As 2020 begins, this marks the start of my third year as a full-time business owner, AdminUniverse™ and ACE. As a new entrepreneur, I must admit that I am a bit jittery about the year ahead, asking myself “will I be ready for the success that awaits me?”
In 2019 I began the year by setting the foundation for growth, something as an Executive Assistant, I hadn’t been tasked with before. I along with my partner and husband, Allan, developed the plan and began working it using our corporate mission as the guide.
But without the trust and support of clients, vendors and business alliances we could not have accomplished our goals delivering elite training, administrative recruiting and growing our ACE peer-to-peer network.
We’re setting our goals for 2020 even higher and are excited to see what the year will bring and hope you’ll be a part of it.
Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!
Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA
President, Master Trainer and Author
Administrative Assistants sometimes get to work for the world’s best boss; other times, not so much. “Bad boss behavior” can range anywhere from temperamental and demanding to scary and downright inappropriate. One key to be a consummate Administrative Professional is knowing how to deal graciously with a wide range of personality types, as well as knowing how to respond if someone crosses a line. Often, popular culture can be a great teacher, so let’s look at 5 scary bosses from the movies and television to see what we might learn.
Franklin Hart, Jr. (9 to 5)
This film plays like an early case study in workplace feminism. Ultra-sexist boss Franklin Hart, Jr. (played by Dabney Coleman) is so distasteful that when three female office workers kidnap him and restrain him in his own home, his absence from the office goes largely unnoticed for weeks. Meanwhile, the ladies take the opportunity to implement some positive changes like equal pay, flexible work hours, an onsite day care and more. When Hart eventually returns to the office just in time for a surprise visit from the company chairman, he receives undue credit for the changes made in his absence—just before his boss sends him to oversee the Brazil branch of the company and promotes office supervisor Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin) to Hart’s old position.
POW (Point of Wisdom): Sometimes others get the credit for an admin’s efforts—but in the long run good ideas get noticed.
Avery Tolar (The Firm)
As the notorious-yet-respected top partner in a Mafia-owned law firm, Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman) is a frighteningly perfect blend of charm and menace. When up-and-coming attorney Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) discovers his boss’s corruption, Tolar shows there’s little he won’t do to make sure McDeere doesn’t talk—including hiring a woman to sleep with McDeere and using it to blackmail his employee.
POW: Charisma and status aren’t always the best litmus tests to know whether you have a good boss. Also, beware of unwarranted “gifts” and “favors” given, especially if your boss has something to hide.
We’ve all known this kind of boss in some capacity—the kind who loves to delegate to others without doing much of anything himself, and who manages to be like fingernails on chalkboard for no reason at all. In this film, Bill Lumbergh (played by Gary Cole) epitomizes the type of boss we typically love to hate.
POW: As an Administrative Professional, you may work for a boss that either just gets under your skin or seems to delegate more work than is necessary. In such cases, you might do well to let it roll off for a while, especially if you’re in a firm with room for advancement. (“Annoying” isn’t typically a reportable offense.)
Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada)
Meryl Streep’s performance is nearly flawless as fashion magazine head honcho Miranda Priestly, seamlessly blending chic sophistication with deadpan rudeness and verbal abuse aimed primarily at her Assistant, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). As the film progresses, Andy gets a glimpse behind the veil at the fractures in Priestly’s life that help make her who she is—and in the process of achieving a line of nearly impossible tasks (including one deliberately meant to break her), Andy discovers an empowerment in herself that she didn’t know she had.
POW: Sometimes working for a difficult boss pays off in unseen dividends like fresh confidence and honed skills.
Buddy Ackerman (Swimming with Sharks)
Kevin Spacey is so mean and nasty as boss man Buddy Ackerman that when tortured employee Rex (Frank Whaley) kidnaps Buddy and proceeds to torture him, we’re practically cheering him on. Indeed, the film sort of serves as a fantasy fulfillment of what many of us wish we could do to our mean bosses—but instead, we are relegated to voyeurism.
POW: You might feel like kidnapping and torturing a mean boss sometimes—but resist the urge. Most workplaces do have a chain of process for dealing with truly abusive bosses, and that’s a much smarter move for your career in the long run.
Halloween is a fun opportunity to showcase your personality and creativity at work among your co-workers, and a fun way to bring everyone together. You’re either one of two people – the type who knows exactly what they want to wear, or the other who is left scratching their head nearly up to the last minute. Wherever you are in your costume planning stages, there are some things to consider when putting together your masterpiece. You certainly want to avoid looking unprofessional, so we’ve compiled some tips for dressing up at work below.
POW #1 – Ask Your Executive
Make sure to ask supervisors about what is expected of employees, especially if you are new to the office. Your workplace might either have strict rules or be completely relaxed – but you don’t want to be the last one to know.
