Thursday 31 July 2014

Suggestion Box Week 1

I am so incredibly lucky to have two really great students working with me this summer. They are both hard workers, super productive and really nice and really funny girls. There is a lot of laughing in our office, they keep me entertained. 
Over the years, I have had a few great supervisors and a lot of not great supervisors. I am taking what I learned from all my supervisors- the good and the bad- and applying it to my own role as supervisor. I want the students to have a great experience and enjoy their time working for our organization. I also want them to feel valued, appreciated and heard. The students are aware of this.

Last week, they, jokingly, asked if they could have a suggestion box when they could anonymously leave suggestion on how I can do my job better. Of course, I agreed and told them that we will read the suggestions at our weekly team meeting. 
Here are this weeks suggestions:
Drip. Drip. Drip. How's the water shut off? The day of our meeting, the City turned our water off due to construction. 
More espresso beans. Someone gave me chocolate covered espresso beans as a thank you gift and I left them for the students.
Don't crush dreams. This is actually something that was said jokingly and with laughter. And I'm the one who wrote it down and put it in the suggestion box.  

Keep a list of funny things that are said in the office.  The students say hilarious things on an hourly basis (ex Student 1 to Student 2: I feel like we're complete opposites. Everything I like, you don't. Everything you like, I've never heard of). Plus, after the summer I can read the list and remember how funny they were. 

Bowling party. No idea why this was suggested, but we are now going bowling after work in August. 

Co-worker should be the supervisor because she brings cupcakes and folds brochures. A co-worker brought in the most amazing cupcakes for the office one day. I only bring Timbits and store bought cookies. Plus she helped them fold brochures while I was in a meeting.

Love the way we have to fold the suggestions to submit. Suggestions are written on the back of a post it note and folded so the sticky part attached to the other end. With everyone submitting suggestions the same way, it helps them stay anonymous.

Paper beside the suggestion box to help with anonymity. Everyone was writing on different kinds of paper, which would help me figure out who suggested what. If we use the same paper, it helps conceal the identity of the suggestion maker. I put a pad of yellow post it notes beside the suggestion box to address this.

Espresso beans. Yup, suggest twice. They REALLY want more espresso beans.

More opportunities for "gold stars". I give out stickers to people who earn them...from doing a good job with a task to surviving a rough morning. There are no set 'rules' for earning stickers but they would like more stickers.

Respond efficiently and effectively in a timely manner. I often have over 100 unread emails- it's a combination of reading select emails from the day before and people just emailing me a lot. It does take me a couple of days to respond to stuff. I'm sure this was a semi-serious suggestion, but the students are in my office and usually say "I'm emailing you a draft of a poster, can you look at it and let me know what you think?" so I look at it and give them verbal feedback. It's not like I'm ignoring them.

Co-workers in our office, but not on our team, were surprised (as was I) that no one suggested I clean my desk/workspace, which is a disaster. Both students love to organize and have been counting down the days until I was on vacation so that they can organize my desk, workspace (the floor around my desk), my filing cabinets and my business cards.

The suggestion box was a really fun activity and a great way to start our meeting.I can't wait to see what suggestions they have next week!!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Wind You Up And Take You Downtown

Even though today is Wednesday, this is really my Friday- last day of work before being off for a few days. While I'm looking forward to having sometime off- work has been nothing but hectic recently- I have so much I need to do before I leave for almost a week. I have the feeling that a lot of it won't get done. Usually, I would work late to make sure it gets done, but I am having dinner with friends tonight!! I'm really looking forward to it; I haven't seen most of these girls in about a year. Plus, it's the perfect way to kick off my vacation.

Another perfect way to kick off a vacation? A little Luke Bryan!!

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Hey, It's Ok!

Airing My Dirty Laundry

To be disappointed that I won't be able to see a friend, and one of my favourite people, tonight. 

That I have not been as consistent with blogging as I have been in the past. Summer will do that to you.

To be missing the Prince of Wales Stakes tonight. The Prince of Wales is the second "jewel" in the Canadian triple crown for horse racing. This year they moved it from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday night.

That I have mixed feelings about my upcoming vacation. Happy to have the time off, but my family-that I love dearly- will be around for most it, which means it will not be relaxing.

