Monday I was thrilled and honored to share the announcement that I was selected as one of of the five 2016 OfficeNinjas All-Stars!!!! What an incredible way to kick off Administrative Professionals Week!!!!
What amazing company I'm in. Please read about my fellow 2016 All-Stars:
I confess to needing more than one Kleenex when reading the wonderful nominations my co-workers submitted. I’m truly blessed and very grateful.
What makes Debbi Shaffer an Office Ninja All-Star? There are three characteristics that stand out.
First, she’s both competent and quick to respond – getting it right the first time, and getting it done swiftly is the name of the game when you’re supporting two senior executives as she does, and she does it as well as anyone who’s worked for me over a forty-year career.
Second, once you’ve asked Debbi to take on an initial task, she anticipates the ”next time,” by storing the process she followed, the preferences I expressed, the necessary contact details and other follow-up information where it’s easily retrieved – there’s virtually no reinventing the wheel where Debbi’s concerned.
Third and perhaps most outstanding, she makes time for others in our workplace community – she’s there with advice, assistance and a genuine customer-friendly personality and temperament for her co-workers, clients, visitors from other offices, and vendors/suppliers. Everyone gets the same friendly, professional treatment from Debbi. She’s a credit to our company, and certainly worthy of the title “Office Ninja All-Star”!
Debbi really changed what I understood the role of an executive assistant to be. I previously thought it was a “helper” role for all of the mundane daily tasks. I now know better. She is the ubiquitous force that drives everything. Her executive has many trusted lieutenants. He only has one right hand. That is Debbi.
Debbi is the fine detail that makes ideas reality. She is the thread that stitches thoughts into action. There is no detail too small for her attention, regardless who's responsibility it is when she is on watch.
When a team of our executive elite assemble, from around the world, to determine the focus of our company for the coming year they knew just who to call. She orchestrated the event coordinating the efforts of other executive assistants, support organizations, vendors.
So what? Right? It is not an uncommon event. Often we take little notice of who sends out the communications, who puts out the name tags, who arranges for the reservations and food. It is all background noise to the focus of the day. Her thoughtful execution caused every executive to question what was possible. Many commenting, “why don't we do this elsewhere”. From the thorough welcome packets, that oriented each traveling executive for EVERY aspect of their stay, to the magnetic (not pinned) name tags Deb had taken the mundane and made it appreciably better.
You asked for one story, I have many. I could share individual times where Deb has provided her executive with the cover he needs to be effective. Making sure the right info gets through and the rest held at bay until the time is right. She enables focus.
I could share stories when she was able to rescue her executive from technical details halfway around the world, rallying resources to keep him whole. She is the angel that protects.
I could share stories on how she intuitively knew when to add, and remove people from information threads to ensure a good outcome. She is the force that connects.
But you asked for one story, and one, brief, and poorly written work is all that I can offer. There can be only one. I would take Debbi any day of the week. She exemplifies invaluable.
Dedicated, creative, and professional – is how I describe the work Debbi Shaffer does for her executive managers. Debbi is courteous, articulate, organized, task-oriented and a savvy problem solver. She is extremely diligent and thorough in her approach to work. The senior executives she supports benefit from her attention to detail and organizational skills. She is always willing to help her co-workers in addition to delivering her own responsibilities in a timely manner. She utilizes her technology skills to perform her duties and to assist her team. Debbi’s constant quest to improve her skills are a reflection of her passion and commitment.
Debbi devotes her spare time to non-profit organizations dedicated to fundraising and raising breast cancer awareness and sharing her professional knowledge and resources with her administrative colleagues through her professional development webinars and her Admin Blog.
Debbi is a pleasure to work with.
Debbi is an amazing organizer that never neglects a detail. She anticipates the needs of out of town guests for meetings and contingency plans are developed in advance for the unexpected.
It is a pleasure working with Debbi and I know that anything she is involved in will be well thought out and executed! Peace of mind is what applies when Debbi is involved!
I am writing this paragraph to strongly recommend Ms. Debbi Shaffer for Office Ninja All Star.
