5 Badass Assistant Scenes from Movies and TV — and What We Can Learn from Them


In real life, being an executive assistant can sometimes be a thankless job. Assistants often work behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly and effortlessly, and their work often goes unnoticed—but of course, the office would be lost if they weren’t doing their jobs. And every so often, an assistant comes into the spotlight and actually gets to save the day. 

In this case, television and the movies are often our greatest teachers. Let’s explore five TV and movie scenes in which an assistant truly acted like a badass, to see what we can learn.

Grosse Pointe Blank: Marcella Takes Down the Office 

Even hit men need assistants. Joan and John Cusack are siblings in real life, but in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Joan plays Marcella, the loyal office manager of assassin Martin Blank (John Cusack), and she keeps the office running smoothly while Martin takes care of the, um, dirty work. Marcella proves she’ll do anything to have Martin’s back, including burning down the office to cover their tracks during a pivotal scene.

POW (Point of Wisdom): The comedy in this film stems from the fact that the characters act as though it’s business as usual, even while the nature of their business is criminal. But going the extra mile still pays off, as demonstrated by the bonus Marcella receives at the end. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Gina Rescues the Internet 

In the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Chelsea Peretti plays Gina Linetti, the precinct’s deadpan civilian administrator. Even when she goes away on maternity leave, the office can’t do without her for long. In the Season 5 episode “Game Night,” the arrogant Cyber Crimes unit moves into the 2nd floor office of the building and hogs so much Internet bandwidth that the precinct office can’t function, prompting the staff to visit Gina at home to ask for help. All it takes is a few minutes of snooping for Gina to come up with enough kompromat to convince the head of Cyber to back down.

POW: Assistants don’t always get acknowledged while they’re working, but we certainly notice when they’re not there.

Iron Man: Pepper Potts “Handles the Details” 

Before Pepper Potts married Tony Stark, she was his assistant, often taking care of details outside the office as well as within it. In the first Iron Man (2008), Potts (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) operates quietly behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly despite Stark’s playboy lifestyle. In a particularly notable scene, after Stark’s one-night stand with reporter Christine Everheart, Potts shows up, informing Christine that her clothes have been dry cleaned and a car is waiting outside. When Christine quips that “Tony still has you picking up the dry cleaning,” Potts doesn’t bat an eye: “I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including, occasionally, taking out the trash.” 

POW: Of course, we understand this “extracurricular activity” is inappropriate (this is fiction, after all); but it’s Potts’ quiet loyalty, as well as her willingness to stand up to Stark when necessary, that eventually brings him to his senses.

The Office: Pam Beasly Saves the Dundies

Most of us remember Pam Beasly (played by Jenna Fisher) as the mild-mannered love interest of Jim Halpert. Their interoffice romance is now the stuff of legend. But first and foremost, Pam was the office receptionist and Michael Scott’s assistant, and she knew how to handle him better than most. In the first episode of Season 2 (“The Dundies”), when Michael begins to flounder at the employees’ disinterest in his “Dundie” awards ceremony at Chili’s, Pam rescues the moment by cheering him on and rallying the employees to do the same. Her own classic line during her acceptance speech after receiving the “Whitest Sneakers” award: “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.” Not a bad save, considering Pam was completely smashed by that point in the evening.

POW: Employers are human, too, and as such they are frail. Sometimes the best thing an assistant can do is offer a little encouragement.

Mad Men: Peggy Olsen Climbs the Ladder

Peggy Olsen, played by Elisabeth Moss, has perhaps the most dramatic character arc in the beloved Mad Men series. Her bad-assery comes not in a single moment, but in a long line of moments as she finds her way from wide-eyed junior secretary to the first woman copywriter in the firm, climbing the corporate ladder in the face of a male-dominated, sexist culture, and eventually being able to stand toe-to-toe with her reluctant mentor, Don Draper.

POW: Never let your position define your potential.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

Discovering Your Self Worth


Discovering Your Self Worth Blog
The value of where you are and what it will take to move to the next level in career and income.

Every person reaches a point where they are evaluating what their worth may be and what it will take to get to the next level in their personal life or career. Introspection is important, especially when it comes to creating goals and planning out how to move up in their role. Administrative Professionals constantly find themselves in this position, seeking out ways to leverage their experience and skillset to gain promotions throughout their career. 

To realize your self worth, you must be able to build confidence in your strengths and in your ability to overcome your obstacles. This foundational attitude is vital in your journey to evolving throughout your career. According to Positive Psychology, there are 4 Factors in determining your worth. Once you have been able to zero in on these 4 factors, it will be easier to perform a self-evaluation and develop a strategy to increase your worth in the areas that need the most attention. 

