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On the surface, my bio may look pretty boring. For the last 25 years, I’ve worked at the same company, supported the same executive, been married to the same man, and lived in the same town. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will see I love to stay challenged. While I have supported the same executive, I’m also a mother of four active kids, as well as a wife, athlete, writer, and team builder. I’ve been asked how I measure success. My answer has always been the same. I ask myself this one question: Are you happy? In my experience leading administrative teams, I’ve found that if an Executive Assistant follows these five guidelines to create their own happiness, I end up with a high-performing, happy EA that I tend to retain. I hope you find these guidelines helpful to you as well in creating happiness in your own

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I know a lot about fear — I’ve been locked in its tight grip many times. But recently, I’ve come to realize that those unnerving experiences can be amazingly empowering. For administrative assistants, professional growth is necessary. Throughout our career, we will find ourselves challenged by new expectations — public speaking, leadership roles, collaboration, responsibilities outside core competencies — and fear may link arms with us. But we have a choice: see fear as a prison, or an opportunity for a managed partnership. First, it’s important to understand the chemical messaging in your brain. This is the foundation for controlling how you experience fear, how you will act on that experience, and how the experience will ultimately impact your personal and professional growth. We will focus on the two most common types of fear: the fear we seek for thrills, and the real and perceived dangers we don’t seek out.

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On May 2nd, 2019, the very first Chicagoland Admin Awards Gala was hosted at the historic Hilton Palmer House Hotel. Ike Saunders, EA to Christopher Kennedy, had the incredible honor of taking home the prestigious Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence. Ike’s acceptance speech brought down the house. It had all the best stuff that speeches are made of, it was inspirational, hysterical, surprising and had the audiences’ complete attention. It also includes an interesting twist involving the same date in Kennedy history 50 years ago to the day! Here is a complete transcript. Cheers! Sunny Ike Saunders’ Acceptance Speech Transcript: “I would like to thank and congratulate Sunny Nunan, her assistant Dustin, and the committee members for bringing the Admin Awards to Chicago. The vibrant, diverse, talented crowd in this room is testament to your ability to coalesce a community of incomparable administrative professionals in a city that is

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I’ve been an Administrative Professional for 34 years, and during my role as an Executive Assistant, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve experienced the hollowing feeling of being left out by my coworkers, nor can I tell you how many times I’ve had Assistants come to me after their team or executives excluded them from a birthday gathering or happy hour or important meeting and say, “I can’t believe no one even asked me if I wanted to join.”   “I know, unfortunately, that happens” I tell them. “I’m so sorry.”   It’s hard to explain why it happens, because it is inexplicable. But I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Clearly, everyone knows we’re part of the team — if the copy machine is broken or there are questions about travel, expenses or various office processes, we’re the first ones people come to for answers.

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“Sometimes I can be a little much for people,” laughs Jamie Gilbert. “I know I am — it’s who I am.” The five-time Admin Award-nominated executive secretary at Texas Health Resources is perfectly proud to wear that mantle. Her whole life, Gilbert’s worked to fill her moments with muchness: Much kindness. Much heart. Much passion and enthusiasm.  That no-holds-barred approach has not only propelled her to success as an administrative professional — she won THFW’s John A. Wiggins Service Award in March 2006 and also serves as executive secretary for the Texas Nurses Association District 3 and as the administrative liaison for THR’s administrative professionals group — but also in her roles as a mother and writer. Recently, she combined the latter two talents, self-publishing a book titled Life’s Boot Camp Ramp, which is a compilation of nearly daily letters and poems she sent to her son Sailor H. Gilbert after he entered

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Lulu Caravette couldn’t help but be intrigued by the story of the statues at Easter Island. For centuries, most had taken the towering stone figures at face value, assuming they were simply monolithic heads embedded in the ground. But then anthropologists — convinced there was more to the statues than met the eye — were inspired to dig deeper, unearthing a far more complex narrative: for years, sediment and rocks had concealed the figures’ enormous bodies. It’s no surprise Caravette would be taken by a tale of amazing discoveries that lie beneath the surface. After all, the lauded executive assistant has dedicated her career to delving deeper, whether through professional projects that require a keen eye for detail or in workplace relationships that are nourished by a helping hand and an open heart. “There’s always more to the picture, always something new to discover,” says Caravette, who for the past

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Making the Idea Reality  Looking back, it was a humble beginning. But to us, it was really big. I’m talking about spring 2015, when the assistants at Maxim Integrated’s headquarters in San Jose, California, held their first Assistant Conference coordinated by assistants, for assistants. The event featured presentations by Maxim’s executives, as well as a lunch. We need to step back in history to pinpoint the driving force behind the inspiration that precipitated our first conference. As we all know, in the early 1950s, the National Secretaries Association’s founding members created National Secretaries Day to promote the administrative profession as a career field that contributes to the economy, company success, and the recruitment of employees to the administrative field. It proactively promoted the profession. But the day’s authentic intent lost its focus. Instead of being a showcase of our best leadership, strategy, and collaborative skills, we too often settled for a sort

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What does it truly mean to elevate the Executive Assistant role to one that serves as a powerful and strategic business partnership and reaps endless benefits for your executive? For starters, it goes way beyond ‘tell and do’ and daily tasking. It’s about alignment across the full discipline of the role of the executive assistant, and while many believe they’re already performing at this level, the reality is this; very few are operating as strategic business partners to their executives.

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For 26 years, Debbie Gross made it her business to know everything about John Chambers. As the Cisco CEO’s chief executive assistant (CEA), Gross was much more than Chambers’ “right-hand woman” or “girl Friday” or any of the other cutesy clichés that fail to capture the immeasurable value of administrative professionals who ensure their company’s seemingly effortless efficiency.

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The Backbone Blog is all about the modern Admin. Created by the Admin Awards, Backbone is all about leveling up and inspiring Admins to do their very best work. It’s also about overcoming outdated stereo-types about the profession and those that serve in it. We work hard to tell the stories of innovators, change agents, thought leaders and pioneers who area making a phenomenal impact to their organizations and profession and inspire others in the process. We believe the best ideas and insights come from Administrative Professionals themselves, so that’s what you’ll find here.

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