Similarly, make sure to ask your co-workers what the culture of your company is like on Halloween. Fellow employees are probably the only ones who will warn you if people tend to opt out.
POW #2 Keep it Practical
If you can’t sit down, walk comfortably, or perform any of the basic functions needed to do your job, you should pick a new look. You’ll also want to stick with your company’s dress code and avoid unsafe clothing. For example, if you’re generally not allowed to wear open-toed shoes to work for safety reasons, follow that rule when choosing your costume.
And it’s not just your personal safety that you should look out for. Avoid wearing costumes that include excess body paint, fake blood, or any other transferable coloring. You should have fun on Halloween, but not at the expense of staining office furniture.
POW #3 Check the Agenda
Once you know what’s acceptable to wear, take a look at your calendar. If you have a big meeting, have a customer coming in or have any other major work plans the day of Halloween, you’re better off skipping a costume. If you must be festive, try a fun accessory or bold makeup look instead.
POW #4 Bring a Change of Clothes
You might not have any appointments scheduled on Halloween, but that doesn’t mean that something won’t come up. Just in case, bring a change of clothes with you to work. After all, you don’t want to get an unexpected office visit while wearing a clown costume, or something equally absurd. To really err on the safe side, you could create a DIY costume using your regular work clothes.
POW #5 Be Sensitive to Others
Fake blood might highly disturb some employees. A joke that seems funny to you might come across as insensitive to a co-worker. Any costumes that include crude jokes, foul language, harsh political views, or are meant to imitate or mock fellow employees should be avoided as a result. Besides, they’re generally not acceptable in work settings to begin with.
Most importantly, you should remain sensitive to all cultures, even if you don’t think they’re represented in your office. Even if the costumes are soldat major retailers, that doesn’t mean they’re acceptable to wear. If you’re questioning whether or not your costume portrays a cultural stereotype, you’re better off not wearing it at all.
POW #6 No Fake Weapons
A wide range of costumes — from arrow-slinging superheroes to baseball bat-carrying characters of “The Walking Dead” — require weapon-like props.
In today’s society, workplace violence is all too common and makes carrying realistic props into work a bad idea. People should be able to figure out what your costume is without a fake weapon. If they can’t, it’s worth picking a new costume entirely.
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.
Admins juggle a lot of responsibilities and are constantly organizing the flow around the office – in particular to their Executive. Think about all the ways we plan for our Executives, from their daily agendas, to the outlines for their meetings, when they will speak to whom – even what office supplies to use. A mark of a phenomenal EA is how well they manage their executive – it should really leave everyone wondering, “who is the boss?”.
Administrative Assistants are the unsung heroes of the business world – truly they are. They spend tireless amounts of time and effort deciphering the expectations and communications from their executives and creating solutions to keep everything running smoothly. Once an executive learns about the value that their admin already brings to the table, they can begin to strengthen their relationship strategically to create a powerhouse team of success!
We loved an article we found from Adam Hergenrother, founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies. In the article he recalls an, “Ah-ha!” moment in which he ended up needing to have a very real and honest conversation with his Chief of Staff about her need to grow in her career and whether it was possible to do so at their company. Adam deeply appreciated the honesty that she brought into the conversation, as well as the desire she expressed to stay in the company if at all possible. What Adam realized was that her ability to come to him early and honestly, instead of waiting until she was at her breaking point, spoke volumes about the type of relationship they had.
Adam also realized that he wanted to grow their relationship into the type that would be able to provide her with the tools, resources and experience she needed to excel in her career. He outlined 5 Ways to Build a Strategic Partnership with Your Admin, which we will elaborate on below:
Give Up Control
An executive must allow their Executive Assistant (EA) to shine. It’s not always easy, especially when building your relationship with a new EA, but that’s exactly what the role is intended for – to take tasks off your plate. EAs shine brightest when they have the flexibility to get the job done their way – which is usually the right way. A talented EA will manage you to a point that will allow you to focus on your priorities in the company – a winning strategy!
Bring Them Into Your Inner Circle
Being able to see an EA as an extension of themselves is a great advantage for an executive. When an executive keeps their EA tentatively on the sidelines, it not only communicates mistrust, but it keeps the EA from being able to think like the executive and ultimately, make decisions as they would. The more an EA knows about their executive, how their mind works and what is going on in their world, the more effective their decisions will be. The more the executive trusts the EA’s decision-making, the more the executive can relax and focus on growing the business.
Keeping an EA in the dark never did anyone an ounce of good. The first step is to choose a communication tool that works best for BOTH parties – Slack, Google Hangouts, etc. – and allow each other the freedom to ask any questions and share any pertinent business information. Set weekly meeting times to ensure that you are touching base on the big picture consistently. In person communication is great as well, but we all know how busy some weeks can get and it’s easy to let the time get away from you!
