Author: Bonnie Low-Kramen

Businesses are affected by crises and disasters all the time. Are you ready?

By Bonnie Low-Kramen for Smart CEO Magazine | April 2017

March 22, 2017: A car and knife attack takes place near the Houses of Parliament in London. April 2, 2017: A water avalanche in Colombia kills 254. April 3, 2017: A train explosion in Moscow kills 14.

These are just three of the most recent examples of crises or disasters that struck suddenly and had an impact on a great number of people. Does it not seem as if these events are happening more and more frequently? That’s because they are.

In addition to man-made crises such as the terror attacks in Paris, Brussels or at an Orlando nightclub, there is the ever-growing threat of natural disasters such as blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes.

As a CEO, you, your people and your company are vulnerable. The questions to be answered and planned for include:

  • Are you and your staff ready if a disaster strikes your company?
  • Do you have people traveling in the affected area? Can you reach them?
  • Does your staff have family in the affected area?

Assistants in companies are accustomed to handling crises of all shapes, sizes and intensity. It is your team’s business to expect the unexpected, but they need your full support. Remember that the crisis doesn’t have to be a full-out terrorist attack to cause chaos for businesses.

We have all learned some painful lessons since 9/11, and websites created by the Department of Homeland Security have been designed to help us run the what ifs and be prepared to the best of our ability.

So what if, or rather when, it happens again?

How you and your team can improve disaster readiness

  1. Learn from a survey of all staff members, asking their thoughts on your company’s readiness for both kinds of disasters (man-made and natural).
  2. Be sure you can reach your people by text and have emergency contact information for them, including phone numbers and email addresses.
  3. Urge your team to have hard-copy backups of key data in the event of a power outage.
  4. Review disaster equipment that you should have on hand in the office as well as in your cars and homes, which is specific to your particular area. Don’t leave this to chance. More people would have lived on 9/11 if they had had flashlights to navigate the pitch-black stairwells. Many companies have “go bags,” which contain emergency supplies for a situation where people have to leave the building suddenly. Batteries, a blanket, track phones, a power strip, an extra phone charger, bottled water, medicine, $200 in small currency and energy bars are examples of items in the bag.
  5. Create a team that includes the assistants to devise your company’s disaster plan. Where is the meeting area if people cannot get into the building?
  6. Remember fire drills in grade school? Run periodic drills with your team and distribute up-to-date information.
  7. For the sake of cybersecurity, be sure your IT team has a disaster plan in place that is shared with the whole staff. Devise a plan for password protection.
  8. Make “if you see something, say something” part of your company policy. The former co-worker of the Orlando nightclub shooter wishes he had spoken up.

Clearly, the time to create a disaster plan is when there is no problem — not in the middle of a crisis. The days of “It could never happen to us” are long over. It’s a whole new world.

Only you know whether your company is ready. If the answer is no, today is a great day to act.

Link to original article as published by SmartCEO Magazine

Closing the Gender Wage Gap: How to Earn What You Deserve | Ep. 23



Recorded in front of a live audience in London at the Executive Secretary LIVE conference, April 1, 2017.
Too many women around the world are seriously underpaid. One reason is that they have no idea what their jobs are worth. Another reason is that they are afraid to ask. Still another reason is that the subject of money has been forbidden and taboo for too long. But how to do that and then to make the case for more money? This is an issue that affects assistants in a very big way since 95-98% are women. Bonnie and Vickie break the silence and discuss real-life step-by-step strategies that have led to increases of thousands of dollars by assistants all over the world. You will learn how to negotiate your skill set, experience, and relationships into the compensation package that you deserve now and for the future and that will impact your daughters and granddaughters, sons and grandsons.


Bonnie & Vickie recording the podcast at ExecSecLIVE London
Vickie Sokol Evans & Bonnie Low-Kramen at ExecSecLIVE in London recording this podcast.

Related Links:

Book: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Video: Amy Cuddy on Body Language

Book: The Confidence Code by Katty Kay

Book: Knowing Your Value by Mika Brzezinski

Book: Presence by Amy Cuddy

Article about teenagers fired for demanding equal pay


Personal assistants: A busy executive’s most powerful secret weapon

It’s about freedom.

In my work as the personal assistant to Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis (“Moonstruck”), my goal every day was to free Olympia to do the things that only she could do. These included memorizing her lines, going for a costume fitting and working out with her yoga instructor. I did everything else and I did it for 25 years.

My job was about maximizing our 24 hours each day. This is what an assistant can do. In 2017, assistants aren’t only for celebrities. It is a relationship that can impact your life in profound ways. Your assistant can be your right arm, trusted ally and even a surrogate at meetings. When utilized properly and fully, she can enhance your business by acting as a strategic partner and freeing you up to make even more profits. S/he can also enable you to have more free time to enjoy those things that feed your soul.

