Johannesburg #ExecSecLIVE

 

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It’s taken almost an entire week to get my head clear after my trip to #ExecSecLIVE Johannesburg—Jet lag and a persistent sinus infection kept me from posting much on Twitter during the trip and work kept me from writing after returning home.

Where to start? Well, let’s say it is a long, long, long ways away from Washington, DC. We’re talking approximately 8,100 miles away and about 18+ hours of flying, not counting layovers and such.

Was it worth the trip? Damn skippy! it was.

Arrive in Joburg and meet up with my former co-worker and a really good friend,  Rachel. That night, a group of the speakers went to dinner to catch up, to get to know one another, and oh yeah.. eat some Springbok.  No, friends. I’m sorry. I am not that adventurous about eating.  But all reports were that it was a tasty option for dinner. I honestly cannot remember what I ordered. Seriously.

Our Trip to the Lion Safari Park.

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File this under, ‘I didn’t react the way I thought I would’

This guy.. .this lion cub. I gave him a good pet. I was scared to death. He’s not dead, he’s sunning! and he and his brothers were quite snuggly with one another.

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We also saw a lion pride, giraffes, ostriches, a panther, a leopard, wild dogs, and of course a meerkat or two. It was quite the experience.

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This giraffe is named Purdy.  Photo courtesy of Lucy Brazier.

But the most important parts of ExecSecLIVE? The learning and the networking.

Photo credits to Jon Lawrence for Executive Secretary Magazine 2018

As for my own experience, I was thrilled to attend the launch of IMA South Africa, present to colleagues from all over Africa, learn even more! cool tips, best practices and new insights from my fellow speakers. I was incredibly grateful to Susan and Cathy and all the Discovery folks for their hospitality.  Very appreciative of the concern shown for my health by attendees and colleagues alike. Superbly happy I made it through both of my presentations without losing my voice! Honored to meet the fine young women that have come through the ISIPHO bursary project. Looking forward to all those LinkedIn connections that are coming!

Still not able to put into words what this particular journey has meant to me. To put it best, I’ll borrow from the amazing Diana Brandl, #We’reAllInThisTogether.

 

The Best Part? You are not alone.

Tonight I came home from work and per usual, hopped on Twitter.

I knew things would be kicking off in Sydney, Australia for #ExecSecLive.  I immediately searched the hashtag and starting following posts from the conference.

Executive Secretary Live is a fantastic administrative conference that travels the globe.  So many administrative conferences: IAAP Summit, AIOP ACT, IMA, ASAP Annual Conference, AdminToAdmin, EPAA,Office Dynamics, AEAP, Be the Ultimate Assistant, and this list is hardly complete! For a complete list, visit /http://executivesecretary.com/associations for an administrative association near you. Or, visit http://executivesecretary.com/events/ for a full list of training events. [Self-disclosure, I’ll be speaking at Executive Secretary LIVE, Johannesburg later this year.]

I get super excited when I think about administrative conferences! We are NOT alone! You have had a crazy work experience, and I can almost certainly guarantee you that another attendee has had either the exact same challenge or something very close.  There’s an instant recognition. An instant acknowledgment of mutual respect.

That feeling is wicked awesome—and that’s a good thing! It’s such a relief and also a tidal wave of joy to meet our career colleagues.

If you are an administrative or office professional, I promise you with all my heart that you simply MUST find a way to get to an administrative conference. It will change your world, your perspective, and expand your network in ways you cannot fathom.

Here’s a tiny sliver of the friends I’ve made via admin conferences.  As Diana Brandl says, “We are in this together!”

 

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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.

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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

 

Scared? So am I!

 

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Fear.  I used to tell my daughter (and still do) that every human being deals with fears, and not every human being handles the feelings of fear the same way.

I love this topic because fear is awful. Fear is also powerful. Fear can drive us to bad decisions, bad changes, bad habits. Fear can also propel us forward. Fear can be the catalyst to not ‘going along’ when you don’t really feel like doing it another day. Fear can jolt us from complacency or stagnation.

I’m completing my first year in a new department at work.  New title. New supervisor. New teammates. New expectations. New software. New schedule. New responsibilities. Fearless? Try changing jobs within the company after being in the same role for almost eight years with the same team,  same boss, same job duties! I’ve managed. Not perfectly, but I’ve managed.

This year, I’ll be presenting a session focused on ways to really surprise your supervisor(s), and I mean that in a very positive way! when it comes time for  your annual review.  Annual reviews can make knees shake and self-doubts rise.  My goal is to give you tools and insights that will set fears to the side and allow your contributions to the organization to truly shine.

Honestly though, I am not afraid of sharing my IAAP Summit 2017 Ed Talk – and the topic  ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. It will be at 12:30 on Monday, July 24.  I’d love for you to stop by and hear it.  ~ K

PS.

I also invite you to read this great post by Dan Rockwell on his blog, LeadershipFreak-4 Forms of Stagnation That Destroy Leaders .

My favorite quote from the post?

Busy work is death incognito ~ Dan Rockwell

Be True To You, No Matter Where You Are

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Dunkin’ Donuts at Dubai Ice Rink,  Dubai Mall, Dubai UAE

Just a week ago I was on a 14 hour flight home from ExecSecLIVE Dubai. Here I am sitting on the couch, trying to be succinct about what I saw, what I learned, who I met, what I ate. Or maybe that isn’t so important.

Okay, maybe it is.

Here’s what I really took away from my experience.

  1. Be you. Be yourself. Don’t worry about comparisons
  2. Know your stuff (content)
  3. Learn from the attendees. At the Q& A, be open to learning from attendee questioning and feedback
  4. Honor the jet lag. Each of us had jet lag in varying degrees
  5. Always keep an open mind. I particularly appreciated hearing the message about completely mastering our core job duties before taking on more. So true
  6. Try new things! I went ice-skating in Dubai. Try new foods. I tried some very interesting stuffed dates and figs
  7. Be courteous in your host country. (Well, you should be courteous all the time but that’s another blog post.)
  8. Stop and listen. When meeting other attendees, listen more than you talk
  9. Our perceptions are not always accurate. I’m honestly not sure what I thought Dubai would be like, but I know that I found it to be a wonderful mix of modern and ancient.
  10. Our preconceived notions and stereotypes can and should be shoved aside– meet people where they are, as they are
  11. The weekend in Dubai is Friday and Saturday.
  12. It was obvious that the hotel was well-prepared for guests arriving all day and all night from all over the world. Many options were offered to help guests until rooms became available at check-in, including resting in the hotel spa at no charge.

I didn’t take my laptop to this conference. I took my Kindle. I had my phone. My goal was to not take so many pictures that I missed out on experiences. I also wanted to listen to the other presenters. I know if I had my laptop with me, I may not have been as attentive. That’s just the truth.

One last thought. I used to show the speaker picture (see below) to my friends and say, “One of these things is not like the other.” This was my way of saying I felt like I was not like the other speakers and did not belong there.

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Dubai 2016 Executive Secretary Live – Speaker Team

I will no longer utter those words. After a bit of research last week, I determined that I’ve delivered more than 100 presentations, taught more than 20 classes and have presented at the four major administrative conferences. Of course I belong up on that stage. And, I know now, more than ever, that there is no better way for me to be true to myself than sharing my administrative professional career experiences and life lessons with others. That’s why my motto is #KeepLearningKeepGrowing !

PS. I was so happy to find a Dunkin’ Donuts in Dubai!