers have become frustrated when dealing with what one might call “a typical gen y,” someone who wants to be involved in volunteering opportunities, engagement opportunities, and has a need to be well-rounded. i’ve always been the one to complete my quarterly/annual performance goals ages before they are due, and what?… i’m unionized… you don’t need one?… well i don’t care.  regardless of where you work, what you do, who you are… it is always important to have goals.

when i realized i was going to a photo shoot… [first reaction – terrified!!], i thought i should bring a prop for my facebook profile picture :)  what is something that embodies me? some people might say the color pink… ;) but i would say the book: “ambition is not a dirty word”. i read it a few years back, but it’s always been one i’ve held onto. all women are entitled to personal and professional success… in fact, all people in this world are entitled to success.

this is the definition of ambition:

ambition [æmˈbɪʃən] – noun

1. strong desire for success, achievement, or distinction
2. something so desired; goal; aim

what kind of world are we living in if we stop people from striving to be their best? i honestly believe that your personal life, your professional career, and being ambitious in nature should all be able to operate together SEAMLESSLY.  does gender matter? absolutely not. when i hear the words “why aren’t you married”… “why don’t you settle down and start a family”… ugh it makes me shudder. i’m being asked those questions because i am being stereotyped into the role of a young woman, next stop: motherhood!  the book addresses how women sell themselves short, the effects of the “glass ceiling,” teaches women how to embrace their achievements, and encourages young women to reach their potential.  a must read for all business women, and even more so for women struggling to find their place in the workplace.

be who you want to be. strive to be your best. treat others how you want to be treated.  you owe it to yourself to make your days here count.

much love. xo

[oh yes, please cheer me on the evening of march 23rd… i was told to bring an “entourage” to the competitions, but due to me flying 5 hours away, that is not possible. i know i will have everyone rooting for me from the comfort of their homes – ahhhh interning in paris would be FABULOUS!]


  1. Debra March 14, 2010

    Congratulations, Jillian! Go, Woman, Go! To add to your definition of Ambition, may I add this:…also consider these definitions of the word Ambitious: 1. Requiring exceptional effort, ability, etc. 2. Aspiring, enterprising; wishing to rise (mentally or spiritually) to a higher level or plane, or to attain some end above ordinary expectations.What better way to live our lives: valuing our ambition to contribute professionally every bit as much as our other precious, inviolable priorities, including partners, spouses, our children, our loved ones, and community.The real way for ambitious women to honor our lives is to believe that we owe it to ourselves, to our children (what better role model than a mother who embodies this value system?) — and we owe it to the world — to make the contribution we were born to make. The world deserves to hear from us!And the world deserves to hear from you, Jillian!!!Sincerely, Debra Condren, author of Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word: A Woman's Guide To Earning Her Worth and Achieving Her Dreams (Random House/Broadway)

  2. […] I decided to go with option #3. Blog post on my involvement in the past competition is here, and video of my presentation here (part 1, part 2, part 3). Wish me luck! […]

  3. […] I decided to go with option #3. Blog post on my involvement in the past competition is here, and video of my presentation here (part 1, part 2, part […]

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