Title, Company, and Location
Executive Assistant to the CEO, The Oliver Gal Artist Co., Hollywood, FL
Years as an Admin+ professional
Tyler taught herself to crochet by watching YouTube videos years ago, and now her favorite thing to do is make tiny stuffed toys. Her crafting hobby also helps her feel closer to her grandmother, who used to crochet washcloths for gifts, and with whom Tyler shares an obsession with “tiny things.”
Editor’s Note: OfficeNinjas All-Star Awards is part of Admin+ Month (April 4–29, 2022), a fully virtual celebration of captivating learning, global recognition, and joyful connection.
Executive Assistant Tyler Travis has faced her share of obstacles throughout her life due to a serious autoimmune disease. Not only has she managed to overcome those setbacks, she’s used them to become a messenger of hope and inspiration for people facing similar chronic health struggles.
And she’s done it all while being a professional powerhouse and mom of two. What can’t Tyler Travis do? We’re still waiting for the answer to that question.
Tyler didn’t set out to become an Executive Assistant. However, her skills, strengths, and can-do spirit have helped her not only succeed in supporting everyone around her, but in becoming a valued voice and respected leader at her company.
Her willingness to invest in herself and her own professional development has also been pivotal to her career growth and success. While it wasn’t easy and there were some risks involved, Tyler’s enjoyed a significant ROI from her learning journey so far, in the form of expanded responsibilities at work, promotions, and greater career satisfaction.
Making Tyler’s professional development initiative even more impressive? As a big believer in knowledge exchange, she’s committed to sharing all of her learnings with anyone and everyone who can benefit from them. Perhaps Oliver Gal’s Director of Sales Operations Jason Howard put it best in declaring, “We need more Tylers in the world!”
Tyler hasn’t let anything stand in the way of her goals. She’s made an indelible impact on her coworkers and company, as well as on an entire community of folks who share her chronic illness — all while serving as a role model of resilience and perseverance for her family.
For all of these things and more, we couldn’t be prouder to honor Tyler Travis with a 2022 OfficeNinjas All-Star Award. We know you’ll feel just as inspired after reading her story.
How long have you worked as an Admin+ professional? What path led you to this career, and what makes it a good fit for you?
While I’ve had experience here and there doing administrative tasks since I started my first job in my teens, I wouldn’t qualify myself as a full Admin+ professional during those years — at least not until 2018, when I started as the Assistant to Ana Sanchez Gal, the CEO of Oliver Gal Artist Co.
My journey with Oliver Gal began in 2011, when I joined the team in a coordinator role that shifted to customer service. For years, I had the expectation that I would grow more in the customer service field. This was also consistent with my previous work experience, which was all customer service-based. I felt confident assisting customers, even during escalated circumstances. I was also drawn to working closely with team members to find ways to optimize processes and experiences, including our own. I am naturally very support-driven and I don’t always need to see results to feel my accomplishments. This has made working in customer service and administration rewarding — even when recognition is not always available.
In 2014, my daughter was born, which ended up in a longer-than-expected maternity leave. During my slow and delayed transition back to work, Ana and Assi (co-founders and CEOs of Oliver Gal) were very flexible, allowing me to work from home a few days a week. This let me to be both a stay-at-home parent and a working parent. Then in early 2015, my husband and I decided to move three states away for a job opportunity that would place him in a position for more growth and us closer to my family.
In my conversations with Ana at this time, she gave me a perspective (and opportunity!) that has driven me in many ways. We discussed the options and the potential she saw in me. She was interested and concerned about my growth and future even outside of the effects on the company and her. I will always see those discussions as gifts that just kept giving!
Ultimately, I was able to maintain a position with Oliver Gal remotely. This included supporting the team in different ways — from providing operational and customer support to directly assisting the company co-founders and CEOs. Once again, I was also able to be home and to care for my daughter while working.
Over the next few years, I ran into unexpected challenges due to health issues from ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease that debilitated my daily activities. I was diagnosed in 2016 while pregnant with my son and experienced years of complications. Yet, I was never discouraged from being part of the Oliver Gal team or felt worried that my challenges would lead to my termination. I remained open and honest about not wanting to leave the company at any point. In fact, working was one thing I was capable of doing when my body prevented me from doing so much else.
