Thirty Thousand

I tend to get anxiety over bizarre things. Like take for example how I currently have anxiety over my next tweet. My next tweet is #30,000.

THIRTY THOUSAND.

[I have written the tweet… I just haven’t pressed ‘tweet’… :)]

My iPhone twitter app tells met that I joined on February 16, 2009. That may be true but I didn’t get into the swing of things until late 2009. I had gone to a conference in Africa that November. When we were all saying our goodbyes, I kept on being asked if I was on Twitter. Sure… I have a Twitter account. Do I tweet? No. I came home — curious. Soon enough, I was tweeting… frequently. I didn’t find my place on Twitter for a long time. I used to tweet about HR, business and the Calgary community. People started following… listening… engaging. I found it BIZARRE. Why on earth are people consuming so much time on this forum? Why are people listening to ME?

A lot has happened in the last 20 months, but one thing I know is that Twitter has given me SO much love. I can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am.

I continually preach about the tool to non-users. Similar to Gary Vaynerchuck’s mindset… I believe if you’re not on Twitter, you’re behind. Whether personal or business — a large amount of information is being shared and discussed every moment of the day.

I know that I am smarter because of Twitter. Truly… smarter.

I feel very up to speed on industry, media, news, technology and even the latest fashion trends. My friends have been known to say ‘you texted me about X-Y-Z before the announced it’. Twitter tells all.

I am thankful for all of the incredible people I have met.  As much as I am “anti” any sort of Twitter event, I have met a lot of amazing people. A LOT. To name a “few”: @karenjovi, @joelolandesca, @regtiangha, @socialgrrrl, @anothersupersta, @juniper_gal, @kait_dee, @tnjohan, @tremaine, @jayemkayem, @JLEED, @defcandy, @schamuhn, @c_dig, @_Mitch985, @nicolesaxton, @jeffrutledge, @harpsinyyc, @zakpashak, @haileypinto, @ebarbaric, @matthew_ball, @hrstalker, @katiamillar, @gavinroyseal, @steveshed, @terrimcbay, @missrogue, @yukarip, @urbannativegirl, @greenwooddavis, @juliaroisen, @marktownsend1, @rhiannon, @alexandrarutley, @christi_millar, @chelscore, @amandamhamilton, @ashleydasent, @jaylongshaw, @laurenfriese, @kharazny, @greghounslow, @dansgoodside, @lauravezer, @a_klingbiel, @rpenty, @heather2020, @chloe_lala, @todmaffin, @yumemusic, @judybrooks, @vlitwin, @jcarvy, @sandraoco, @shannonbosa, @katrinacf, @jearthy, @angelmok, @jeremylim, @charwong315, @glennhilton, @erinkellydotca, @lindsay_gough, @rontite, @alkarim, @guygal, @timaarak, @kattte_, @cadijordan. There are so many more. No hate if I’ve missed you — because I’ve missed a lot of you. ❤

I am thankful for the organizations/businesses that I have grown to know and become connected with because of Twitter: @westjet, @calgaryherald, @albertaventure, @talentegg, @melroseredmile, @tastecalgary, @unacalgary, @worldbierhaus, @insomniacoffee, @longviewsystems, @ywib, @fwebc, @benevity, @domogeneous, @aecocktails, @bloheartsyou, @bombaybrowbar, @noirlashlounge, @hoseannaknows, @gogirlfriend, @yyoga, @barrefitness, @theartof, @thebizmedia, @alittlemoregood, @bpwcalgary, @bootup, @socialfeedvan. And again… there are so many more. ❤

I met @marleylynng on Twitter. For those that missed the post… last year I applied to be Marley’s best friend.  We were strangers — and she accepted! [Please note I’ve been a total bad friend since January.]

I was in a Dove commercial because of Twitter. Check it out here.

I met the talented @madiganofstorms — a Calgary based photographer and brilliant creative mind because of Twitter. I was part of a wonderful book called ‘FEMME 2010’ because of Twitter.

