More observations- IAAP Convention in Reno, NV

Delayed posting from August 2006– my apologies….

8/14/06….AIYEEE… Sorry folks.. a bit distracted by the Airline/AirTerror issues which meant a very. very long trip home. BUT.. enough said.. Let’s get to a bunch of final observations about the IAAP convention.

Courses- 3 out of 4 courses I would rate an A-/B+. Topics were relevant, presenters excited about being in front of our group and sesions were timed to be short enough to keep attendees attention.

My favorite course was Building Budgeting Skills for Admins (see www. for presenter info). Best presenter. Best presentation of condensed complicated material. If your division or chapter can afford her! Hire her to do one one of your regional programs.

The 4th course was presented by two professionals that have done many previous sessions for our attendees. Very casual and relaxed, but not nearly as informative or focused as I would’ve liked. The course was supposed to relate Cool New Software.. but I found that my expectations were for a more defined presentation. I cannot honestly say I could do it better, but yet I was disappointed.

Personally, I think the courses would be better placed in the beginning of the week. By Wednesday and Thursday.. folks are more than ready to be done and gone. I’m not second-guessing Inge (IAAP’s meetings planner). I’m stating my personal preference. Here’s how I’d do it.

  • Eliminate Sunday eve first timers orientation. BUT, connect with veteran attendees.*
  • Monday- Business Session am / Courses afternoon then District Caucus-Dance Social eve
  • Tuesday-Business Session am Elections and Courses 3:30-5:30
  • Wednesday- All day expo- 8-5 Courses offered throughout the day
  • Thursday- Town Hall- or Expo 9-2′ – Installation and Dinner

DAY 4- A Strategic Plan

Day 4 it is.. and still going..though I’m writing… many folks are back at the convention site watching and listening to the ‘Fab Four’ Beatles Tribute group…. fun.. but I needed to get this written. There won’t be a blog on Friday evening.. I’ll still be traveling.

The main gist of this morning’s business sessions was focused on the IAAP Strategic Plan for 2006-2010.

Don Bretthauer, the Assoc. President made some very good points about issues surrounding multiple chapters in one small geographic location (ie..Washington, DC) and also presented more information on the new Web based Community initiative coming late Spring of next year. At the open mike opportunity, one participating member stated that the annual fee per chapter (estimated at $300 per yr) would be too expensive for the smaller chapters to afford. I can see that being a real problem.

Today was also the first day of educational sessions. ( I need to do a separate blog on there is so much info to share.) However, one convention attendee told me that for her first two sessions, neither speaker was present. I believe that Dr. Fenner from IAAP covered one of the sessions, but the other one was straight out canceled.

These postings are getting shorter as the week goes on and I get MORE tired. .. so m y apologies.. I hope to get a full posting out to you guys sometime this weekend.. as soon as I get a day to sleep in!


DAY 3- IAAP Convention– a quickie

This is gonna be short.. coz I’m zonked!

  • Kudos on our keynote speaker ErikWahl.. phenomenal
  • Glad the business session was shorter
  • Had an unpleasant encounter with one of the vendors at IAAP Expo- and I expressed Professionally– to this vendor, my displeasure with his condescending attitude. (more on that tomorrow)
  • Actually got to spend time with my chapter mates today… very fun.

A more detailed blog follows tomorrow. (It will be coherent compared to if I try to do it tonight !)
Thanks . K

Day 2-IAAP 61st Annual Convention-Candidates

Here it is .. .Day two of our convention.
Since time is of the essence to get this message out.. let me split right down to how I see it.

Great Stuff vs. Huh?

First, the Business Session.
Great stuff: Parade of Nations, Introduction of Candidates for International Office and A/V set up so all could see.. and my favorite part.. the Association update from the Executive Director. Ooh one more.. reminding everyone to turn off their cell phones!!

Huh?: Having all 32 candidates give their speeches in one long session. Definitely a disadvantage to the candidates who presented LATE in the program. Way past lunch time and way past tuning in. As much as I really admire and respect our outgoing IAAP President Kay Enlow.. the presentation was too long… and too much. For a first timer, it seemed overwhelming and hard to remain engaged.

Let me address the candidates presentations.

