- Education & Events
Why leave home for EFAM?
By Susan Spreitzer, CPS/CAP
Each year, as I decide whether or not to attend IAAP's biggest event, I ask myself the same important question my employers were interested in: Why travel out of state or out of the country to EFAM when I can get admin training right here in Sacramento? Since I'm now self-employed and pay my own EFAM registration and travel expenses, this question is even closer to my heart than it was back when the event was called "Convention." So, this year, I'd like to know what others have to say on the topic. For me, the answer is simple. It's the pinpoint focus of EFAM and the strength of our numbers.
One reason I believe EFAM is worth the trip is because we attend in large enough numbers to draw stellar keynote speakers. Where else but EFAM 2010 would you hear someone like Vernice "Flygirl" Armour--the first African-American woman to pilot an attack helicopter in the Marine Corps--motivate us to adopt a breakthrough mentality? Where else would you find someone like 2009 EFAM keynoter and futurist Warren Evans who was not only a great motivational speaker but has thoroughly known and written about administrative professionals, and IAAP, for years.
I think EFAM workshops are stellar, too, because of the deep understanding the speakers have of administrative professionals. As much as I love and appreciate our local computer training organizations, they don't, and really can't, have the same daily focus specifically on administrative professionals and office technology that Gini Courter and Annette Marquis of Triad Consulting do. Other EFAM workshops dive into topics like emotional intelligence and becoming a virtual assistant that aren't readily available from companies like Fred Pryor and CareerTrack. Sometimes EFAM workshops cover topics similar to those we talk about in our chapter meetings, but the national-level EFAM workshop speakers sure do bring something unique and special to attendees.
EFAM is also unique and valuable because it showcases administrative leadership. Let's face it. It's very rare to find an administrative professional in command of a room of well over 1,000 people. Watching our international president preside over business meetings every year is very cool-it's also very educational. Becoming familiar with, or reviewing, parliamentary procedure is just the start. Critical, often subtle, examples of excellent leadership and teamwork are everywhere in the business meetings. EFAM attendees also witness and participate in visionary and strategic thinking that really makes a difference beyond IAAP. Sometimes debate gets a little heated, and mistakes are made, but we always adjourn our business meetings stronger and closer than we began.
The Office Expo experience is pretty impressive. We find out what's new, what's hot, and what's not, directly from suppliers instead of from the clerk at the office supply store or during a 1-800 telephone call. Each attendee leaves the Office Expo with at least one problem solved and a number of new ideas. We love it when Avery and OfficeTeam come to our chapter meetings, but the group of vendors and suppliers at Office Expo is one of a kind, and we appreciate them very much.
If nothing else, EFAM is an amazing place to network and share ideas and energy. It's very tough to think of an administrative challenge or opportunity that someone at EFAM hasn't navigated successfully. EFAM is a world of shoulders to stand on.
OK, so I have been thinking a lot about Montreal lately. I can't wait to see the 2011 EFAM program when it is published in April, and I look forward to finding out what changes have been made to the event this year. I hope many, many administrative professionals are inspired to make the trip to EFAM-I think it really is worth it. What's your perspective?
Susan Spreitzer, CPS/CAP, has worked in the administrative profession for more than 30 years and currently works as an independent web designer. She has been a member of IAAP since 1996.