Cocktails & Connections- DMV Style

My banner from 2016  APW

First, let me share a quick thought here about collaboration. I utilized the banner above on almost all my tweets, posts, pictures during this week. The hashtags represent APW themes from (in order) Office Dynamics, Executive Secretary Magazine and yours truly– all set to the IAAP background green! To bring attention to our career field, we must get the word out! More importantly, we must get the word out together!

So, what does collaboration look like? It means many administrative associations working together globally to represent the purpose and professionalism of our career field.  Funneling down, it also means communicating the value we bring to our companies to the organizations, suppliers, human resource and recruiting personnel within our business networks.

 Administrative Professionals Day – DMV Style

The DC Local Area Network for IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) was hosted by our local Cambria Hotels and Suites.[Disclosure: DC Cambria provided meeting space and appetizers for our event. They also provided a separate cash bar for the event.] The hotel is part of Choice International brand.Their sales/marketing staff has been savvy enough to reach out to the IAAP members in several cities because they understand administrative and executive assistants frequently fill the role of meetings/events planner for organizations. This is particularly true for our field when it comes to board and committee meetings. Many of us are frequently in search of a modern meeting room space that won’t break the budget. Would I have visited this site without being contacted by their sales/marketing staff? Not likely. After touring I was convinced that this property (because of its Metro-friendly location and board room space) would be a superb resource for local IAAP members. Thank you to Lee Callicut, Jeff McClain, Ayesha Aurora, Lois Goldring, and the entire DC Cambria staff for the wonderful customer service and fantastic event.

Several attendees check out the roof top deck and bar at Cambria ( too cold for us to use it that day! boo hiss!)

Twenty-seven local executive suite administrative professionals and an executive assistant recruiting firm representative, representing corporate, government and non-profit organizations toured the property after a networking hour. We had two attendees join IAAP after attending. Door prizes for the event came from The Howard Theatre, ChocolateChocolate DC, and Clyde’s Restaurant. I hope you were able to catch some of my (@OfficeRenegade)periscope livestreams from the day of the event.

There’s an old proverb- Many hands make light work.  A heartfelt thank you to Joyetta Delaney, Janet Brake and Debbi Shaffer for your help during this event.

Thank you to my DMV (District|Maryland|Virginia) peers for coming into town and being part of our really fun Cocktails &Connections Event for Administrative Professionals Day.



5 Ways To Change Your Workday Groove

My office has a case of the blahs. Winter blahs. Post-holiday,No-vacation-until-June-itis.

It’s easier somedays to wallow in it.

Here are 5 ways I know how to break out of the blahs at work and inevitably improves my workday groove:

