OFFICE DYNAMICS CONFERENCE RECAP PART III: The Final Day
After another delicious breakfast on the resort veranda overlooking the pool and the striking red rock mountains to the West, the morning plenary session of our final day of the conference opened up with a video montage highlighting some of the extraordinary moments from the Havana Nights Gala, generating laughs and smiles all around.
Next, Joan Burge took the stage with a strong message reminding us all why we’re really here, and how every professional can truly “Expand Your Influence.” As Joan explained, neither her career, nor this signature annual gathering, is about “training” — it’s about making work lives substantially BETTER for administrative professionals in every stage of their careers, and carving out the administrative path as a career of choice for high-performing and high-potential individuals. The training, speaking, coaching and writing Joan devotes herself to, as well as this conference itself, is how she achieves those goals. Ultimately, our progress hinges on the quality relationships and authentic connections we make together, and whether we can implement what we learn.
Candid and disarming, Beth Terry — the cactus wrangler — next stormed the stage in her cowboy boots to tackle a universally critical topic: “Getting Out Of Overwhelm.” Quickly recruiting volunteers to the stage, she demonstrated the power of human interconnection, highlighting how every individual in any group matters and makes an impact, and how we each can “shift the energy” in a room with our mere presence.
Next, she dove into an illustration of how we can more gracefully learn to roll with the constant interruptions, schedule changes, and frustrations of being an administrative professional, and ultimately reminded us, “You have two jobs. One is to solve problems. The other is to be interrupted.” Beth concluded by prompting us to complete our own action plan for getting out of overwhelm, to ensure we carry the lessons back home into practical reality.
We then took a brief networking break for coffee and tea, and attendees were given a final opportunity at the Office Dynamics Conference to visit the Office Dynamics Boutique to pick up learning resources and books by our featured conference speakers, including Joan Burge.
We reassembled once more for a hard-hitting session on professional appearance and first impressions presented by Peggy Vasquez, “Your Image and You: Polish and Professional Presence.”
Peggy didn’t hold back, and delivered everything that we most need to hear yet resist most fiercely. She made it clear to everyone in the room how our unconscious body language and the way we dress or present ourselves can, in an instant, impact the way others perceive us, and that those impressions can be incredibly hard to turn around. Something as simple as crossed arms or top being too low cut can utterly undermine our professional image, leading those around us to perceive us as less than competent. Her advice was practical, clear, and most of all memorable.
Closing out the conference and helping us “bring it all home” with an interactive activity, Joan Burge tied together the preceding three days of conference with her final session, “Expand Your Influence.” Joan challenged each table to determine concrete ways to implement the competencies and insights of the conference in their home workplaces, and to articulate the value of what they’ve taken in.
It’s important to “anchor” any new learning and insight through a conscious process, and Joan understands the importance of ensuring the gains of a breakthrough conference experience like this one will endure. This kind of anchoring is even more critical because we weren’t just learning about spreadsheets or calendar management; we were learning how to live our lives with greater awareness of others, more effective communication and collaboration, how to communicate with greater clarity and authenticity, and how to leverage our own creative instincts to confidently solve problems in new ways.
Even the exercise itself brought many administrative professionals out of their comfort level — standing on a stage, presenting with a microphone in front of a room of 200 others. Each one demonstrated willingness and courage to see the process through.
The final closing was emotional, as peers and mentors hugged and exchanged contact information. By conference end, it was clear to all present that we have truly entered a new era in the workplace. Ideation is going to be rewarded over mere production, and collaboration is a new norm. The Office Dynamics Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence offered a transformative process for all who attended to get on board with the winning competencies required in today’s world, and connected them with peers and a support network of resources and continuing development opportunities to keep evolving.
For information on the 2015 Office Dynamics Conference for Administrative Excellence, visit www.officedynamicsconference.com and subscribe for email updates.