Note from Gillian: With this post written by Lisa Baroldi, The Noteworthy comes to an end. I'm sitting in my favourite coffee shop where I first put the pieces of this website together just over 1.5 years ago, reflecting on the people I've met, the writers who have contributed, and all the times people told me why they love this site. I've loved it too. The Noteworthy has always been a personal project that I've happily shared with anyone interested in following along. Thanks to all of those who were willing to meet with me, the contributors that helped make this project so fun, and those who took time to read and share our stories.
What makes Gillian interesting?
The most noteworthy people typically think they have nothing exceptional to offer the world. They put their heads down; do their thing and be themselves. Others bear witness to their greatness, but these humble change-makers brush it off. Their day-to-day arouses curiosity, incites action, and even sparks revolutions. They leave an impression on people all over town. But that’s not why they do what they do. And that’s not why they are who they are.
Gillian Thomson is one of these people. Characteristically, she doesn’t know it.
Gillian launched The Noteworthy in June 2014 with a threefold objective: 1) to feature unseen, but important movers and shakers in the city and understand what makes them successful, 2) to provide a resource for people who want to experience and support Edmonton gems, and 3) to launch a platform to prove her chops and land a job. Check, check, and check. Gillian achieved all of those aims and gained some life-long friendships and serious personal insights in the process.
Interested in her format, in what she’s learned from interviewees, and, ultimately, in who she is, I asked Gillian if I could interview her for her own blog. She was surprised at the request, and a little nervous, but was up for the role reversal. Coincidentally, this profile will be the final post on The Noteworthy, which seems apt.
Gillian is the real deal. What do I mean by that? Gillian is generally quiet, but when she speaks, she does so with intent and an unwavering voice. She is decisive and straightforward. Her hallmark, in my observation, is thoughtfulness combined with an honest and ballsy approach to life. Do you know any other hairstylists, turned chemist, turned product developer, turned marketing guru, turned blogger, turned whatever is next for her? She admirably acts in perfect alignment with where she is in life. If Gillian wants something, she goes after it, or she creates it. And she wisely knows when to turn the page to a new chapter.
Gillian doesn’t see herself as an entrepreneur. She doesn’t laud big achievements or boisterous projects as the be all and end all. She is more interested in the stuff of any size that makes a difference in Edmonton and in people’s lives. She values all efforts and craves simplicity. She puts family first - always.
Gillian started The Noteworthy to exercise her writing muscles and to truly connect with people who piqued her interest. Sometimes she interviewed in tree forts, sometimes in hip cafes. She wrote about chefs, hockey players, scientists, photographers, and people who preferred no professional labels. Her great gift was to make all interviewees feel special, successful, and seen – noteworthy to someone.
I asked Gillian a few questions and then got into her favourites.
What have you learned about people and success during your time doing The Noteworthy?
I was always surprised at how willing people were to meet with me and how humble they were about their own success. I learned that you actually don’t need a platform like The Noteworthy to reach out to Edmontonians. They are incredibly responsive and eager to share their passion for their work and for the city.
Top three insights:
- Do what you are really passionate about. That is what will bring your success.
- It’s okay to abandon an idea, to change course. You can be trained in one area, but work in another that brings you joy.
- Say yes to things! Everyone we featured has an “Okay, let’s do it" attitude. They are fine with failing, starting over, and learning lessons.
You created The Noteworthy from scratch. What tips do you have for someone who wants to start a blog?
- Do it for quality and passion. If you are doing it because you love the topic, it can be very rewarding. If you're doing it to gain a following and get free things, then please stop now. People see through it and that's really boring.
- It is not as easy as it looks. And it's not glamourous. Blogging is not typically a paid gig. You have to do it for the right reasons and not expect a return in a traditional sense.
- Update regularly and make sure your content is digestible and consistent.
Why end The Noteworthy?
It’s another example of me being okay with growing out of things. I no longer need this as a creative outlet. I have a job now where I get to use my creativity to promote the city I love as a tourist destination. And there are so many other sites that profile Edmontonians of note. It’s time to make room for the things that will enrich me personally, not just professionally.
What does the future look like for you?
I’m shifting from professional or academic goals towards personal goals. First things on the list: a more fit, happy me in a home of my own.
Gillian's Favourite Places
drink// Credo - 104 Street or 124 Street
One last shout out to her favourite cafes for making her a London Fog as soon as she walks in the door. Also favoured by Sam Jenkins, Jarrett Campbell and Jacqueline Jacek.
eat// Hap's Hungry House - 16060 Stony Plain Road
She has a hearty Saturday brunch there with her family almost weekly.
eat// Canteen - 10522-124 Street
Gillian isn't overly adventurous with her food, but she always trusts the combinations of flavours at Canteen. Also favoured by Sam Jenkins, Cory Christopher, and Jarrett Campbell.
shop// Vivid Print - 10342 Whyte Avenue
Her go-to store to find new art, a nice gift or card is Vivid Print on Whyte Ave. The friendly owners introduced her to her favourite prints: hand-illustrated, vintage London Underground advertisements.
Gillian's Recommended Reads
read// Brain Pickings
It's not a book, it's a website that has snippets of insight on creativity, love, science, philosophy, everything. Her very favourite article: A summary of Shel Silverstein's book that perfectly explains what kind of partnership everyone should be striving for (read it for yourself).
read// The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
She’s reading this and discussing it with 3 other women around the world. Both the blog site and book are about finding answers to life questions. She underscores, however, that while she writes for fun, she is surprisingly not as into reading.
Gillian's Words of Wisdom
"It's a line from a Bon Iver song I've always loved. Did I just end The Noteworthy on the most hipster note possible? It's true though - when you go through uncomfortable times, that's when you grow and build the most character. I've learned to embrace change and unbalance, knowing that it all ends up being better in the end."