Editor’s Note: We're searching for the best and brightest admin professionals and workplace operators in the US. Know an outstanding Ninja? Nominations for the 2020 All-Star Awards are now open!
Today’s OfficeNinjas All-Star Award is presented by ezCater! The only nationwide marketplace for office meals and catering.
Name: Mimy Wraspir
Title & Company: Executive Assistant and Office Manager, Lattice Engines
Location: San Mateo, CA
# Years as an Office Ninja: 10
Recommends: Inflatable neck pillows on travel days
Fun Fact: Ran a pet grooming business prior to becoming an Office Ninja
A good Ninja can keep an office happy and running efficiently. But it takes an All-Star like Mimy Wraspir to manage four offices and support multiple executives, all in different time zones. Her colleagues at Lattice Engines in San Mateo, CA aren’t quite sure how she does it, but they definitely appreciate her work—she received a total of 25 nominations!
Mimy literally runs the flow of how we all operate here; her loyalty and determination to our company well-being is equally fierce as that of the CEO. She nurtures, organizes, advises, defends, and helps anyone—not just her team. We have company values because of her, and she consistently helps us embrace them.
Mimy hasn’t met a challenge she can’t handle, including pulling off a last-minute, company-wide summit that proved to be 100% worth her time, effort, and attention to detail.
Mimy has a way of “getting things done” no matter the challenge, constraints, or expectations. This year, it was pulling a company-wide 2018 kick-off event, with less than a month notice (more like 2 weeks), limited budget, and three-days full of agenda for the entire company (100+ employees). She got this done by working around the clock to pull together the logistics, chasing after various executives to prepare meeting contents, being very creative to save cost (on meals, awards, company gifts), and supporting all employees during the entire event. Everyone had a great time and felt like the kickoff was most productive and informative one that we’ve ever had.
Nearly all of her colleagues highlighted Mimy’s empathy and kindness. Her thoughtful approach to managing a workplace has created a welcoming environment where employees feel supported and equipped to do their best work.
Mimy is the single most important person at Lattice. Her title is Executive Assistant, but her role can really be described as the heart, soul, and glue that keeps us all motivated and connected. Her day job is to make sure our executive staff is being as efficient as possible with their very precious time … Her side job is making sure our positive culture is promoted and spread to all of our offices. She knows every person in the company and makes everyone that she speaks with feel as if they are her favorite person in the world. She works with HR, Finance, IT, and the Office Admins to ensure smooth new employee onboarding. She’s the shoulder that anyone can lean on, and she’s the first to congratulate you on a job well done.
Anyone else feeling inspired to be their best Ninja self? Let’s check in with this All-Star and see just how she does it. Enjoy our Q&A with Mimy Wraspir!
ON: Tell us about the craziest day you’ve ever experienced as an Office Ninja.
MW: Every day is so packed full of hustle and the need to constantly roll with the punches. Does it count if my craziest day was one where all was calm and no audibles were called? It’s like seeing the ocean so calm that the top looks like glass … how often does that happen? Crazy, right?
ON: What’s your favorite part of being an Office Ninja?
MW: Variety. Constant change, whether it’s the people, tasks, or environment. Every day is a new day. I like playing behind the scenes and watching as things unfold. I can come into the office with a game plan and list of priorities for the day, but it doesn’t always mean that my day will go as planned. When the coffee machine stops working, an interview candidate you weren’t notified about shows up, and an impromptu catering requests comes in for that afternoon, an entire morning can get turned on its head.
And of course, all through the day I get colleagues who stop by to visit, ask questions, or place their requests and reminders. It’s a never ending cycle of communicating and coordinating, but it’s what keeps the days flying by—before I know it, it’s time to wrap things up in order to pick-up the kids from school!
ON: What’s the one thing that’s always on your desk?
MW: Post-its. I’d be so lost without them. From gathering reports and verifying expenses for our CEO, President, and Co-Founder to managing travel for our Vice President of Business Development, to coordinating company-wide events, supplies, and team building, I have a lot of different things going on.
I use Post-its and a color-coding system to prioritize and organize by project and importance.
- Red needs to be done before I leave for the day.
- Orange is a medium priority and should be completed within two days.
- Bright yellow needs to be done by week’s end. Light canary yellow is low priority.
I have them stuck everywhere—on my monitors, my laptop, the wall. My mouse pad is a giant post-it for notes and more to-do’s! But it feels so good to crumple them up when I finish a task.
I’m a very visual person, so the less post-its I see, the more accomplished I feel.
ON: Where does your drive come from? What keeps you motivated?
MW: Curiosity and the desire to solve, please, and succeed are my drivers. Ultimately, I’m driven by pleasing others—it’s a great feeling when the results of my efforts positively influence others.
People’s happiness, especially that of my family, feeds my desire to seek more efficient and creative ways to improve in order to accomplish more success.
