What’s Your Story?

Let me tell you about ExecSecLIVE London 2018.

My session this year is about storytelling, ‘ Amplify Your Voice Through the Power and Potential of Storytelling’ and how it relates to the work we do, and the world around us.


I’m excited and filled with anticipation of how this session will unfold. It’s an amazing experience to see the faces of attendees when they reach that moment when they leave behind the ‘stuck in a session’ approach and fully invest in learning at the moment.  The opening dialogue can leave me feeling quite vulnerable.  As I mentioned in my promotional video this is going to be a collaborative and safe environment for learning.  No, it’s not about sappy stories! It’s about being honest with our challenges in the workplace, with the perception of our career field of choice, and sharing what we know to be our intrinsic strengths and qualities.

Most of all, I’m looking forward to the laughter. The joy. The synergy that occurs when like-minded, eager-to-learn dedicated professionals come together for professional development and networking.

Hope you will join us there. executivesecretarylive.com/london/2018.

~ Kem


Text? Call? Email?

Ponder this.

If an admin successfully completes a task using a completely different approach than yours, is it wrong?

If an employee brand new to the workforce delivers a message to a senior executive via text rather than email, is it wrong? Why is it wrong? The message is delivered, right?  How would the new employee know that it is or isn’t acceptable to text instead of emailing co-workers unless it was pointed out to them their first day? Perhaps the executive prefers text? No way for you to know unless you have worked for this executive or have first-hand knowledge of his or her preferred method of communication.

Customer service taught me (and my many years in this career) that others just might not see things from the same perspective that I do. They may not have learned how to respond to events in the same way.  This employee perceived it as the fastest way to get a message to another staff member. This person thought they were awesome! to be so speedy to get the message out. It did not occur to this employee to actually call the executive because that is not the primary means of communication for this person. They text their family. They text their friends. Why wouldn’t they text their coworkers, too?

The staff member receiving the message was taken aback because the complete content and intent of the message did not get conveyed in that format. Miscommunications ensued. Disdain made a grand entrance.

I suspect this exact kind of scenario is why communication and business writing are two major segments of the Certified Administrative Professional® certification exam offered through the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

I encourage more experienced workforce peers to keep this in mind and to try to remember how long it took you to learn something so well, you did not have to think about how you did it. It comes to you automatically, almost as if you are on auto-pilot.  Think how much the workplace has changed. When I joined the workforce I had a lengthy orientation, not just about the organization but also on how to do my job!

These new-to-the-workforce employees are not only learning their job, they are learning what it means to work in an office culture, one that may be far more formal than they understand. Do not let them make awful get-shown-the-door mistakes if you can see it coming.  Do not demean these coworkers over their lack of experience.  Share the stories of mistakes you have made. In my opinion, empathy is the best way to engage and teach the newest members of the administrative professional workforce.




Updating Your Certification Designation

I must admit to having missed this announcement. But, back in November, the IAAP Certification Administration Board which oversees the CAP, notified members of the new and proper way to display certification designation.
This change meant the designation should reflect separation between our certification and any specialties we hold.  So, effective 11/1/17, the new CAP format standard was announced.

Signature before: Kemetia MK Foley CAP-OM

       Signature updated: Kemetia MK Foley CAP, OM

Would you please take a moment to update yours & share the word with fellow CAP designees?  Thanks!

Motivation to Focus

The holidays have passed. You’ve (hopefully) had your annual review. Now, what?  How long does it take you to get back into work mode?

To be honest, I haven’t done work while home for the holiday per se but, I have been planning and journaling to prep for my return to the office. I already know what’s coming or at least I know what is already in the strategic plan for my department.

What I will need to be when I roll in the door tomorrow?

  • Caffeinated √
  • Focused √
  • Positive √

Catching up with colleagues will need to hold for a day or so.  I need to be direct with them, let them know the many deadlines I am working to meet, and when I might come up for air.

I used to come back from holiday and the entire first day back would be lost to catching up with a co-worker, or being shown videos from a holiday trip. I know I can’t afford to procrastinate tomorrow. I’m covering for another team member and as mentioned above, our department has several major projects kicking off—all in January.

What’s my motivation to stay focused? I want to avoid that dreadful, nauseating feeling of being unprepared and of falling behind before I’ve even started.  This doesn’t mean I’ll be tied to my desk all day. I will take restroom breaks. I will take my lunch break, and that will be when I truly will have time to hear travel and holiday tales.

What’s your motivation to stay focused at work this first week of 2018? I’d love your feedback.

~ Kem


Fiona in full-on focus-mode


Today’s Purpose: Self-Care and Sacred Things

[As I wrote this post, I found out that one of my social media connections, Carlos Gil (@CarlosGil83)  was in DC today, and I did not know it.  He’s on my long list of social folks that I want to meet.  I follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. He shares very useful insights regarding these platforms. Give him a follow, will ya?]