Ms. Shaffer is a strong professional who leads multiple groups within our office. She is well respected by all those she serves and works with. I am enjoying working with her and cannot express my joy in having the opportunity to nominate her for Office Ninja. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I truly hope I have expressed strongly enough to you that truly there is not a better candidate than Ms. Shaffer.
What an amazing Executive Assistant she is. Ms. Shaffer immediately came to IT when I started in the office, and asked for our assistance to enable her to support her executives.
After speaking with her and evaluating her level of expertise in the IT field we suited her up with the tools typically assigned to IT support to allow her to support her executives anywhere in the world. We immediately experienced a 95% reduction in calls from the staff she supports.
It was amazing to see, and not only did she reduced the number of calls to the IT team, but increased the level of satisfaction the executives are experiencing by a whopping 100% (measured by complaints received and get well meetings I personally had to attend).
It is not often you see an Executive Assistant perform so many duties so well, and it has been a personal pleasure working with her, so is she a Ninja All Star, absolutely you could not find a better person to award this honor to.
Debbi has a demanding job as executive assistant to our multiple senior executives. She has to be present, physically and mentally all the time. Despite this, she finds time to lead the local Women's Network, bringing speakers, opportunities and awareness to the women in the office, as well as management.
Debbi is a master at networking and takes her duties very seriously. She has been able to leverage her skills for the betterment of the women in the office. Gender equality is a hot topic currently and Debbi is on the forefront of leading this issue. Debbi has a solution or idea for planning events that cover almost any topic. Her outreach is amazing and she is able to accomplish planning events while tending to her duties. With this, I nominate her for Office Ninja.
Here are just a few examples of the things Debbi has done to improve our office:
She created a safety presentation and coordinated the installation of a tablet at our reception area for all visitors to view.
In dealing with a difficult employee, she gave me guidance on how to handle the situation and ultimately resolve it in a professional manner.
She took over our local chapter of Jacobs Women's Network and increased membership by coordinating interesting programs.
Debbi tirelessly supports multiple executives in our Arlington, VA office. Better yet, she supports several non-executives, like myself, with the same great respect and care.
I could talk about the hours worked, travel coordinated, and day to day care she provides our team, but as Debbi realizes, that's just part of her job. It's expected, and she nails it.
A few examples of her greatness:
--When she recognizes folks don't want to interrupt our top leaders, she will on our behalf, arranging meals, providing breaks for nursing moms, and getting people out in time to pick up their kids. She does so graciously, in a way that no one feels bad for having to leave, and in a way our executives don't mind, as we all have different demands pulling on our time.
--She maintains several people's schedules, making sure those who need access to our leaders, have it, and making sure the time is productive. When disrupters pop in and threaten a pre-set, goal-oriented schedule for the day, she works to get things back on schedule by shuffling meetings, postponing less critical items, and providing recommended resolution to issues.
--Debbi also understands how different people work differently, recognizing that one approach will not fit all when it comes to being an executive assistant. She adjusts her own approach to cater to individual needs.
--From a leadership standpoint, Debbi encourages growth in our office through our Women's Development Network. She gets our executives to engage. She also works to provide access at all levels, which is notices by our more junior staff.
Debbi is among the hardest working, results-oriented, compassionate people in our company. She's our office ninja.
Debbi is my go-to person for professional networking. She get things done professionally with a touch of world-class quality. Her passion in this area shines and touches so many colleagues on a daily basis.
Special thanks to Mark Schneider of M&M Photography for taking the amazing photos!!!
NOT cleaning up forwarded emails is one of my biggest pet-peeves. Not taking the time to do so can lead to embarrassing professional blunders. I’ve seen feelings hurt and jobs lost because of forwarded emails. Before you forward an email, you should always take the time to scroll through the message to verify you are not sending anything that could hurt feelings, invade privacy or is confidential.
Take the time to remove information not pertinent to the recipient – Review the message, the ENTIRE message, to make sure you are not passing on information that should remain private. An administrator at Oxford University accidentally forwarded a list of the 50 worst exam performers to thousands of students.
