Invest in Yourself
By Cindy Powell, President and CEO, Bespoke Management and Technology Services LLC


Spring is in the air!   With the sunshine and warmer weather, I love this time of year, especially when I am finally able to head outside for my morning coffee!  More than any other time, this is the season that inspires and energizes.  Whether it’s the scurrying animals, returning flocks of birds, or the promise of full bloom flowers from the emerging buds; each spring morning coffee break is a great motivator.  Tapping into the rejuvenating powers of spring can help us all shake off the cobwebs of winter and to recover from the hectic pace of first quarter reporting, tax season, and the frequent challenge of starting new projects in each new year.   

Springtime morning coffee breaks can be especially helpful on work days, when day to day responsibilities can overshadow the need to be forward thinking and inspired.  Why not use this time to invest in ourselves and our careers, in purposeful and meaningful ways?   The IASA annual conference is a great time to “Invest In Yourself”, especially when you consider the amazing roster of speakers and career enhancing topics offered through the sessions sponsored by the Career Skills Development (CSD) wing of IASA’s Education Committee! 

The 2017 CSD sessions on offer are brimming with exciting topics and are being presented by a group of knowledgeable and thought-leading speakers of the highest caliber.  As you plan your conference schedule, and focus on the regulatory and technical updates you need for those day to day challenges of your job, don’t forget to also set aside some time to “Invest in Yourself”, by attending some of these exciting Career Skills sessions.  This year’s roster includes: 

•The popular CSD Super Session, presenting Dennis Snow, a retired Disney executive, who will bring us the story of how “Delivering World Class Customer Service” is magically accomplished by the corporation behind the iconic mouse. 

•In a workshop lead by IASA’s own iconic volunteer, Darin Raffitt, we will be learning how to “Find, Leverage and Maximize Your Social Profile”, during this year’s social media update. 

•Returning for an encore performance, former professional baseball player and motivational speaker Nobbie Lewandowski will encourage, inspire and entertain as he presents “Taking Yourself to The Next Level”, a discussion that will help build self-confidence and leave attendees a map for goal setting to achieve a successful life and career. 

•Eleni Kelakos, founder of The Eleni Group, an organization dedicated to “advocating for the human potential” will lead two sessions; “Perform at Your Peak:  Three Principals for Presence Under Pressure” and “Think Like and Actor, Speak Like a Pro”.  Drawing from her experiences as an actress in NYC, both of Eleni’s sessions will be about honing our own presentation skills to exude confidence, especially in high pressure situations. 

•The “Women in Leadership – Insights and Perspectives” panel discussion promises to be an exciting and thought provoking session led by Kathy Elwood, Ruth Estrich and Louise Zieman, all past IASA Presidents.  These remarkable women will show us how they have each achieved success in an industry that continues to evolve in the need for inclusive leadership of women in executive level positions.   

•Cheryl Morgan, one of two speakers from Travelers Insurance will be sharing insights about “Emotional Intelligence” and how it affects our interactions with colleagues and customers.  Cheryl will show us ways in which we can enhance our awareness of what is happing on the inside, as we navigate through challenges in the workplace.   

•Our second Travelers speaker, Fred Colon, is presenting both for the CFO Roundtable and for an CSD session open to all conference attendees.  Mr. Colon is a senior executive who has lead Travelers into a culture of “Inclusive Leadership”.  During the CSD session, he will be sharing his extensive knowledge and experience into how and why we should deliberately attract, retain, engage and develop employees from all cultures and backgrounds.   

•Leadership is always a hot topic for the CSD committee; so much so that for the past few years we have dedicated an entire track to the subject.  In addition to the must see “Inclusive Leadership” session, this year’s track brings many exciting topics presented by IASA members, all of whom have real world knowledge, experience and passion for their chosen topics.   Whether your point of view is drawn from your own leadership responsibilities, or because of a thirst for information as an emerging leader, “Invest in Yourself” by attending at least one of CSD’s leadership sessions: 

◦Innovation in Leadership:  Ways to Increase Effectiveness & Improve Efficiencies Among Teams” 

◦Value Driven Leadership” 

◦Hiring for a Changing Market:  Interview for Innovation 

◦Creating an Entrepreneurial Culture in and Existing Organization 

◦Mission Possible:  Strategies for Today’s Talent Challenges