“Adventures of a New EA Role” – by Tips for Assistants

In March of this year, it was time to make another career change. If you follow my career path, you’ll know that making a job switch in 2017 would be my third change since 2015. Because of this fact, I was nervous to seek out other opportunities. But, I knew I needed to follow my passion and continue searching for an Executive Assistant position that was the right fit for me. I ended up finding my new home at HomeAway, the leading vacation rental company which was founded in Austin, TX and was recently acquired by Expedia in 2015. I currently support the Chief Technology Officer and the HomeAway Tech organization.

Being that this was my third position in a short amount of time, I wondered if other EA’s would be interested in hearing my perspective and insights about starting this new EA journey at HomeAway. I partnered with Tips for AssistantsChristina Holzhauser (the second “day-in the life” interview I’ve done with her) to do a three-part interview series about just that!

Please check out the links below to read the interviews:

Part 1: https://www.tipsforassistants.com/single-post/2017/04/15/Part-1-Adventures-of-a-New-EA-Role

Part 2: https://www.tipsforassistants.com/single-post/2017/04/22/Part-2-Adventures-of-a-New-EA-Role

Part 3: https://www.tipsforassistants.com/single-post/2017/04/29/Part-3-Adventures-of-a-New-EA-Role

Cheers!

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SXSW 2017 is on the way! How I SX:

SX:There’s a common misconception that SXSW is all about partying, music, and hangovers. While there’s lots to do to have a good time, there’s also tons to learn and inspiration everywhere. This March will be my second year as a SXSW Interactive attendee since departing from my role there in 2015. And let me tell you, it’s awesome to not only see the event that you helped plan for 4 years, but to be a part of it! I really love checking out the lounges, the special activations, and sessions surrounding my personal and professional interests. There’s something, literally, for everyone. But, you do have to do your homework.

The first step is read the SX website for announcements on special sessions, get a lay of the land, and understand how SXSWeek works. Then, create your SXSW schedule by the site or SXSW Go Mobile app. I use the search filters to narrow down the event/session type and then the category/theme. I star everything that looks interesting to me. Then, let the “this or that” games begin!

You’ll find that there’s way too much happening at the same time. And, not everything is as close as you would think (hope). You have to have somewhat of a strategic plan for what you’re trying to see, and be realistic about the time it takes to walk from one venue to another. I recommend having a “preferred track” which is essentially your wish list. Then, if you think you can’t make the next session on your “preferred track” or the room is full, you hit up your “backup track” for another session to see. Again, this takes time but it’s well worth it to have sessions already in your queue.

And of course, if you need a break, you can always go grab a bite (hint: SouthBites). Definitely check out things that are in your forte, but I challenge you to go to something that is a little out of your element and learn something new. Oh, and put down your phone and LISTEN and LOOK AROUND. Meet people, go with a positive attitude, be flexible, and enjoy where the day takes you. Because, your Plan A (“preferred track”) will likely NOT happen. Embrace it! Also, if you’re a first timer, check out this session on Saturday morning.

Last but not least! If you’re an Executive Assistant or a leader who is an EA supporter, come see me at my Executive Assistants Meet Up (3/11 3:30pm) and my Mentor Session (3/11 12:30pm)!

Below is a list of a few top schedule picks of mine for this year for Saturday and Sunday of Interactive (I’ll be out of town for the rest of the week). Connect with me on SXSW Social and I’ll see you in Austin in March!

SXSW Interactive Sessions:

The Future of You: Identity Tomorrow

The Lowline: The World’s First Underground Park

Radical Candor: How to Say What You Really Think

Work As We Knew It is Over: Jobs As Adventures

Leading with Love: Future of Emotional Leadership

Secrets To Having The Big Life: On Your Own Terms

Wellness or Else: Privacy in Workplace Wellness

Short Changed: Why Women’s Salaries Fall Short

Can She Say That? Women Creating Civility Online

Design Impacting Lives in the Workplace

How Do You Keep Your Company Human in 2030?

