Professional Development Value

Professional development is key to not only successfully performing your career choice but also for enjoying the position! Continuing to learn new skills and enhance the ones you have helps you be more productive but it also brings about a sense of pride and creativity. There are several professional development opportunities available through articles, books, webinars, online courses, conferences and peer to peer communication and sharing resources.

Some resources are free or very low costs while conferences or online training can seem costly and require justification. When talking with other assistants, from a variety of industries, the cost is always a concern.

A simple justification is that the best way to find relevant resources is by attending a conference. Last year, when I attend the Accelerated Assistant conference by Office Dynamics I learned so many great tips over those four short days from the professional speakers and during the team activities. Joan Burge shared her experience and resources with the group daily. The learning did not stop there though! After returning to work, I followed up with subscribing to a few of the newsletters from the speakers and read their blog posts, which offered time-saving and organizational tips and highlighted apps and programs. I shared those sites and posts with my coworkers which offered several additional communication and learning opportunities.

So, how do you justify travel and conference fees? I did a lot of research before attending the conference including costs, speaker topics, and experience, balanced with team and networking opportunities and chose the best conference for my needs and learning expectations. I typed up a justification form to present to my manager. I highlighted several topics of interests and the speaker’s credentials and experience, relating the topics to several of my yearly performance goals.

I also detailed the costs; hotel, registration, and flight. Breaking down the total cost of an average conference which is about $2600.

  • $217 a month
  • $50 a week
  • $7.12 a day

That is a bargain for continued education that would provide resources for me to be even more productive!

Luckily, I have a professional and respected working relationship with my manager. When we met and went over the document and talked more about the conference and what was offered his only additional request was that I present my experience with coworkers after I returned. About two months after the conference I completed a presentation to about 20 of my coworkers. I shared my experience, discussed the temporary support team I had worked with daily at table 28, shared websites of the speakers, newsletter links, and books that were suggested.

Most conferences detail the agenda and speaker information while providing justification letter templates or suggested content for meeting with managers to help you through the process. Office Dynamics offers this information as well. I highly recommend attending a conference to open resource doors, to continue your education about your industry and position and to learn time-saving tips that will benefit you long after you return to work!

Almost six months after attending the conference I still utilize resources and relationships I formed during that training. I continue to share tips with my team that I receive via weekly newsletter subscriptions, blog post readings, etc. I’m also looking forward to attending this year’s conference – The Stellar Assistant. With all new speakers, additional content, learning labs and unlimited online access to the videos, participant guide, and bonus materials. I’m anxious to share even more reading suggestions, tips and speaker websites with my team!

What are some of your favorite professional development resources? What books do you suggest?

A few of my favorite reads are; Tribes by Seth Godin, just about anything from Wallace Wattles, Permission to live the Big Life by Joan Burge, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, A Beautiful Questions by Frank Wilczek, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, there are too many to name!

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions about a sample justification letter or how to talk with your manager about professional development opportunities please contact me and I’d be happy to share more of my experience!

 

Read more about me and the professional services I offer on the ABOUT ME Page.

Personal goals from a professional conference

This week I attended the Accelerated Assistant Conference by Office Dynamics.¬† The conference was created by an amazing woman, Joan Burge. I highly recommend reading more about her and the conference if you have not already! The conference was focused on the administrative professional career, I learned several tips to take back to my office. I also walked away learning so much about myself and my personal goals. I was reminded what I am passionate about; writing. As I listened to the amazing speakers, especially Peggy Vasquez and Lisa Olsen, I felt my desire to focus more on my writing stir inside me and scream at me – “Hey remember me?! Hey, I’m right here…listen to me…Acknowledge me!”¬†

I can’t remember a time I did not love writing. I would fill Big Chief writing pads from the time I could write. In middle school and high school I wrote story after story and even wrote a one ‘girl’ play in high school. In my early 20s I continued my fiction writing and filling notebook after notebook. As life went on, I had less and less time to focus on my fiction writing. I still fed my inner writer by creating short articles, newsletters, volunteering for non-profit programs, etc. But my professional life demanded more of my time. My mind always drifted to my writing and I would have spurts of writing energy and write in my notebooks or type up my ideas in a special folder on my computer or laptop. But, I didn’t allow it to be front and center as it once was as a child and young adult.

