Posts in Conferences
How to Recharge Your Batteries Daily, Quarterly and Annually

The best leaders find ways to recharge.

 This CEO organizes and rests on the weekend- that's it.  Meanwhile this executive took a sabbatical in order to recharge his batteries.  The fact is that executives need to be especially mindful of their need to recharge their batteries.

If we don't recharge, the following can happen:

  • loneliness
  • depression
  • a lower quality of work
  • less attention to mission
  • less present to those we are called to serve

The leaders I know understand their need to refuel.  They know that if they don't refuel, the consequences above might overtake their otherwise successful career.

Leaders do this daily, quarterly and annually.  In this post, I'd like to explore some ideas for each:

  • Daily refueling: take breaks, find spots of sanctuary where you can be nourished and energized.  Pay attention to this if you are an introvert as you'll need more time alone than extroverts.
  • Quarterly refueling: I recommend the leaders take a day away from the office once per quarter.  Michael Hyatt does this and I do too.  Focus on strategic planning, long term goals and professional reading.  
  • Annual refueling: this can take the shape of a retreat or a professional conference.

One more thought: one of the best ways I know to refuel is through the use of a mastermind group.  Amy Porterfield has a great interview on this topic.  Mine meets twice a year and it's quite helpful.

Refueling is one of the tenets of Terry Hershey's new book, "Sanctuary: Creating a Space for Grace in Your Life".   He teaches that sanctuary, of the idea of refueling is like water to a fish.  Except for one thing: we often don't give ourselves permission to refuel.

Hershey says that "Sanctuary is where you go to cherish your life.  It's where you practice being present.  And it may not be many steps from where you are, right now."  

I know that for me, daily refueling takes the shape of a morning devotional time.  I write in my journal, I pray and I plan for the day ahead.  A break at noon gives me a chance to check personal email and some time reading at night (before bed) keeps my mind sharp.  

What can you do today to refuel and stay on the top of your game?

4 Things To Consider Before You Attend a Conference

Fall is a great time of year to travel. The air is cooler and there are so many great conferences to attend.  In the past few years, I've been lucky enough to attend Catalyst in Atlanta and the Matter Conference in Baltimore.  Both were amazing!

Conferences can be valuable for networking, giving workshops and for doing business with people that would be otherwise difficult to meet.  Still, there are a few things to consider before you attend your next conference for work:

  1. Can you be a presenter?  I like the advice on this from The Muse.  Speaking gives you visibility and sometimes justifies the trip that your boss will most likely cover.  
  2. Can you hone your elevator pitch?  Don't go to a conference just to attend- go to sap its potential and every opportunity it presents.  You'll also want to avoid these 13 common conference mistakes.
  3. Will you be able to blog about it?  Believe it or not, others will be interested in your journey.  Check out Hubspot's advice on this point.
  4. Is it worth the expense?  An obvious question that some forget to ask.

What questions would you add to this list?

At Work, ConferencesMike StPierre
Don't Travel Often? 4 Tips to Keep Things Simple

This post was written in O'Hare airport in Chicago.  As someone who doesn't travel all that much, each trip is memorable.  For example, I can remember sitting in the rocking chairs in Charlotte, the shuttle trains in Atlanta and the (sorry) compactness of Pittsburgh.  

I like travel as it gives me the chance to explore new areas and try different foods.  It's something that I've learned to do rather than an activity that comes naturally to me. 

The flip side of travel that is infrequent is that you can overstress and overcomplicate the process.  Ever seen any of the following?

 -kids screaming while their parents check in with their luggage

-disgruntled travelers who take out their anxiety on an airline employee

-tired businessmen who just look like they want to get home

And so it goes... you may also think of any number of popular "travel movies".  Think back to Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Up in the Air or even Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.  Right now, I'm just trying to get better and better and how I travel.

Sometimes "getting better at it" can either be helped or hurt but your use of digital.  Whether you are at the Travel Ninja level or a novice like me, here are four simple tips that might help:

1. Use the airlines app.  This does two things. First, it cuts down on papers to print out.  These get wrinkled and can be lost easily.  Second, it gives you an easy way to self-calm yourself as you check on the status of your flight or see if you'll have an aisle seat via the seating chart section.  

2. Simplify your prep.  For those that don't travel often, it can feel like recreating the wheel and you'll spend way too much time just packing for a simple overnight.  The sollution: keep a list and save it in your digital task manager.  I have one in Todoist that is simple and saves me time and energy.

3. Cut down on your security check.  By wearing slip on shoes, no jewelry and a belt that comes off easily, you'll save so much time and stress.  Common sense, sure but it works like gold. 

4. A place for everything.  If you use a briefcase, keep things in the same location every time.  For me, wallet is always in the back right pocket and phone in the front right pocket.  By keeping things in the same places, you don't have to think about them and will (again, see the theme here) cut down on stress.   

I hesitate to write this post as I know so many of my friends who travel a ton and could write a book on travel.  Still, there are probably a lot of light travelers like me and perhaps these four steps will help you.   

What steps do you take to simplify travel? 


*Photo courtesy of FDP

How to Look Smart During a Meeting

I gave a workshop recently to a group of parent volunteers on the topic of meeting management. We discussed the many ways to engage all participants, shorten meeting times (as I've written about here) and generally make meetings less painful for participants.  

Here's the thing- most folks are clueless about how their own behavior is perceived by others in meetings.  This is a problem when you consider how much time we spend in meetings.  I suggest we use meetings to not only get work done but also to build professional rapport with our colleagues.

What are some behaviors that are off-limits during meetings?  How about the following:

  • Yawning
  • Sighing
  • Slumping in your chair
  • Arriving late
  • Checking your phone
  • Doing email
  • Staring off into the distance 
  • Being rude or disinterested to others in the meeting
  • Asking off-putting questions (E.g. "When do I get a raise?")

Each of these behaviors can lead those around us to perceive us as lazy, bored, unprofessional or worst of all- incompetent.  

To contrast these off-limits behaviors, let's put on the table some things that you can do that will truly make you look smarter and build rapport with those around you.  These include but aren't limited to the following:

  • Arriving early
  • Taking notes
  • Silencing your phone
  • Looking interested
  • Sitting upright
  • Making visual contact with others in the meeting
  • Asking smart questions at the right time

Meetings are here to stay.  Let's choose to make the most out of them and look smart in the process.  

Photo courtesy of FDP

Debriefing the Annual NCEA Conference (or any for that matter)

Each year I try to take my team to the National Catholic Education Association conference the week after Easter. I've been successful three of the last four years and the one year I wasn't able to make it, my team went without me (good!).  This year was in Pittsburgh and it was awesome.  Great speakers, lots of fun and tons of learning.  

If you'd like to see my slidedeck for my presentation, Productive Leadership, click here.

Back to the conference.  We go because of the following reasons:

  • Conferences mean learning.  With hundreds of workshops to attend, you're bound to learn a few things about PLC's, project-based learning, technology and much more.
  • Conferences let people network.  Breakfast meetings, Twitter meet-ups, lunch meet and greets- all provide you with opportunities to network and connect with other educational professionals.  
  • Conferences allow you to explore different cities.  Since NCEA is in a different city each year, there's new things to see and of course, plenty of food!  (which equals bonding since food brings people together)

I typically spend the week after a conference (like NCEA) doing the following:

  1. Input any business cards into Evernote.
  2. Email individuals that I met at the conference.
  3. Process any paper notes that I took.
  4. Submit my expense receipts to the business office.
  5. Refer business contacts to folks at work.
  6. Deseminate notes I took for my coworkers who were not able to be at NCEA.

This process works well for me.  What do you do to debrief a conference?