Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Administrative Professionals Conference 2014 - It's a Wrap! On to 2015...

Hello again!
Hopefully everyone had non-eventful travel back to their home offices and are reading this with a nice cup of tea or coffee...and that work isn't too crazy after being away for a conference. 

As promised, I want to provide you with a final conference recap before we shift gears and start planning the 23rd Annual Administrative Professionals Conference kicking off next October 4th (2015) in Grapevine, Texas!

I had the great pleasure of meeting many of you at this year's conference and chatting with you about your key takeaways from APC 2014.  I've combined those with my own observations and outlined all of that below.  

Is there anything I missed? If so, let me know in the comments below.

Key Theme: Getting Out In Front of Technology
For many of you, sessions focusing on technology were key to your Conference experience. Sessions on office applications such as PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook were well-attended and many folks mentioned that they learned new tips and tricks for each of those applications. Others needed a quick ramp-up on technologies they've been asked to use, such as SharePoint. Sessions such as The Accidental SharePoint Owner were geared specifically to those who had SharePoint assigned to them...sometimes without their input! 

There's lots of chatter about social media (did you know we covered the conference via Twitter and Instagram? Search #apc14nationalharbor!) and sessions focusing on social media platforms were important for those who wanted to "get out in front of" what their bosses are doing on social media...especially when you're the one being asked to help manage their social media accounts. From what I heard, it's less about being a "super-user" of these social media platforms, but rather it's about an overall better understanding of them...such as what was shared in Kemetia Foley's Social Media Fundamentals session. I heard a few requests for webinars specifically on Twitter (essentially a "how-to"). If that's of interest, let us know in the comments below.

Many who attended Corinne Hoisington's The Mobile Tech Scene of 2014 left marveling that "the future is now" and there are a lot of new technologies emerging that may fundamentally change how business is done...and it's good to get a head start in understanding those.   

Key Theme: Now Is The Time! 
This was a key theme of the keynotes especially: there's no time like the present to go for your dreams! As Diana Nyad said, "If you want to make it across to whatever it is you desire, you'll find a way to make it happen."  Life (and lost bathing suits) will happen, but you'll succeed if you persevere. 

I know that many left each keynote invigorated and inspired, and I heard from at least one attendee that she was inspired by the keynotes and the session Get the Recognition You Deserve session led by Pamela Green to have a frank discussion with her boss about wanting to take on more responsibility...but only if it comes with more pay!

Others mentioned to me that they had put training "on hold" for a long time because "real work" took priority...but they were so very happy to have attended the APC...and put themselves first for once!  

Key Theme: Banish "Just a" From Your Vocabulary
They theme of banishing "just a" from your vocabulary arose on the very first day of the Conference, with keynoter Jon Petz telling us never to use "Just a..." as an excuse. Never say "I'm just an assistant/just a new hire/just a wife/husband, etc." 

This theme resonated throughout the following days at the conference. In many of the sessions, it was highlighted that administrative professionals bring a unique set of skills to the table and are needed in the workplace...thus "just a secretary" shouldn't be in our vocabulary.

As one attendee mentioned to me at the Tuesday night party: "I love this Conference as I'm treated as a professional with something legitimate to add to the conversation...not 'just a' secretary or admin." 

Key Theme: Connections
It was clear throughout the conference that connections were happening. Business cards were being traded, many geographical connections were being made, and even folks who work in different divisions of the same company (but who had never met in person) were connecting. One of the powerful things about an in-person event is connecting with your peers at different companies, finding commonalities and support! 

To that end, we'd love to stay connected with YOU and ensure you have ways to connect with each other!

Here are a couple of ideas (and yes, some shameless plugs!):

Join the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP) 

Connect up with folks in the ASAP LinkedIn group

"Like" APC on Facebook and ASAP on Facebook
  Check out photos from the event

Join the ASAP Power Panel! Share your opinion and earn rewards.  

Finally - did you enjoy the event coverage here on the blog and on Twitter and Instagram? If so, let us know in the comments below! 

See you next year in Texas (and our social media hashtag is #APC15TX)!

Thanks from me (Katie) and all the APC team, it was a pleasure to meet, connect, train, and chat with you in DC!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Administrative Professionals Conference 2014 - Wednesday Recap - Engage!

