Ninjas’ Favorite Moments from the First-Ever OfficeNinjas Conference

Well, Ninjas, we did it. The first-ever OfficeNinjas Conference is in the history books. And our small but mighty sentimental team at OfficeNinjas HQ can’t help but agree: it feels really special.

(Check out our video above for a taste of the day’s magic … and get pumped for next year!)

Over 200 office managers, executive assistants, admin professionals, and workplace operators came from 45 cities, 19 states, and as far as Canada and Ireland. And all these Ninjas? They chose to spend Admin Day — arguably the one day of the year they’re encouraged to relax — filling their brains and hearts full of knowledge, inspiration, and strategies for taking their professional game to new heights.

Together, we descended on the sold-out Bently Reserve in San Francisco, and dove head first into the Future of Work and what it means for our profession. We contemplated research on the surprising power of Rituals in Workplace Culture. We learned how to set Personal OKRs and mapped an actionable framework for achieving them. We took our creativity out for a stroll and explored a playful, human-centered side of collaboration through Design Thinking. And we related to the experiences of our peers via an Admingling Taster and a Ninja All-Star-studded discussion panel.

ON Con was non-stop! There were speakers, workshops, and networking galore! Getting to meet so many professionals from so many different facets of the administrative professional world was like a breath of fresh air.
— Grace P., Senior Office Manager, Chicago

Above all, Ninjas supported and learned from one another. And that was exactly the point. Everything we do at OfficeNinjas is powered by collective intelligence … and this conference recap is no different!

We caught up with a few ON Con attendees and asked them to share their thoughts on the experience. And you know what? We noticed some common themes…

A Day of New Friendships

Ninja Confessions was super fun — it had me in stitches! — Sarah D., Manager of Business Initiatives, Denver

What happens at Ninja Confessions, stays at Ninja Confessions.

Ninjas swapped tips and tricks in addition to secrets.

Sometimes a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet!

Ninjas bonding over great cocktails and company!

Ninjas bonded over secrets from their toughest days at work.

These Ninjas know how to party in style!

From beginning to end, we peppered ON Con with opportunities for introductions and real connections — starting the night before with Kickoff Night: Ninja Confessions at Le Colonial Restaurant in San Francisco.

Nothing bonds strangers together faster than personal stories of public mortification and folly. Over French Vietnamese cuisine and vibrant cocktails, brave Ninjas opened up about some of their most hilariously embarrassing moments on the job. What happens at Ninja Confessions, stays at Ninja Confessions.

OfficeNinjas brings people — the smartest, funniest, and most inspiring people — together in amazing ways.
— Jennifer S., Operations Manager, San Francisco

The next day at ON Con, we traded funny moments for intriguing intros, with Ninjas participating in a variety of probing ice breakers and collaborative challenges.

I didn’t come here expecting to make friends. But I walked away with a huge network of connections, and some that I foresee becoming lifelong friends. I can’t wait to see our stories unfold.
— Zoila P., Industry Partner | Technology + Office Manager, Los Angeles

There were so many amazing Ninjas at ON Con! I’m thrilled to have grown my network and now be connected with so many more awesome admins! Excited to stay in contact throughout the year and meet up again at #ONCon20 :) — Nicki B., Office Manager, Chicago

I always say: strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet. — Verlance F., Office Vibe Manager, San Francisco

It was really humbling to interact with so many talented administrative professionals and create foundations for long-term friendships and support networks. — Caitlin C., Executive Assistant + Office Manager, Chicago

I may have only spent 48 hours in San Francisco, but in that short time, I created relationships that I know will create a lasting impact! I was immediately welcomed by the Ninja community and even though I traveled alone from the east coast, I always had people to eat meals with, explore San Francisco with, and even share an Uber to the airport! — Ali B., Executive Assistant, Frederick, MD

A Day of Intense Learning

If you’ve ever participated in an OfficeNinjas event (or are subscribed to our newsletter), you know that we are a smidge obsessive in our mission to share insights and education that is either specifically relevant right now or helping to pave the future.

