Building a Creative Livelihood


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dream Job #1: Program Manager, Levi Strauss Foundation

Job Purpose

Develops and implements corporate philanthropic programs with a focus on Europe, Middle East and Africa on behalf of the Levi Strauss Foundation. Supports the Foundation’s mission to advance the rights and well being of underserved people in places where Levi Strauss & Co. has a business presence through the following strategies:

•Creating asset building opportunities,
•Promoting the rights and well-being of apparel workers, and
•Confronting HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination.
•Acts as advisor or partner to business on community and citizenship issues.

Critical Results
•Philanthropic grants in Europe, Middle East and Africa that strategically align with the Foundation’s global giving priorities, facilitate the Foundation’s vision of long-term social change in the community, and are measured to assess performance, progress and impact.
•Key advisor to business on community and corporate citizenship issues.
•Grantmaking activities adhere to departmental requirements, regulations and best practice models
•Key spokesperson for foundation and company.

Key Responsibilities & Accountabilities

•Accountable for community investment and relations in Europe, Middle East and Africa on workers’ rights, asset building and/or HIV/AIDS that advance global strategies and supports relevant corporate citizenship strategies (70%)
•Acts as a key spokesperson and communicator for foundation and company (20%)
•Consults with business as a key advisor on community and corporate citizenship issues (10%)
•Craft communication materials (memos, presentations, etc.) for various audiences that captures the essence of the work
•Annual Operating Budget (Grants and Administration): Approximately $1 million

More info can be found here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

27 Reasons Why You Should Never Have a Job

Just came across this article 27 Reasons Why You Should Never Have a Job, and I love it!!!  I'm pretty happy where I'm working, but I know that transitions happen, and for the next gig, I'd love to explore working for myself. 

I'm so excited about the idea of consulting (, baby!)'s a marvelous way to work with a variety of people, travel, and get involved in different projects.

After I've gotten a bit more expertise, a larger network of potential clients, and some financial security behind me, I'd really like to take the step out on faith and go solo.

I loved this article because it highlights 27 reasons that could inspire working for self (ie - not having a job).   Some of my favorites are:

5. Unlimited vacation.

Face it, two weeks of vacation a year is a crime. Whoever decided people should work 50 weeks out of the year was absolutely insane. How this was adopted as an industry standard is beyond me. When you create your own business, you can develop a more flexible vacation schedule. 25 weeks a year? Go for it!

11. Freedom to be a leader.

Jobs are built around conformity, that’s why everyone is expected to wear ‘work appropriate clothing’ that they purchased at J. Crew. What does conformity do? It makes it possible for upper management to keep the lower levels in line, on task, and compliant. When you opt out of having a job, it frees you to be a leader. A leader has to stand out, and have vision. A leader has to show people the way by telling the truth as it is. The truth is that business casual isn’t something you have to subject yourself.

22. Work from wherever you want.

Today I edited this post from the awesome kitchen in my brand-new apartment in Oakland’s hopping Temescal ‘hood, I wrote most of the post while I was grabbing a coffee over in Rockridge. One of the biggest benefits of working for yourself is that it doesn’t matter where you work. You could be on a beach somewhere, you could be at a coffee shop, you could backpack through India. Location doesn’t matter when you’re living the digital lifestyle.

25. Multiple paydays.

When you have a job, all of your income comes from one place, and you know when it comes. This means if the section of the economy where your job is located collapses, your only paycheck is on the line (as mentioned above.) But it also means that you know exactly when you’re being paid. When you don’t have a job, your pay can come from all different directions, and at different times. This replaces the monotony of knowing with the fun uncertainty and improvisation that comes with multiple paydays.

Take a read through the full blog post here.  I bet it'll get those entrepreneurial wheels spinning!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dress for the job that you want

I work in philanthropy at an office in Ottawa (love the job, by the way), and while I’ll likely stay in the field, I want my career to somehow encompass more creativity. So that’s how I dress – with color, ethnic richness, and funky silhouette. While I try not to pay too much attention to external fashion trends around me, the way you dress yourself is indeed a presentation to the world….and says a million lovely things about you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It's so funny - I had posted something in my Facebook status about 51 Gigs, and a college friend called me out on a few things (and I'm very glad she did!)

I've had my LinkedIn profile up for gosh....6 years now, but I figured that since I had a job I loved, I didn't think that I'd need to maintain it.  WRONG!!!

So my girlfriend dropped me a line offering an honest critique about how helpful networking on LinkedIn can be....she pointed out that I had 7 times (GOSH) more friends on Facebook than professional contacts on LinkedIn, and I needed to get my professional networking game on. A month later......DONE (Well, at least I doubled it - it's a start :)  I still work on getting more contacts.  It does take a bit of time though. 

If you have any tips to share, would love to hear them!

Next step is to get a few recommendations from trusted colleagues.....wish me luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

#8 Greeting Card Writer

When I go into Hallmark, I get so involved in selecting the right card, with the right image and the right message. I've noticed, though, that there isn't a terribly large selection of cards (more than once, I've received the same card from different people on birthdays, graduations, etc.). I haven't seen the statistics behind whether the greeting card business is a dying industry or not, but even if it is, maybe partering with a brilliant illustrator could be an idea to get some card out of the door (and selling!)

