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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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!

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee & Conference Prep 2016

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It’s Annual Meeting  Time!

As usual, the last days before staff leave for our annual meeting was incredibly hectic with several challenges. It started with an unexpected visitor to our office building. The person was under duress of some type, had found themselves an unlocked utility closet on our floor, and had moved in for a bit– deciding to sing while there. Once several staff members realized what the issue was, the person was escorted to our building lobby and local officers assisted this poor soul from there.

Today, like most of the east coast, our internet service was interrupted by Denial of Service attacks. Fairly tough to function fully in today’s modern office setting without internet service. Gratefully, our VOIP phone system was not impacted. Our internet service returned prior to lunchtime today.

Also, I recently turned over the responsibility of ‘holding down the fort’ to the young woman who took over my front desk position. You can only prepare new staff so much for the week prior to annual meeting. It has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. And, this being the 50th Anniversary year for the association means extra stress while staff tries to address all the last-minute adjustments or issues. I have to say, our new temporary staff assistant handled the call volume like a pro today. Oh, did I mention we also had a dozen VIP visitors to our office today for a committee meeting that lasted half a day?

And, of course being cold and flu season.. Yes, there’s a nasty cold traveling our office. Boo Hiss. Coffee can fuel you but it can’t kill a cold yet.

The amazing thing about this is that I heard no yelling, no kvetching in the kitchen. We had plenty of food and coffee to keep the staff going as well as some well-timed bowls of Halloween candy. Now going on my eighth year with the association and having worked within associations for the majority of my career, I can say I’m happy to be one of several staff members staying behind. We can troubleshoot issues from our office and via our cell phones during off hours if need be. We also have an opportunity to get our work caught up and be prepared for the post-conference return of the staff, which will be quickly followed by a full-staff debrief of the conference.

I’m grateful that I get to work with some very fun and superbly talented folks. It makes these few intense pre-conference days far more tolerable. There is a mutual recognition and respect among staff that we are all in the same tsunami of last-minute preparations.

I can’t wait to hear all about the conference when our staff returns. In the meantime, I’ll be following all the happenings via #StaffingWorld posts on Twitter.

Safe travels to my colleagues. Hoping our conference is exactly the combination of educational content, networking and expo vendors attendees want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Your Package 2016

I’ve heard a great deal about this  women’s conference but had family schedule conflicts that kept me from attending. That’s about to change. Not only will I be at the Work Your Package Conference at the end of September, I’ll also be presenting a session titled,  Social Ain’t for Everybody, Just the Sexy People.

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#WYP2016

I’m always trying to push myself to meet new people, learn about different perspectives and help others. I’m very much looking forward to this conference. Check out the agenda. Single Day registrations are available and registration is open for twenty more days.

Here’s the link for more information!

 

 

 

 

 

Where we go.. we are the same..via Practical PA

I’m just back from a week in the UK where we held the first of our regional events in Edinburgh and Leeds. The PA Big Questions took place at The George in Edinburgh and Horizon in Leeds. I was really pleased that we had 50 assistants at the events, all there to discuss the issues…

via So the Big Questions happened… — Practically Perfect PA

Day 5- Countdown -ExecSecLive- My Tribe of Career Teachers

My career started in academics where I was working for a law school in New York out on Long Island. I directly supported the Dean of Records– and he was not only a Dean, but he was also a Rabbi. Little did I know he would turn out to be my first career mentor. He helped me navigate the college policies and procedures as well as took time to explain the meanings and history of many Jewish holidays and customs as I was not raised in that faith.

Move forward to last month when I was working on a gratitude list — a list of people who had been part of, or had crossed my career path over the last 25 years, and a pattern began to emerge. I considered this list of people (and it’s a fairly extensive list) to be my career tribe.

Each person I consider to be a part of my career tribe has had most, if not all of the following qualities:

  • A significant amount of volunteer time dedicated to serving others
  • Had a hobby or interest that brought them great joy
  • A history of traveling to and/or living in multiple countries
  • Spoke at least one additional language
  • Was interested in learning what made other people feel good about themselves
  • Was interested in improving communications and work relationships — even if it made both parties uncomfortable
  • Did not mince words about their concerns
  • Kept in touch with colleagues that they no longer worked alongside
  • Actively participated in social and business groups for personal and professional development
  • Acknowledged their own career challenges

Now, I’m not in touch with the entire list on a regular basis, but I can tell you that I still have a connection at almost every single company where I have been employed.  I have been diligent about keeping a contact at each employer, even if it is purely a courtesy.  And my single most important work lesson from each of these persons has been key to shaping my career perspective – best phrased by The Rolling Stones.

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 And it’s true…  I didn’t always get what I wanted, but I always got what I needed, whether it was a tough lesson, a superb review, thoughtful suggestions for improvement or a department transfer.  Do you have a tribe of career teachers?  Some of mine will be at #ExecSecLive in London. Can’t wait to give them a hug and tell them ‘Thank you’.