Confession #7: One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make

This new job of mine is challenging. Invigorating. Interesting. Exciting. And very intense, in terms of no longer being able to focus on any of the extracurricular activities that I had been focusing on before taking on this new role.

Specifically, the volunteering I was doing for SDA (Society for Design Administration), and especially for the Seattle chapter. I knew I needed to do something.

So I slept on it. I talked things through with my husband. I had long, internal conversations with myself in which I played out various scenarios—should I do that; could I do that; what if I didn’t do that?

And it ultimately came down to this: I could not give SDA the best of me (even a half-hearted attempt of me) while doing my new, challenging day job. My paying job.

I needed to have a chat with the chapter’s President-elect.

I told her that it wasn’t fair to the chapter to have the President not be available during business hours. I told her about my new job and how challenging it was.

I told her of the very hard decision that I came to, which was that I needed to step down as chapter president, for the good of the chapter (and my sanity).

There, I said it. (And without any ugly crying, although I remember I did tear up just a bit at one time).

One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make: Go back on the promise I made when I was installed as chapter president.


On the bright side for me: The current chapter board members are awesome! Dedicated. Committed to their positions. Willing to take on additional duties (because I stepped down from the president’s position). I know things are going to be just fine with the chapter this year.

I still feel like a s**t for stepping down, instead of trying to ride things out. I did the right thing. Right?


Education. Education. Education.

Don’t you just love it when someone else does all the legwork and compiles a respectable list of the information you were looking for?

Those of you working in the A/E/C industry know that the Society for Design Administration (SDA) holds its Annual Meeting (typically) in May each year (and if you don’t know, you should; SDA is your go-to source of best practice management for design firm administration). In addition to that business meeting, SDA offers its EDSymposium—a wealth of knowledge-sharing in the form of educational sessions geared to what you need to know and learn about your role in the industry.

But what you may not know is just how many conferences for assistants (no matter what industry you work in) are being held throughout the world this year. There’s a ton! (Okay; not an actual ton, but at least 20.)

Let me introduce you to the person who compiled that impressive list. It’s Christina Holzhauser, founder of the blog Tips for Assistants. I’m not sure how long it took her to compile the list, but kudos to her for taking the initiative to share, and for adding the website links for each one!

The following is reprinted with permission by Christina Holzhauser. Originally published 12/30/16 on Tips for Assistants.

Conferences for Assistants: Get Energized in 2017!

Conferences are a great way to not only learn mind-blowing tips but to reenergize your passion for being a top-notch assistant. Here’s a list of links to great conferences to keep on your radar now that 2017 is on the horizon. (Note: Be sure to check their websites in case dates or locations have been adjusted).

Admin Pro Forum

May 31-June 2 | Orlando, FL

Admin to Admin

May 5 | Sacramento, CA

Administrative Professionals Conference

September 17-20 | Las Vegas, NV

*APC also has an Executive Assistants’ Summit that EA’s can apply to participate in; see EA Summit for more details

Administrative Professionals Conference Canada

May 28-31 | Toronto, Canada

The Assist Conference

February 24 | London, England

Be the Ultimate Assistant

March 4-5 | Chicago, IL

May 19-20 | San Diego, CA

June 10-11 | Minneapolis, MN

September 23-24 | New York, NY

November 16-17 | Paris, France

Behind Every Leader

February 24 | Washington, D.C.

April 28 | San Francisco, CA

June 9 | Atlanta, GA

August 11 | New York, NY

September 22 | Miami, FL

Conference For Administrative Excellence

October 17-20 | Las Vegas, NV

*You also have the option to attend virtually

DEMA Convention

September 15-17 | Orlando, FL

EAN Conference Series

February 15-16 | Perth, Australia

March 15-16 | Sydney, Australia

July 25-26 | Canberra, Australia

September 12-13 | Brisbane, Australia

November 29-30 | Melbourne, Australia

EAO Annual Global Summit

November 10-11 | Las Vegas, NV

EUMA Annual Conference

September 29 | Hague, The Netherlands

Executive Leadership Support Forum

January 25-26 | Chicago, IL

February 8-9 | Indianapolis, IN

March 8-9 | Toronto, Canada

March 29-30 | Atlanta, GA

April 5-6 | Raleigh, NC

May 3-4 | Boston, MA

May 17-18 | Bay Area, CA

June 14-15 | San Diego, CA

June 28-29 | New York City, NY

July 19-20 | Philadelphia, PA

September 13-14 | Phoenix, AZ

September 19-20 | Seattle, WA

October 4-5 | Minneapolis, MN

October 11-12 | Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

October 25-26 | London, England

Executive Secretary Live

February 17-18 | Johannesburg, South Africa

March 31-April 1 | London, England

July 14-15 | Auckland, New Zealand

November 10-11 | Washington, D.C.


May 26-28 | Ontario, Canada

IAAP Executive Admin Symposium

October 27-29 | Chicago, IL

IAAP Summit

July 22-25 | New Orleans, LA


March 5-7 | Tucson, AZ

NWVA Conference

June 22-23 | Manchester, England


March 1-2 | London, England

PA Life Summit

April 24-25 | Berkshire, England

Secretary Conference 2017

April 26-27 | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Special Event

January 10-12 | Long Beach, CA

Don’t hesitate to ask your principal or organization to cover the cost of joining a conference, especially since they will also be reaping the benefits from your increased knowledge. An article in Brazen titled “How to Get Your Company to Fund Professional Training and Development” does a great job of outlining best practices on how to do so.

For more tips to keep you performing at the highest level or to add to this list of events, you can connect with Christina on the following platforms:

Oops, I did it again!

Inspiration comes to me (flows into me) in many forms.

What inspired me to take on another big leadership role–after having been there, done that two years ago?

The inspiration this time came from a job well done; let’s see if we can top that.

I’m talking about my professional life and specifically as a member of the Society for Design Administration (SDA). In 2014-2015, our Seattle chapter turned things upside down and just went gang-busters on doing so much more than had been done before. The really cool thing (for me anyway) was that we provided 17.70 hours of continuing education units (CEUs).

Then during our 2015-2016 board term (yours truly served as Vice President), we offered 23.65 CEUs. (You read that number right; that’s definitely not a typo.)

So there it is. That’s my inspiration. I wanted to be on the next team to try to beat those stats.

So when the Nominating Committee called, I—with some hesitation of course, because it’s a huge, non-paying job—said yes, I’ll do it again. I’ll serve as the chapter president-elect for 2016-2017. And you know what that means, don’t you? That means in 2017-2018, I will serve again (for the third time in my life) as the chapter’s president.

So . . . by saying yes, I volunteered for three more years of service to an all-volunteer board of directors.

Which is really kind of scary. Will we have awesome, dedicated and passionate members who are willing to serve on the board during those years?  Will we have awesome, dedicated and passionate members who like a good challenge and are willing to help the board work on the 5 goals that will lead us to successfully achieve our 5-year vision?

I think so. I hope so. I know that the last couple of years have demonstrated to SDA members and the A/E/C community that our chapter (and the entire SDA organization) is a valuable resource, and I think from that comes dedicated and passionate members.

So now what does that mean for me? I just need to step up my game and try to be the best leader as I can be:

  • Someone who initiates and promotes team performance
  • Someone who models leader behavior
  • Someone who helps further the goals of the chapter and the organization at large

imageSince I did it again, you can bet I’ll be blogging about my adventures. I hope you’ll hang in there with me, and also share your leadership experiences (the good and the not-so-good).