Gratitude for this profession: Webathon Recap

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My heart is full of joy, respect, gratitude, and humility says Vickie Sokol Evans

What do you get when you bring together 58 world-renowned trainers and VIP guests covering 61 topics for 64 hours of learning over a three-day weekend with a global online audience of 708 attendees, plus countless memes promoting the event – including one with Archbishop Desmond Tutu?

Magic.

The date: 22-24 September 2017. The time: 8:00 AM Friday until 11:59 PM Sunday, London time.

Diana Brandl watching from her office

In my 20 years of professional training, I’ve never experienced anything like this. I, along with fellow trainers, speakers and attendees from all over the world grabbed our coffee, tea or cocktail (depending on our time zone) to watch 30-minute to hour-long courses and interviews around the clock.Assistants around the world and their teams were glued to their computers, tablets and smartphones for a once in a lifetime event called “The Webathon”, a fundraiser to help me win my battle with breast cancer. The event was hosted by Executive Secretary Magazine and organized by its incredibly talented team – who worked countless hours on top of a massively full workload.

Attendees watched around the clock on their devices

I was moved by my colleagues who created promotional videos leading up to the event and by the attendees and trainers who changed their Facebook profile photos with the tagline “We’re supporting Vickie Evans! Are You?”.  It’s quite a humbling experience to hear and see your name all over the place as the one in need, especially when you’ve dedicated your career to helping others and you’re a single parent accustomed to managing life on your own.It was riveting. It was inspiring. It was educational. As each session ended and the next one began, it became very clear how special and momentous this was. It brought me to tears, not only as the beneficiary of the event, which raised $25,000 to help pay for medical and other expenses, but as a former assistant and now trainer for assistants and their teams.

Attendees & trainers like Debbi Shaffer changed their Facebook profile pictures

I felt immense gratitude to VIP guests and friends Reggie Love, Libby Moore, Ann Hiatt, RoseMarie Terenzio, and Samantha Cox for their willingness to be interviewed and share their remarkable and inspiring stories with the world.I was moved by the number of trainers who took time out of their already busy life to develop, record, edit, re-record, re-write, and produce a session. Yes – fellow trainers – I know exactly what you had to go through to produce your video and I thank you for the time and anxiety and frustration you experienced during the process.

My heart was full of joy, respect, gratitude, and humility.

But it was when Florence Katono from Uganda appeared on the screen at 2AM here in Texas that stopped me in my tracks. I was at home on the couch recovering from surgery. My sister and three out-of-town friends were with me. Flo’s mere presence made us stop and intently listen to her as she performed a beautiful and dramatic poem. It wasn’t until 30 seconds in that I realized she had written it just for me.

Florence Katono delivered a moving poem

That’s when I lost it. I was in tears. I’m in tears now as I reminisce about that moment.

This profession is one of a kind. Every assistant, former assistant, and those who support assistants, like Lucy Brazier and her team of superstars, has a heart of gold. We are all here to be of service to others and what I and many people discovered that weekend in September is that when one of us is down, there are dozens around us ready to pick us back up.

Although this event exceeded my expectations, it was exactly the kind of fundraiser I wanted when Lucy asked me… “How can I help?”But the lesson here is that we must not be afraid to ask for help.

It was during a trip together in Philadelphia for Administrative Professional’s Week, that Lucy, Bonnie Low-Kramen and I tried to wrap our heads around my diagnosis and what to do next. I admit, I’m not great at asking for help. But I told Lucy that if there was going to be any fundraiser to help me with what’s ahead, it had to have a training component to it. I wanted the assistant community to get something in return for helping me during battle and recovery.

That inspired Lucy to produce The Webathon.

It’s never easy to ask for help. But what I learned is that it gives people – especially in this profession – great joy in being able to help. And it gives me great joy that so many benefitted from this experience.

For those who played a role in producing the event, thank you for your time, blood, sweat and tears to make it happen. For those who attended and supported the efforts, thank you for your kindness and generosity. And to all the prayer warriors out there, thank you for lifting me up during my battle.

Your support is the reason why I’m cancer free and on my way to a full recovery and getting back on the road again. I can’t wait to see you live and in person, so I can thank you and give you a great big hug for having my back.

Receiving support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his assistant Marlize Schneider

In the meantime, is anyone opposed to me giving Lucy a new title?

Lucy Brazier: The Profession’s Fairy Godmother

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Stay tuned to find out how you can access the courses delivered during The Webathon: visit www.executivesecretary.com/webathon.

To donate to Vickie’s ongoing recovery, visit http://www.audaciousdivas.org/vickie.html, hosted by Executive Assistant Debbi Shaffer, breast cancer survivor.

Link to Flo’s poem: https://youtu.be/-LvEydU4gLE

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About Author

Vickie Sokol Evans

Literally making the audiences’ jaws drop, Vickie Sokol Evans, author of the bestselling “100 Tips” series for both PC & Mac, teaches the world’s smartest people how to use their technology better. She's witty, sharp, pointed and knows more about how to get the most from Microsoft, Google and Apple productivity tools – teaching Assistants (and their teams) tricks to turn what usually takes hours into solutions that takes minutes, by learning how to use the programs to their full potential. She is a Microsoft Certified Trainer with over 20 certifications and founder of The Red Cape Company, headquartered in Austin, Texas. Vickie will be speaking at Executive Secretary LIVE in Atlanta 15-16 November 2019, Johannesburg, 28-29 February and London 27-28 March 2020. For further information and to book, visit www.executivesecretarylive.com

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