To be spending a lot of with friends recently. Last week I went out twice for dinner and once for lunch breakfast and coffee. This week, so far, I have dinner on Wednesday with friends and seeing two friends individually on Friday.

Friday 25 July 2014

So, You Want To Work For A Non-Profit...Part Deux

I have worked for a non-profit (NPO) for about 5 years and get asked all the time what it's like. I'm happy to share my experience and try and give a balanced answer- sharing both the pros and cons- but also pointing out that everyone's experience is different and that not all NPO's are run the same.
Thanks to contract work, I've had the opportunity to work for 3 different NPO's. There were the aspects of the job I loved and aspects of the job I didn't love so much- or at all.
Last week I shared 6 things about working for an NPO that I had never told anyone. So, this week, I thought I'd share 6 of my favourite things about working for an NPO.
1. Work doesn't always seem like work. In the past month, "work" has included going to the park, museum and butterfly conservatory (scouting event site locations); shopping (thank you gifts for speakers, event guests and auction items); going out for lunch with people (building relationships) and reading magazines (creating a prospect list of people we can ask to donate auction items to our event). On of my favourite work experiences was when I worked on a commercial.
2. You get invited to a lot of places. Some of the invites make sense, like when I was invited to LeaderCast, and some are 'really? that counts as work?' invites I get invited to Strawberry Socials, spa grand openings, concerts, theatre performances (including opening nights), horse races, casino bus trips and tv stations. I don't go to everything I'm invited too, but I do get a lot of fun invites.
3. Event leftovers. This is probably one of the best parts of my job. Whenever I have an event for work, the caterer sends me home with the leftover food. I can usually get three or four meals out of the leftovers and the food is usually pretty good.
4. Free stuff. It's mostly pens, notebooks and post it notes. But, I've also gotten energy drinks, magazines, mugs, DVDs, gloves, food vouchers, hand sanitizer, Bailey's, books, chocolate...a variety of stuff. People give me stuff as a thank you for working with them or free samples so I can see what they offer and use their company in the future.
5. Summer Students. People have mixed ideas on summer students. I personally like them. It's kind of fun (and stressful) finding the right fit for our organization. If you hire the right student, it can be a really great experience. They bring different skills and ideas to the table, assisting with different aspects of the job. I try to make the experience a fun, memorable and educational opportunity for the students I work with. I like to provide them with cupcakes, road trips to site venues, stickers and a suggestion box where they can provide feedback on how I can do my job better- like to provide more flavours of cupcakes. There are lots of laughs while being productive.
6. Feedback. This is hands down the most rewarding and best part of my job. I am in charge of fundraising, which means I am responsible for bringing money so we can offer our programs and services to our clients (no pressure there). When I hear clients say how much they gain from our services, how they don't feel so alone, how they don't know what they would have done without us, how we have made the process easier on them...this makes everything that I do and have to put up with, worth it. I know the work I am doing, all of my sacrifices, headaches, frustrations and even the fun stuff as listed above, is making a difference in someone's life.
Like everything NPO's offer good and bad. Every experience is different. Within the same organization I have had the best experience of my life and the worst experience of my life. It is all about who you interact with and work with. It also has to do with your personality and how invest you are in your organization. I'm ok with being underpaid because the feedback from our clients more than makes up for it.
I repeatedly say that you have to really love what you do to work for an NPO, and I stand by that statement. Like all jobs, there are a number of pros and cons, and the industry isn't for everyone.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my magazine reading at the park...kidding. We went to the park on Wednesday.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Milk In Bags, Eh?

One of my favourite friends, who is American, was asking if it was true that Canadians buy milk in a bag. I confirmed that this is actually true. It's not hard to pour or messy or even weird for that matter.
Luckily for all of my American friends, one of the students working with me this summer found this informative video, that will answer a lot of questions, including how we get the milk from the bag to the glass.

Monday 21 July 2014

Inspire Me- Why Not?

Mondays are tough, especially in the summer. This is not news and I am not the only one who feels this way. I received a grant to hirer two students for the summer; they are both great and I'm really enjoying working with them. But Monday morning are our team meetings. We report on what we did the previous week, what needs to be done this week and divided up between the three of us. 
This is also a chance for me to check in with them and see how they like working with us, what I can do to help them, etc. I want this summer to be a fun experience for them and I actually want them to learn and develop skills. Which means, I try to keep the menial office tasks- such as filing and stuffing envelopes- to a minimum. 