In 2018, I faced some of my toughest health issues due to ulcerative colitis, which resulted in having major surgery to increase my quality of life. After my recovery, Ana presented me with the opportunity to take on Executive Assistant duties at Oliver Gal. The timing was perfect. I was eager to do more, especially after my surgery, which gave me much more control over my health.
My previous experience handling a number of administrative tasks for Ana and the team made the transition easy. I also spent a lot of time troubleshooting different situations for the company, and I was always resourceful. Especially after not being in office for a few years, I was able to find what I needed to get what I needed done. These are all things I still do on a daily basis that make this role a great fit.
“Tyler is the glue that keeps the company connected. She is knowledgeable, inspirational, and is the creative director behind many of our policies and procedures. She has been with the company for 10+ years and I truly admire and respect the value and support she gives, not only to the company, but to every individual.” — Kristin Gregory, Customer Service Associate, Oliver Gal
Where does your drive come from? What keeps you motivated?
I’m not comfortable sitting around and letting things just happen to me. Realizing that I can’t control everything is an obvious factor in my life. I’ve had to learn that in a lot of very painful and uncomfortable ways. What I can control, though, is how I react. This drives me to stay in a constant state of learning, which gives me new perspectives and a lot to look forward to.
I feel lucky and appreciative. I reflect on this constantly, and dedicate myself to making the most of it. Work has been an inspiring outlet for me. It has kept me going. I want to constantly improve processes and experiences — for myself and those around me. And I also want to be an example for my kids so they are inspired to find the things in life that they admire and hold close, especially when times are hard.
When I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I did not realize the challenges I would face over the next few years. It felt like something I could learn more about and overcome. I thought if I just found the right diet, the right medication, the right lifestyle… I could manage.
At the time of my diagnosis, I was actually vegan. I’d spent the previous three years very aware of my lifestyle, avoiding anything in my food, clothes, and personal care products that could have been derived from an animal in any way. It was a major lifestyle change and I thought I would now make more lifestyle changes to manage my new diagnosis.
But my ulcerative colitis proved to be unmanageable, and I ended up losing so much control of my daily life. I was, however, able to work part-time. Because I was working remotely, I could set up my computer wherever I needed: in bed, on the sofa, sometimes at a desk — anywhere I could be comfortable and close to a bathroom.
When my ulcerative colitis was at its worst, I felt stuck. I was fearful that I was holding my kids and family back. Work helped me feel productive and valuable when there was not a lot else I could do. Over time, I also became concerned that I wouldn’t be able to grow much in my career. I couldn’t dedicate more of myself to anything else because having ulcerative colitis was now my full time job. But I was not getting the payoffs because I was unresponsive to treatment.
In 2018, I underwent surgery to replace my colon with an ostomy. I gained back so much control, and I could now do so much more. I did need to do a great deal of planning ahead, but that was easy compared to being completely held back!
I was very motivated to grow in so many ways…. as a parent, a partner, a professional. That’s when I started working as an Assistant — a role I wasn’t formally prepared for, but one I was very grateful to have! And I’ve dedicated myself to it. It’s also a career choice that fits with my lifestyle. There are some jobs I can’t work; my body won’t allow it. It helps that I love my role and the people I work with, and I don’t want to lose that feeling of gratitude.
Working and being able to care for my family is a privilege. Not everyone has that, especially those who have autoimmune diseases. I have run into a number of roadblocks since that surgery, and each one has been difficult. My kids are exposed to these hard times as well. Showing that I am capable of a lot, and expressing pride and happiness, allows me to model that side as well. I hope I’m teaching them resilience!
“Tyler is constantly going beyond the line of duty. She has helped us reach new goals, and to achieve a level of automatization and process registration — despite everyone’s negative acceptance of change. This has enabled us to double the revenue of the company, and has made a huge impact on the well-being of all 75 families that work in our company. Truly remarkable.” — Lola Sanchez, CCO, Oliver Gal
What are you most proud of outside of work?
I’m a mom first, and I’m very proud of my kids.