Whew – what a conference! It’s the evening of the last day of APC, and many of you are on planes, in trains or cars on the way back home. First, let me say, it has been an honor and a privilege to have met, chatted with, laughed and learned with you all! I hope that you have found the blog and Twitter coverage helpful in recapping the conference.

So let’s dive into Wednesday’s goings-on at the Administrative Professionals Conference. Everyone looked surprisingly bright-eyed in sessions this morning after last night’s great party! It was such fun to see so many of you at the session I moderated, Tricks of the Trade: The Mobile Assistant, with panelists Amelia Maxwell from Microsoft and Christopher Whibley of Elsevier.

If you attended any of the Tricks of the Trade sessions during the conference, you’ll know that they are slightly different from the other sessions. They are meant to be peer exchanges, so our panelists weren’t’ professional speakers, but professional assistants! Our audience consisted of folks who manage bosses who are in different locations, travel a lot, admins who telecommute and others wanting to learn about becoming more mobile. And our session wasn’t all about remote locations, but also about finding efficiencies (even if you're in the same office!) through mobile and cloud technology.

We talked through a variety of topics from technology to data security to “the admin of the future”, starting with what the catalysts were for prompting Christopher and Amelia to become more mobile (from bosses leaving paper documents behind to creating efficiencies), and what some of their best practices are (always have charging devices!). The audience shared a number of tips and tricks and tech tools. Our favorite moment was having one audience member share a tech tip about an expense tracking app, and within 15 minutes another audience member had contacted her boss and had him downloading it while she sat in the session! From Evernote and Todoist to taking calls from your boss in Beijing who wants you to get him a cab…when you’re in the US, we covered it all!

Our high-energy day continued with Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, America’s first African-American female combat pilot. Having faced many obstacles in her climb to the cockpit, Armour reminded the audience to “acknowledge the obstacles…don’t give them power” and to cultivate a “breakthrough mentality” of refusing to settle, even in the smallest of moments. As she switched from flightsuit to business suit, Armour lifted the crowd with a message of inspiration, to engage fully with life, and wherever you find yourself in life to “lift off” from there. I was lucky enough to meet her in person after the keynote and snap a quick photo!

Then after a quick lunch it was off to the final workshops of the conference. Rhonda Scharf led a fantastic workshop on The Amazing Assistant – Charisma, Credibility & Confidence. After instructor-led roundtable discussions about each of those aspects, Scharf led us through a deep-dive into each area. Did you know that body language can really feed into your credibility? And that talking to someone in from the distance of the “social zone” (4+ feet) indicates disinterest on your part? Or that if someone is hearing your name incorrectly means you actually could be speaking too quickly?

Scharf cautioned the audience against overuse of the “that’s so easy I could do it in my sleep” commentary as that actually diminishes your skill set and the power of your work…don't take your credibility away by making it look so easy that you're not needed.

And with that, the 22nd Annual Administrative Professionals Conference came to a close…But we’re not done yet! Stay tuned because on Monday I’ll be doing a final recap of some of the themes and key observations of the conference, and sharing how we can all continue to stay connected until next year’s Administrative Professionals Conference in in Grapevine, Texas.

Safe travels home or to your next destination, and I’ll be chatting with you Monday!

Administrative Professionals Conference 2014 - Tuesday Recap - Education and Inspiration!

Happy Tuesday everyone! It was another fantastic day at the Administrative Professional Conference, and I can’t wait to tell you about it.

It was an exciting morning as we learned who the winner of the American Management Association’s Innovation Award. The award “celebrates outstanding business examples of problem solving and innovation performed by administrative professionals and office support staff” and was awarded to Kathy Fossetta! By suggesting and them implementing a significant and innovated pager system at her workplace, she saved her company $300,000! Kathy told the crowd, “If you believe in an idea, don’t give up!”

Our keynote speaker was up next and we were in for a treat! Actress, comedian, and advocate Maysoon Zayid…who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Zayid’s work spans the spectrum from co-founding a comedy festival (the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival) to working with disabled and orphaned children in refugee camps in the Palestinian territories using art to deal with trauma and bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled children. 

