quark part 1: meet pinkie & panda

Every once in a while I get this burning desire to be more involved than I already am.  The latest:

‘Pinkie and Panda to Blog their way to the North Pole’

Quark Expeditions is looking for those involved who love to write and travel, with a love for social media to compete in “Blog Your Way to the North Pole.”

The prize is a $54,000 trip on the 20th anniversary expedition to the North Pole in June 2011. Crazy eh?  Throughout the trip the winner will blog, photograph, video, and document the journey with the hopes of educating those around the world!

Many of you already know that I love to travel.  That coupled with communication, social media, and marketing gives me even more love!


Here is the application:

In November 2010, Jillian Walker (aka Pinkie) travelled to Vancouver to speak at a conference for young women in business. In the midst of her workshop she met Jeremy Lim (aka Panda). This was no regular handshake or hello my name is… instead Panda was taking photos at light-speed, capturing an animated and excited Pinkie. Soon enough she learned that Panda was not only a photographer, marketer, and musician, but also the king of awesome.

Pinkie arrived back in Calgary and stumbled upon the Quark contest via Twitter. Immediately she knew she must enter, and Panda must be her +1. Why? They are both social media enthusiasts, ridiculously fabulous, and have mad love for travel.

Pinkie has travelled throughout Europe, Africa, Japan, and North America. Highlights include riding a camel named Princess in Tunisia and skydiving in Hawaii. Panda’s travel experience complements Pinkie’s, adding Central America, Hong Kong, and Thailand to their list of travel accomplishments. Panda’s most memorable travel experience was meeting (and making out with) his girlfriend, Coco the stingray, in the Caymans!

In addition to blogging at http://jillianwalker.wordpress.com and http://www.jeremylim.ca, Pinkie and Panda consistently tweet and engage with the masses. Pinkie’s passion is employee engagement and making a difference in this big bad world. Panda is known for his online marketing skills and capturing the big moments of the world, most recently at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

Why should you vote for Pinkie and Panda? Pinkie is highly entertaining; she’s bound to make the shipmates laugh with her ridiculous comments, and likely paint the nails of a polar bear or two. Panda deserves to be her +1 because he will keep Pinkie mentally stable, the ship singing along to the latest tunes, and contribute to blogging to the North Pole and back! Although they have only spent 15 minutes together, a few things are for sure – they both ooze passion, dedication, and a commitment to making Canada proud.

Pinkie and Panda’s extensive travel experience and knack for social media will allow them to take the North Pole by storm. With matching outfits, a camera, and at least a few bottles of pink nail polish – they are bound to have the time of their lives, while taking you along for the ride!

Follow us on Twitter at @jillianwalker and @jeremylim, join our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pinkieandpanda, and vote!

Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Lim - www.jeremylim.ca

I would love your support and vote during this competition.  Every one can only vote ONCE, so it shouldn’t be too taxing on our friends, family, and networks!  I’ll ask if you can please spread this world about the competition. Email your friends, share the link on Facebook, tweet, blog, the works. Jeremy and I would love to place in the top 5 by February 15, 2011 – and we know we can do it with your help.


With all my love. ❤

PS – Regular Jill-type blogging to commence during the holidays… I’ve been MIA due to catching up on sleep and enjoying life without university. :)

define yourself

On Sunday, I described myself to a new Twitter follower. I told him that “I tweet about fashion, nail polish and being a ridiculously busy over-achiever.”

From another follower, I received this as a rebuttal:

“I’d say your tweet timeline is more like Bordeaux. It’s full-bodied. full of tanin, high in alcohol content, and almost too much at first…. but once your acquire the taste, and really start paying attention to every note of the flavour….you’re hooked!” – Anonymous

Are you laughing?  It’s kinda funny and a wickedly nice compliment.

What I got out of it was… I am all over the map… involved in a lot and frequently voice my opinion.  In between the TwitPic’s of a new nail polish and a spotted fashion faux pas, I might be a tad bit funny or intelligent. :)

Social media allows people to have formed opinions of you – not necessarily accurate, but formed.

