Our stories are what make us who we are. There is nothing more personal…or more vulnerable. If you are reading this, it is because you want to know who I am, what I do, and how we might collaborate. I want to know you, too. After all, this business is all about the people. Always, the people.
I am Bonnie Low-Kramen. As a consultant to the World Administrative Summit, I am proud to be a vocal ally for efforts to end workplace bullying and wage discrimination, as these issues are detrimental to an ultimate workplace. As an integral element of my work, I have had over 1,000 one-on-one conversations with assistants, leaders, HR professionals, and recruiters from all over the world. I treasure these relationships, as they inform my 360-degree view of the global workplace. I work to be a vital resource for all the workplace constituencies.
I am a Jersey girl who is honored to have a voice in the international administrative profession conversation. My passion is to shine a light on the workplace issues that slow us down and stop us dead in our tracks. We can do better. My work is helping executives and assistants build the strong bridges that will make an ultimate workplace a sustainable reality…or as close as it can come.
This is my mission, my calling, my why. Speaking and teaching and writing have taken me to 14 countries, 38 states, a feature in Forbes…and to a place where there is a lot more to do.
And it wasn’t planned. None of it.
The Back Story
As a kid, I was a loner who read books and watched lots of television. My mother, Ruth Low, introduced me to Broadway. That is where I got hooked on show business. Somehow, in some way, I knew I would work in entertainment. The main reason – I would not feel like an outsider in the theatre because that is a place where everyone is different. I would fit in.
From early on, I understood the pain of not belonging and loss. I was a smart, shy, non-athletic kid. I lost my father, Sol Low, when I was 15. And like so many women, I experienced bullying, both personally and professionally. From the stories I hear all over the world, I know my story is all too common.
What I choose to do with these experiences is to help others. What I know is that adversity can prevent ultimate achievement, but it can also inspire it. I help others with the knowledge that it is a choice to make and then we work on those choices together.
The Rest of the Story
As a Theatre & English major at Rutgers University, Mom fretted that I would have trouble making a living as an actress. She was right. I tried being a professional actress for three months in Chicago. That didn’t work out, so I drove to the Pheasant Run Dinner Theatre in St. Charles, Illinois, which is where my career really began – working in a theatre box office selling tickets. I made $4.25/hour and I was very happy to be living my dream. Everybody has to start somewhere, right?
I watched and listened. Hard. Important lessons on management were learned. Relationships began being built, including meeting the colleague who ended up introducing me to Olympia Dukakis, one of the most influential mentors in my life.
For 25 years, I worked as the Personal Assistant to celebrity couple, actors Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich. One of the most unforgettable times was surviving 1988 which was the most challenging and exhilarating year of my life. Looking back, I still feel that way.
That was the year I gave birth to my son Adam, Michael Dukakis (Olympia’s cousin) ran for the presidency, and Olympia won the Oscar for Moonstruck – and all without a computer or a cell phone.
Olympia saw the potential in me and challenged me to be the CEO of myself, in work and in life. And so, I did.
Seeing there were so few resources for assistants, I authored the bestselling book, Be the Ultimate Assistant, and designed the ground-breaking training workshop in 2011 with the same name. I did not do these things to break new ground. I did them out of sheer frustration. The workshop was named one of the Top 7 Conferences to Attend in 2019. My colleague Vickie Sokol Evans and I not only teach the workshops together, but also host the Be the Ultimate Assistant Podcast series.
As a writer and an influencer, my articles on workplace issues are widely published all over the world, and I am often asked for comment about workplace bullying, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination.
My next book will be published in 2022 and will have the way to build an ultimate workplace as the focus. Stay tuned.
My story continues to unfold. Perhaps you will be a part of it and I can be a part of yours. Thank you for being here.