Appearance

Determining the value of your appearance is not as superficial as it sounds. This is about how well you take care of yourself and what perception colleagues may have of you in a professional sense. Do you dress to the standard of the business, and even further – do you dress for the role that you wish to obtain?  Take a step back to look at how you present yourself in a business setting, even down to the smallest details of basic aesthetics and hygiene. You don’t need to look like you just stepped off the runway (unless, maybe, you work in the fashion industry and like The Devil Wears Prada you are required to prove your un-dying commitment to the fashion industry), but you do need to be aware of what you are communicating through your appearance. 

Connections

Life is all about relationships, especially in the business world. Why do you think such an emphasis is put onto networking events? Making the right connections is vital. You never know where a connection may lead, or when you may need it. Make it a point to develop a good working relationship with everyone you meet. When evaluating the value of your connections, think about the people who have moved you along the furthest, who has the potential to expand your opportunities and your circle, and who has been emotionally present to provide great advice. Some strong connections will be extremely obvious, while others are the silent heroes in the background. 

Where you have worked/ Your career

As a Professional Admin, your past experiences play quite extensively into your future. No matter what jobs you may have held before your role as an admin, you can always pick out skills, situations and lessons that you brought along with you into your role. Think about all the different skills you need to perform your daily duties – scheduling, organizing information, connecting with people, creating events, counseling peers, problem solving, sense of urgency, professionalism, etc. Break down everything that you do during the day and think about the past experiences that have helped you to perform to the best of your abilities. How will these experiences, as well as your current ones, help you in the future to evolve to a higher role?

What you achieve

We frequently use achievements to determine someone’s worth (whether it’s our own worth or someone else’s), such as success in business, scores on the SATs, or placement in a marathon or other athletic challenge. For this you may consider what you have achieved not only in your present role, but throughout your life. What do those accomplishments say about you, your work ethic, and the value you bring to your workplace? Achievements communicate that we had the vision and gumption to reach goals and gain notoriety. Whether it was your spelling bee in middle school, or your employee-of-the-month this year, look back on what you have accomplished in your life and be proud. 

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

Leadership Styles That Work


Aligning with the servant leadership mentality

In any given role, there is potential to become a leader; influence is not restricted to the Executives. As an Administrative Professional, you already have your hands in a multitude of projects and you possess an ever-growing collection of knowledge and information. It is only natural to grow within this role, using your specific skill set and entrepreneurial spirit to lead those around you. 

Servant Leadership is a philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. It is a powerful and humble form of leadership that results in connecting to those in your workplace and strengthening the trust and morale. We explored an article in Forbes, Adopting a Servant Leadership Mentality in 2019, and brought over the 4 Points of Wisdom (POWs) to becoming an effective Servant Leader.

POW 1 – Leading with Values

Take a moment to reflect on the situations, environments, and people who have influenced your values, and what exactly those values are. When it comes to places that you have worked, who were the most memorable people who conveyed a sense of empathy and where did it lead you? Even further, have those conversations with other people about their favorite work environment and what those leaders did to create a positive space. 

Discovering what team members value in a work environment is important to create a workplace that is conducive to happiness and productivity. Consistently inquire about how individuals in your team are feeling and what is causing those feelings – both good or bad. Keeping an eye open to what drives your team forward is the best way to serve them. 

POW 2 – Using Reflection to Lead

Where you have come from is pertinent data to uncover the key components of your success. Look back at the obstacles you have overcome and where it has led you. Use your past experiences to help prioritize what will lead your team to success. Forbes suggests using start, stop and continue” exercises with your team, to discover what practices you must start doing to stay on the path to success – as well as effective practices that you should continue implementing, and which ineffective habits should be stopped. Leading your team to pause and evaluate what is working and what is not is a practice that will have endless benefits. 

POW 3 – Opening the Johari Window

This technique, The Johari Window, is a simple and useful tool for understanding your own self-awareness and improving communications and group dynamics with others. It includes four quadrants, of which information is:

  • Known to others, and known to self (Open Area)
  • Known to self, but not known to others (Hidden Area)
  • Known to others, but not known to self (Blind Spot)
  • Not known to others, and not known to self (Unknown)

The Johari exercise helps put into perspective how you work and communicate with others and how you continue to improve and build trust with your team. When you focus on the needs of your team, you will continue to deliver success through the inputs they provide. By opening the window, you let others in to help you continue to learn and grow, which provides more opportunity to deliver and execute in a cohesive way that benefits all.

POW 4 – Embrace volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), and flip it

With stress and all the emotions running high in our workplaces these days, it is common for VUCA to rear its ugly head. Beware the anxiety that will lead to bad decisions, indecisiveness and all the fear that follows.  

To combat VUCA, you have to be able to move along with it – go with the flow and embrace it. Use it to your advantage and flip it. Utilize these observations as a way to pinpoint problematic areas and acknowledge them with your team so you can all work together to tackle the goals and regain the balance. This will provide an example for when individuals on your team experience this VUCA in their own projects. It comforts them to feel understood and that there is no need to feel hopeless when there is a strong and supportive team around them. 

