What a fantastic Day 2 of the Administrative Professionals Conference! I know I use a lot of superlatives, but I really mean it – the day was jam packed with great education and training, vendor sessions, raffle drawings, an amazing keynote and the ever-popular WOW panel.

So let me start from the beginning…

To kick off the morning, record-setting long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad took the stage for an inspiring keynote, sharing her story and reminding us all that you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Nyad is the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. That’s 110 miles, people…and at age 64…and on her FIFTH attempt! She’s got some serious “never give up” credentials.

Since childhood, Cuba held a huge mystique for Nyad and as a child her mother said to her “Cuba is so close, you could almost swim there.” After ups and downs in her sporting career, it was some wise words from a fellow teammate that drove Nyad forward after a swimming loss: “If you swim like ‘I couldn’t have done it [the length of] a fingernail faster’, then you’ll have no regrets.”

Nyad likened her long-distance swims to a microcosm of life – you go through ups and downs, building character and proving that even though it’s easy to give up…when you don’t you’re a champion. She had funny stories (covering surfing for ABC Sports and losing a swimsuit in the rough surf) and heart-rending stories, including the four failed attempts of the Cuba-Florida swim. Nyad’s stories of tenacity, heart, and never giving up on your dreams had the room enthralled.

After a quick break, we were on to our concurrent sessions and for me that was The Accidental SharePoint Site Owner presented by Lori Coffey.

Coffey provided some fantastic “I can use in the office on Monday” tips for those whom SharePoint was thrust upon them and they have to learn quickly. She covered everything from managing permissions to curating content to overlaying calendars syncing with Outlook. She also shared site considerations like information duplication (don’t share docs on two SharePoint sites, just one and link to the other) and saving space on emails (rather than attaching the document which fills up your email space, instead include the link to the doc stored on SharePoint. I learned a lot (and I manage a SharePoint site) so I made tons of notes to implement Monday when I’m back in the office.

After lunch we were back in sessions and I loved Working Across Borders with Lucy Brazier. Brazier shared that there are 182 associations around the world that are working together to change the perception of the assistant! She shared a photo tour of some of those associations from such places as Dubai and Papua, New Guinea. This led into how important it is to be aware of your own perception of culture and cultural stereotypes when working across borders. From universalism and particularism, individualism and communitarianism, and neutral vs. affective cultures, we had a world tour cultural perceptions, and Brazier provided practical tools for further learning.

A trip to the Exhibits at APC was a great (ice cream!) break before the WOW panel. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic companies who are exhibiting at the APC this year – we got some great ideas for everything from office supplies, to travel to corporate gifting and more, and many of the exhibitors also provided some awesome raffle prizes.

The day closed with the popular WOW Panel, led by moderator Colette Carlson. Panelists were: Linda Gallo, EA to William C. Weldon, Johnson & Johnson, Patty Reber, EA to Gordon Smith, United States Tennis Association, Jan Vulevich Stewart, Special Assistant to the Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group LLC (also former EA to former Secretary of State Madeline Albright) and Sheri Collins, EA to Daymond John, CEO of Shark Branding and co-star of ABC’s Shark Tank.

The discussion was lively as the panel fielded questions about taking initiative, handling criticism well, exerting influence without being a direct manager, in fact, exerting influence with your manager, and learning to delegate to admin teams and interns (trust other people to avoid burnout). All the panelists shared great stories about lessons learned that got them to where they are today. At the end of the session they fielded great questions from the audience. One of the key takeaways? Always make a great first impression, especially with your attitude. You never know, a visitor to your office could be a future boss (that was one of the great stories!).

After some socializing (and yes, some Google Glass demos), I’m off to get a good night’s sleep tonight, because tomorrow is another full day of learning…and fun! Don’t forget that the party is tomorrow night. The theme? International Flair!

Oh, before I go, did you all here about the ASAP Power Panel that we are launching here at the APC? We are so excited to announce that the ASAP Power Panel is the first-in-the-industry online market research panel created solely for administrative professionals and executive assistants. Use your voice and make an impact! You can sign up here, and if you have any questions, chat with any of our staff members for more info.