On October 17-20, Office Dynamics International hosted the 30th Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence. Since 1993, Joan Burge, Founder and CEO, has diligently brought together administrative professionals to foster a community of collaboration and continued education. The result was a conference exceeding all expectations. This year’s theme, “The Multidimensional Assistant,” featured sessions, networking opportunities, and workshops that embraced this concept.
We were eager to share our conference experience with the entire ODI community. Whether you attended the conference in person, virtually, or did not have the chance to attend this year, we’re excited to provide you with an insider’s view so you can understand the transformative power of this event for administrative professionals.
Day 1: The Social Fusion Mixer
While the conference spans two and a half days of sessions, it begins with a welcome reception known as “The Social Fusion Mixer.” The ODI team spent the entire day preparing for the upcoming sessions, ensuring signage, AV equipment, and the venue were ready. When The Social Fusion Mixer commenced, we were well-prepared to welcome all attendees. Located just outside the main conference room, this welcome reception started as the sun set on Tuesday evening. The room opened up to a spacious terrace overlooking the stunning pool at the Red Rock Resort. Throughout the evening, guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and had the option to order a welcome cocktail, with the first one complimentary. The evening’s emcee, JJ Villar, began to showcase his talents, and the remarkable Cali Tucker wowed us with her singing, even ending the night with an encore rap performance!
Joan took the stage to welcome attendees, delivering a heartfelt message about this conference’s significance. The past 30 years have been filled with both triumphs and challenges. Joan and the entire ODI team have overcome remarkable odds to reach where we are today.
Day 2: The Conference Commences And The VIP Event
Each day of the conference began with breakfast at T-Bones Chophouse, offering a delectable selection in this favorite local steakhouse. The main ballroom then opened its doors to the eagerly awaiting attendees, marking the official start of the conference. Before Joan took the stage, the audience was treated to a glimpse into the past 30 years, along with the talents of our entertainment specialist, JJ Villar. A live voice actress narrated the opening, showcasing Joan’s journey from her very first conference, her trials, and the conference’s growth. Professional dancers gracefully moved among the audience, culminating in Joan joining them on stage!
The energy was palpable as we delved into day one of our sessions. Joan Burge initiated proceedings by explaining the essence of a multidimensional assistant and highlighting the trends that demand administrative professionals embrace their multifaceted nature. Diana Brandl, in a two-part session, shared core skills essential for future-proofing one’s career in the administrative field, drawing from her own experiences. During lunch at T-Bones Chophouse, we introduced a new addition to our conference history: the Career Coaching Corner, sponsored by Robert Half, with slots that quickly filled up. Attendees had the opportunity to receive personalized coaching tailored to their goals in different time slots.
After lunch, we concluded the day’s sessions with three more remarkable speakers. Tess Vismale showcased the top productivity apps in the administrative profession, guiding attendees through their use. William Arruda urged audience members to build their professional brand in the digital landscape, emphasizing its importance in our modern age. We closed the day with Cody Byrns, who shared his inspiring journey as a burn victim, captivating the audience with a message of hope and resilience.
Throughout the entire conference, our incredible sponsors, The Hampton Chocolate Factory, were stationed at their table outside the main ballroom doors, giving attendees a taste of their incredible chocolates. Led by co-owners Austin and Grant Gappelberg, their professionalism and quality of service took the entire conference to a new level. Three of our lucky attendees were gifted with baskets of their finest chocolates, and each VIP attendee took home a special welcome gift with tasty treats as well. We can’t say enough how honored we were to have them and how special they made the entire event.
Later in the evening, Joan hosted her signature VIP party, welcoming all attendees who had been part of the conference for 5+ years. With familiar faces and newcomers, guests gathered at Joan’s Halloween-themed party at her home. The evening was exceptionally meaningful, filled with catered snacks as attendees sat around a fire in Joan’s backyard. It felt like a gathering of close friends as assistants shared their favorite memories of Joan and expressed why the conference was so special to them. Cody Byrns even joined the party, adding to the evening’s specialness!
Day 3: Sessions Continue And The Golden Gala
Thursday kicked off with another day filled with exceptional sessions. Sandy Geroux had everyone laughing and singing as she transformed Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman!” into a version for administrative assistants. With high spirits, she took to the stage, engaging with the audience and sharing her insights from the administrative field on how assistants can transition from being indispensable to invaluable, emphasizing the significance of this difference. After a brief break for attendees to explore The Office Dynamics Success Store, which featured office materials and presenter books, Starla West delivered a powerful session. She showed attendees how to delve into their emotions, gain self-awareness of their subconscious, and influence their behaviors positively.
Diana Brandl returned for the second part of her session, diving deeper into the mindset, skillset, and toolset needed for excellence in the administrative profession. The day concluded with two outstanding speakers. Mike Song, who stepped in at the last minute to speak at the event, impressed the audience with tips on digital dexterity, demonstrating how to maximize tech tools for increased efficiency in the administrative field. Questions flowed endlessly! This session served as a fantastic lead-in to our upcoming course with him, “Digital Efficiency for Administrative Excellence.” Thursday’s sessions ended with Nada Lena Nasserdeen, who delivered practical tips for being seen, heard, and remaining relevant, boosting audience confidence.
Later that evening, as is the tradition every Thursday night at the conference, we celebrated the Joan Burge Gala. This year, in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Conference, we chose “The Golden Gala” as the theme, exuding glamour and sophistication. While everyone dressed their best (including our very own ODI team members), the evening transformed into a lively party! JJ Villar and his company, Feel The Music Entertainment, led an incredible night of dancing and music, featuring special performances by professional dancers Rodrigo Guzman and Céline Franco. The venue featured a 360-degree photo booth, step and repeat, light bites, two bars, and elegant decor. Dance battles ensued, Joan showcased her dance moves, and DJ A-Plus (Rodney William Munnings) kept the energy alive throughout the night.
Day 4: The Grand Finale
Friday had a bittersweet atmosphere, marking the conclusion of a wonderful conference. Yet, there were still exciting events to unfold in the next four hours. The day began with Joan presenting the 5th-ever Joan Burge Innovation Award to Susan Schultz of Procter & Gamble. Susan had spearheaded the development of innovative EA strategies at Procter & Gamble, including the establishment of the first-ever Executive Assistant College within the company.
We closed out the day with three amazing sessions. Jeff Butler took the stage to discuss his research spanning 40 industries and 4 continents, exploring how different cultures and employees interact with each other. He emphasized the importance of understanding the differences between Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials, and Generation Z to foster better collaboration. After his session, Lucy Brazier, a global authority on the administrative profession and publisher of Executive Support Magazine, challenged each assistant in attendance to step out of their comfort zone and demonstrate their value in the multidimensional role, essential for the future of the profession.
Our closing keynote address was delivered by Johnny Quinn, a U.S. Winter Olympian in the sport of bobsledding. Johnny shared how he overcame significant obstacles, including losing his position in the NFL, overcoming injuries, and cultivating a champion’s mindset, eventually representing the USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics. He encouraged the entire audience to do the same, offering practical tips to turn setbacks into fuel for personal growth and becoming champions in their own right.
The 30th Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence was nothing short of phenomenal. The feedback from attendees, speakers, and Joan’s enthusiasm left us all invigorated. As we look forward to the future, we can’t wait to apply everything we’ve learned to improve our daily lives, careers, and preparations for next year’s conference! Most importantly, we are grateful for the tireless administrative professionals who make the lives of those they support better. This conference is made by you and for you. We are always here for you.