Set Clear Goals, Expectations and Wins
Adam said it best, “how do they know they are winning with you?”. Just as you would create quantifiable goals with other departments (sales, marketing, etc.), executives should be communicating clear expectations for what is expected of the EA and where they need to be. Clear goals help people to know when they are ready to take the next step forward, and when to evaluate and reevaluate. Creating a “reward system” to incentivize the EA is another wonderful component to ensure that the EA is feeling valued and encouraged to keep up the moment that drives your team toward success.
Make Building Trust a Priority
The key component at the end-of-the-day, is trust. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it should certainly be a goal. Once trust is established in the relationship between the executive and the EA, they can both breathe a sigh of relief and move full speed ahead into their separate roles. Trust creates the foundation for a lasting and valuable business relationship between and EA and executive.
One of the best ways to keep up with trends in business is to follow the “Who’s Who” in your industry. This is a great use of social media, from a business research perspective. Many of the “Influencers” on social media are also entrepreneurs and business owners – highly successful ones at that. It is worth taking a moment to search for the Influencers in your industry to take a look at the information provide. It is a commonly overlooked resource due to the fact that most Influencers are mainly on social media, but do not make the mistake of identifying how these SME (Subject Matter Experts) can be utilized to further your knowledge of the industry.
The knowledge and insight that select Influencers have to provide is notable enough that top publications such as Forbes and Hubspot have even created content about them. We took a look at the best Influencers to follow and picked 5 of the best in business from a fantastic list that Grin had curated.
Gary Vaynerchuk is an American entrepreneur known for skyrocketing his family wine business within the first five years. He realized the power of online influence much earlier and transformed his family’s wine company into the first wine ecommerce platform.
The international celebrity is the chairman of New York based VaynerX, a media and communications holding company and VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency.Gary is also an investor in many ventures like Twitter, Snapchat, Uber, and others. He also hosts a YouTube docu-series and a podcast.
Born in the former USSR, Gary is a very influential public speaker, a 5-time New York Times bestselling author and has been featured in many important publications.
Arianna Huffington is an international media personality who founded the award-winning news platform, The Huffington Post. She stepped down from her post as a President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group in October 2016 to launch Thrive Global. Thrive Global is a startup company dedicated to health and wellness.
She has been recognized by various media outlets, appearing on The Guardian’s “Top 100 in Media List” and Forbes’ “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” This business influencer has written many articles and authored 15 books. The famous entrepreneur, mother, author, and speaker is known for maintaining success and balance in all of her business ventures.
Known as “SmallBizLady,” small business expert, Melinda Emerson, is a well-known American entrepreneur. This small business influencer is also a professional speaker, social media strategist, and small business coach.
Motivated by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, Inc., Melinda left her television career to pursue her business dream and created an award-winning production company. As the CEO and founder of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda has worked for big names like Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Comcast, and others.
Melinda hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter, SmallBizChat that discusses everything about launching and running a profitable small business. The veteran entrepreneur has numerous awards and accolades to her credit. She has authored two books and written many social media articles.
Marie Forleo is an American entrepreneur, writer, life coach, and motivational speaker. She is also the host of MarieTV, a web television series.This passionate woman is also the owner of Marie Forleo International, and B-School. The lifestyle expert teaches smart business marketing strategies and conducts dynamic training programs for business owners and individuals.
The young business influencer, through her free and paid programs, offers advice on succeeding in business and life. She is dedicated to helping people reach their full potential and achieve their dreams. She has also been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and Tony Robbins. And she has counseled young business owners at Richard Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa.
Sallie Krawcheck is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a digital investment advisory platform for women aimed at encouraging women to invest. Known as the most powerful woman on Wall Street, Krawcheck is known for turning around sinking businesses and growing them.
She has authored the best-selling book, “Own It: The Power of Women at Work,” and has written several columns for Reuters and The Huffington Post, among others. This business influencer has made numerous appearances on CNBC and is quite active on social media with almost 57k followers on Twitter.
Think about how you add value to your role. How is it that you go above and beyond your duties as an Administrative Professional to keep your executive informed? We all know the chaos that can ensue during certain parts of the year. Your executive has so much to juggle – the very reason our role exists in the first place – so being able to keep up on the trends and become a SME (Subject Matter Expert) is a phenomenal way to evolve into higher positions.
The question you may be asking is; How do I become a Subject Matter Expert? How do I keep up with the trends? We did some digging around and one of our favorite publications, Business Insider, had some great insight about where to get started and how to incorporate this self-education into your routine.
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.
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.