Blog

Read, learn, and share these articles that I have written and those of other experts who I respect and admire. We’ve got a very complicated workplace and only getting more so. This blog is my way of navigating these complications. Feedback welcome!



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
www.duncangroupinc.com

Book: The New Executive Assistant

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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)

 

bonnielucyinterview4

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
where-to-find-your-next-ultimate-assistant-600x625
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

Building an External Assistant Network in Your City – Guests: Ike Saunders & Julie Kavanaugh | Ep 20 (Part 2 of 2)

 

In our complicated workplace, external assistant networks are trending all over the world as a way for Executive and Personal Assistants to find the answers they need – fast.

Bonnie and Vickie continue the conversation with Ike Saunders, EA to Christopher Kennedy and Founder of REACH in Chicago and Julie Kavanaugh, EA to Craig Bouchard and member of the REACH leadership team. REACH stands for the Regional Executive Assistant Cocktail Hour.

In Part 2 of 2, Ike and Julie explain how they are able to keep REACH free of charge to the members by working with vendors who generously and enthusiastically supply the meeting space, food, drinks, raffle prizes and goody bags in some of the coolest venues in Chicago! Find out how REACH has made a name for itself without a website and how people find out about this powerful network. Ike and Julie tell us exactly how they did it and how you can do it too!

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”~ Napoleon Hill

Read more

A CEO’s take on building company cultures with staying power

A CEO’s take on building company cultures with staying power

By Bonnie Low-Kramen for Smart CEO 

Don Ochsenreiter
CEO Don Ochsenreiter

In my quest to find leaders who are committed to building authentically positive and profitable company cultures that actively support the administrative staff, I interviewed Don Ochsenreiter, president and CEO of Dollamur Sports Surfaces. A former management consultant for McKinsey, Accenture and others, Don has a strong point of view on company culture and its impact on staff.

In April 2016, Don attended the Administrative Awards ceremony in Fort Worth, TX after he nominated Dollamur’s office manager Donna Hinze as a stellar member of the company’s administrative team. Although Donna didn’t win the award (an assistant who had been at her company for 52 years won), Don had an eye-opening experience at the event attended by more than 500 people.

“Our administrative staff is the glue at Dollamur. They make everything happen and in general are tremendously under-recognized, in my view,” he says. “They think ahead and are committed to excellence. When you find a great assistant, my strategy is to pay them competitively and to enthusiastically invest in their professional development.”

Below, Don shares his thoughts on how you can foster a better company culture. Read more

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