Workplace 2.0 The Future is Now with guest Melba J. Duncan | Ep.22

Workplace 2.0 The Future is Now with guest Melba J. Duncan

Recorded live in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Executive Secretary LIVE Conference on February 18, 2017. As a prominent and respected workplace expert and NYC-based recruiter for 30+ years, perhaps no one has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in our workplace better than Melba J Duncan, Founder and President of The Duncan Group. What is Workplace 2.0? Hear up to the minute information about what working as a “strategic business partner” really means and if you want to be one, what do you need to do to get there? According to Melba Duncan, the role of Executive Assistant is misunderstood and undervalued, and it is time to change this perception. Bonnie. Vickie, and Melba talk technology, salaries, skills, and much more. Listen in to hear Melba’s sage advice for EAs and the CEOs they support. To see the video on YouTube click here.

Related links:

Melba J. Duncan

Book: The New Executive Assistant


Subscribe to » BTUA Podcast with Bonnie & Vickie

The Training Executives Really Need to Succeed

Bonnie Low-Kramen Office Life Support

By Bonnie Low-Kramen | SmartCEO Magazine | January 2017

This column gives me the golden opportunity to share burning workplace issues with CEOs and leaders. I get to pull the curtain back on what your support staff is thinking and needing. This piece is about the need to train new managers on how to utilize an Executive Assistant. Why? Because most don’t know. This is important information that is not taught in business school or anywhere.

Imagine this. You are a new driver and one day you go outside to find a brand new car with the keys hanging on the window with a note that reads “Good luck!” The car is filled with gadgets and shiny buttons but there is no physical manual and no one to tell you what to do.

Here’s the problem. You want to drive the car NOW. So you struggle to understand how to unlock the driver’s door and finally figure out to turn the car on. You find the online manual but you keep bumping into buttons and symbols that you don’t understand which ends up being frustrating almost on a daily basis. The annoying and energy-consuming learning curve continues for several weeks and months. Read more

Connecting the Dots: A Key Attribute of the World’s Top EAs with Guest: Debbie Gross, CEA at Cisco | Ep. 21


Bonnie, Debbie, & Vickie
From left: Bonnie, Debbie Gross, & Vickie at Executive Secretary LIVE Dubai, Nov 2016
John Chambers & Debbie Gross
Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers presenting Debbie with the Colleen Barrett Award in 2015.

Debbie Gross is respected as one of the top assistants in America. She has been working as an administrative professional for 40 years and for the past 25 years, as the Chief Executive Assistant to John Chambers, former CEO, now Executive Chairman of Cisco in California. Read more

Listen Up! Bonnie interviews Lucy Brazier at Exec Sec LIVE Dubai (21 min)



Do you want to know more about Lucy Brazier, the visionary leader behind the Executive Secretary LIVE conferences and Executive Secretary Magazine? We did! Bonnie Low-Kramen interviewed Lucy from the stage at Exec Sec LIVE in Dubai on Nov 17th. Introduced by Vickie Sokol Evans, listen for 21 minutes and get to know Lucy’s big plans for assistants all over the world.

The “R” Word

respectBy Bonnie Low-Kramen for Executive Secretary Magazine | July, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T- Find out what it means to me…” Aretha Franklin’s 1967 smash hit anthem is considered to be one of the best songs of all time. Why? The word hits a nerve.

Note: Since 95% of all admins are women, the pronoun “she” will be used in this piece. To all the male admins, I sincerely hope that this article resonates with you as well.

Definition of Respect – Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability.

Definition of Appreciation – The act of estimating the qualities of people and giving them their proper value, clear perception or recognition.

Read more

6 Ways to Build a Culture That Doesn’t Chase Good People Away

Bonnie Low-Kramen Office Life SupportBy Bonnie Low-Kramen for SmartCEO Magazine | October 24, 2016

You’ve probably read some of the many articles written about the perks that help retain good employees — free lunches, on-site gyms, deskside massage therapy and concierge services, to name just a few. But is that really what your employees want the most?

I train and speak with administrative professionals and managers all over the world and no matter what state or country they are in, the feedback is consistent. Staffers are craving and starved for cultures of respect. These are strong words, but intentionally used and very true.

Job seekers may be tempted by a free lunch perk, but leaders need to know that these sophisticated candidates are taking a closer look. They want to make sure that your company has a culture where they can thrive for the long term. Read more

Where Oh Where to Find Your New Ultimate Assistant?

By Bonnie Low-Kramen for Executive Secretary Magazine | August 2016
Remember as you climb the ladder of success, there is always someone behind you keeping it steady.”    Jacob M. Braude

Help Wanted

  • Are you an executive who has never had an assistant but now things are falling through the cracks and you know you need help NOW (as in yesterday)?!
  • Are you an assistant who needs to hire a #2 and your CEO tells you to “make it happen”?
  • Are you a recruiter who is having trouble finding just the right candidate who not only possesses stellar office skills but also speaks fluent Japanese? Got one of those, Bonnie?

If any of these situations sound familiar, welcome to my world! These are the kinds of real-life phone calls and emails I receive from all over the world asking for my help sourcing just the right person for their open assistant positions. By the way, these inquiries are more often than not coming from people I don’t know. This is why I am writing this article. I am keenly aware that more information is needed. Read more

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