Build A Culture Of Good: Unleash Results

SXSW Interactive Lounges & Parties (meet other attendees, check out new innovations, meet the creators, see live music, relax, recharge):

The Time Out Lounge – ACC Austin Suite

Intel AI Lounge – Lucille

SXSW Registrants Lounge – Brush Square Park

CapitalOne House @Antone’s

SXSW Sports Kickoff x SPiN Ping Pong Party – Four Seasons Techspace Austin

SXSW Film Opening Party – Mohawk

The Girls’ Lounge – Radisson 

Comcast Social Media Lounge

Naked Juice Urban Oasis – Jamie Knight Real Estate

UT Live – 3Ten Austin City Limits Live

Food Media Lounge – The Driskll, Jim Hogg 

Panasonic House – Parkside

Experience IBM – Brazos Hall

Pinterest House – Lustre Pearl

Pandora House – The Gatsby

The EXPERIENCE by Dell Technologies – The Sunset Room

Nerdist’s Backyard Bash – Banger’s

SXSW Interactive Mix at Six Party – Scratchouse

Food + Tech Startup Spotlight – Four Seasons Techspace Austin

2016: A reflection, 2017: Looking forward

“It’s ok to coast.” This is one thing I learned to accept this year. One of my original 2016 goals was to do more professional development, and to do this and that. After making a surprise job switch, I felt like I just needed to get in that groove and let other things in my life get settled. I would have been forcing it if I kept trying to read so many books, articles, attended networking events, etc. I said “no” more often to those things because my body and mind just were not ready for them. I feel like I did more meaningful things with my time for ME and MY life, by listening to what I WANTED to do, not what I felt I NEEDED to do. So with the professional development stuff, I backed off, tried to really learn the job I was in and how to improve there, and in essence, took off some of the additional pressure. It’s definitely an adjustment to realize that you don’t have to push yourself so hard all the time. I still have a hard time not feeling guilty for just relaxing. It’s all about balance. And hey, in Europe, café and the strolling life is what they’re all about! If they can do it, I should be able to!

Another thing I learned this year was that you really CAN have “food freedom” and eat healthy. I’ve never really been one for crash diets. I’m more of a gradual lifestyle changer. This is why I was intrigued by Whole30. I completed my first Whole30 in summer 2016 and I completed a 9-day Whole30 “reset” post-holidays. If I can do it, you can do it. I really encourage everyone to look into it more and give it a shot.

One thing I also found to be helpful is throwing away and canceling things that aren’t adding any value to your life. Same goes for how you spend money, how you save money, how you spend your time, and more. #minimalism

Here’s a few other reflections from 2016:

The following Spotify playlists helped get me through the year. Some of these I’ve been listening to for more than a few years but sharing regardless:

My favorite Movies of 2016:

  • “La La Land”
  • “The Nice Guys”
  • And…I actually liked the new “Ghostbusters”

Favorite books of 2016:
I didn’t read a ton but here’s some of my favorites:

Things I’ll be looking into for 2017:

  • Professionally, take an online course or learn a couple of new skills!
  • Volunteer opportunities that help others
  • Maybe running my first 5k!?
  • Trying to keep my body in motion and be healthy. Would be great to feel the strongest I’ve ever felt this year!
  • How to incorporate more minimalism into my life. Or at least, keeping the main theory in mind: Spend your time and money more meaningfully.
  • Remembering a message I’ve been hearing a lot of lately: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

The Calm and Charm of Morning

Lately, I’ve really been enjoying the mornings. I’ve known for a couple of years now that (most) people are (generally) more productive in the mornings, and that kicking off your morning with productivity can make you feel more positive during the day. So, I’ve tried to adopt the morning thing for awhile now. At first, this was mostly to just get things done before work so I didn’t feel stressed in the evening if I worked after the end of the work
day.

Let me pause to mention something I also learned about myself regarding working at home after regular work hours. Sometimes, we all need to do some work after hours so you feel like you’re not in the weeds the next workday. A couple years ago, I used to work after dinner and before bed. I found I was not sleeping well because of that. I’d have a hard time falling asleep because my mind was still active from working. I’d be restless because my dreams would be about work. I’d wake up tired and grumpy because I had to get up and get ready for work all over again after I’d just worked that previous evening and dreamed about work all night. I didn’t give img_8469myself a break. It was too much of a vicious cycle. So I decided that if I needed to work past regular work hours, I would work at the office and get home a little later. That way, when I got home, I would not have to look at my email or computer at all. Alternatively, I would go home with some work undone, not look at my computer, and then wake up in the morning with a fresh pair of eyes and mind. I felt determined to get more done in 45 minutes or 1 hour in the morning before I got ready for work than I did in the office. I found it so peaceful (as peaceful can be when you’re working) to go through emails, make a priority list, and make some headway on a project when others aren’t online yet. Either way, not working in the evenings allowed me to have a much more restful sleep and enjoy my evening at home more. For the record, I do my best to not work after hours at all, but if I have to, I definitely choose the mornings.