Great Stuff: The candidates that presented their qualifications for office with no gimmicky rhymes or cutesy efforts. TWO male candidates for international board positions. (One of them mentioned the importance of blogging and Web 2.0!.. Yeah.. I’ll make sure he has my weblog address.). Now.. if we could just work on diversity in ethnic representation on the board.. we’d be making progress.

And, one candidate actually addressed the importance of bringing along younger members!!!! She got my vote.. because she addressed the unspoken elephant in the room.. we had better start getting respecting the younger crowd coming through and getting them involved… or their won’t be a generation to fill leadership roles in chapters and throughout IAAP.

leave it to say… if I heard how “passionate” these candidates for office were one more time, I’d have been in heat… ok , seriously. The speeches had a tendency to sound scripted and boring. Then, we had the other extreme, the super gimmicky folks……trying to be clever, but instead completely diluted their STRENGTH of competency for the positions they were vying for……

These folks needed to practice their speech in front of other professionals.. so they could see how it would play.

Last comment before I sign off for the day. The expo.. didn’t get to it. The scheduling did not allow for it today… much to my chagrin. We had a district caucus scheduled which I’m glad I attended, but it seemed to repeat much of the business section from this morning AND
because the morning session ran late.. there was not time to get to the expo. Lesson learned.

Very informative.. but tiring would be my evaluation of the day. Now we have a social function scheduled for the evening.

IAAP Convention Day 1-Changing the view

First off.. KUDOS to the host committee for the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) annual meeting.

First off.. I loved Reno.. or I should say loved landing at the airport in Reno, as the view/vista is phenomenal.

I headed off to the convention center around 3pm today and I was thrilled to see the signage throughout the convention site. Now I must admit, I wish that all the registrations/credentials were in one area..but I trust that the IAAP meetings manager certainly knows her job..and there are reasons for everything. I don’t need to know the reasons why.

Today’s main tasks were:

  • Get registered
  • Attend First-Timers Orientation

At the risk of sounding odd.. I was thrilled to meet a MALE IAAP member at the First-timers orientation. He was from North Carolina. Personally, I have this very twisted thought that (and pardon my fatigued logic) until we have more male representation in our profession;recognized IAAP office holders- our culture will continue to view the profession as women’s work. I do think it is sometimes looked down at that way. Gender representation in our profession also brings another perspective for looking at and resolving administrative issues.

This is a true story. I once had the opportunity to make the final recommendation for an administrative slot at the company I worked for about 8 years ago. The most qualified candidate was a male. He had served time in the armed forces in an administrative capacity. I am certain you (the reader) would not be surprised to know that both the President and VP of this company would not hire him because they assumed this candidate lived a certain lifestyle. He had to, of course… why else would he want to be an admin?

I kid you not….

I wonder how many folks within our own profession apply that assumption? It goes back to finding the best candidate for the job. In reality, hiring in corporate America can appear to be fairly abitrary and quirky. And, I think in that previous case, illegal…But my thinking goes like this.. (key here, being MY personal thoughts.)

In the USA, males hold the majority CEO and Board Chairman positions and I cannot see the profession gaining more respect until there are more men within it.
Of course, I suspect they’ll be promoted faster…and that is just real life. But imagine.. a workplace with a more equal balance of gender representation. Would the workplace be more task focused, less gossipy? fewer birthday functions, invitations to Pampered Chef events from peers? I really do wonder.

One last thought.. and a shout out.

Had dinner with a group of my peers, and the recent downfall of an Executive Assistant with Coca Cola came up in the topic of conversation. As many of you know, this person is charged with trying to sell corporate secrets to their main competitor. But all of us acknowledged the damage done to the hard work that as professionals we do each and every day… earning the trust of our bosses (or sometimes not). We all shook our heads, an unspoken collective ‘Damn it, girl.! Why’d you mess us up like that.” was the heavy undertow of wondering why an EA at that level would do such an act. We’ll never really know… but I bet there is more than one or two CEOs doing another due diligence on the assistant that supports them.

SHOUT OUT– to all those great Capital Chapter members that made the journey.. I believe 8 in all.. And, to all those folks that had the courage and belief in themselves to submit their application for the CPS/CAP exam…

More from tomorrow’s events.

Education on Your Company’s Dollar?