I recently joined Empire Ave (don’t ask me why… I just did… for more info on the social networking tool, check out this blog).  Anyways, the site asks you to list your “interests” and “brands”.  This confused me. I took it as “what interests do you have” and “what brands do you identify with”… I do think the lines between the two might blur.

I described my interests and brands as the following:

Just short of a year ago, I re-branded myself as Jillian Walker.  For the last 25 years of my life, I have been Jill Walker.  I now hold myself to what “Jillian Walker” means in the online world.  It is evident that she is a full-time Human Resources employee and full-time University of Lethbridge student.  She is involved in social networking tools, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and blogging.  She has proved herself in her profession and the community – whether it be winning an award or being a committed board member.  She is busy, and sometimes more busy than she can handle.  She manages her personal brand…

So I wonder… do people fear that they’re online reputation turns into something they’re not?

Does my personal brand capture my love for a drama-free girls night out or a quaint low key date filled with laughter and conversation?  Does my brand include how much love and genuine support I have for others?  Does it show that the importance I place on being well-rounded? Does it divulge that I have spent many Saturday nights over the last 7 years studying or has it figured out that my Victoria’s Secret pink sweats are my absolute favourite?

… and does all of this matter?

Personally, from an employer-employee standpoint – I don’t want any surprises.  I want my values to be on the table and for the employer-employee relationship to be set up for success from the get go.  From a relationship standpoint – we all want mystery and value the surprises we learn from our significant other as time goes on.  From an online support system standpoint – one will always worry that someone might know too much…

How do you find the balance – and how do you create a definition of yourself catering to multiple facets of your brand?

The more I think about defining myself… the more I have realized that I have a professional definition of myself, but have yet to define my whole being. ❤

internet friends

Let’s travel back to 2004.  I believe I was part of a website called “Clubzone.”  I don’t quite remember the purpose, but anyways there were discussion boards for random topics and nightlife updates, etc.  My recollection of this year is rather vague – for many reasons ;) – but I do recall chatting with stranger boys online and then meeting them in person at SAIT Residence.  The young and naive… sigh, I would never do that now.  Anyways, good came of it – one of the guys we met has now been in a relationship with one of my best friends, Melissa, for the last 6 years.

Social networking and the availability of information has changed immensely over the last 10 years.  I have recently ran into a few situations where I have been asked to meet someone I have an ‘internet relationship’ with in person, asked to attend a ‘tweetup’ and been internet stalked.  I’ve been thinking about this concept of ‘internet friends’ and whether or not we, as users, should be capitalizing on the potential opportunity from the internet by shifting these relationships to ‘real life’.

Anyways, lets review some stats and history…

LinkedIn went live in May 2003.  Did you know it has been around that long? I sure didn’t!  I truly love LinkedIn. It is the 2010 version of the rolodex. Currently I have 286 connections and 16 recommendations.  I’m proud to have each and every one of those connections in my network. It has it’s downsides for sure… people may lie about what they do or their accomplishments or  give false recommendations, but what manager in their right mind would rely solely on a LinkedIn profile anyways.  I sure wouldn’t… all information needs to be verified.  LinkedIn has offered me opportunity after opportunity, whether it be a job offer, keeping up to date on your colleagues careers, opportunities for informational interviews, or recommendations.  I feel it is extremely underutilized in today’s workforce and a lot of people don’t know how to use it in the correct way.

Facebook was launched in February 2004.  Today we have more than 500 million active users.  I tried to use Archived Book to review my Facebook history, but no success.  Unless you want to scroll through every entry on your wall, finding out your history is next to impossible.  I have no idea when I joined Facebook, but imagine it was early 2006.  The first photo was tagged of me on July 15, 2006.  On February 4, 2007, I shared my first link… the Evolution of Dance. :)  Now about 4.5 years later, my Facebook account: 1927 tagged photos, 12 tagged videos, 11 tagged notes, 124 photo albums, 24 videos, 73 notes, and 631 friends. :S

In March 2006, Twitter was founded.  I officially joined February 16, 2009, but didn’t become active until that later that Fall.  Now I am following 500, listed by 76, and have 948 wonderful, super awesome ;) followers.  I have sent 7334 tweets in less than year.  A world of opportunity exists on Twitter and so few people are engaging in it!