I competed in and won KPMG’s: ‘What Makes a Top Employer‘ because of Twitter. Yes, you all voted. Every single freaking day.

I met an incredible leader, @wilsoceo, because of a HR professional who follows me on Twitter.

I met @michellelberg and work for @elevatedhr because of Twitter. Yes, I found my job on Twitter.

I continually place high potentials at my clients because of Twitter. The amount of referrals that we get from social media is ridiculous. Two recent stories: Laura Vezer and Becky Bergeron.

It all seems crazy… it truly does. I can’t imagine life without the beast that is Twitter. Yes, I’m often overwhelmed. Yes, I feel that I have to respond people. Yes, it sometimes makes my eyes roll into the back of my head.

At the end of the day, Twitter is the tool for me. I love that I can learn from others. I love that I can share my thoughts — no matter how random they are. I love that I can engage with and help others. I love that I continually meet fabulous people. I love that people from all over the world seem like they’re just next door. I like that I can connect people who share similar interests. I love that I am up to speed on the community. I love that I have access to people who are truly changing the world.

Twitter has given me opportunity — and for that I am blessed.

Happy ‘30,000 tweet’ birthday Twitter.

I am utterly impressed. xo

gen y meets gen x

A blog post… finally! Well I actually wrote on the Elevated HR’s blog, but I felt it was relevant to this audience too.

I’ll blog about boys and life soon. ;) Promise. xo

Random Gen Y Thoughts I

By Jillian Walker, Vice President, Client Experience of Elevated HR Solutions

A few days ago Michelle blogged on generational differences within our team. We generally talk about blog topics, which range from trends in industry to client concerns to tales of an HR start-up. She did not tell me she was going to write on generations!!

Immediately I thought…” man…. this is going to be her go-live of how Gen Y (myself included) are a pain in the ass.” Instead, it was a refreshing reflective post on who she is as a person and how that impacts a work environment.

I am often quoted saying “I am the Wikipedia definition of Generation Y.” I’m not interested in work/life balance, instead I want work/life flexibility. I have no desire to work in a corporate downtown office, nor work a typical 8am-5pm schedule. I can’t imagine being in one role long-term, unless it continually evolved. The thought of being with a company forever makes me want to puke. Do I imagine myself having multiple careers in my lifetime? Absolutely. I want to empower youth on an international level, start a non-profit and teach in universities.

Can I understand why colleagues and peers might be frustrated with me? Hell yes.

Today I read an interesting post by Gary Schlee titled “10 Characteristics of Generation Me.” His post was based on the book, Generation Me by Jean Twenge. The characteristics are defined as the following:

  • Generation Direct
  • Generation Self-Esteem
  • Generation Entitlement
  • Generation Thin Skin
  • Generation Dream-The-Impossible-Dream
  • Generation Get-An-Education
  • Generation Don’t-Want-To-Be-Bored
  • Generation It’s-Not-My-Fault
  • Generation Tough-To-Make-A-Living
  • Generation Can’t-Change-A-Thing

Twenge’s book has been given a lot of kudos in industry because it is based on research and psychology. Do I feel that I fit every aspect of the above characteristics? Not at all. I’m open – ridiculously open. Transparency is key. I’m self-confident, but I feel that I was groomed to be that way throughout my teen years. As for criticism? I often have the “I’m always right” attitude – and hopefully, mentors like Michelle, will continually show me that I have room for growth and can’t always be right. ;) I place a lot of importance on education and continual learning. I know that I will get my Master’s degree and learn a second language. I am busy. I thrive on busy, but not burnout.

I put my heart in people and believe that they can be anything they want to be.

Dream big is a philosophy not a nice-to-have.

In Michelle’s post, she stated personal goals, which for the most part relate to work behaviours. If anyone were to ask my goals. The first thing I would say is:  doing what I love, giving back to the community, travel and making a difference in this big bad world. It wouldn’t even cross my mind to think in the present or as narrow as what are my plans in the next 30 days.