I genuinely want to produce the best version of me, but what keeps me motivated are my children. Even when times are tough or overwhelming, knowing that what I do is for more than just me, keeps me going. I try to be a good role model for them, and I start every day by putting my best foot forward.
ON: How do you see the admin profession evolving? What do you do to stay ahead of the curve?
MW: I see the admin profession continuing to evolve from basic support into leading roles with more recognizable titles, especially as admins grow their knowledge on how to utilize data to increase efficiencies with their everyday workloads.
My team analyzes data on the reg—we try to recognize trends when ordering supplies, sort our interests for planning events, route travels and meetings, and even manage preferences when ordering snacks and meals. We even request monthly usage data from our Bevi machine to show stats to leadership on how many bottles we’ve saved and change out flavors based upon consumption rates.
In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, I like to source and apply new applications, vendors, and techniques regularly, as well as gain exposure to “newness” whenever possible. The best way to keep learning is to attend webinars, meet-ups, and social events whenever possible. Combine that with keeping your ear close to the ground on new apps and tools (my favs are Slack, Dropbox, Tripit, WorldTimeBuddy, Boxed, and Duolingo!) and you’ll be on the cutting edge of efficiency!
ON: How do you balance work and personal life?
MW: It’s certainly a teeter-totter, but infusing my work environment with values from home has enabled me to create more reasonable boundaries that provide better balance. Being accountable is a value at home that’s also one of Lattice’s eight values. Everyone plays a part in the bigger picture, so when you do your share, others can do theirs. Having a family-first mentality has allowed me to tend to my family’s needs, as long as my work is handled.
Being able to freely express how important family is to me has allowed me to communicate more openly with my execs and set expectations around availability, response times, and deadlines.
Once I leave work and my kids are in the car, work doesn’t get any more attention until the kids are in bed or the next day. My execs and I have a communication process that works very well.
1. Email anything and everything you may want/need done.
2. Text if something needs attention within a couple hours.
3. Text deets, then call if urgent.
I’ve communicated this to my execs, which is why I can successfully support so many at once.
I hope my commitment to a work-life balance has and will continue to inspire those around me to strive for that balance. In fact, several of my execs now have time blocked on their busy calendars for things like a doctors appointment, driving their children to school, or even having dinner with their family.
I also have delayed and timed emails that are not urgent which helps keep them from responding during certain hours.
These small considerations have actually created a bond between me and my managers, as I understand both their strong work ethic, and their love for their families.
Once I leave work and my kids are in the car, work doesn’t get any more attention until the next day or when the kids are in bed. I’ve communicated this to my execs, which is why I can successfully support so many at once. I encourage my execs to follow my lead and protect their time with boundaries too. This has actually created a bond with my managers.
ON: You’ve helped influence the culture and values at Lattice. What are your suggestions for helping other Ninjas do the same at their workplaces?
MW: First, identify what you have the passion to change, then gain the support of leadership. A lot of Ninjas are passionate, but they need the courage to speak out and share what they want to create.
When I started, the culture at Lattice was fairly quiet, and cubicles contributed to the siloing of departments and colleagues. I wanted to create a bubblier workplace where people could communicate openly, and cultivate a set of values everyone shared. Upon expressing that desire to leadership, I worked with a small team to create eight values that represents Lattice as a whole.
My favorite value that came out of that experience is “Embrace Your Quirkiness”. To me, this means that you can (and should) come to work as you are and not worry about “high school drama or criticism,” since everyone functions in their own way. We now have more frequent gatherings and team building events where Lattizens of all departments come together to socialize, share, enjoy, and simply be themselves.
Along the way, you may find mentors who can help empower you to do what you really want to do. Energy from doing something freely is infectious because it’s genuine. Stay focused on what you want to achieve. Include people and be authentic. This is another value at Lattice…”Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor”.
As I look up to others to learn from and advise me, I hope I’ve reciprocated for others who’ve sought my thoughts/words.
Some seek their manager as a mentor, but really, your mentor can be anyone you look up to, trust and respect for guidance. I have a number of people that I turn to for different situations. One of my most impactful mentors worked with me a while back. A former employer, Steve Barton, taught me much of what I know and certainly molded my work ethic into what it is today. The variety of skills and business strategies he shared influence how I approach people and think about business.
ON: What are the top 3 traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?
1. Empathy – understand what and who you’re working and dealing with in order to progress to the bigger picture. Be driven by the facts and not the emotions.
2. Resourcefulness – be creative and solution-minded. Think outside the box. Ask yourself, “How else can this be done?” Reach out to your network for help/advice. Never settle for the answer, “no”, as there should always be a way.
3. Accountability – be reliable and able to consistently get things done. Take a look at the bigger picture to understand how your part plays into things. Be transparent. Handle your business, so others can handle theirs.
ON: Lattice Engines is a highly analytical and data-driven company. Yet, you’ve helped create a culture of warmth and connection. What’s your secret?