I'm trying to be a good leader. I've always tried to lead by example but this is the first time where I am officially in a leadership role and I have to supervise, manage and motivate other staff. It's a learning experience for me. On Friday, both of the students told me that they really liked working for me, that it was fun. I was happy to hear that. 
As you all know, I like to start my week with a quote to inspire me and focus on for the week. This is what I picked for this week:

I have used a variation of this quote since high school. Every time there is something I want to do, I ask myself "why not?" and if I can't come up with a reasonable answer as to why I shouldn't do it, I do it. 

This is also something I hope my summer students walk away with after this summer, that they can do anything. There is nothing stopping them from achieving anything they set their mind too. I am giving them both challenging tasks, and I'm there to help them, but I'm also letting them take the lead. I want them both to develop critical thinking skills, to think outside of the box and to approach challenges from different angles. I want them to know there are so many ways to do things- we can take different paths to get to the same destination- and there is not single or 'right' way to do anything.
I want them both to have the confidence to take chances in life and know whether or not they succeeded, they are still successful for trying.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

So, You Want To Work For A Non-Profit

I work for a non-profit organization (NPO) and I love it- most of the time. I actually got my start in the corporate world, and while I was making a ton more money, I wasn't feeling rewarded in my work or that I was making a difference or even doing something with my life. So, I made the switch to a NPO.

Since high school, I knew I wanted to work for a NPO and planned my schooling accordingly. I had a ton of volunteer experience, which is what really influenced me to work for a NPO. Through my volunteer work, I was introduced to the thankless grunt work, long hours, fun events and the majority of things associated with this sector...or at least the portion that had to do with fundraising. 

I love my job, the organization I work for, the people I work with, the clients we serve...but it's tough. 

I hear from so many people who say they want to work in the non-profit sector. They have good intentions, wanting to help people and make a difference in the lives of others. A lot of people don't realize how hard it actually is. The end result- seeing how the funds I raise help the people we serve and hearing our clients talk about the difference we made in their lives- is honestly the most rewarding thing for me.

People ask me all the time what it's like to work for a NPO. I'm honest with them and tell them it's not as glamorous and fun as it looks, that's it's tough but rewarding and that you get to do a lot of fun things- like work on tv commercials, insert creativity into events, visit a lot of unique locations, etc. But you have to be really dedicated to your organization and really love what you do.

Here are 6 things I've never told anyone.

1. You don't get paid well. People know this, but they don't know the extreme of this. My current salary, after 5 years in the industry is still less than my starting, just out of school corporate salary. I'm getting paid roughly $20,000-$30,000 less than what I should be.
2. Everything is for the good of the organization. I had a vendor, someone we paid to come in and do work for us, send me an unsolicited email criticizing me, my work, my planning skills and he cc'd everyone in my department, my office (we have multiple locations), my boss, our admin assistant and two people from his company. I did not reply or acknowledge his email. My boss ended up talking to his company and apologizing, saying I was at fault for the email their employee sent. I was told I was not a good representation of our NPO. My boss had no problem throwing me and my reputation under the bus to make the organization look good. 

What promoted the email? He was supposed to be done working on site at 1pm, it was after 4pm (when our office closes), and I asked him how long he'd be onsite so I could find someone who could stay.

3. You work long hours. I worked 13 hours yesterday, will be paid for 7 and I was expected in the office for 8:30 this morning. That was 13 in office hours and does not include any work I did when I got home. I also didn't take a break for lunch or dinner.
4. Volunteers. This is actually a good and bad thing. Some volunteers are amazing. Incredibly dedicated, will do anything to help out, super nice and friendly. I have volunteers that I can't spend enough time with. They are truly, great and amazing people who have added so much to my life. Unfortunately, not all volunteers are like this. 
You work with volunteers on specific projects and they don't realize-and in most cases don't care- that not all of your time can be dedicated to that one project. If you assign something to them, and they don't do it, it's your problem, not theirs. They are unreliable. Just yesterday, I got several nasty emails from a volunteer and was yelled at by another. Guess what? I will be to blame- see point number 2. 