Every year I take December 7 off from work. I started doing this after my father passed away on December 7, 1997.  The irony is that my late father, William T. Foley, Jr,  (or as we affectionately refer to him as WTF) was a U.S. Navy veteran.  My siblings and I agree that he made sure to pass away on a day we’d never forget. (Hello, Pearl Harbor Day– Navy guy… Get it?) I usually travel to the military cemetery where is buried and have a quick chat with him there.  Some years I do things we loved to do together in D.C., in the city where he raised me.

Today, I took the day off from work to go into downtown D.C. to do things that make my heart happy, things that bring me peace, things that help me re-center. In my book, that’s called self-care. Self-care is sacred.

I had had an idea of what I wanted to do today but wasn’t certain I could get to it all because I slept in late.  I honored this day, starting at St. Matthew’s Cathedral and lit candles and chatted up the Big Guy Upstairs, and his dearest relative, Mary.  That was important. √ Nearby is the store, ChocolateChocolate – which, if I’m that close, I probably really need to go get some chocolate cappuccino cups!  I knew I was meeting up with my long-time mentor and dear friend, Carole. So, natch- I asked her to call into Loeb’s Deli and order me their redonkulous pastrami sandwich, and whatever she wanted for lunch.  I met her at her office and we caught up. I make the time to see her during work hours when I am in D.C.  She’s played such an important role in my career success. Listening. Provides honest feedback.  I met with a colleague of hers that also works in research. That was a definite bonus!

I decided to head over to the National Gallery of Art. Vermeer exhibit. A must. The hush of a gallery. The colors. The emotions that art stirs. If I’m in D.C., I’m making time to get some art in my system! It was such a beautiful day here today, about 50 degrees, partly sunny—perfect for walking on the National Mall.

At the end of the day, I walked over to the Navy Memorial, took some photos, and visited the museum. I guess because I hadn’t traveled to the cemetery today, my emotions caught up with me. I found myself crying in the museum store and asking the cashier for tissues.  I was overwhelmed, thinking about the stories I didn’t know about my father. No doubt he would have honored the Foley family trait of telling tales while exaggerating just a wee bit.


William T. Foley, Jr., PRAN Korea


The thing is—when do we have time to honor and process these emotions? We have family and work obligations. Cars need oil changes and there are bills to pay. When do have time to do what we know we can’t get to on the weekend because of these obligations? Self-care, in my opinion, is to NOT continuously put off things we know we ‘should’ get to, or we’d ‘sure like to do that one day’.

Setting aside time—sacred time to honor the small and large things that refill our empty tank is self-care of the highest order. You know, in your heart, what you need to do. Please honor it.  ~ Kemetia

(At the bottom of the post is a list of some things I am going to set aside time to do this year, to refuel, refill, to honor my heart.)

Things I’ll do this year- 2018

  1. Get to a hockey game
  2. Get to a Red Sox Game (preferably when they play the Nationals)
  3. Go to a symphony performance
  4. Take a day off from work to spend a day with the hubby
  5. Write more cards and letters
  6. Visit the National Archives
  7. Go to Maine, preferably York Beach.
  8. Run a 5k. It’s been too long between races.
  9. Hike at Great Falls
  10. Do volunteer work at University of Mary Washington and T.C. Williams
  11. See live marching band performance(s)
  12. Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial during Cherry Blossom time
  13. Host my Dish & Dessert event
  14. See a comedy performance
  15. See a musician I like
  16. Go to Boston for a weekend
  17. Go to Rehoboth Beach for a weekend
  18. Do Paint Your Own pottery again
  19. Walk the prayer labyrinth with my friend Ruthie
  20. Visit the Victoria and Albert Museum again when I return to London

That’s a good start, don’t you think?



CAP Exam Review Boot Camp

Thank you for your patience!

My CAP Exam Review Boot Camp course registration opens at 9:30am 11/22/17.  Seating is limited to 15 attendees in order to provide the best learning experience.

Remember, this is a review.  This course is not endorsed by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.  If you would like to talk with any previous boot camp attendees prior to signing up, let me know.

Who should sign up?

Candidates for the 2018 CAP exam (course does not cover any of the specialty exams)

Potential exam registrants who want to get an intense overview of the what content can be covered in the exam.

I encourage CAP candidates that are seeking a more in-depth, online course to sign up for Marie Herman’s study group ( I receive no monetary benefit for this referral.)

Course registrants should bring their 2017 CAP Exam Study Guide, snack food to keep energy up through the day and a notebook. That’s right. A notebook. Single subject, lined notebook. You’ll thank me later. Always suggested? Bring a water bottle, your laptop or tablet, your phone and phone charger.

I’ll be there with coffee in hand.day13

~ Kemetia