So what does this all mean?  Everyone should be on social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… the works.  From a business standpoint, if you’re not on it, you’re behind.  If you’re still unsure, read up on Gary Vaynerchuck or check him out on Twitter.  From a personal standpoint, it’s truly a decision you have to make for yourself.  If you’re in any marketing or communications facing role, you need to get up to speed.  Branding is a word that so many people hate… but I am a strong believer that personal branding matters.  You need to be online to manage your reputation.

My social networking mantra (no I don’t chant it :P)…

LinkedIn is for colleagues.

Facebook is for friends.

Twitter is for anyone (aka the land of no control).

I purely use LinkedIn for business purposes.  If I’ve met you at a networking event or a conference, chances are I will add you on LinkedIn quicker than you can add me.  If you don’t have an account… sigh, I will email you to follow up – but seriously, that’s so time consuming. :P  I am hesitant on adding a ‘connection’ when I’ve never met you (yes I’ve added a few…).  I value my network and strive to maintain a professional trust-based network.  Right now, I have 16 invites that I am unsure about… Why? I’ve never met them.  Most work in Calgary, but I still have no idea why they added me?  Because we share a common group?  Who cares? They’ve given me no explanation as to why we should be connections.  The point >  quality over quantity.

Until just recently I’ve never added anyone on Facebook who isn’t a friend.  If I have not seen you in years or don’t know you very well, I will put you on ‘Limited Profile.’  I would suspect that the majority of my ‘friends’ are on limited.   Why?  Because on limited you can’t see any of my pictures (whether that be profile pictures, tagged photos, or photo albums) and seriously anyone can right-click-save-to-desktop these days.  I’d like to believe everyone is ethical and generally nice people, but that’s sometimes not the case and we all need to look out for ourselves.  My Facebook profile has been locked down for years, but we all know how privacy settings work and how Facebook (the company) controls everything, so who knows what could happen in the future.  If for some reason, something on my profile was sent to my boss, c’est la vie.  All of my social media channels are me in a nutshell.  No secrets, no surprises.  Yes I drink wine, go to the bar, spend vacation on the beach in a bikini, and have unproductive days – but who doesn’t?

Twitter… ahh Twitter.  Alright so tweeting is still new to me.  Yes I feel like I have a firm grasp of Twitter etiquette, but daily things that happen on Twitter perplex me.  Why do people have 2 hour conversations with each other on their feeds?  Why do men try to pick up women on Twitter?  Why do people trash-talk their bosses and organizations? Sometimes, I just don’t get it.  There are no real rules on Twitter, if you’re not a fan of someone, unfollow them.  I love Twitter… likely more than any other channel I’m on.  Why?  Twitter has given me an opportunity to continually learn over a medium that works well with my lifestyle.  I don’t have time to read the newspaper cover to cover, stay current with HR publications, google events happening in Calgary, and check out the Calgary Police news updates for what criminal is now on the loose.  Twitter hands me ‘news’ in a 140 character tweet and if I’m looking for more info, I click on the link.  I am a massive believer in using Twitter favourites.  It is an excellent way to bookmark tweets and come back to them later (whether it be to retweet them, comment, or read up on).  I am Twitter follower picky though – I follow HR professionals, travel gurus, strong independent women, entrepreneurs, news sources, and a few friends I’ve met along the way.  It’s important to me that my feed is full of the information I want to hear.  For every single new follower, I check out their profile, read their blog/website, and see if they align with my interests.  If they do, I follow. If they don’t, I don’t follow. It’s that simple.  No ulterior motives.  What do I tweet about?  For the most part… HR, workplace health and wellness, fashion, beauty, volunteering, happenings in Calgary, and random babble.