5. The workload is a bit much. You are expected to do work assigned to you/fits your job description, which is consistent with all jobs. NPO's don't have a lot of money and are frequently short staffed. In less than a year, my department went from 5 people to just me...which means I am doing the work of 5 people (being paid a salary for one position, which is underpaid to begin with). This work has to get done and there is no one else to do. So it automatically gets assigned to you.
6. Board Members. This goes hand in hand with number 4, as they are volunteers. Board members are the most dedicated of volunteers and do A LOT of work. I am incredible lucky to work with a really great board, which is not always the case. Board members are, at the end of the day, your boss. But they are not involved with the day to day office operations, so they really have no idea what you do or how hard you work. They see you brought in a $5,000 donation and ask why you couldn't make it $10,000. What they don't know is you had to go through 10 prospects before meeting with the donor (hearing 10 'no' to get to that one 'yes'), you put in 10-15 hours of work on that individual donor and that their original donation was going to be $1,000. 

On top of that, a number of volunteers are family members or friends of the board. If you make a volunteer mad- which is usually disagreeing with them (ex you want to promote an event to sell tickets, they don't want you to promote the event...just magically sell tickets), they have no problem going home and telling their family/friend, who is a board member, about you. Of course, the volunteer leaves out the details about themselves- like them yelling at you or the inappropriate email they sent you. Board member calls your boss the next day and you get blamed...see number 2.

Working in non-profit is not all fun and games. You really have to be dedicated to your organization and really believe in the work they do. You have to be willing to make a lot of sacrifices. You will be overworked, underpaid, stressed out, frustrated and get beaten up mentally and emotionally. It comes with the job. 

There are a lot of good things too about working for a NPO- a post for another time- it's just not as happy-warm-and-fuzzy-feel-good job that most people think it is.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Hey, It's Ok

Airing My Dirty Laundry
To be happy that the World Cup is over. I'm just not interested. I didn't watch a single game, I skipped over the tweets and I avoided conversations.

That I want to take more time off this summer. I only have three days booked off.

To be living off of food found at the Farmer's Market. I don't even know the last time I did groceries, but every week I stock up at the Farmer's Market.

That I think this is the worst cast season of Big Brother. There's no one I like, except Frankie but he gets lost in the cast of horrible players.

To be looking for a copy of Star Wars. I promised my boss I would watch it while she's on mat leave, which ends in about a month.

Monday 14 July 2014

Inspire Me- Wasted Time

I can't believe that we are in mid-July! This summer is going quickly and I feel like I haven't done anything! This could also be because last summer was so packed full of fun activities. And because last summer our office closed at noon on Fridays, making the weekend seem longer. I honestly feel like I've wasted my summer and haven't done much to fully enjoy it.

Plus my summer was 'delayed' by 6 weeks to work on my dad's campaign. My dad didn't ask that I give up my weekends at the beach to help with his campaign, this was something I voluntarily did and I was happy to do so. Working on campaign's, especially my dad's, are fun to me. A LOT of work, but fun.

This weekend was a fun one for started with dinner at our family cottage, with my parents and cousins on Friday night. The cottage is owned by my great-uncle, with his kids primarily using it. My parents have their own place about 10 minutes away, so no real reason to be at the cottage. I love the cottage...5 generations of our family has and currently spends time there. You can check my instagram for some pictures from the weekend.

I have another busy week full of meetings and a summer student starting, before I can get to my next beach weekend. Here is some inspiration to help me get through the week:

A lot of people, myself included, suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). This results in packed schedules, running from one event to the next, and not being able to really enjoy life and the experiences we find ourselves in. 

I do so much during the week, that when the weekend comes, I kind of crash and don't do anything. Even if I have a list of things I want to do; Beer tent, Summerfest, Farmer's Market, Flea Market, visit a neighbouring town, laundry, organize my room, get caught up on blog stuff- all things I wanted to do this weekend and, with the exception of laundry, didn't. 

What did I do this weekend? I alternated between napping and reading, with movie watching at night. I wasted my time. But, as this quote points out, if you enjoyed it, it wasn't wasted time. 