Remove previous email addresses – Would you want your email address sent to people you don’t know? I don’t. Show the courtesy to remove email addresses in the body of the email before hitting send. I have the personal email addresses of some real power players in the world thanks to someone that didn’t use clean up the body of the email.
Change the subject – When an email gets forwarded many times, often the topic may change completely from the original message. Make the subject relevant.
Remove unwanted attachments – Unless the attachment pertains to the message, remove it. I’ve seen someone lose their job because they forwarded a confidential document when all they meant to do was share the name of a restaurant mentioned in the email but didn’t take the time to clean up the email.
Use BCC – If you are sending to multiple people who may not necessarily want their email addresses known to each other, use the BCC field.
Delete unnecessary signature files and disclaimers – They are just a nuisance your intended recipients need to scroll through.
Add your intention – I often get forwarded emails from my executives with no instructions. Is it just FYI? Do you want me to schedule a meeting? Am I supposed to send something to someone? If you forward an email that requires an action, please include that information.
I’ve been home from Executive Secretary LIVE in London for a week and I’ve been trying to put into word how amazing this conference was. I’ve been to a few Admin conferences and always feel like they could have done better. Executive Secretary LIVE was like Lucy Brazier and her incredible staff got into my head and saw all the hopes I had for the other conferences and executed them. I loved each and every moment. At Lucy’s request I live tweeted the sessions. I’ve been on Twitter for years, but confess to not utilizing it enough. I’m sure I produced as many Tweets in the two days of the conference as I have in the two years I’ve been on Twitter. Please check out @Debs224 for most of my key take-aways from the sessions.
First, for those who are not aware, Executive Secretary Live is the world's leading international event for senior and aspiring Administrative Professionals and Executive Assistants. The conferences take place throughout the year and around the world and features inspiring speakers and internationally renowned trainers for the Administrative Profession. The session I attended was in London. It was an amazing week spent with my mentors, heroes and colleagues. I reconnected with friends and greatly expanded my network. All sessions were structured for high-level admins.
Day one included two master classes. In the morning Cathy Harris spoke on creating and maintaining a successful internal admin networks. My favorite tip from Cathy was: Joining an admin organization or expanding your admin network helps you become exceptional! The afternoon was spent with Laura Belgrado, one of Europe’s most sought after trainer, giving us the ins & outs of public speaking. My favorite tip from Laura: Public speaking does not necessarily result in hurling, anxiety attacks or death. Laura provided many valuable tips on breathing, timing, non-verbal presentation skills and so much more. I can’t wait to put what I learned into practice when I speak during APW.
Lucy Brazier kicked off day two reminding us that we are who we are because of others. So true. Every person has an impact. Make your impact a positive one.
The day was jammed-packed with inspiration, so I’m going to give you my key take-away from each.
Marsha Egan spoke about “Powerful Priorities.”
Don’t get so caught up in the daily grind that you forget to work on your goals.
The incredible Bonnie Low-Kramen discussed “Finding Your Voice to Handle Challenging Situations.”
Women, in general, are raised to be competitive, but we need to be collaborative. We need to overcome our fear of saying, “I could really use some help.”
Next up, Vickie Sokol Evans shared “Timesaving (and jaw-dropping) productivity tips using Excel” and the room filled up with gasps of shock and cries of joy. If you want to improve your productivity and hone your technology skills, I highly recommend taking one of Vickie’s classes. I thought I was pretty tech savvy until I took one of her classes. Oh, the hours she has saved me.
Rhonda Scharf entertained up with her presentation “Sometimes You’re theWindshield – Sometimes You’re the Bug.” My key take-away was that when you are the bug is often when you learn and grow the most.
After lunch Bonnie & Vickie teamed up to record their next podcast on training for admins. Did you know that one hour of technology training provides one hour productivity increase per day? That is a great point to include if you are requesting training dollars from your company. As soon as the podcast is posted, I’ll share the link.