MW: If you show you care and share, others will too. Work might be the common factor, but everyone is so unique and interesting.
Some people have the most unexpected hobbies and interests (we’ve got people into lock-picking, book writing, and gaming), some are incredibly talented (like our musicians, dancers, and regular hackers), while others share amazing stories about their travels, past experiences, and their simple preferences.
Water cooler conversations, group meals, impromptu socials, and surprise treats are just a few ways you can add to the mix to encourage people to connect on different levels. We have lunches on Fridays where everyone is encouraged to eat together like a big family. As people move out and fill in, neighboring seats share plans for the weekend, tell tales about their families and kids, and sometimes everyone just shares in conversation and laughter.
Part of an admin’s job is also to understand the energy of the office. Being aware of quarter-end, when events are, or when releases occur, prompts good timing for surprise treats and socials where people can decompress and celebrate their hard work. We’re a bunch of foodies, so introducing new cuisines definitely gets people in our office talking and sharing.
Because of this built camaraderie, there have been times where I’ve picked up lunch for people that I know would not be able to break away for lunch due to deadlines. Unexpectedly in turn, these same people have taken care of me on days they’ve seen me stormed with work and unable to get away.
ON: What’s one thing you’ve done that’s been the most impactful in advancing your career?
MW: Finding and developing relationships within a community of like-minded people outside of Lattice has allowed me to continue growing in my current role and build a greater network.
Thanks to OfficeNinjas, I have come to find many people that I can relate with and a few that I’ve come to form relationships where we communicate with each other regularly.
It’s great to chop it up with someone else who understands, yet will give you an outside, unbiased POV. These relationships have also exposed me to people I never would have connected with otherwise.
ON: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
MW: Learn what empathy is, and don’t mistake it with sympathy. This was shared by one of my most memorable employers, Steve Barton. Empathy is about understanding people. It keeps you from being judgmental and allows you to find more common ground.
ON: Lattice Engines is spread out across four offices. Yet, you’re still able to make employees at all the sites feel like a part of the team. What are your tips for keeping remote teams connected?
MW: Regular check-ins, even if it’s via Slack or text, and making a point to get video time in whenever possible.
Schedule quarterly face-to-face visits, which are necessary to help remote employees feel connected to HQ.
Capitalize on opportunities to celebrate as a whole company such as summer picnics, quarter-end successes, volunteer events, holidays, and kick-offs. The annual company-wide kick-off is golden opportunity for us.
ON: You travel on a regular basis to support Lattice Engine’s remote sites. What tricks have you learned to make business travel more enjoyable?
MW: Inflatable neck pillows are a great companion aboard flights and are easy to quickly deflate for storage. I believe mine is a Travelsmith inflatable neck pillow and I love the ability to adjust the firmness and easily adjust to support your head from nodding forward.
Make time to experience something new or explore more of the area you travel with each visit. Schedule it into your calendar to ensure it happens. I love to try all different kinds of food and visit popular restaurants, so I try to make reservations and schedule in a new restaurant on each trip. I also try to schedule time to explore the city when possible such as walking trails or visiting landmarks … sometimes visiting establishments to source as possible event venues is also enjoyable “win-win”.
Inviting a colleague to join me also ensures that I’ll make stick to the planned trip. And FaceTime with my family helps to minimize the distance.
ON: How do you keep up with the demands and changes of a company that’s moving so rapidly?
MW: It’s important to stay aligned with the leadership team and surround myself with a reliable team. If you can anticipate a roadblock, you’ll be better prepared for the detour.
I have regular check-ins with most of the executives. I own their schedules, attend company meetings, and play a part in whatever is going on at the time. This helps me anticipate things before I’m asked to do them. I call this “Auto-Magic;” I automatically fix things before anyone knows what’s wrong.
ON: OK, we’ll set the scene: you have less than 30 days notice, a limited budget, and three days full of agenda items for the entire company of 100+ employees. How do you pull together a kick-off event that everyone is still talking about months later?
MW: Ask the right questions, get organized, and hit the floor running. Although the logistics and agenda matter, the experience spiced with little details also matter.
Finding a balance between achieving the business objectives and showing folks that they’re valued, all while having fun and building bonds between people, is key to pulling together a successful kick-off event that everyone speaks of months later.
Mimy, if you’re planning the event, put us on the guest list!
As part of her prize package, Mimy will receive a $1,000 credit from ezCater, proud Admin Week partner!
View the complete album from our photo shoot at Lattice Engines with Mimy!
All on-site photography of our featured Ninja and her workplace is courtesy of Oh Snap! Visuals. Oh Snap! is OfficeNinjas’ go-to photography company for headshots and events. They travel nationally, produce stunning photographs, and are a dream to work with!
Today’s All-Star is brought to you by ezCater:
ezCater gets the OfficeNinjas stamp of approval. We couldn’t continue to celebrate and spotlight the admin profession without them. So the next time you’re ordering lunch for the office, show them some love!
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