As I listened to Peggy and the other enthusiastic speakers I felt that excitement again. I love my day job and those I work with. I enjoy the challenges and projects I am a part of. I am grateful to have a voice and years of experience to offer my team and manager. But I also realize for my own wellbeing I must write. It’s my gift. Even if I am not the best writer, I was reminded during the ongoing sessions that I am a unique voice, as we all are. My desire grew each day, each session! I would call my husband…”Honey, this conference is amazing…I’m a writer!” His response each call would be, “of course you are I’ve always known that.” Says the man I grew up with, have dated since high school, celebrating a 20 year wedding anniversary in December with and has helped me organize those book bags filled with my writings over the past 27 years (or more!) He knows this…he has told me this for years…Why has my inner writer been hibernating?!

I had the privilege of meeting Peggy Vasquez in the hall after her key note talk and during my sprint to my hotel room to check out in time to catch my flight home. I felt like a school girl; a rambling excited school girl on a sugar/ice cream high running into my hero on the playground. I tried to calm myself, I took a deep breath…I walked up to her…introduced myself, thanked her for her inspiring talk and encouraging words. I handed her a little business card I had printed myself about me being a ‘success encourager’. I rambled by intertwining a number of thoughts running through my head that went something like, “I want to be a writer, I am a writer, my husband says so. I can’t fail with that kind of support, right? I have notebooks full of proof. You make speaking look so…easy.” As I rambled my eyes started to tear up. I apologized. She was so kind and professional…she smiled at me, was so humble…she mentioned a speaking engagement she had with thousands and mentioned her nerves, she assured me my watery eyes were no reason to apologize…she looked at me intently and said, “You are being spoken to here; listen.”

I wanted to hug her, but not frighten her. I smiled. I thanked her again, I felt like I was on a cloud, a cloud that allowed me to own and accept my passion; my passion for writing. Why can’t I excel at my job and write my career articles, finish the children’s book my nephew has inspired and (yes AND) finish my novel? Why not?

Sure I am more tired some days than I am others. Sure I have other responsibilities in life than work that keep me running a race some days. Sure my body aches some days, sure I can make excuses, sure I can….Sure I can do this.

I took “As a Man Thinketh”, by James Allen with me on my trip. This book (if you are not familiar with it) is an inspiring read and it was written in 1903! Despite being over 110 years old, it is a very relevant read, in my opinion. The reading seemed to tie in perfectly with the ongoing conference message of focus, positive thoughts, etc. A couple of my favorite quotes from the book are:

  • “When we begin to reflect upon our condition and to search diligently for the law upon which our being is established, we then will become wise masters, directing our energies with intelligence and fashioning our thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and we can only thus become by discovering within ourselves the laws of thought – which discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis, and experience.”
  • “The human mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild. But whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth.”

Not only did I learn a few new things during my trip, both at the conference and during self-reflection time, but each speaker had something to say that I related to and each reminded me of a few goals or daily tasks that I ‘use to do’. I’ve made a goal list. Some goals have been on and off lists for years. Some are new, some are even things I do ‘most or some of the time’, but this is now, not goals belonging to the grade school girl, or 20-something me, today I am renewed, I have experience and skills…I have new goals even if they are familiar…I make a commitment to my inner writer...I vow to listen to you, to embrace you, to thank you for your patience, to show gratitude for you never giving up on me, to allow your light to shine bright and become my focus, to blend our professional and personal talents into one inspired and inspirational being! And hopefully….encourage a few others along our journey.

My new goal list, that will be ever-evolving, but always writing focused:

  • Not walk pass my ‘banner’ hanging on my vision board that reminds me to wake up with a grateful heart, to be thankful, to welcome the offerings and blessings of today….Instead of walking by sleepy eyed, I will stop and read the reminder and take a moment to follow my own advice!
  • Sign up for an ongoing yoga class
  • Continue my health focused goal by eating healthy, moving more and stressing less
  • Write in my gratitude journal daily
  • Schedule time daily to write; finish and publish my children’s book; treat it like a class or scheduled event
  • Contact the local library and reserve a small room (which they offer for FREE!) and make no more excuses for not writing. Go to my ‘classroom’ at the library, focus and write!
  • Create the outline to the ‘grown up’ version of my children’s book about politeness
  • Write the entire ‘grown up’ version and share it!
  • Create my weekly schedule by breaking down each day; I have five to six hours each evening between work ending and bedtime! Utilize that time more wisely and productively. Maintain my two to three evenings a week spending time with my mom, sister and nephew! And all of the amazing adventures and daily routines with my husband!
  • Follow through and focus….FOCUS!

Thank you so much for reading this. If you have any tips or would like to share an accomplishment, please comment below or email me. Questions? Please do not hesitate to ask.

Thank you to Joan, Peggy and all of the speakers and event coordinators for making it possible for me to attend and gain so much insight!

Thank you!

 

Read more about me and the professional services I offer on the ABOUT ME page!

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