Some people might think I did waste my weekend...and I did too, until I remember this quote. I was relaxed and happy. I got caught up on my sleep and worked on my summer reading list. I didn't use my time as I had originally planned, but I still did something with my time and I enjoyed it. 

Maybe next weekend, I'll be more productive.

Friday 11 July 2014

Bathroom Accessories

Happy Friday! This has been a long, super unproductive week! I have so much work to do, it's ridiculous. Within in a year, my team at work has gone from 5 people to me, with the same workload left to my team. So basically, I'm doing work of 5 people. I did receive two grants for summer students one started two weeks ago and this week was spent hiring the second. Resume reviews, two days of interviews, hours upon hours of debate, reference checks...and I still have to make the job offer. You have no idea how stressful it is to hire someone, when there are two people you think would be great for the job. 

Do you know what else is stressful? Decorating.

I've been living in my apartment for almost two years. I love my apartment and it feels like home to me, but I have not done any decorating. I have everything I need, but there are not a lot of personal touches. Decorating is stressful for me because there are a lot of things I like and I wonder if I'll like them in 6 months or a year. I'm also hesitant to buy something I don't love...I don't want to settle.

My bathroom is a small space and right now a mix and match set of very plain things; standard white shower curtain, white towels and various things scattered on the vanity. Which I think makes it the perfect place in my apartment to start decorating. 

Bed Bath and Beyond has a passport collection, which I think I like:
Passport Bath Towel in 50-Inch x 25-Inch
Passport 72-Inch x 72-Inch Fabric Shower Curtain
Passport Bath Rug
As much as I like everything in this collection, I haven't actually gone and bought anything. I'm still debating.

Maybe it's decisions that are stressful for me, and not decorating???

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Secret Skillz

Tonight, after work, we are having a board/staff social. My boss asked us all to send her a skill that we have that no one else (on staff) knows about. This will be used for an icebreaker. For the past two weeks, I have been trying to come up with a skill. I have asked my co-workers to help me, I've asked my friends for ideas, I've turned to my family for help. I've come up empty handed.

Now, if this was a 'provide a fun fact about yourself' or 'tell us about a unique experience' or 'unknown personality characteristics' or... I would have a million and one answers. But secret skill? I've got nothing. 
I don't speak another language, play an instrument, starred in a school play. I haven't won awards for a skill, aced a school subject or made a scientific discovery. I can't juggle, whistle or say the alphabet backwards. I don't play air guitar, count by multiple of sevens or paint- pieces of art or walls. 

Here are six of my rejected skill suggestions:

1. Good at getting out of cleaning- suggested by an ex-boyfriend, because when we dated I had a housekeeper, and thus did not have to clean.

2. Recite every line from my favourite movie- I have a number of favourite movies and I can't recite a quote from any of them, never mind every line.

3. Needlepoint- a co-worker mentioned she used to crochet, which inspired this potential skill. In grade 2, we learned to needlepoint for art. This is something I haven't done since grade two, added to the fact that I can't remember anything that I needlepointed or where it now is, it was determined that I can't claim this as a skill.

4. Organization- And then we looked at my office-which gets messier and more disorganized by the day.

5. Knowing people- I know a lot of really interesting, semi-famous people. I was told this is not a skill, just a "fun fact" about me.

6. My toes don't bend- I even demonstrated this...I can kinda wiggle my toes, but they don't bend. I can, however, do this with my toes:
My big tow won't bend like the rest of my toes. A co-worker said this was not a skill, but a deformity. Another friend said it was a disability. A social worker also said it wasn't a skill, but I seemed pretty confident about it and maybe I could still use it. My boss told me to come up with another skill, that I'm better than this.

I have until 3pm to come up with a skill and I've got nothing. Blogging did come up, but I don't think this is something I want all of my co-workers to know about. So, I am skill-less.

Is lack of a skill a skill?

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Hey, It's Ok!

Airing My Dirty Laundry

That I do not have a secret/little known skill.

To not like any of the house guests on this season on Big Brother. I don't think CBS did a good job of casting this year. Also, I do not like this new twist of two HOH's and the Battle of the Block...too confusing.

That I am looking forward to lunch on Thursday. We are ordering from the most amazing place and it's all my co-workers could talk about yesterday. One even changed her schedule so that she would be in our office specifically for lunch.