I really connected with Dr. Nicole Wilson’s “Future of Work” session and walked away trying to think of ways I can automate certain tasks and how I can continue to build and enhance the areas that are not able to be automated; communication, teamwork, leadership, and relationships. — Nicki B., Office Manager, Chicago

Dr. Juliana Schroeder’s talk on “Workplace Rituals” made me really think about how I approach work. Can I change my rituals to become more productive and efficient? I definitely want to try! — Sarah D., Manager of Business Initiatives, Denver

I typically am the first person to say "I'm not creative" but the “Collaborative Creativity” workshop got me out of my comfort zone and excited to tap into my creative side. — Kati N., Executive Assistant, San Francisco

“Collaborative Creativity” was my favorite session. I’m pumped to try to build what my group came up with (and all in just 80 minutes). The next step is to leverage this network to make it happen. — Zoila P., Industry Partner | Technology + Office Manager, Los Angeles

Christina Wodtke’s OKRs session was one of my favorite workshops! I already created a personal OKR and am looking forward to measuring my success using it. Can’t wait to share this with my team and plan on purchasing her book! — Ali B., Executive Assistant, Frederick, MD

Christina Wodtke was such a thoughtful and engaging speaker — I’m so excited to bring back a new perspective on OKRs to my team. — Jennifer S., Operations Manager, San Francisco

For ON Con, we carefully curated informative talks and actionable workshops led by academics and experts that offered deep (and often unexpected) learnings. You gave us eight precious hours of your day and we certainly weren’t going to waste it.

“Future of Work” was a great talk and perfectly placed to motivate the group — it encouraged empathy and confirmation of skills. AI cannot love a team and will never fulfill professional service like a properly trained and motivated Executive Administrator.
— Sherry S., Senior Executive Assistant to CEO, Denver

Here are the phenomenal speakers who challenged us to dig deeper:

 

Lightning Talks

  • Dr. Nicole Wilson (Education expert at KnowProgress, Professor at UC Santa Cruz and Singularity University) presented The Future of Work and The Future of You.
  • Dr. Juliana Schroeder (Professor at Berkeley Haas School of Business, Co-Founder of Psychology of Technology Institute) presented The Surprising Power of Workplace Rituals.

Workshops

  • Christina Wodtke (Author, Stanford lecturer) presented Radical Focus: Accomplishing Big Goals With Personal OKRs.
  • Leon Segal, PhD (Innovation Psychologist, Founder of design thinking firm Innovationship) and Bre Przestrzelski (Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of San Diego, Instructor at IDEO U and Stanford d.school) presented Problem-Solving Through Collaborative Creativity.

MC + Panel Moderator Extraordinaire

  • Andrea Minkow (former tech startup CEO and MC extraordinaire) expertly led us through the day with grace and her signature sharp wit.

A Day of Teamwork

It was incredibly fun and meaningful to work interactively with other Ninjas and hear their perspective when brainstorming. — Nicki B., Office Manager, Chicago

Sharing our experiences and knowledge only serves to better our profession and strengthen our legitimacy through growth and development. — Sarah D., Manager of Business Initiatives, Denver

I loved being in a room full of other Ninjas who were engaged, eager to share their resources, and down to learn! — Ali B., Executive Assistant, Frederick, MD

You know what they say: teamwork makes the theme work.

Our theme for ON Con 2019, was Change Agents in the Evolving Workplace. And despite what the robots may have us believe, companies that continue to invest in strengthening human collaboration will be the ones that lead us in the future.

Because Ninjas tend to touch all corners of their company, they are uniquely positioned to be powerful collaborative change agents as the workplace evolves — not like that’s news to our attendees.

I forgot just how much I love tapping into my creative side and collaborating with a team to solve a problem and to pitch a product I believe in! I shared my group’s idea with my boss — we might consider creating a code to develop/integrate ours into an app!
— Ali B., Executive Assistant, Frederick, MD

Want more opportunities to collab with Ninjas? Take part in an Admingling near you!

A Day of Collective Intelligence

Meeting and collaborating with Ninjas IRL from all over the U.S. was a highlight for me. Some of us know each other from other social admin connections and to match names to faces is priceless! — Barb G., Virtual Office/Operations Manager, Silicon Valley

I find a lot of energy and confirmation spending so much time with peers, especially in a fun, Admingling setting. Never doubt our peers — their knowledge is unending! — Sherry S., Senior Executive Assistant to CEO, Denver

I walked away with actionable goals that I can’t wait to discuss with my manager and team. I foresee myself bringing some of these sessions to other OMs in my company. — Zoila P., Industry Partner | Technology + Office Manager, Los Angeles

Community sharpens you! As the only admin in my office, I find it hard to relate to a lot of my team. It is SO refreshing to have a community of the best of the best to collaborate with, and be able to say, “I feel that way, too!” — Ali B., Executive Assistant, Frederick, MD

One of my fellow Ninjas reminded us to figure out what we love and do more of it. I spent an hour of my flight home thinking about what I am most passionate about career-wise and figuring out ways to integrate more of that into my role! — Ali B., Executive Assistant, Frederick, MD

Collective intelligence is something we talk about a lot at OfficeNinjas. It’s a core value of our organization and what makes this community so strong. It goes like this: no matter where you sit in your administrative career, you have knowledge and expertise that is uniquely valuable to your peers. And you should share it!