One will hope… that on LinkedIn and Facebook, you know all your connections/friends.  Not the case on Twitter.  If you end up being an active user, you tend me to make ‘internet friends.’  You may have internet friends who continually support you and believe what you stand for, or you may have internet friends who want to be your friend in real life.  Uhh what… stop the train.  REAL LIFE?  This takes us to the concept of Tweet-ups.  A tweet-up is a meet-up for people on Twitter.  So the planning/organizing happens on Twitter, sometimes a user account or company will sponsor, and you all meet up at the specified location.  Frightening eh?

1st Tweetup! @jillianwalker, @nicolesaxton, @joelolandesca

I went to my first tweetup earlier this week.  Molson 67 had sponsored the event and it was held at Hudsons Tap House.  Nicole and I decided we would go, but it truly wasn’t as easy as walking in a room, greeting a bunch of strangers wearing nametags with their Twitter username displayed.  I’m a social person but the concept of approval/rejection at a tweetup was terrifying. I hate to admit it, but Nicole & I got to the bar an hour… yes A WHOLE HOUR, before we had the courage to enter the room.  When we finally had the courage, we immediately went up to someone we knew and started our conversation there.  It’s an odd experience meeting people you’ve been talking to on the internet for months, yet have never met in person. I hugged a few people, I felt like I knew them. I stuck with people I frequently tweet to.  There was a whole lot of people, I’ve never heard of… why? Because I limit who I follow.  The common theme – “we’re friends now right?”  No, I hardly know you.  I might follow you, I might not… and we just met for the first time, and talked for 14 seconds.  Friendship is a two-way street that involves attention and a whole lot of work!

Will I go to another tweetup?  I honestly have no idea.  I like the idea of community focused tweetups, that have a goal to raise money or support for a particular cause.  Utilizing the masses to come together and do a good deed is completely up my alley.  To socialize though?  I’m not sure.  If I get a good vibe from someone on Twitter and we have similar interests, why can’t we meet up outside of formal twit-togethers… (bahaha… I’m so funny :P).  Meet in a public place with no name tags, expectations, or pressure.

This concept of stranger ‘internet friends’ also happens on YouTube, Digg, MySpace, Formspring, blogs, etc.

If you google me, you will find loads.  In addition to the above, there is also my Facebook Focus 2040 Fan Page, YouTube videos, Slideshare, a blog or two, articles, and gosh knows what else.  I am one of the most public people I know.

Is that always a good thing?  Absolutely not.  There are crazy people in this world.  Stalking is so easy now.  I recently had someone tell me that they google’d me and read/watched/saw my life.  They understood me, they knew me, they wanted to get to know me better.  It terrified me.  I am proud of myself.  Proud of everything I have accomplished.  Proud of my personal brand.  But it’s odd that someone might know me better than I know myself.  It just reinforced the fact that we, as users, need to be careful.  Be careful when disclosing where you are.  You told your Facebook friends that you’re in Mexico… wooohoooo, Mexico.  What if one of your high school friends who you haven’t seen in 10 years knows where you live and robs your house?  You log into FourSquare to update that you’re at the local bar.  What if one of your Twitter followers shows up their to say hi?  WORSE, you log into FourSquare to update that you are at home.  Now the Twitter community knows your home address.  Strangers know where you are and where you live. Why do people need to know that?

In 2010, we cannot assume that everyone is kind, sincere, and a ‘good person.’  Everyone has their own agenda.  Whether you make the decision to be on a social networking site or not, just be comfortable with your decision.  Meet up with people you’ve met online if you see the benefit of it.  People do it everyday through online dating.  Just be careful.  If you get a sense that something is off, chances are it is.  I know that there can be major benefits of social networking sites.  There is an opportunity to meet new fabulous people, new job opportunities, and a support group like no other. Likely the benefits outweigh the negative.  Just don’t forget the internet isn’t the be all and end all.  Relationships that you naturally make and maintain through day-to-day life (school, work, family, etc) are just as important.

Lastly, remember that everything you post on the internet is public.  Google yourself.  Find out what’s out there, chances are your employer and/or associations you’re involved with already know.