To have gone to the same book sale 3 times on the weekend. Paperbacks were $1 and hardcovers were $2. Each time I went, I walked away with books. I bought 9 books for $11...that is a great deal!!

That I feel I need to up my blog game. I feel like I haven't really been posting quality material recently. I have so many ideas and things I want to blog's just a matter of finding the time to actually sit down and do it.

Monday 7 July 2014

Inspire Me- Choice

Ugh...I can't believe Monday is here once again...and that we are heading into the second week of July...where has the time gone?! I had really low key weekend, spending it at my family's weekend home. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that had a busy weekend; craft show, farmer's market, the beach and a book sale- where I got 9 books for $11! 

But alas, my weekend adventures are now over and I am heading into a VERY busy work week. I have 3 meetings this week to prepare for a meeting next week (yes, you read that correctly), a staff meeting, board/staff social and I'm interviewing 5 people for a summer student position. I might be getting a little stressed just thinking about it all!!

So, here is a little inspiration for the week:

This is such a simple thing...we always have a choice. How many times do we say 'I didn't have a choice'? I know that I say it all. the. time. But I also know it's not true. Instead of interviewing 5 people, I could interview 2...but I want to make sure I hire the best person for the job and didn't feel confident in narrowing down my choices based only on how they are portrayed on paper. I made the choice to load my day with interviews. I made the choice to RSVP yes to the board/staff social. I made the choice...

Even when you make a choice, you still have choices. You can change your mind. Life is about choices and decisions. You have the ability to change your mind, to make another choice. 

Choices have consequences, remember that, but there's no such thing as a bad choice if it's in your best interest.

Friday 4 July 2014

Friday 5

Happy Independence Day to Americans and Happy Friday to everyone else!! I had a three day work week (thanks to Canada Day) and while it was busy, I didn't get as much done as I needed to. But, I'm happy that the weekend is once again here and I will be headed to the beach!! If you're interested in what I get up to this weekend, follow me on Instagram.

I thought I would jump on the Friday 5 bandwagon...

  1. Oh's no secret how great I think Canada is. Everyone should visit Muskoka at least once. 
  2. Beach Read...Trust Fund Babies. I read this while I was in Cuba and I loved it so much that I've made it my 'go to' beach read for the summer.
  3. Hot Track...Necessary Evil by Nikki Yanofsky has been on repeat recently. 
  4. Hair Hero...Surf Hair by Garnier. I use this year round, but especially in the summer. It does wonders for my curly hair that turns frizz in the humidity. 
  5. Girl Crush...Anna in Wonderland. This girl is so, so, so funny! Don't believe me? Watch this.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

I Should Lose These Wicked Ways

Happy Wednesday!! Today is my first day of work this week...I had a great long weekend- thanks to being able to use a vacation day on Monday and yesterday being Canada Day!! I spent the weekend at my family's second home; my days were filled with the beach, fireworks, family, friends, reading, s'mores and a lot of fun!
Between recovering from my extra lazy weekend and mentally preparing myself to head back to the office, I have struggled a bit with what to post today. So, I thought I would share one of the current songs I have on repeat:

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!!! It is a beautiful and sunny day here in Southern Ontario and I plan on spending the majority of the day outside...specifically at the beach!

I am so incredibly proud to be Canadian and love everything my country has to offer. I've done a fair bit of traveling and, in my opinion, no other country has been able to match the beauty and diversity of Canada. Canada is this little gem that often gets overlooked. 
I have an entire pinterest board dedicated to Canada, showing images from coast to coast to coast- from the Sea to Sky Highway in British Columbia to Peggy's Cove lighthouse in Nova Scotia to the igloos in our Northern Territories.

Tourism Canada asked Canadians to share their Canada, here is two minutes, from 65 hours of footage that was received: 

Canadian Tourism has a ton of videos on youtube showcasing different aspects of Canada. You can find them here.
Last year, I co-hosted a Canada Day link up for Canadian bloggers, which you can find here. All of my posts about Canada, including 5 Questions- Canada (where Canadian bloggers shared info on their home provinces) can be found here.

Finally, how can we celebrate Canada Day without a little Classified??