I thrive in a structured, supportive environment. As much as I am an ‘ideas’ and creative person, I need focus in my day to day work. I like to be involved in decision making and thrive in an environment where learning is based on application. I am a visual learner and somewhat unlike my generation – I prefer paper over electronic.

In the workplace, I have always felt that it’s been me against the world. I am used to explaining to managers and colleagues that change is needed and that we must think differently. Time and time again, I’ve been told to put down my raised hand and to not ask a question. I have been told my opinion does not matter,  “we’re not prepared to change” and forced to accept defeat.

Now that I have moved from corporate to a start-up — it’s different. I feel that regardless of my opinion being right, it is always respected. I feel like my ideas matter and being creative is a necessary part of our success. I appreciate the fact that I can work from home or that Michelle and I can have a bonding day together at her place. Our culture revolves around making a difference, having fun and saving the world from all the awful HR people out there. [HR renegades at your rescue!] ;) I love that our corporate goals are outlined – we can see the future and the change we will make in our industry. Lastly, I love that our clients choose to work with Elevated. They truly want to make change in their workplaces.

It’s absolutely refreshing.

For whatever reason I have *always* associated myself with the label of Generation Y. In the last few months this label has continually challenged me. I have met people who fall into the years of Gen Y, but who are not even close to fitting the standard definition. What have I realized? Labeling creates expectations. Expectations can lead to disappointment or confusion. Both labeling and expectations do not set people up for success.

I am not Generation Y.

I am me.

I am a crazy, Type A, achievement-oriented me.

Take me or leave me.

4 years in the making

On March 22nd, I blogged. I wrote a post about ‘life done differently’. At the time, I was frustrated. Frustrated with process, politics, and corporations. I thought I knew what I was looking for… but for some reason I just couldn’t find it. I yearned to do what I love; to make a difference in the lives of organizations, employees, and the community.

Later that night I received an email with the subject “Wow – look at this opportunity.”

This was attached:

I read the posting – over and over again. After I saw the word ‘administration’ and rolled my eyes, I smiled. My heart melted as soon as the posting referred to someone who wanted to ‘change the world.’ From a human resources standpoint, the position sounded basic… but I knew that it would evolve and I would have the opportunity to utilize my strengths in a challenging and creative organization.

My response to Michelle via text:

2011-03-22 10:38pm

I totally don’t know what to say re: that posting just magically appearing in my inbox.

Is it time to stop being difficult?

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Some background:

What you don’t know is that I first met Michelle in October of 2010. We connected through Twitter over discussion about the Human Resource Institute of Alberta’s mentoring program. She was a mentor, I was a mentee, yet we were not matched. In fact, she told me ‘we could never work together.’  On January 10, 2011 we went for some after work eats at Una Pizza and Wine. We talked human resources, transparency, social media and the community. Michelle said she would love for me to join the company.

Over the weeks and months that followed, I interviewed. Everywhere. I flew across the country meeting executives, managers, and recruiters. I received offers. I received mixed messages. I met a lot of amazing people, but most importantly I was overwhelmed. My entire being. How would I make a decision? Is it completely awful to say that I was overwhelmed with opportunities?

I needed a ‘to remain unnamed’ company piss me off on March 22, 2011. I needed to stomp my feet and demand answers. I needed to have an inspiring and enlightening conversation with John Wilson at Wilson Human Capital Group later that afternoon. That night, I needed to blog about it. I needed to do all of that in order to determine what was next…

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On March 29, Michelle and I met. I had been thinking about the future and my career every single day since March 22. I was ready to start learning about a potential role with Elevated HR Solutions. Not surprisingly, I was hesitant and had questions. [I have been in a ridiculously secure job with a pension for the last 4+ years]. We talked about job responsibilities, logistics, relocation, growth of the company and what we could begin to change in the human resources profession. I asked her for time to think about what I wanted and potential next steps.

On April 1, I went to TEDxYYC. My name tag said: JILLIAN WALKER<NAME OF EMPLOYER>… in big bold letters. As soon as I saw it, I thought “that doesn’t describe me…” “that’s not why I’m here today…” After discussion with a girlfriend, I listed my position/organization as “HR GAME CHANGER.” TEDx asked us what does Calgary need more of? I answered “ENTREPRENEURS.”

