Conference and event keynotes, tailored to your needs

Donnelly-Shelagh-2018-Copyright-Shelagh-DonnellyEvent planners: Here’s a sampling of Shelagh’s keynote presentations, any of which she’ll happy customize for your conference or onsite training needs.

For details on any presentation, just click on the “+” sign alongside the topic title. To collapse a presentation abstract, just click “-“.


You give a lot to your career, but are you investing your energies in the right direction? Many assistants are known for a tendency toward perfectionism. Of course you want to be known for the quality of your work, but you may more effectively meet everyone’s needs if you approach this from a basis of nurturing your own resilience. Join this recovering perfectionist for a look at prioritising resilience as a means to both high performance and career satisfaction!

  • Why the question for perfection?
  • How nurturing your resilience helps drive high performance
  • The impact of networks on your resilience.
Have you ever wondered why great things seem to simply fall into place for some people, while your contributions and efforts sometimes seem to go unnoticed when it comes to opportunities and promotions? The reality is that opportunities rarely simply fall into a person’s lap, even if you’re good at what you do. This goes to the adage that’s attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, back in the first century AD: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Assistants often excel at advocating for others and taking care of their principals’ (bosses’) needs, but may not be quite so comfortable when it comes to advocating for themselves. Whether you're an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, you can create your own luck by learning how to prepare for opportunities.

Perhaps you'd like more recognition or greater satisfaction in the role you currently hold. You may have your eye on preparing for future opportunities. Either way, you are responsible for your own career satisfaction and success. It’s not up to anyone else. If you want to ensure you’re taking charge of your career, this session is for you.

  • Self-promotion is a learned skill, and it's not only for extroverts
  • How to get the recognition you deserve through increased visibility
  • Strategies to distinguish yourself and create your own luck
  • You have a goal? Think like an executive; use metrics to support your business case
Before she began interviewing and sharing Real Careers insights from high performing assistants around the globe on her website, Shelagh built an impressive EA career of her own.

What you may not know is that she’s walked away from more than one otherwise fantastic opportunity on the basis of either “fit” or the priority she attached to spending time with her young family.

Not all careers follow steadily upward trajectories and, in her thirties, Shelagh rebooted hers. She went from supporting those at the top of the org chart and working as a corporate editor and trainer in her twenties to re-entering the administrative career more than a few rungs down the corporate ladder. Not long after, she found herself leading a team of staff in conflict. She ultimately worked her way back up to roles in which she was accountable to CEOs and a board of directors.

Join Shelagh for a frank and inspirational discussion of the challenges, opportunities and even some personalities she’s encountered along the way – and lessons learned. You’ll learn about the mantra she adopted when dealing with difficult people, the significance of fit, and the merits of building your career around your personal life rather than the other way around.

  • How to lead: influencing without authority
  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Assessing career opportunities: there's more than compensation to consider
Brand is simply another word for reputation; it reflects the image and perceptions people have of you. However you refer to it, your brand or reputation shapes your career and so you need to pay attention. You also need to be authentic.

We regularly turn to mirrors to check how we physically present ourselves to the world, but how often do we assess and nurture our brands? The way you dress and look are a couple of elements, but there’s more to it. You also have the ability to enhance your influence or reduce your brand through the way you speak – to your peers, and to power.

Your brand impacts not only your career prospects; it also influences others’ perceptions of your principal (boss) and employer.

  • Understand how your brand impacts your career prospects
  • Assess the current state of your brand
  • Learn how image, attitude, credibility and social media impact your brand
  • Identify how to nurture and own both your brand and your career
Is life-work balance a myth in your experience, or something that’s achieved in spurts? Assistants make careers out of supporting other peoples’ successes, sometimes to their own detriment. They often work extended hours in the office, at home, or sometimes during their commutes.

If you routinely check email, texts and other business communications even when you're on vacation or under the weather, you may be doing yourself a disservice with your digital habits.

Does that same commitment to being "on" also lead you to overextend yourself on the job even though your principal (boss) doesn't expect or even know about all those extra hours you put in? Do those long hours translate to peak performance, or to a tired, stressed-out assistant?

While there are certainly roles that couldn’t be accomplished without inordinate hours, sometimes assistants place unreasonable expectations on their own shoulders. That can impact an individual’s resilience, which in turn impacts job performance. Whether or not you consider life-work balance a realistic goal, you can increase your resilience with a mindful approach. When resilience is nurtured, that’s good for you and good for business. With increased resilience, you're likely to perform better and while at least tipping the scales toward a better sense of balance.

So what are some of the challenges in establishing and maintaining boundaries between business and personal lives? In this session, we’ll look at the quest for perfectionism as well as the office equivalent of FOMO, known as a fear of missing out. Shelagh will also challenge participants to identify boundaries between personal and business lives, and how to establish and maintain them.

  • Identify whether you’re sometimes over-invested in your work, and why
  • Be prepared to play “What if …”, to identify what would happen if you took steps to achieve a better balance between your personal and work lives
  • Identify boundaries you would like to establish, and how to articulate them

To have Shelagh contact you for a discussion of your needs, click here

Click here if you’d like to see what assistants, conference organizers and clients have to say about the training Shelagh delivers.

Shall we talk? To discuss your plans and needs, drop an email to or click here to send an online request.

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