  1. Sleep- Not on the job…but as in, are you getting enough? Do you feel refreshed after you wake up or still dragging? Getting enough sleep is undervalued for adults. Some worker bees actually love to brag about how much sleep they DIDN’T get. That’s not good. And it makes for one superbly cranky co-worker around 3pm.
  2. Alternate caffeine intake with water intake –  So I’m a coffee freak. My co-workers, friends and family will tell you I have an unhealthy relationship with coffee. I try not to point fingers at the co-workers that wake up to a diet soda and drink diet soda all day.  The point is to find a healthy balance.  If I drink a large coffee on the way into work, then I can balance it by drinking a 16 oz glass of water or more.  It makes my body feel better.  I don’t have any scientific data to back this up.. and besides..these are suggestions
  3. Ask for the tools you need – This seems to be especially challenging to my admin peers. I remember working in a large hospital system with more than 20 admins on the team, each of us providing admin support to at least 2 VPs or directors at a time.  Maybe eight lines on the phone system? So one day, I asked my boss for a headset so I could leave my hands free to continue work or to be able to search something online while I had one of my supervisors on the phone.  Well.. I never saw such astonishment from my peers– “Where did you get that?” Or, “How did you get that?”  It was as simple as just explaning how I could be more efficient if I had a headset. It isn’t always that simple.  It is important to ask our boss or company for the tools we need to do our work.  They wouldn’t tell a surgeon they couldn’t have a certain type of scalpel (unless it was wicked expensive)… so just ask.
  4. How do you look? I’m not talking beauty-wise. I’m talking work-wise. Do you look business-like or professional?  My neurosis is that I need to be okay with what I’m wearing should there ever be a hidden camera at my office.  I also need to be comfortable.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t worn a pair of shoes that I regret wearing to work. It does mean that I make a concerted effort to look pulled together.  A tiny bit of makeup. Shoes that aren’t raggedy or scuffed up. A suit that fits correctly and is comfortable. I can’t be myself and focus on work if my suitpants are too tight or if I’m wondering if I can use black sharpie to color in my heel (I will do that if I have to at the last minute!).  When I feel good, I look good. (see my three ancient blogposts about this.. I guess I like to revisit stuff.)
  5. MUSIC. MUSIC. MUSIC.  Are you allowed to access your iPod playlist through your work computer? Do you utilize Spotify or iHEARTRadio or Pandora?  I couldn’t make it through my workday without my own music choices.  As a matter of fact, I have a ‘Drive to Work’ playlist, an ‘I need quiet calming music’ playlist and a ‘I just need background noise’ playlist. Nothing helps my mood change faster than music.  You know your own taste in music.  Some music I really love is not appropriate for work– unless I happened to work in a club.. which, I do not. But the right music during the day- can change my mood and focus in a heartbeat.  Just don’t use your ‘I need to sleep’ playlist at work.  Potentially bad career move.

So, these aren’t rocket scientist suggestions. Hopefully a few of them work for you. 


Fighting through the Fear – One Day at A Time

So.. this blog is NOTHING about being an admin. It’s just about being human……..


Hundreds and thousands of tweets, posts and commentary on the tragedy in Newtown, CT.

The horror strikes at the heart and the most understandable reaction is to retreat..

What happens when something horrible happens? When something goes to such a dark space–  we can’t even begin to cope.

I call it the bounceback issue.  I’m not a psychiatrist or social worker or any kind of doctor.  I’m just a human being that’s dealt with my own fair share of trauma, which next to most things we’ve seen in around the globe in the last twenty years.. seems fairly petty.  To me it isn’t.  I lived it. I survived it.  but not initially….

Initially I drowned it. I drowned it in anything that would keep me from feeling anything..  Busywork. Travel. Food. Alcohol. Drama….. then I grew up a tiny bit.. when one day I came to the obvious realization that I wasn’t the only person in the world that had ever had anything awful happen to them.  I began to be able to empathize with others going through their own personal struggles. I learned to recognize that I had come through some pretty challenging situations.. and was doing just fine.

I heard this great speaker once, and he was talking about his very impoverished and trying childhood.  How awful his Dad was. With a belt. Still he said, (to paraphrase)’ it didn’t matter (to me) if he was a good dad or a bad dad.. He was MY dad.’ We hold onto what we do have, no?

Resiliency is a trait that is a big deal to Americans. We love to talk about how we bounceback from horrific events.. it’s almost a weird badge of honor.

What I know from my own personal experience, is the worry that one day…. my bounceback won’t bounceback.  That optimism and faith I own, will have drained out the tank and there will be none left to find. This is how I feel when I learn in the media of another shooting, another murder-suicide, another natural disaster. So, my prescription is to retreat.  No more news watching. Period. ( I did this for a majority of time 3 mos after 9/11.)

Retreat. Pray. Meditate. Put things that matter to me in perspective. Ask what can I do about all this?

I can be kinder. More patient. Ask for forgiveness. Offer others forgiveness. Remember that I am most certainly NOT the only person that has lost a loved one, dealt with heartbreak, lost all material possessions, been stung by disbelief and disheartenment.

