It’s been one week since the 2014 ACPA Convention.
Here’s a suedle to depict my state of mind:
After naps, Starbucks, some doodling, LOTS of reflection, some time to recharge… and more naps…
I’d like to share how this conference shook my core in the best way possible.
Don’t try to do everything all the time.. And don’t feel guilty about it.
There’s a reason why this post took me one week to write. As I anticipated, #ACPA14 exhausted me in the most glorious way possible. I went in prepared. I planned out a conference schedule that allowed for time to attend sessions, socialize, workout, doodle and time to be alone (thanks Kristen, Lisa and Dana for holding me accountable!). What I could not plan for was the anxiety & stress I felt from being ‘on’ for most of the days. Don’t get me wrong – I had a blast. I hung out with people I connect with regularly, met people that I admired and gave out more hugs than a student affairs professional during Commencement season. However, what I couldn’t anticipate in my schedule was the excitement and the guilt I felt from NOT doing it all. Erik Qualman (@equalman) said something that really resonated with me — “Don’t boil the ocean.” My ocean was en fuego during ACPA. Knowing how that stimulation affected me now (multiple 12 hour ‘naps’..) can help be better prepare for future reinventions!
Manage your backchannel mullet.
This one was inspired by Chris Conzen and Kristen Abell from their presentation Making the Most of the Backchannel. I had the pleasure of acting as their designated Tweeter during their presentation. Midway through the presentation, they began discussing the concept of having one account for professional and personal use. They discussed the struggles and benefits. At one point, Chris mentioned that the backchannel doesn’t have to be ALL business. That triggered this thought:
— Sue Caulfield (@_SueCaulfield) March 31, 2014
Yes, I love the 80s and yes, backchannel mullets are really important. ESPECIALLY during conferences! If we were all business all the time, we are hiding behind these massive walls. just like Brene Brown said, we are creating impermeable boundaries – arms folded, hands on hips, with that “Did you just order a decaf coffee?” look. Guilty, as charged. Very guilty at the beginning of ACPA. By the end, I realized that the armor was heavy and just weighing me down. So, take that crap off and show your #SAchat pillow selfie. Embrace your fabulous backchannel mullet. You might inspire someone else to do the same.
Find your niche…or corner…or both.
One of the incredible functions of ACPA was the intentional placement and thought behind the Social Media Command Center. Not only did it bring social media to the forefront with it’s central location, Genius Labs and gigantic tagboard screens, but it provided a social component that was crucial to my professional development. It was a spot that social media users congregated to hangout. We all gathered there in an organic manner because there was comfy furniture, mobile chargers and most importantly – we felt at home. This was our arena. This was my go-to corner during the entire conference and I became increasingly grateful for it as the days passed.
Having this little corner to call my own allowed me to focus on showing off my illustration skills. It gave me a home base to follow the conversations and share my own thoughts/illustrations. It gave me the confidence to tweet out some pretty drafty suedles. It gave me a chance to get involved and give back. Think about your niches and corners during conferences. What could they empower you to do?
You will mess up. Fail colorfully.
Whether it’s a presentation, personal interaction or a coffee order, you will undoubtedly fail in some way during a conference. Embrace it! During my #suedle for the opening session, I messed up a small section of Cathy Bao Bean’s illustration. You can’t erase Sharpies and trying to fix them can often draw more attention to the error. I thought, well, it’s an error, but isn’t that what all of these speakers were trying to convey? Anticipating failure? Being FLAWsome? Cathy Bao Bean (@chopsticksfork) captured it best – “Be both daring and forgiving.” I think my Sharpie blob very much agrees.
Finding your happy heart.
The bottom line? #ACPA14 put me in the mindset for professional development and refreshment. It feed the student affairs part of my soul that was really dying for some nourishment. It made my heart happy, which energizes me. Not only was I encouraged to grow at this conference, I was asked to. Reinvention is about risks and some folks (shoutout to Ed Cabellon and Joe Ginese!) took a gigantic risk by having faith in my ability as a professional.
Happy hearts = happy student affairs professionals. It might be consistent professional development, side gigs, team breakfasts or afternoons of service – whatever makes your heart happy, share it. Find a way to communicate this to your managers, networks and people you care for. Working these into your schedule can mean a world of difference.