Lisa Airst

"TurningPoint New You Makeover Contest" Winner

imgLisa's Winning Contest Entry - February 2011

A year ago I was on the road to change my life. I had just graduated from college with a diploma in social services and was on the hunt for a fulfilling job. However, life can throw you unforeseen events to contend with. The week I secured a short term contract, my family doctor told me I had breast cancer. For the next ten months, I went from the angst of having cancer to the need to carry out healthy decisions. I took hold of my angst and resolved to do everything I could do for a successful outcome. This attitude held through surgery, six rounds of chemotherapy, my hair falling out and six weeks of radiation. I am now in remission. Of course, it is not in my power to reverse the physical traumas that happened to me. But I can, as I did when I made the decision to go back to school, make positive changes and go forward in my life and career. As my hair grows back, my longing for life and career is strong. With the help of Club Metro's multi-faceted TurningPoint contest, I will be on track to realize my dreams and aspirations.

Lisa Airst
Blog 1 – April 2011

I am honoured to write for Teresa Kruze's web site. You already know what an inspiring and motivating individual she is. Well, I'm new to Teresa's sphere of influence. But like you, I certainly want to stay and
enjoy the ride.

Here’s my story: As you all know Teresa writes an inspiring column called "Turning Point" every Monday for Metro Newspapers. Teresa interviews people from all walks of life who are making a difference in their community. I was reading her column in February when she announced a $10,000 Career Makeover contest. Entrants had to write a compelling 155 words as to why they thought their life story should win. I feel the events of my life in 2010 fit the bill: I had gone back to school, attained a SSW diploma & then two months after graduation and while looking for a job in my new profession, I found out I had breast cancer.

I wrote my ``opus`` life story and submitted it online to Metro. Then the waiting began. The waiting would have been unbearable if Teresa would not have given periodic updates in her column about the contest. Finally, Teresa announced that out of hundreds of entries, she and her committee of experts had chosen five finalists. The story with the most online votes would win the grand prize.

She summarized the five stories and that's when I started to get excited. Teresa mentioned one finalist as being a breast cancer survivor. Well, I thought to myself that could be me. So, I immediately went to Metro's online version where the five stories were in their entirety ready to be voted on. My story was there: It was the first one.

Although I was pleasantly surprised about getting to the finals, I knew my work had just started. Yes, I thought it was a good story and friends said they thought it very touching. However, I knew that if I wanted to win, I had to get out the vote. The deadline for voting was six days away. To win, I needed to view my efforts as an election campaign where I had to use all methods - face-to-face schmoozing, contacting breast cancer blog sites, relevant e-mail distribution lists, a friend's facebook page - to win. I attacked this assignment with fervor, even going so far as to lobby my dentist's and doctor's office to vote.

With the deadline approaching, I knew I did everything in my power to win the grand prize. The day of reckoning was tough. Teresa did not mention the winner in her column and I didn't get a phone call during the day. As evening came, I told myself I didn’t win. I was fretting in bed when I got a phone call at 9:15 p.m. from Teresa saying I won the grand prize. I couldn't believe it. As Teresa asked me questions I started to pace my apartment. I was ecstatic. The last time I felt this wonderful was the year before diagnosis - 2009 - , when I graduated from college with a diploma that I thought would make me invincible and launch a new career direction.

It was about 9:45 before Teresa and I got off the phone. I couldn’t phone a lot of people. That was unbearable. I could not contain my new found happiness. So, of course I phoned my mom. At any age, calling mother is acceptable. Especially, for the kind of news I was about to spring on her. I woke her up. But it was worth it. Like any mom, she told me ¨It was just what I deserve.¨

After getting off the phone with mom, I said to myself I need to share my fantastic news with others. I was simply ecstatic and couldn't contain my excitement. Who else could I phone I prodded myself? Of course I said to myself, my brother & sister-in-law on the west coast. They weren't picking up so I left them a message and then I left a ton of messages at work for everybody else.

Teresa suggested we meet at Metro offices on Thursday to do a photo shoot. That was in just three days. In that time, I had to send a mass email thanking all of the people I nudged and pleaded to vote for my story. The next day, I sent out a heartfelt thank you note. That afternoon and evening I was inundated with congratulation e-mails and phone calls. With each person, I relived the excitement that Teresa's phone called evoked, detailed again and again the many prizes I won, and last but not least, told people that on Thursday I would be going to Metro offices to have my picture taken for an accompanying story. Wow, my week was going great. It was only going to get better.

A day before my ``photo shoot`` I started to get nervous: I actually won and will be picking up my prizes and meeting Teresa at Metro' s offices. I arrived ten minutes early, announced myself to reception that I had an appointment with Teresa Kruze. I took off my jacket and spotted Teresa talking with someone - yes, I knew her from her picture in Metro and her website which I had checked out that week, but it was her enthusiasm that drew me to her. We said hello and after her conversation ended, she prepared me for what was to come.

I was going to meet with Metro Newspaper's Editor-In-Chief Charlotte Empey, get my photo taken, meet with the marketing specialist, and get most of my prizes. My nervous system was revving up but I told myself to contain it. Thankfully I did, because the best was yet to come. I met Charlotte Empey, whose gracious presence put me at ease. Then I was told the photographer wanted to start shooting me. I was never and will never be at ease with being photographed. It was no different this time. But at least, there was a purpose.

I was photographed with my $500 Danier Leather gift certificate, Blackberry Bold phone, $500.00 Donato Salon & Spa gift certificate. That day I also received a beautiful Danier Leather briefcase. I received my netbook computer the week after. The best was and is yet to come: Career and Social Networking coaching.