Zayid’s keynote was laugh-out-loud hilarious (I’ve been repeating the mother-in-law joke all day) while imparting some serious messages. Zayid pointed out the lack of disabled actors on television and in the movies; highlighting that when we look at disability on screen we have a break from reality. Claire Danes played professor, doctor and autistic activist Temple Grandin on screen, but then glides down the red carpet. Zayid asked: “Isn’t it time to have a disability on television that can’t be healed?” Zayid challenged the crowd about disabilities in the workplace, saying that accommodating people adds, it doesn’t detract, and we should “make inclusion not about obligation, but about the fact that it makes a better workplace.”

After a brief break (and pictures with Zayid!) it was time to head to the morning concurrent sessions. This morning I attended OfficeTeam’s An Insider’s Guide to 2015 Administrative Salaries and Hiring Trends. Kelly Workman of OfficeTeam walked us through the data and findings from their just-published Administrative Hiring Trends and Salary Guide 2015 which we all received a copy of.

Great news – the 2015 outlook is that there is a 3.4% average increase for starting salaries across the administrative field. Compensation for some positions, including HR assistants, is expected to exceed the national average. Workman shared that US employers are willing to pay more for certain skills including: a certified administrative professional designation, MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) certifications, and the ability to speak multiple languages…the latter for which employers may pay up to 12% more for.

Workman highlighted national hiring trends: competition for the best people is heating up, companies are shoring up key roles, and diverse industries are hiring. Skills and attributes sought by hiring managers are: Skills and attributes sought: communication strength, tech skills, initiative, industry experience, professionalism. She shared the fastest growing industries for admin hires around the country, with healthcare and manufacturing topping many regional lists…and an interesting tidbit is that nonprofit hiring for office professionals is heating up in New England. Workman told the session attendees, “Your skill sets are in high demand today! It’s a candidate’s market, it really is!”

The second session I attended this afternoon was The Art and Science of Communication presented by Pamela Green. The session opened with great questions from the audience about communication issues they have at the office, from dealing with a new boss who has a vastly different communication style than you do (happy-go-lucky vs business-y) to my favorite question of the day: “How do you effectively communicate with a narcissist?” (Answer? Sometimes you just can’t)

Green’s message throughout was to know your value and your own power, and to not give that up. Remember that you are very valuable to those you report to – you have skills that they don’t! Why is communication training important? Green highlighted that 65% of performance problems at work happen because of some type of conflict and lack of control…and often that has to do with communication. And communication is more than what’s said, it’s also body language.

She shared several key tips such as “Determine which rule you’re going to live by: must say something or have something to say” and “Get in the right C.A.B (Conduct, Attitude, and Behavior.” Communicating with respect is important, and we should assume positive intent in interactions…and we should reciprocate by being present and deeply listening. And a tip for the ladies in the room (because apparently this is not a male trait): don’t tip your head when talking or listening, in body language it diminishes your power! 

Last up on my training agenda today was Advanced Minute-Taking for Experienced Minute Takers led by Rhonda Scharf. It was a packed room, as minutes are serious business – as they are the official record of the decisions that were made and the rationale behind those decisions. Remember, minutes from formal meetings such as board meetings, corporate meetings, etc. can be used in legal proceedings so it’s important that they are done correctly! “Shorthand is a dying art” according to Scharf so it’s important to capture they key information without having to capture the actual transcript. The minutes become the official memory of the meeting so accuracy is key, and so is being unbiased. Tip: Saying “a lengthy discussion ensued” in the minutes is biased (your perception is that the discussion was lengthy).

Scharf highlighted that many organizations miss a summary of the discussion when minutes are taken, just recording what decision happened. It’s important that the summary is included to flesh out the discussion that led to the decision. How to remember if something is important for minutes? “Will it matter in 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years? IF so, it must appear in your final copy of the minutes.” Things like “the chair welcomed everyone to the meeting” can go!

By that time my brain was full, and it was time to get dressed for the Tuesday night party! The theme this year was International Flair - and there were some fantastic international representation in attire! Great food, fantastic dancing, and connecting with new friends made the night a great success!