Now, “back to the lecture at hand”. (Bonus points if you caught that lyric drop.) So, the mornings. I started waking up earlier in order to get work done. Then, I started eventually waking up to get some reading done. Then, I started waking up to get workouts in. I was enjoying the productivity of the morning. But, I’ve also started enjoying just feeling like I’m “greeting the day”. Lately, I’ve been waking up and setting my intention for the day. Some days you want to feel super boss babe at work, other days, you want to feel like you’re a creative, or you want to feel calm, or that you’re kicking ass in your home life. I find that setting my intention based on how I feel when I wake up, sets my tone for the day. It allows me to have a goal in mind, to think about how to accomplish it, and even helps me to decide what I want to wear that day. Some mornings I get up early to work out, some to take care of putting up laundry that’s been sitting out, to make lunches, or, to just spend a little extra time getting ready for work so I’m not rushed. I actually do the latter a lot more now. Waking up a little earlier to give yourself the time you need to get ready really helps to not start your day off in a frenzy. Oh! And giving yourself ample drive time so traffic isn’t as aggravating is helpful too. With these early mornings, I’ve found that when I don’t wake up as early, even on weekends, I don’t feel as productive. Or rather, I feel like I’ve missed out on opportunities to be with myself and to think about how I want to feel that day. On the flip side, if my body says “no” when my alarm goes off in the morning, I definitely listen and use that extra time to rest. (Hmm…maybe my next blog post will be about rest and recovery. #lightbulb)

My husband has never really been a morning person and never thought he would be. But lately, he’s been getting up early with me even though he goes into work later than me (West Coast hours). He started getting into coffee when we were on the Whole30 and now it’s become a morning ritual of his to grind fresh coffee beans and make a pot. He sits outside…well, here’s what he says about the mornings in his words:

Me: What is your typical weekday morning like?
I rise at about 6:30, either let out the dog or feed him. Put on a pot of coffee, lounge around, get ready for the day, make breakfast for us; all before getting ready…unless I’m going to the gym. That’s the most common.

img_9959Me: And what are you thinking about in the morning? Do you have any mental rituals to get your ready for the day?
I usually look at my work calendar, our home calendar, check my work email to see what has or hasn’t popped in. A therapeutic thing I do in the morning that is a ritual is making the bed. It’s therapeutic because I know that when I get home, it’s going to be made and look nice and inviting.

Me: What is your favorite part about the morning during the week? What is your favorite part about the morning on the weekend?
For both, it’s a new day. You never know what will unfold. You can kind of start fresh. Obviously, I like the weekend morning better because we can make our own plans and do what WE want to do. But, I enjoy the mornings when I’m finally up and awake.

Me: You never thought you’d be a morning person. Do you think you are now? If so, why?
I don’t know if I’m in with both feet as a morning person. But I have been enjoying the mornings. I’ve been experiencing them more. Before, I was staying up late and was missing the mornings. So I never really wanted to be up before. But, I like the morning overall. I still like night. But the mornings have been more agreeable lately.

 

As my husband astutely mentioned, the mornings have a charm that no other time of day does. It gives me thoughts like: “What will happen today? I’m grateful for waking up and being here. The sky was just dark and now it’s light. Look, the moon is still out. Here comes the sun. I wonder what the weather will be like. I remember the mornings when we were abroad together. We will travel and see mornings abroad again together. But for now, I’m grateful for these mornings we have now. This coffee/tea is tasty. I’m hungry. Bacon sounds good right about now…”

Now, I don’t get to have this insightful of a morning every day. But, when I am able to make time to reflect, it’s special. On our free weekends (which are rare!), we still get up img_8285early-ish, do a workout (or don’t), make a leisurely breakfast, watch an episode of a travel show, and just decide how we feel for the day. We sit outside with the dog and just enjoy the rest we deserve from the hard work we put in the week before. And, we know that if our family grows one day, these mornings will be even more rare!  For now, while we can and when we can, it’s nice to greet the day together. Best of all, anyone who knows me, knows I love fall. The morning weather is starting to feel so crisp lately. It’s wonderful! Needless to say, with my newfound love of the mornings, I’m really looking forward to experiencing new morning moments this upcoming season to see what they bring.