Our year-round Admingling event series (currently in 12 major cities across the U.S.!) was designed with this purpose in mind. And at ON Con, we presented our first global Admingling — a short taster experience, led by eight fantastic Ninja hosts from around the country.

I met several Ninjas with experience working for different company sizes and industry types. There was a wealth of information around me and I found it really inspiring to hear other people’s opinions and stories. You could easily arrive with a load of questions and find people willing to share.
— Angela P., Office Manager, San Francisco

A HUGE thank you to our Admingling Taster Ninja hosts:

  • Caitlin Cuesta, Executive Assistant & Office Manager, Lightstream, Chicago
  • Crystal Le, Admin + Ads Delivery, Facebook, Silicon Valley
  • Grace Pollert, Senior Office Manager, Intouch Group, Chicago
  • Jennifer Sharma, Operations Manager, Angaza, San Francisco
  • Kaitlan Norrod, Executive Assistant, Superhuman, San Francisco
  • Meg Maurer, Executive Assistant, Index Ventures, San Francisco
  • Sarah Dunbar, Manager of Business Initiatives, Crestone Capital, LLC, Denver
  • Sherry Shibly, Sr Executive Assistant to CEO, Coffee & Bagel Brands, Denver

Want to bring your local perspective to our event planning process? Sign up to become an OfficeNinjas volunteer!

A Day of All-Star Advice

The All-Star panel was very rewarding and everyone presented very well. I appreciate the light-hearted responses and truth shared among Ninjas. — Sherry S., Senior Executive Assistant to CEO, Denver

The All-Star panel was a conference highlight! SO MANY quotable nuggets! A fav from Verlance Friar: “My job is to solve the need my exec needs before he knows he needs it.” — Barb G., Virtual Office/Operations Manager, Silicon Valley

It was so fulfilling and rewarding being able to share the stage with some amazing (read: badass) All-Stars! Each one of us is so unique and full of different knowledge and experiences. I would have loved to listen and answer questions all afternoon! — Nicki B., Office Manager, Chicago

Being on that stage with such empathetic, thought-provoking fellow All-Stars is an experience I will NEVER forget. — Zoila P., Industry Partner | Technology + Office Manager, Los Angeles

It was such an incredible experience getting to share the stage with a star-studded group of Ninjas! While others might think we have our careers all together — the reality is, we are still looking for the best Ninja secrets, too! I think that community is a Ninja’s best secret weapon! — Ali B., Executive Assistant, Frederick, MD

Remember those life long friends I mentioned earlier? This is them. — Zoila P., Industry Partner | Technology + Office Manager, Los Angeles

What happens when you bring five OfficeNinjas All-Stars together on one stage? Powerful insights, storytelling from the trenches, and a touch of magic.

In this one-of-a-kind discussion panel, 2018 and 2019 All-Stars shared their experiences on the future workplace, expanding their roles, and strategies for personal growth.

Selecting articulate, energetic, intelligent advocates and leaders from our profession for a panel talk was the perfect end to the conference. I love the advice and the passion they provided.
— Sarah D., Manager of Business Initiatives, Denver

Get to know our All-Star Panelists:

  • Ali Berger, 2019 All-Star and Executive Assistant, Orases, Frederick, MD
  • Nicki Bartels, 2018 All-Star and Office Manager, Environmental Systems Design, Inc., Chicago
  • Mimy Wraspir, 2018 All-Star and Executive Assistant + Office Manager, Lattice Engines, Silicon Valley
  • Verlance Friar, 2018 All-Star and Office Vibe Manager, Kiva, San Francisco
  • Zoila Primo, 2019 All-Star and Industry Partner | Technology + Office Manager, Aquent, Los Angeles

Want more All-Star goodness? Check out our interviews with each of our 2019 All-Stars, fresh off the presses! And visit the All-Star Hall of Fame for wisdom from our 2015-2018 All-Star alumni.

A Day of Gratitude

A BIG thank you to every Ninja who joined us on this special day. We truly appreciate your excitement, participation, and feedback — we couldn’t do it without you.

For a complete play-by-play of ON Con, browse the complete photo album.

Did you attend ON Con? What was your favorite moment?!

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OfficeNinjas gives recognition to the administrative role by supporting and growing a community of executive assistants, office managers, and operations pros. OfficeNinjas brings these “Ninjas” tech resources, educational content, vetted vendor recommendations, and modern in-person events.

Comments

  1. Zoila Primo
     

    Listen – I’ve attended more conferences than I care to admit, and this is the FIRST one that I’m still gushing about a week later. What you’ve created is incredible, and I can not WAIT to see how much more amazing it becomes as the years progress. Thank you OfficeNinjas for all that you do!!

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