The bottom line is learning how to understand and reset the fears of your team and turn them into opportunity. When faced with danger, we all react and stress. A servant leader does also, but they are thinking about the team and not themselves. A servant leader sets the way by thinking about themselves second and their people first.

“Ultimately, when you serve others, they will serve you. That’s servant leadership. – Kristy McCann, Forbes”

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

7 Amazing Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace


7 Amazing Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
A dream for some Administrative Professionals and reality for others.

From an Administrative Professional’s perspective, it is hard to visualize culture change, especially in a position with limited authority – yet every voice matters. Cultural diversity in the workplace is when companies are open to hiring employees from all sorts of different backgrounds regardless of race, religion, culture and educational institutions. When companies recruit and retain a diverse pool of people, it brings about various benefits to the company as well as its employees.

Though there are numerous benefits, diversity in the workplace doesn’t come without its challenges. As the Administrative Professional, you have a unique vantage point to communicate and unite the team members and foster collaboration in the workplace. 

Read more7 Amazing Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Show Intolerance the Way Out


Show Intolerance the way out
3 key ways Admins can use respect and empathy to drive performance and create a positive work environment

Any organization’s ability to thrive depends greatly on people being willing and able to work well together. How well your team members share ideas, engage in robust debates and make decisions influences the extent to which full potential is realized. How people learn and move forward together is fundamental to your organization’s ability to survive and thrive. 

Read moreShow Intolerance the Way Out

Taking Special Notice


5 Ways to Make Sure Your Workplace is Being Inclusive of People with Disabilities
5 Ways to Make Sure Your Workplace is Being Inclusive of People with Disabilities

With all the conversations arising about embracing diversity and working towards a welcoming and inclusive environment in the workplace, the discussion about people with disabilities on the workforce has yet to receive as much attention as its counterparts. 

Despite this information proving that those with disabilities create the largest minority group in the country, many companies are still ignorant about learning who these people are and how to create a work environment that fosters inclusion and productivity. In an effort to help Executives and fellow Administrative Professionals to guide their workplace into a better position of hiring and retaining people with disabilities, here are 9 Points of Wisdom (POWs) that you can take:

Read moreTaking Special Notice

Weaving a Workplace Tapestry


 

6 Ways to Embrace and Welcome Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

As Administrative Professionals, we are required to be leaders in communication and interpersonal savvy throughout the workplace. Interacting with a multitude of different personalities, communication styles, backgrounds and cultures is to be expected, so naturally we must set an example to help others communicate and work well with those around them. First, we must make certain that we have sharpened our skills to best connect and communicate with our team. Cultural Competence is arguably one of the most valuable skills for efficient workplace performance. But what does it mean to have cultural diversity in the workplace? Culture refers to the 7 Essentials of Workplace Cultural Competence: the values, norms, and traditions that affect the way a member of a group typically perceives, thinks, interacts, behaves, and makes judgments. It even affects perceptions of time, which can impact day-to-day scheduling and deadlines.

Read moreWeaving a Workplace Tapestry

Admin Learning From Each Other


AU - Admins Learning from Each other

6 Strategies to Nurture Peer Learning Practices

 

Peer learning has become extremely popular in academic settings, but how does it work among the office? Well, pretty much the same way. Creating an environment where Administrative Assistant team members are comfortable to ask each other for help and in turn, help each other, is going to completely evolve your workplace in terms of morale and productivity. How can you do this? This works best when you have teams collaborating on the same project, or have a common goal in mind, but once it is part of your office culture, you will see it manifest in even daily tasks. Here are 6 Points of Wisdom (POW) that are essential to incorporate into your peer learning:

Read moreAdmin Learning From Each Other

3 Ideas to Start Peer Learning Within Your Admin Community


3 Ideas to Start Peer Learning Within Your Admin Community

No matter how big your company is, you can start a peer learning program without much investment. One of the strengths of this type of learning is that it can be done rather informally. Here are three things you can do to kickstart peer learning at your company:

Learning Lunches

Many companies have instituted a learn-at-lunch program, and you can organize one in just a few minutes. A learning lunch is simple: everyone in a group, department, or company gets together on a certain day to have lunch together (you can have the lunch catered or just ask everyone to bring something). During the lunch, one person presents on a topic of interest.

Read more3 Ideas to Start Peer Learning Within Your Admin Community

My Boss Doesn’t Like Me


Problems with aligning

Problems with Alignment in the Team

Some relationships just start out rocky. Maybe they misread a facial expression, or perhaps they just had a huge argument before they left the house that morning, and the residue is still on their attitude towards, well… everything. It seems that at certain points in life, we have all had that unfortunate experience of working with or for someone who just doesn’t seem to have any bit of desire to accept us, much less like us. However, in the business world, and especially in the workplace as an Administrative Professional, when these situations arise, it is a test of our patience as well as our skill set.

Read moreMy Boss Doesn’t Like Me