Jes Kirkwood talks about growing up in Canada, being exposed to other cultures, and why community and connections make her happy.
Jes is a content and community manager at Autopliot
- Jes Kirkwood is a content and community manager at Autopilot. Jes is from Canada, where she lives with her wife who is from the Czech Republic (we bonded because my grandmother was Slovak).
- Jes married the same person twice, legally, in two different countries. Usually you can’t legally married anyone more than once, but they first got married in Czech Republic as a civil partnership, but then Canada didn’t recognize a civil partnership with the same rights so they got married again there. We compared equality and progress on the subject in different countries, both legally and culturally.
- The one thing that makes Jes happy is community and connection with other people.
“Rising tides lift all ships”. When we are connected and help other people we all lift each other and make things happen together. Jes heard this phrase from Autopilot’s CEO; it was originally attributed to John F. Kenedy, who said “a rising tide lifts all boats” referring to the idea that improving the general economy, as opposed to focusing on ourselves, will benefit everyone.
- When you’ve lived in one culture your entire life, you are like fish in water; you live in it and can’t even see it. When you immerse yourself in another culture, you learn a lot about yourself. Growing up in Canada, she never thought of her culture as individualistic, but when she lived in the Czech republic with her wife she found that if she was sick everyone at her wife’s job would be concerned about Jes’ health. She realized how much more collectivist other cultures are and how her own culture was very individualistic.
- Jes grew up very isolated–her parents were loners and were happy with each other, and even though she has siblings, they are half siblings. She acknowledges that this can be great for creativity and independence, but it can get lonely. Moving to a more collective community changed her greatly for the better. Even though she is inherently an introvert and needs her space to think, she values community above all else. This translates even with her family; for example, even though she didn’t grow up close to her half-sibligs, she now sees them at least once a month and is building stronger bonds. At work, she is also working on building communities and creating new connections and partnerships.
- The benefits of community are great. If her company partners with another company, not only are they sharing resources, but they also share customers and communities. Community amplifies everything you do. The sense of community crosses business and personal boundaries.
No one can change a nation alone. Going back to LGBT issues, we need the community to improve them.
- Before, Jes valued having the space to think on her own, but now she values being challenged and helping each other build something.
- Jes has been in marketing for a long time—she was a marketing freelancer before freelancing was a thing, and supported herself through school with side marketing projects. She’s also been doing photography for a while and initially went to school for photography to be a photojournalist. The community part came more recently and came inspired by a startup she worked for with a focus on a community. Then she started building communities for other organizations.
- Marketers guess a lot. It’s only after you’ve done a lot of guessing that you can look back and make more educated guesses and predictions.
- Any community is not restricted to online or offline, regardless of the dominance of the community. We live in a very connected world, and in-person relationships translate to facebook and twitter, and many online relationships develop into in-person relationships. Regardless of how you start a relationship, regardless of the medium, a true relationship transcends. The media is not the relationship.
- The work revolutions, where people work on their own and independently, enables us to have more flexibility to have more time to spend with other people and strive and strengthen the network. For Jes, it enables her the flexibility to travel; she’s traveling with her wife to the Czech Republic for five weeks and can continue working remotely and still go spend that migh time with family, meeting a new nephew and going to a friends’s wedding, or a couple of weeks ago when her brother was freaking out because their babysitter was sick but she was able to watch over her nephew and still continue to work. This new trend in remote and independent work allows us to spend more time to those people who are the core of our community and will remain beyond their work.
- One of the reasons Jes pushed towards working with communities is that she sees the benefit of it. Rather than isolating herself, she finds value in partnering with other individuals and organizations and leveraging their collective knowledge to improve the community. People like to get recommendations not only on products, but also on content, and that has an amplifying effect. You can create some content and share it with your own network, but if you contribute with other people then that content will be seen by their networks too and you benefit from the network effect. We want to share our content with as many people as possible with the intention of lifting them up, and that can help the economy and society and everything has a snowball effect. Thanks to connectivity, it’s not a one-to-one relationship, but a one-to-many relationship.
Links / Read / See / Hear
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
Rocío Castañeda for ongoing support; follow Rocío on instagram.