A few resources that might be helpful in your quest to find a balance between social media and your personal life:

technology hiatus

Do you ever feel pressured to tweet? To update your Facebook? To return voicemails? To always have your A-game on with technology?

I know I do. I am Gen Y in and out, yet I still struggle.  Yes I have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare, random other sites, and I blog.  I have an iPhone.  I text all the time.  I get a hundred personal emails a week.  That may be more than some, but I’d like to think that if you’re a “social media fan” or maybe “fan of technology in 2010” that you struggle from time to time.  I ensure that I am very connected. I update Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all the time.  I always try to be responsive to friend requests, updates, mentions, new followers, etc – with an “I always have to be on the ball” attitude.  Why do I do all this? Because I see the benefits.  I learn an absolute ton, I have an opportunity to meet fascinating people, and I truly enjoy it.

For the last 2ish weeks, I’ve taken a break from the majority of technology.  I have been blogging to purely maintain my mental sanity.  But that’s it!  For the first time… probably ever, I felt overwhelmed by social media. My mind has been absolutely full to the brim with “life stuff”, and I didn’t feel like I had the capacity to make “updating” or “learning” a priority.  Did I actually think I could do it? Absolutely not.  I thought I would miss the connectivity.

… but guess what, I didn’t (not in the short-term at least)!

So what happened ? Not a whole lot. Few people wondered where I was… as in hello Jill’s not on Twitter, we have a problem. :P  Some close friends assumed something was wrong and emailed me (I was responding to select emails).  But that’s about it. The world did not come to a crashing halt.

I’m not actually back 100% but slowly plan on getting in the social media groove.  In the last two weeks, I’ve had time to breathe and focus on me, which was exactly what I needed. As much as I love you social media, I’m glad that we all still have the ability to shut you off from time to time. ❤

PS – I’ve had time to read!!! Rather than all the business and HR books I usually read… I started on a book called “Plain Truth” by Jodi Picoult (author of “My Sister’s Keeper”).  A story about family, faith, expectations, dedication, and life.  Definitely makes you put your own problems in perspective.

why i love twitter

a positive change i have made in 2010 (well and late 2009)… utilizing twitter.  i have known people on twitter for quite a long time, but was never an active user. shortly after meeting some amazing people, i thought i would give it a chance. well well well, i love it. why?

1) i love that i have an audience. just over 200 people who are listening to what i’m saying, and if i piss them off they can de-friend me. i pretend that these people actually care and if i was in dire straits they would help – but more than likely, that’s not the case. i’m motivated by my audience. motivated to be better, learn more, and strive for the best. to some degree, the more followers you have is a direct result of how interested people are in your thoughts (well unless you are from hollywood :P).

2) i love that i can help and teach people. i have learned that i am a wealth of information. i am always in the know, so why not share that information with others. does everyone know that www.canadianaffair.ca often offers $49 flights to the UK? what about the latest event coming to calgary? opportunities to volunteer? i love the sharing factor of twitter. 

3) i love that i am smarter because of twitter. i’m always surprised as to what i learn from the ‘live feed’ or whatever it’s called. today i learned that it was bubble wrap appreciation day – yes, this may seem like a useless fact, but upon reading the tweet, i smiled (in a completely silly kind of way). i’m kept up to date on news, happenings in calgary, events, and more! 

4) i love that i’m virtually meeting amazing people.  some of these people have thousands (and hundreds of thousands) of followers for a reason. they are leaders… leaders in life, leaders in their industry, and leaders on twitter. they have a ton to share (and RT), all of which is beneficial to the twitter community and i appreciate it too!

5) i love that it’s convenient. when am i not signed in? hmmm…. never? having a mac and an iphone – twitter is easy! if i have a random thought i post. i don’t get caught up with – how long has it been since i posted last? what will my friends think? is this facebook worthy? blah blah. it doesn’t matter. someone out there in twitter land will smile or laugh. 

tweets make people happy. <3 enough said.

Get your twitter mosaic here.