Administrative Professionals Conference 2014 - Monday Recap - Achieve Your Dreams!

What a fantastic Day 2 of the Administrative Professionals Conference! I know I use a lot of superlatives, but I really mean it – the day was jam packed with great education and training, vendor sessions, raffle drawings, an amazing keynote and the ever-popular WOW panel.

So let me start from the beginning…

To kick off the morning, record-setting long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad took the stage for an inspiring keynote, sharing her story and reminding us all that you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Nyad is the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. That’s 110 miles, people…and at age 64…and on her FIFTH attempt! She’s got some serious “never give up” credentials.

Since childhood, Cuba held a huge mystique for Nyad and as a child her mother said to her “Cuba is so close, you could almost swim there.” After ups and downs in her sporting career, it was some wise words from a fellow teammate that drove Nyad forward after a swimming loss: “If you swim like ‘I couldn’t have done it [the length of] a fingernail faster’, then you’ll have no regrets.”

Nyad likened her long-distance swims to a microcosm of life – you go through ups and downs, building character and proving that even though it’s easy to give up…when you don’t you’re a champion. She had funny stories (covering surfing for ABC Sports and losing a swimsuit in the rough surf) and heart-rending stories, including the four failed attempts of the Cuba-Florida swim. Nyad’s stories of tenacity, heart, and never giving up on your dreams had the room enthralled.

After a quick break, we were on to our concurrent sessions and for me that was The Accidental SharePoint Site Owner presented by Lori Coffey.

Coffey provided some fantastic “I can use in the office on Monday” tips for those whom SharePoint was thrust upon them and they have to learn quickly. She covered everything from managing permissions to curating content to overlaying calendars syncing with Outlook. She also shared site considerations like information duplication (don’t share docs on two SharePoint sites, just one and link to the other) and saving space on emails (rather than attaching the document which fills up your email space, instead include the link to the doc stored on SharePoint. I learned a lot (and I manage a SharePoint site) so I made tons of notes to implement Monday when I’m back in the office.

After lunch we were back in sessions and I loved Working Across Borders with Lucy Brazier. Brazier shared that there are 182 associations around the world that are working together to change the perception of the assistant! She shared a photo tour of some of those associations from such places as Dubai and Papua, New Guinea. This led into how important it is to be aware of your own perception of culture and cultural stereotypes when working across borders. From universalism and particularism, individualism and communitarianism, and neutral vs. affective cultures, we had a world tour cultural perceptions, and Brazier provided practical tools for further learning.

A trip to the Exhibits at APC was a great (ice cream!) break before the WOW panel. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic companies who are exhibiting at the APC this year – we got some great ideas for everything from office supplies, to travel to corporate gifting and more, and many of the exhibitors also provided some awesome raffle prizes.

The day closed with the popular WOW Panel, led by moderator Colette Carlson. Panelists were: Linda Gallo, EA to William C. Weldon, Johnson & Johnson, Patty Reber, EA to Gordon Smith, United States Tennis Association, Jan Vulevich Stewart, Special Assistant to the Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group LLC (also former EA to former Secretary of State Madeline Albright) and Sheri Collins, EA to Daymond John, CEO of Shark Branding and co-star of ABC’s Shark Tank.

The discussion was lively as the panel fielded questions about taking initiative, handling criticism well, exerting influence without being a direct manager, in fact, exerting influence with your manager, and learning to delegate to admin teams and interns (trust other people to avoid burnout). All the panelists shared great stories about lessons learned that got them to where they are today. At the end of the session they fielded great questions from the audience. One of the key takeaways? Always make a great first impression, especially with your attitude. You never know, a visitor to your office could be a future boss (that was one of the great stories!).

After some socializing (and yes, some Google Glass demos), I’m off to get a good night’s sleep tonight, because tomorrow is another full day of learning…and fun! Don’t forget that the party is tomorrow night. The theme? International Flair!

Oh, before I go, did you all here about the ASAP Power Panel that we are launching here at the APC? We are so excited to announce that the ASAP Power Panel is the first-in-the-industry online market research panel created solely for administrative professionals and executive assistants. Use your voice and make an impact! You can sign up here, and if you have any questions, chat with any of our staff members for more info.