Originally posted on LinkedIn December 18, 2014
This was written by an absolutely BRILLIANT Executive Assistant and dear friend of mine in response to an insult to our profession. I literally wanted to stand up at my desk and applaud. I may have a framed poster made of it. I definitely needed to share it.
I'm an assistant, specifically an executive assistant -EA for short- and damned good at my job. Anyone who has a problem with being called an assistant -in any aspect- should try putting themselves in ANY of the shoes of the thousands of amazing professional women (and men!) in this career.
We make the work happen, the impossible possible, and are masters of every game and nuance in our fields. We can juggle ten emergencies at the same time while we're teaching foreign business protocol, and keeping in the back of our mind that one international airline's business class seats don't fully recline, so not to book people on it for the 12+ hour flight, (but it's ok for the 6-8 hour flight) and still have time to gently explain to a new hire how to use the conference room booking system, for the thirteenth time, without seeming angry or mean.
We are the keepers of keys, of confidences, of sanity, and of gossip. We know protocol, promotions, and major company shifts, and keep it all locked tight while presenting a professional demeanor and courteous nature, even when crawling onto a desk chair in heels to reconnect the overhead AV equipment one minute before an international video conference.
I've comforted employees as they cried about a problem, put a tiny word in a boss' ear that someone was having issues at home, and to possibly shift that 5:30 pm meeting so they could be home when they were needed. I've warned -and been warned- by the amazing EA network about budget cuts, to keep my boss (or theirs) from proposing an extravagant plan, and to go forward with the more modest one that wouldn't be rejected out-of-hand. I've even made an extra lunch or two, and held back leftover conference food for the junior employee who had no cash until Friday. And until now, never mentioned it to anyone.
The assistants of the world make ALL the cogs of the company run. They are the pieces, but WE are the movement, the momentum, and the safety controls. I have no problem with being an assistant, because there are few in the world who can do it successfully, and those who can are worth the weight of their shoe collections in gold.
So, the next time you -or someone you know- says someone is "only an assistant" know that the true phrase is "ONLY an assistant would be able to do that."
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.