Tonight I sit at home.  With a gratitude list that is enormous…. and enormous sadness that scares me.  I will fight through the fear. I will lean on my gratitude list and the people that love me. I will count on my ‘bounceback’ eventually stopping by…

Here’s Where Experience Counts

I recently spoke to a group of peers at a leadership forum.  It dawned on me about 20 minutes into the presentation — (about how long it took me to get to the point…) that experience in our career field is important because it gives us the benefit of a different perspective.

I shared the example of  when you try to give someone directions to a place you’ve driven to a million times, but you can’t remember the street names because you don’t think about it any more.  It’s the same issue when working with a new employee coming into the workforce. Some administrative professionals have been with their company for more than 20 years. They don’t think about how to do something anymore.. they just do it!   So here are a few suggestions I hope will help some of the more veteran admins, like myself, ease our new coworkers into the workforce.

  1. Patience.  Don’t I know how hard this is.  Things that are completely second nature to admins- like shipping a fedex envelope- are not so simple to someone that has never done it. Either walk them through it or add it to your procedures binder.
  2. Let them know you are going to be available for questions. This allows new admins to not hold the burden of feeling like they are supposed to have all the answers.
  3. Be Respectful. Rookie employee ≠useless human being.
  4. If you’re feeling particularly generous, give them some background (not gossip) on the nature of the work. An example would be if you know that two weeks before the company’s annual conference that the phones begin to ring incessantly, you just might want to give them the heads up.
  5. Tools. If you have a tool that you utilize, Evernote® or OneNote® or a legal pad list– offer it as a suggested way to keep track of all the information that is coming at them the first 3 months. Some companies have amazing orientations for their new staff but I suspect the majority of new staff orientations are too vague and generalized. Help a newbie out.
  6. Do you leave the newbie hanging in a bad spot or give them a clue.. Again, YOU know it is a bad idea to heat up smelly food in the office microwave– they may not. They could’ve been heating up blue cheese crumbles in the microwave in their college dorm for all you know. Yes, someone should pull this lovely person aside and let them know the unspoken rules of office etiquette. (This topic warrants its own blog…)

I had forgotten how I came to learn so many undocumented expectations in the workplace and in my field– but  I realize now (duh!) that I’ve learned most of it from my good and bad experiences over my career. That, my friend, is a valuable piece of information for me to remember.




Why Are You Hiding? The Danger of Doing It Alone

Why ARE you hiding?  You say, “I’m not hiding, I’m focusing.” 

Well, I call ‘BS’.

Call it a bad case of control-freak or just a plain case of fear of what others think…but I believe that many of my peer admins try to resolve big problems on their own.  And while trying to do so, they isolate and get caught up in their own noggin.

This is so dangerous.  One loses perspective and an ability to see potential options to resolve the problem.

My advice? 

1. Write it down.  That’s correct.  Write down exactly what the problem is.

2. Write down the names of at least 3 persons you think may be able to help you solve the problem.

3. Then contact each person one by one if time permits.  If time does not permit, go by your instinct and call first person’s name you wrote down.

4.  Try this opening or something like it.

Hey, I have a dilemma and I’d love your take on it.  NOTE you are not asking them to solve it.  You are asking for their perspective.  Often times, that’s all we need to hear.

It’s a skill I learned from a previous supervisor and it has been a useful tool for me.  So, don’t hide. Don’t try to pass it off as ‘focusing on a resolution’.  Get perspective and gain progress.

Why Renegade?

I love music… music changes people, changes cultures..

Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Renegades of Funk’ – references the band’s unique musical style and how it did not fit into the musical culture at the time it was written.

For me, the best lyric from the song is:

Renegades are a people with their own philosophies

They change the course of history

Everyday people like you and me

And for me to be a AdminRenegade means- my style of approaching the admin career doesn’t come on par with cultural and business world expectations of the administrative professional.  Instead, the approach and perpective I take– are quite the challenge to the stereotype of the admin/secretary/officemanager/executive assistant/lead administrator etc….