I Attended ELS Forum and Here’s What Happened

Our very own Julia Ford-Carther, new to our team, attended ELS Forum: New York City. Here, she shares her experience on-site, what she learned about the EA profession and why you’ll definitely want to attend.
A few months back when I first started talking to ELS President, Emily Burley, about ELS, I told her right off the bat that I was extremely impressed with ELS’s engaged community of savvy professional admins.
The energy of the EAs just RADIATED through the website, social media posts and all the event photos. I’ve been helping companies grow for a while now, and I’ve never seen a group so passionate about what they do.
Needless to say, I was pumped to have the opportunity to attend ELS Forum: New York City and meet these powerhouse assistants IRL.
Well, I was NOT disappointed. First, let me say this. EAs, you are hands-down the most inspiring, motivating, talented, special, invigorating individuals. Your execs are literally THE LUCKIEST to have you by their side. They should be honored to call you their business partner.
What I witnessed at ELS Forum was SO important, SO life-affirming and SO necessary for everyone’s personal and professional development.
Here are 5 amazing things I learned at ELS Forum (and why you’ll want to attend, too):

  1. The EA tribe is strong. If you’re looking for your tribe, you’ll find it at ELS. 

Executive assistants, you show up and show out! This not only makes the event super fun, but also high energy and highly productive. Everyone in attendance was serious about becoming the best EA they could be, and intently applied what they were learning from our instructors. The group collectively collaborated, whether as a whole with our instructors, or separately at their respective tables during breakout sessions. If one EA shared a challenge with the group, everyone was very generous with solutions and chimed in. I even heard one attendee say, “The conversations at the table and lunch were just as impactful as the speakers!”

  1. “Innovative Admins” get ish done. Are you an Innovative Admin? You will be after attending ELS Forum. 

According to our wonderful instructor Julie Perrine of All Things Admin, an Innovative Admin is someone who introduces, creates or applies new or renewed ideas of methods to the office and is actively doing, seeking and implementing. Being an Innovative Admin is what will 100% elevate your EA game and could put you top-of-mind for a promotion or advanced opportunities in your organization. If you’re not already thinking this way, ELS Forum will change that.

  1. I now have a personal mission statement. You seriously need one of these. 

It starts, “My name is Julia Ford-Carther and I am a leader who is passionate about the why behind the what and how we can do it better. My life has meaning and my mission is clear. I am determined to help others be their best and I will not be denied.” And it keeps going! Powerful stuff, no? Our instructor Erika Gilchrist helped us swiftly and easily create ours in her session, “Embodying a Leader’s Voice as an Executive Assistant,” and she moved us to tears with this exercise. There’s something about seeing your own greatness and purposeful passion written down on paper like that. Clearly, you need your own.

  1. The EA role cannot be put in a box. Don’t let anyone define who you are or what you can do.  

“We have to tell the world who we are and perform accordingly.”
“You resolve chaos.”
“Who will you become when things go wrong?”
These are just a few of the mind-blowing, motivational one-liners from our instructor Melba Duncan, a champion executive assistant and author who has supported some of New York’s top executives, was the first EA to be published in the Harvard Business Review and is behind the very popular concept of “managing up.” Incredible, right? And I have about 15 more of these in my notes! This is how she gets you thinking about where you want to take your role and how you can evolve as it evolves.

  1. Here’s a major EA hack: “Together is power,” both in the office and out. Attend ELS Forum with your office besties for even more fun. (Three or more, and you get a discount!)

That quote came from one of my tablemates, an EA from Texas who was there with two of her colleagues. The three of them were: 1) Having a grand ole time learning and giggling their way through the day and; 2) Coming up with real-time solutions for their specific org that they could then take back and pitch to their execs with more power as a group. What a smart strategy!
There was so much more, and I seriously can’t wait to go to the next one. Meet me there!