The speaker that had the biggest impact on me was Jasmine Freeman. Jasmine’s story was powerful and she shared it so eloquently, and with such honesty. The thing she said that resonated the most with me is, “What are you telling yourself that is simply not true?” Often our biggest critic is the voice inside our own head. Make sure that voice is not telling you lies.
Our final speaker was Peggy Grande, former EA to President Ronald Reagan. Peggy gave us her 10 tips from the top. It is hard for me to narrow it down to just one item from her presentation, so I’m choosing three:
We closed out Executive Secretary LIVE London with one heck of a birthday gala at the beautiful Ham Polo Club. Executive Secretary turned five, so we had a celebration. You’ve haven’t been to a party until you’ve been to a party with 150 admins. We dined, danced, sang and networked until the wee hours of the morning. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Lucy Brazier has accomplished so much. She has done so much to improve the Administrative profession in the past five years. I’m so proud of her and was honored to be there to celebrate this milestone. I look forward to the next five … ten … TWENTY years!!! Thank you, Lucy!!
I’m planning on being at Executive Secretary LIVE again next year. I hope to see even more new faces.
This was sent to me today. I did a little digging to find out it was written by Steve Tobak and posted to CBS MoneyWatch March 2, 2012.
There are hundreds of articles on the characteristics of great employees, but #3 on this particular list really struck a chord with me. It is the prominent quality of ALL the great administrative assistants I know. No job is too small, no task too great. They don't know the phrase, "that's not my job."
1. Take responsibility for hot projects with a fearless attitude. And get this. If it works out, you don't waste a lot of time basking in the glory, at least not at work. Maybe you go out and celebrate with the other team members. That aside, you're all about finding the next big challenge. You're hungry for more. And if it fails, you don't point fingers. You take full responsibility and learn from it. And you know what? That's when management will start to see you as one of them. That's big.
2. Demonstrate natural leadership. That means when you take charge of something, people naturally follow, even though you don't have the title or the authority. Never mind everything you read; that's what natural leadership is really all about. There are all sorts of different styles that work, but mostly it comes down to a fearless self-confidence and charisma that people find magnetic. That's like gold in the corporate world.
3. Say, "Sure, no problem, will do," and then do it. It's one thing to have a solid work ethic and get the job done. That certainly key in the real business world. But it's another thing entirely to always accept challenging assignments with open arms and a simple, "No problem, will do" acknowledgement. And the tougher it is, the more confident you sound and the harder you work to make it happen. That's the sign of an employee who needs a promotion or two.
4. Roll with the punches without taking things personally. Sure, it's hard to keep your balance when the rug's just been pulled out from under you. But let's face it. The nature of contemporary business is one of constant change, reorganizations and layoffs. Programs come and go. Companies too. One day you're rolling in resources, the next day you need three signatures for a chair. That's the way business is. And if you're flexible, you're adaptable, you've got fortitude and you don't take things personally, that's big.
5. Think of the company's goals as your goals. I know, the jaded among you will say that blind loyalty to a company will enslave you and get you nowhere. Well, there's truth to that. After all, any employee can be fired or quit, and that's as it should be. This is about understanding how companies operate and making the company's or the department's priorities your own. When you start to identify with the goals of management -- live, eat and breathe them -- then you start to become management. Yes, that's a good thing.
6. Do whatever it takes to get the job done, even when you're not getting paid for it. Look, success in the real world doesn't work like tit for tat. First, you put yourself out there, take risks, do the work, and accomplish things. Then, and only then, do you get to put your hand out and say, "Give me some." Then, if your company doesn't take care of you, you learn a lesson, put your accomplishments on your resume, and move on to a better place that values overachievers like you.
7. Grow the business or improve the bottom line. Yeah, I know it's not popular, but that doesn't make it any less critical or true. These days, it's all about doing more with less. Being more efficient, effective, scrappy, innovative, motivational, engaging, and not only that, happy about it. Think of it as a problem-solving challenge where the problem is how to grow the business or cut spending while improving productivity. Like it or not, that is what it's all about.
The Audacious Admin is Debbi L. Shaffer, an outgoing, resourceful and highly motivated executive assistant with 20 years of experience specializing in C-Suite Executive Support.