I’ve mentioned in other posts that I’m currently working on my co-active coaching credential. Phase one was attending five three-day in person classes. Now during certification, I meet weekly for 90 minutes with my pod for 25 weeks straight. There’s homework, I’m actively coaching no less than five clients and have individual supervision. It’s amazingly powerful and some days overwhelming. Yet, I know it’s 100% what I’m designed to do.
I’ve been calling certification upskilling season because I will finish and this season will be over. I struggle at times to see the big picture and have to remind myself that sacrifices now will be worth it tenfold later. When you’re in the middle of the marathon, it can be hard to see the finish line.
During this season, I’ve been careful about what to say yes to personally and professionally as I only have so much capacity. So when my friend invited me to the Women in Non-profit Leadership Conference, I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure how the content would be applicable and wondered if it was worth six hours of my time, a precious commodity.
After some debate, my curiosity beat out my uncertainty and spending time with a friend wouldn’t suck either. I showed up as my authentic self, all in, ready to learn and boy did I. Here are a few of the highlights that I would have missed if I didn’t consciously choose to embrace upskilling season.
The first keynote, Sue Fulton shared that there’s no excuse for not planning for success; it’s typically harder to manage in non-profits that failure
During the fundraising strategies panel, the resounding message was the brand of a company/campaign must align to its mission.
The most impact session for me was the breakout about building a diverse board, led by Sulaiman Rahman. So much so that I have to share two takeaways (among many): 1) What ideas are being passed down that need to be challenged? 2) You can disagree with an idea but that doesn’t mean you disagree with the person. The picture above was also shared in the session…still thinking about it.
The Building Coalitions and Partnerships panel over lunch featured Diane Cornman-Levy from Women’s Way, who highlighted that when you invest in women, you then invest in the community. Can I get an amen for that?!
We ended the day with Deesha Dyer, who I definitely have a girl crush one! She was so relatable and shared tons of great nuggets. She talked about her experience of working for the Obamas and how they expected more from her than she thought she was capable of. It struck me that we all need mentors like that and should mentor that way too.
I’m definitely in upskilling season right now, where I’m trying to absorb as much as possible to become a more well rounded coach, professional and person. This season is more intense and requires more focus than being naturally curious and wanting to learn. My experience at WINPL shows that saying yes to the right upskilling will always serve me (and you) well.
As a young professional, I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge and grow my industry expertise. This is occasionally challenging because I do not work within public relations. While I love my current job, I still want to maintain a breath of public relations knowledge and keep up-to-date on industry trends.
The schedule for the day!
Luckily for me, I was invited back to Temple University this past weekend for the TU Invitational hosted by Temple PRSSA, one of my former student organizations. While the event was for students, I am so glad I attended. There were four speakers, each with a different PR specialty. Below are the “quick tips” I learned from each.
Cassandra Bailey from Slice Communications was the keynote speaker. You couldn’t have picked anyone better to kick-off an event! Cass was energetic, passionate and real. My biggest takeaway from her presentation was to break the process and be different. You shouldn’t change yourself to fit within a role or company. People want someone authentic, interesting and who challenges the norm. I adored her ideas and hearing that being different is a positive when hiring people.
I then went to Jessica Lawlor’s breakout session about personal branding and blogging. I read Jess’ blog religiously and worked with her during our PRSSA days at Temple, so I was really pumped for her session. Jess managed to pack so much info into her session without overwhelming us. She walked through various social media sites, outlining what essentials we should focus on to help build our personal brand. I was also beyond thrilled to hear the you don’t need to have a niche blog to be successful. I like to write about a lot of topics and according to Jess, that’s a good thing, as long as you are providing useful, fresh content. Overall, it was an awesome session and now I have a ton of ideas for my social media profiles and my blog!
After lunch, Steve Cameron from Air Products spoke to the group about a variety of topics. Steve has been in his role for several years so it was interesting to hear his perspective on how the industry has changed. Obviously, social media is the biggest advancement for PR professionals. Steve presented a social media decision tree for both personal and business use. This visual was so helpful in articulating the questions that need to be asked when figuring out how a company can utilize social media. The personal portion of the tree provided insights on the company’s social media policy; much easier to read than several convoluted paragraphs!
Our final speaker was Scott Tattar from LevLane, a PR agency in Philadelphia. Scott spoke about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it is now an essential for companies. CSR is the bottom line and should serve as a marketing tool. I found it interesting and refreshing to hear his insights because not all companies think like that. A good CSR program is focused, so even if you are a large corporation, you shouldn’t support a million charities. It also empowers the customer (or employee) to do something rather than to just write a check. Lastly, it should be in line with the company’s mission. For example, Coca Cola should not back a cause like childhood obesity since their product is soda. Scott’s session was my favorite of the day because it was a topic not addressed frequently.
All of the PRSSA alum with the chapter president.
We all went and celebrated a successful event after it was over. I was so proud of my former student organization for putting on a great event where I learned so much. My day reinforced the importance of continuing to learn even as a professional. Hopefully, I’ll get to go back to next year’s TU Invitational!