 

 

2016 Mid-Year Check-In

It’s been awhile since I have written a post because…MY!…how the first half of the year has flown by! I’ve been pondering what I should write about and how to best to write an update about what I’ve been up to. Then, the inspiration hit my inbox! A mentor/networking connection of mine, Darlene Templeton, sent out a message to her “Women Alliance” in June, suggesting that we all do a “mid-year” check-in. Brilliant.

To do so, she suggested to:

1) Review what you have accomplished to date
2) Celebrate your accomplishments
3) Review your 2016 goals
4) Develop long-term objectives as well as your “30 day goals” in your action plan to achieve those goals

5) Continue to track progress and celebrate along the way

I could think of no better format for this blog post than to answer those questions and keep everyone updated on the latest. So, here it goes!

My 2016 Mid-Year Check-In:
 
1) Review what you have accomplished to date:
In January, my husband and I took a post-New Year’s trip to Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya area in Mexico and had a very relaxing time. We even ate at the Italian restaurant that we went to on our honeymoon (YES! Authentic Italian in Mexico!).

In February, I volunteered as a Culture Ambassador for an event called Culturati Summit, which was an event about company cultured geared towards CEOs. That was a very inspiring and insightful experience since I’m a company culture geek.

In March, I went to SXSW for the first time as an IMG_5605attendee. I attended Interactive programming sessions, fun activations and social events. It was a very cool experience to see the event that I helped put on for four years prior. Oh, and I saw Obama speak. NBD.

Then, in late April, I found out I was out of a job. I had just celebrated Administrative Professionals Day and was preparing for our much anticipated trip to Italy the following week. As it was very unexpected, I went into survival mode and began making all sorts of plans for how best to aggressively find a new job. (By the way, when I reached out to my professional and personal contacts to update them, I had nothing but overwhelming support that I was and am so appreciative for.)

As luck would have it, a company called GasPedal (which runs SocialMedia.org and SocialMedia.org Health) had an Executive Assistant position posted on LinkedIn. I reviewed the job posting over and over again and checked out the executives’ profiles. Because of the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature on LinkedIn, the said executives saw my profile and reached out to me. We connected online and went through a very fast interview process. Luckily, the stars aligned and I found myself as the Executive Assistant to the CEO at GasPedal. (A quick side note: I’m loving this new role. The people are wonderful, the office is awesome, my boss is great to work with, I’m being utilized and challenged, I’m learning a ton, and I’m enjoying my responsibilities.)

In May, my husband and I traveled to Italy on our first overseas trip together. We planned and booked the entire trip solo and had an amazing time. Sigh.

List of Administrative Professionals Conferences 2016

Attending conferences geared towards your profession is something that is recommended by top business leaders and career coaches. And it should be no different for Administrative Professionals. Administrative Professional conferences offer wonderful sessions on improving hard and soft skills, information on time-saving resources, offer insight into the growing EA landscape, and provide life-changing networking opportunities. Plus, they’re always a blast!

Here’s a snapshot into some upcoming conferences and events that might be of interest to Admin Professionals (organized by date). Almost every event’s website offers a “business case” and/or “key takeaways” for review and to even send to a team leader. Start getting excited!

Executive Secretary Live | April 8-9 | London | http://executivesecretarylive.com/

Administrative Professional Summit | April 27 | Austin | http://ow.ly/100Z21

Admin to Admin | April 22-23 | Tahoe City | http://admintoadmin.net/

Vickie Sokol Evans Signature Program: Timesaving (and jaw-dropping) Productivity Tips Using Microsoft Office | April 29 | New York | http://ow.ly/100Z4n

Vickie Sokol Evans Signature Program: Timesaving (and jaw-dropping) Productivity Tips Using Microsoft Office | May 6 | Sydney | http://ow.ly/100Z4n

Office* | May 11-12 | London | http://www.officeshow.co.uk/

Be the Ultimate Assistant | May 14-15 | Salt Lake City | http://ow.ly/1010o3

Admin to Admin | May 20 | San Jose | http://admintoadmin.net/

Vickie Sokol Evans Signature Program: Timesaving (and jaw-dropping) Productivity Tips Using Microsoft Office | June 8 | Paris | http://ow.ly/100Z4n

Vickie Sokol Evans Signature Program: Timesaving (and jaw-dropping) Productivity Tips Using Microsoft Office | June 17 | London | http://ow.ly/100Z4n