Yes, I love my Blackberry - and have become a crackberry - and my easy to transport netbook. But what I`m really looking forward to is the career and social network coaching that will give me the tools, motivation and confidence to launch a career in social services and whatever else comes my way.

Over the next few months, I will be documenting my career odyssey in these pages. I'll document the fun - going shopping with Teresa at a Danier Leather Outlet store, having a makeover at Donato Salon and Spa -, the new - learning about social networking, implementing the course that my career choice and I map out - and last but not least, the sheer frustration of a job search. I hope you join me on the journey.

Lisa Airst
Blog 2 – May 2011

It’s been a couple of blissful weeks since I won Metro Newspaper’s Career Makeover contest on March 7. I’ve had a wonderful run of 15 minutes of fame since my picture and story appeared in Teresa Kruze’s column. Some very poignant moments have occurred. Such as when I got a call from my Oncologist’s nurse, Marion, who said she and the whole “chemo” team at Mount Sinai would like to congratulate me for winning the contest. Marion added that she could not think of anyone else who deserved the prize. Mostly, I’ve been recognized by people at stores I frequent. It’s funny I entered a contest for a Career

Makeover (prizes being Social Networking and Career Coaching, a Blackberry, Netbook and yes, $500 gift
certificates for Danier Leather and Donato Hair Salon and Spa). However, people who say my picture are always asking me when I’m getting my makeover – beauty or do they mean face makeover. Seriously, I am blessed for winning the contest. Mainly, for having the opportunity to meet Teresa and for being invited to write a blog on her website. Oh yeah, another benefit: Getting the use of a Blackberry for a year and yes, already becoming a crackberry – of course, I only use it for job searching.

See you next month.

Lisa Airst
Blog 3 – June 2011

Hello again. Life for me has been intense and busy since I last wrote. As you know from my previous blogs, I certainly enjoyed the perks of winning the $10,000 Career Makeover Challenge. In particular, the tech toys, especially the Blackberry. I even enjoyed – somewhat – people coming up to me and saying they saw me in Metro. Well, my 15 minutes of fame is thankfully long gone. The hard work of getting into shape to find a fulfilling job has commenced. I feel I’ve been in a very demanding boot camp – where career transitioning and job search workshops are the exercises du jour. What an experience it’s been. In addition to the “baubles” - $500 gift certificates from Danier Leather, Donato Salon & Spa, Blackberry from Wind Mobile – as I call them, I also won a first tier package of career coaching from NEXCareer – a leading Canadian provider of Career Management, Career Transitioning and Career Coaching.

At NEXCareer, I’ve been given the opportunity to attend workshops led by top experts in the career coaching field. These experts are not only “book smart” but also have hands on experience in career placement and coaching. As a result, the workshops at NEXCareer are laced with insider perspectives. If I only had the opportunity to attend these workshops, I would be blessed. Well, I was blessed twice. I have been working with Sandy Johnson, career coach extraordinaire, who also happens to be the Vice President of NEXCareer. Remember the 1967 movie, To Sir, with Love. It was about a wonderful teacher, played by Sidney Poitier, who inspired students of a gritty urban class. Well, I came into NEXCareer a little gritty and wet under the ears. However, under Sandy`s tutelage, I believe, I have risen to the challenges she has set for me. My next blog will be all about the magic of Career Coach extraordinaire, Sandy Johnson. So, please stay tuned for my report on this inspiring individual.

Lisa Airst
Blog 4 – July 2011
Regular readers of this blog know that I won the Metro Newspaper sponsored Career Makeover Contest exquisitely put together by journalist extraordinaire Teresa Kruze. My answer to the question “Why do you want a career makeover?” was voted the most popular submission by Metro Newspaper readers. I won some mighty fine booty such as a Blackberry Smartphone and service for a year, Acer computer, two $500 gift certificates to Danier Leather and Donato Hair Salons and Spa.

The prize with the most impact is the three month career coaching package at NexCareer. I have learned so much from my Career Coach Sandy Johnson. As with any great coach, Sandy has raised my performance level, increased my technical expertise and boosted my endurance level. However, what really makes Sandy Johnson outstanding is her wisdom, non-judgemental attitude and ability to inspire. I came to Sandy after three major life stressors: job layoff, a return to full-time school to finish a Social Service Worker Diploma and a diagnosis of Breast Cancer which entailed a year of treatment. So, I was fortunate to have landed in Sandy’s most capable hands. I am working very hard and every day under Sandy’s tutelage, refining my job search.

Although I have not landed a job – yet – as a client services representative, with a public relations specialty, I am happy in the knowledge that I am learning and growing. Ultimately, I am extremely happy. Last summer was chemotherapy; this summer is liberation and enlightenment.

Metro News column written by Teresa Kruze – January 9, 2012
“TurningPoint New You Makeover Contest” Winner

It’s a new year and beginning for Metro’s “Makeover Contest” winner Lisa Airst. The cancer survivor is about to start a new job as an educator with an organization that manages homes for people with mental health issues and Lisa says the contest played a huge role in securing her new job.

“I believe I was determined before but sometimes I gave up. Sandy at NEXCareer didn’t give up on me. I learned to be even more determined and persistent.”

Lisa’s new wardrobe from Danier, the notebook from TechDirect, the Blackberry with phone service from WIND Mobile and mentoring from Robin Sharma International and eBranders all helped put her on the path to success. She recently went to Donato Salon and Spa and as you can see from her photo she has a beautiful look to go along with her new job and outlook on life.

“I had a follow up with my surgeon. I’m in remission and flying high. I feel positive about the future because I persisted right to the end and I didn’t give up.”

From all of us at Metro News, “Congratulations Lisa!”