  • My correspondence, on any occasion, is adequate, suitable, and tactful
  • I've written quite a lot of poetry in my day
  • I'm an emotional extrovert

Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I'll need:

  • Find an illustrator
  • Find some local stores that sell cutesy things like this
  • Review my journals

If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

#7 Dancer

When you know what you LOVE, you just gotta DO IT! I've been dancing since I could walk, and I spent my best years at the Sydney School of Dance in Philadelphia. It was awesome! I just wish I had stuck with it, and maybe I could've sculpted a career in dance. Nonetheless, I've been dancing with The Cultural Arts Studio School of Afro-Caribbean Dance since I moved to Ottawa, and I'd love to continue with dance groups, performance troups, and others who love to leave that energy on the dance floor!

  • I've got a great spirit and energy for many forms of dance
  • I can keep up
  • I can offer a commanding presence on the stage

Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I'll need:

  • Engage in various forms of dance (I'm taking a Lindy Hop class next week!)
  • Get in better shape
  • Research opportunities for paid performance in Ottawa

If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#6 Wine Vendor

My intro to viticulture was in 2005 when, as the grant-writer at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina (Hilton Head Island, USA), I was drafted as part of the team to organize the Wine Auction & Celebration, a huge fundraiser based on the business of Bacchus. Knowing very little about the fluid temptation, I was pulled in to write the catalog for all the lots...all the wine...all the vintages. Needless to say, after a full day's work, a glass of wine was quite the reward!
  • If I can sell wine lots as part of a fundraising wine auction (through lot descriptions, organization, and display), I can surely sell it to likely clients (restaurants, hotels, lounges).
  • I've got a keen taste for these things
  • I lived in Italy for a year

Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I'll need:

  • Stay on top of who is hiring in California
  • Become familiar with Canadian vintners
  • Attend more wine festivals
If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

#5 Fashion Show Coordinator

Well, to be honest, I don't know the fashion world (design houses, yesterday's trends, tomorrow's forecasts, etc.), but I know how to stage it. With some girlfriends in Ottawa, I'm working on a fashion showcase to be presented in September (more to come on that!). It'll be a fundraiser, also, much like the one I co-organized in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Insane attention to detail
  • I work best under pressure
  • I know how to manage tasks and hold each team member accountable
  • I know how to strut (and can impart it easily:)

Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I need:

  • Research industrial, low-cost, and easily transformed locations in Ottawa
  • Develop weather contingency plans
  • Increase my network in Ottawa

If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

#4 Photography Model

While I'd be shocked if anyone offered, I'd JUMP at the chance to do some modeling (paid or unpaid). I've always prided myself on smarts (degrees that I'm still paying for, mind you:), so I've not really pursued anything that was based on outer beauty. In structuring a creative livelihood, I figure...why not?
  • Modeling and pageant experience (Miss Boston in the house!)
  • Patient and professional demeanor
  • Adaptable and versatile facial structure and features

Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I'll need

  • Increase my portfolio
  • Get in better shape
  • Work the Ottawa network

If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

#3 Restaurant Critic and Consultant

Everybody loves to eat - I totally get that! But a restaurant critic has to observe the business performance (price analysis, for example) cleanliness of bathrooms, the courtesy of the staff, and the effectiveness of the restaurant's marketing, right? Then, the critic/consultant has to write about it! Here I am at Pat's in South Philly, and I have a word or two to share about that experience (the outer decor was original and the service intentionally rude but charming; on the flip side, the seating was poorly designed, especially for disabled and older patrons).

  • Keen eye for appropriateness and order of restaurant design and setup, marketing displays, and menu compilation
  • Detailed sense and expectations of etiquette and customer service
  • Willingness to try new foods

Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I'll need:

  • Study the spices and savories
  • Learn how to evaluate the healthy criteria of dishes

If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

#2 A Travel Journalist

I constantly get lost in the Travel section of bookstores - not just because I like traveling, but I like to industry behind writing about it. Identifying a location, getting to know the locals' favorite spots, and taking advantage of the natural beauty and the adventures offered (yup - that's me cliff jumping in Hawaii) seems like such an awesome opportunity.


  • See the writing skills here
  • Avid traveler (See 51 Places in a Day, a travelogue of sorts)
  • Willingness to travel to (and live in, if necessary) any part of the world
  • Adventurous spirit

Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I'll need:

  • Travel to Asia and Australia
  • Start my travel blog
  • Hone in on my perspective through which to view my travels (the arts, volunteerism, religion, etc.)

If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

#1 An Author

The first to come to mind is an author, perhaps of self-help books. One of my faves is Sark. I love the way that she has cultivated a lucrative business of writing, speaking, and sharing from her life's experiences. While I hope to collect a lot more experiences to write about in the coming years, compiling life's learnings in a way that's helpful to others...that could be a delightful gig!


Some ideas to sharpen the skills that I'll need:
  • Continue journaling, but with more detail, content, and exploration of my experiences (and what they mean to me)
  • Park ideas right here at 51 Gigs
  • Become familiar with how to aggrandize the book into an actual business
  • Research publishing companies
  • Share my idea with family, friends, and loved ones (and put the energy of believing in it behind it!)

If you'd like to collaborate, drop me a line!

First Post

Morning folks!

I'm in Canada on a 2 year work visa at Community Foundations of Canada, and while I absolutely am in love with my work, I'm a year into the contract, which means that at this point in 2011, I just may find myself in another country, job, health plan, and retirement account (and I just got it set up here...ah well, at least it's one little egg getting bigger :>)

So I'm putting together some inspirational ideas for jobs/careers/gigs that could give me the lifestyle, paycheck, and amenities that I really want in the next big thing. More important that those, though, I want a day, not of working, but of doing what I love and enjoying the blessing of making a living off of it.

If you can help me along the way, would love to be in touch!

ciao y'all!