Be the Ultimate Assistant | July 8-9 | NYC | http://ow.ly/1010s8

IAAP Summit 2016 | July 23-26 | Hollywood, FL | http://www.iaap-summit.org/

Behind Every Leader | July 25-26 | Dallas | http://behindeveryleader.com/

APC (Administrative Professionals Conference) | September 18-21 | Chicago |
http://www.apcevent.com/

Be the Ultimate Assistant | Sept 23-24 | Seattle | http://ow.ly/1010Ar

Office Dynamics International – Conference for Administrative Excellence | Oct 10-13 | Las Vegas | http://ow.ly/1010Cu

Behind Every Leader | Nov 3-4 | Palm Springs | http://behindeveryleader.com/

Be the Ultimate Assistant | Nov 10-11 | London | http://ow.ly/1010Fo

Executive Secretary Live | Nov 16-17 | Dubai | http://executivesecretarylive.com/

Executive Secretary Live | Feb 17-18, 2017 | Johannesburg | http://executivesecretarylive.com/

Executive Secretary Live | June 23-24, 2017 | Auckland | http://executivesecretarylive.com/

IAAP Summit | July 22-25, 2017 | New Orleans | http://www.iaap-summit.org/

A New Year’s Reflection: 2015 to 2016

This year was full of growth, challenges, changes, and opportunity. I traveled to places like New York all the way to Spain. I changed jobs, spoke at a conference, had good friends move (or tell me they are moving), made new friends, and even started meditating a little. While reflecting on 2015, I thought of a few lessons that I’ll try to remember for 2016.

  1. Trust your instincts for timing. – Sometimes you want to tell someone something or do something right away. But, your gut is telling you to just hold tight. I’ve found that if you listen to your instincts regarding timing, that usually ends up being the best thing.
  2. The friends who will be around will always…be around. – Even if you aren’t able to catch up with a friend as often as you’d like, it’s a great friendship when you can just pick up right where you left off. As well, changing jobs after four years was scary and I thought by leaving the job, I’d be losing friends too. While we don’t talk everyday like we used to, I feel very fortunate that I’m still in touch with people who meant a lot to me then and now. We chat about old times, but more importantly, we share and encourage each other in our new journeys. It’s nice to know that a friend catch-up is just a coffee date away!
  3. Overseas travel is amazing. – I’ve always had the travel bug. But traveling to Spain really made me realize that my wanderlust is warranted. It’s an amazing world out there and sharing it with loved ones and/or just for yourself is so…soul-gratifying.  It’s definitely scary planning for the unknown, but I’ve found that once you’re there, just let go, be open to all experiences, look around, see, learn, immerse, and bring back all the love and beauty that you experienced and try to transfer that energy to your every day. And, of course, start planning the next one!
  4. Disconnect often. – When you’re having alone time, when you’re with friends or family, when you’re in meetings, when you’re in bed, when you’re at a stop light, when you’re on vacation, when you’re getting your nails done, etc. Just…disconnect. Put your phone down, look around, be with your thoughts, and just be.
  5. Keep the faith (an oldie but a goodie). – When things get tough, seem confusing, seem unstable, or out of my control, try to remember to keep the faith.
  6. Watch what you eat and stay active (yeah, another oldie, but still a goodie). – You’ll gain weight back if you’re not careful! Three days of “I’ll get back on a routine in a few days” can equal no bueno. Eat what you love but make sure you’re being nice to your body. So, eat well, drink well, keep the heart pumping, and rest well.
  7. Believe in yourself. – You are worthy and you can do it.

So what am I hoping to accomplish in 2016? Well, my goals are broad but here’s just a few things:

  1. Continue learning. – Whether it’s by reading books, articles, attending conferences, or taking online courses, I’ve found that I am very stimulated and inspired when learning something new. Hard skill or soft skill, hey, it’s learning. #themoreyouknow
  2. Make passionate goals. – I hope to listen to my feelings and core desires when setting goals for myself. Enough said.
  3. Travel. – See #3 above re overseas travel. I also hope to see more of the U.S. this year too!
  4. Do meaningful things. – Life is too short to just do a day-to-day with no real “oomph” behind it. It’s going to take some self-reflection and even hard decision-making at certain points, but I hope to focus on doings things that are meaningful to me (and hopefully end up being meaningful to others). Inspiration, motivation, and all around happy things will hopefully be the outcomes!