[I was obviously on my quest to figuring out what I wanted… but a few more pieces needed to play out…]

TEDxYYC – April 1, 2011

I remember being so hard on myself on April 3. I kept on telling myself… “just figure it out…” “what do you need…” “what are you actually looking for…” “you are wasting time…” I had some sort of weird revelation in the hours that followed and finally I found it.

I am not meant to be an employee.

I am not meant to be that typical 8am-4pm who is bound to rules, policies and past history.

I want freedom to create, discover, engage, grow, learn, teach and live life to its fullest.

I want to have opportunities to challenge my profession.

I want to be the absolute best version of myself.

I want to do what I love.

I want to change the world.

[That’s it… I swear.]

On April 4, I texted Michelle and said:

May 20 is the date I’m thinking. Sound ok?

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You may have seen this:


Or this:

Or maybe this:

[I accidentally posted this on @elevatedhr instead of @jillianwalker. :) – oopsie.]

Lastly this:


… we have been a wee bit excited. :)

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Today I resigned from my employer of 4.5 years.

Today I feel free.

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” – Pope John XXIII

This whole career transition has been a long time coming. I started with my employer on January 8, 2007. I was fresh out of Mount Royal College and keen to apply all I learned in my post-secondary education. Six months into my entry-level HR role, I was bored. I didn’t feel challenged and begun applying on internal roles.

On March 10, 2008, I applied on my first external role. Was I ready to leave then? Unlikely. As I have been working for a large organization, I’ve had the opportunity to transfer to new departments and go on projects within Human Resources to continually broaden my skillset. In the last 5 years, I have had 5 roles. With that comes 5 managers that taught me an incredible amount about human resources, life, family, and friends. I learned about what I value in an employer/manager, and what drives me absolutely up the wall.

A 4 year job search? Of course there have been ups and downs. Obviously there have been ups and downs. But at the end of the day… I am grateful.

Grateful for being given the opportunity to learn, to diversify and to truly discover what’s next.

I am thrilled to announce that effective May 20, 2011… I will be the Vice President of Client Experience for Elevated HR Solutions. I will remain in Calgary over the summer months, relocating to British Columbia in Fall 2011 to run the Vancouver and Seattle division.

Official press release:

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Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

Whether it be hours of laughs, a quick text message to make me smile, much needed lessons in entrepreneurship or talking me off my ledge, I appreciate every ounce of advice, support, and love.

Thank you to everyone involved in Focus 2040 and KPMG’s What Makes a Top Employer competitions.

Thank you to the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, Human Resources Association of Calgary and Canadian HR Reporter for continually supporting me in my career.

Thank you to my mentors, Alida, Dawn, Doris, and Joan, for encouraging me to dream big.

Thank you to John Wilson for giving me that final push and belief in my abilities.

Thank you to the inspirational women at YWiB.

Thank you to two beautiful Vancouver souls – SA and WT.

Thank you to my best friend Haley Lonsdale who has put up with a good few years of crazy.

Thank you to my family back home and my second family in Calgary.

Lastly big love to Aaron, Alex, Amanda, Bethany, Brandy, Brenda, Carolyn, Christine, Dan, Darci, Dionne, Erin, Gillian, Heather, Izabela, Jay, Jeff, Jen, Jessica, Joel, Judy, Kait, Karen, Kendal, Kim, Leo, Lily, Lisa, Madi, Maeghan, Mandy, Mason, Melissa, Shawn, Steve, Tacita, Teang, Tony, Trace, Troy, Val and so many more.

I couldn’t have done this without you.

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Michelle, I can’t wait to see what we will create. Thank you for inviting me along on the journey.

“Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

With absolutely all my heart (and a whole bundle of nerves and excitement),

Jillian Walker

PS – If I can offer any ounce of advice… trust your gut. Don’t settle for anything less than everything.