Many companies offer employees some sort of training and/or education benefit. Generally these benefits are granted either after a certain amount of time of service with the company and/or provided that the coursework is relevant to the job.

These opportunities are often passed up by employees for a variety of reasons, but the importance of utilizing these opportunities should not be overlooked.

In the administrative profession, the range of skills needed on a daily basis to perform at competent level allows for a wide-range of course options that would fall under the “coursework relevant to the position” definition. What about taking on Spanish? Or Chinese? Project management courses? Desktop publishing? As the world becomes more globally aware, the corporate world is doing so at light speed. Making yourself a valued worker is vital as the US economy begins to slow, and the role of the administrative professional continues to morph.

For me, I’ve always put training, development and education at the forefront of my interview questions because it usually relays how serious the company is about development for all staff, not just management. Of course, there is an implicit agreement, and sometimes stated policy in place to ensure that employees don’t use their upgraded knowledgebase to bolt for another company or better paying position.

This Saturday, I’ll depart for my first major conference dedicated to the my career as an administrative professional. The International Association of Administrative Professionals Conference and Educational Forum, being held in Reno, NV. I’ll be networking with over 2000 of my peers, some from within my very own Capital Chapter, and attending sessions directly related to my current job. These sessions will include project management, budgeting skills, lease reviews and skills for training other professionals.

I hope to be able to blog about my convention experience while I am there and also share some of the new and cool stuff I will be learning.

More from the road..

Thanks to my current employer for providing me this opportunity and investment in my career development.

Devil Wears Prada? And they are just now noticing?

Wow.. How is it that two months have passed since I wrote? That old commercial where it is stated, “Life comes at you fast..” is so true this Spring/Summer. I digress..

Just went with a friend to see the Meryl Streep movie, The Devil Wears Prada. I never read the book, so I was going in with a different perspective than my friend who’d read it.

First off.. I could not watch it without looking at it from the Admin’s perspective. As a member of International Association of Administrative Professionals, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to bosses.

For those who don’t know anything about the movie… it’s about a recent college grad with a journalism degree. She takes a temp job at this fashion magazine as an assistant, basically to “take a job that pays the bills.” She ends up working for a brutally insensitive and demanding fashion editor that (after one year, if she can survive) will open doors to any journalistic career she may want.

Throughout the course of the movie, we see what the character sacrifices for her “career opportunity”. I suppose this is where it chafes me. Perhaps it is a little too close to home reminding me of some bosses and tough working-world lessons I have experienced.

The movie character, Andy, goes through quite the administrative admin initiation, including the makeover to fit in, and the condescending rebukes from the current veteran admin (albeit- one year on the job) in the office, and a great scene that shows the petty and mostly absurd demands made by the boss.

What I noticed immediately, is that no one in the company makes any effort to help the temp. (Ever been guilty of that?) Two of the tools for success for this admin do end up being used by the character. For me, they are the cellphone and notebook.

While many of us have had the experience of working for difficult bosses, we now have had the benefit of maturing past the initial phase of “why doesn’t my boss like me, recognize how hard I’m trying”, self-pitying initial reaction to working with a tough and demanding boss.

Some (not me, unfortunately) were lucky enough to be born with a thick skin. The one guy that ends up helping Andy – states the obvious but difficult truth.. we are being paid to do our job and THAT is what bosses expect from us. Period.

I had a position several years ago that highlighted how my unrealistic expectations could cripple my professionalism, if I let it. And realizing I was already on that beam, chose to move to a different corporate culture. It was, and still is, MY responsibility to realize I was not a good fit, instead of expecting my boss to change because I had been an admin all these years and had years of experience.

This really shows in this film. This poor college grad has no idea of corporate America, what it takes to be an admin to a high-powered executive, the personal sacrifice, the demands, the fine-line personal boundaries. So for me, it is a fine reminder that I don’t care to work for a high-powered and demanding executive. My kudos come from within… not from the boss and the entire corporate staff to stand up and shout from the hilltops.. “Isn’t she an amazing assistant?” Because, we all know.. it most likely isn’t going to happen.

But, we can and we should, shout it to one another… support one another (even that temp that is wearing flip-flops). Who else is going to share the knowledge and encouragement (and perhaps kind workplace fashion advice) in our profession?

It’s up to us.