Otherwise, I’m also proud to share my journey with ulcerative colitis with others. I participate in online communities, and I share on social media some of the effects of living with this chronic illness as well as having an ostomy. Many young people, especially women, go through a series of mental, physical, and emotional challenges when managing this disease. Having an ostomy makes it even more concerning. Self-image and confidence can be hard to maintain in addition to the impact treatment may have on fertility.
I’m lucky to have lots of support, two kids, a husband, and a job. I’m proud that I am comfortable sharing a message of hope with the inflammatory bowel community. I’m proud to represent a successful woman and mom who also has ulcerative colitis and an ostomy.
A common theme in your nominations is introducing new initiatives, such as coffee with the CEO, a newsletter, and communication emails from leadership to the staff. How do you find the confidence to pitch these ideas? What advice would you share with other Admin+ professionals looking to generate buy-in for launching new projects in their own workplaces?
Understanding what you need to share during an initial proposal is important. For me, this comes down to defining the relevance, the resources, and the results. Through this process, I’m able to seek understanding and insights to first gain my own buy-in. My own passion and confidence prepare me to pitch the proposal to the rest of the team within a format that offers them what they need to know to make a decision.
Identifying the relevance is essential. Is this aligned with the company priorities? Answering this question is necessary — not only to get final buy-in from the executive team, but also to determine how we prioritize all of our work as a company.
Reviewing what resources are in place to successfully execute the project can be the longest part of a proposal. What resources and skills are needed? Do I have all the right resources to accomplish this? Answering these questions is a discovery process. You’ll need to have conversations with different team members to expose insights on challenges you might not otherwise know. You’ll need feedback from the team members involved, and you’ll want to seek their buy-in by developing a plan based on team member needs and abilities. Ultimately, you’ll end up with a better understanding if you have the right resources and tools to proceed.
Finally, the results. What is the purpose of this initiative? How will you know you are successful? What is the measurement you will use? Answering these questions demonstrates your understanding of the objective and allows you to track progress in the execution steps.
Many frameworks can be used to set up projects and goals along the way. But these three areas — relevance, resources, and results — are always the first I use for any proposal. This preparation gives me the confidence to approach the CEO or management team with the knowledge that I understand the key factors they need to know to make a decision, and I’ve done the work to ensure that it meets the company and team’s needs.
“Tyler is a driving force at Oliver Gal. Most recently, we were lacking a strategic perspective on HR, and Tyler asked if she could help in the area. She took on the responsibility and worked with the CEO and the coaches to get a better understanding of the issues and potential levers we have control over. She moved the ball forward, and continues to help improve our approach.” — Sid Panjawi, Managing Partner, Velocity Strategic Consulting
After observing that Oliver Gal was lacking a strategic perspective on HR, you jumped in to ask if you could help, then assumed responsibility for understanding the issues and improving approaches. What steps did you take to advocate for yourself in terms of pushing out the boundaries of your role to include this new work?
I gain a lot of confidence in myself and work by taking continuing education courses, like the Leadership & Communications Program by OfficeNinjas + UC Berkeley.
The program gave me the confidence to showcase what capabilities I had to expand my role and take advantage of new opportunities. This included doing a side-by-side review of my current responsibilities and those I wanted to add. It also included plans for delegating specific tasks in order to ensure I had the bandwidth to take on new responsibilities. Knowing our areas of need, I aligned the additional responsibilities with our strategic processes to affirm how I’d address those areas in my role.
Prior to the Leadership & Communications Program, I’d already shown leadership responsibility — especially while supporting the Oliver Gal team through remote work changes and managing employee perks during the pandemic. I had the results to show that I was capable of pushing boundaries.
I also work for an amazing CEO. She represents true leadership in that she is constantly providing opportunities for growth for the company and the team. She has inspired me to continue to grow myself, which is a major motivator for my own growth mindset.
“Tyler is the ultimate ALL-STAR! She invests her personal time in education and learning, and then makes sure to share her new knowledge with our team, which helps everyone grow. She is extremely intelligent and can figure out anything independently. If she doesn’t know how to do something in the morning, you can bet she will know how to get it done by the end of the day. Very resourceful and quick to learn anything. She also has an amazing ability to connect the dots between different areas, which always results in a more efficient outcome for everyone. She is very responsive and has a great sense of prioritization.” — Lital Asher, VP of Operations, Oliver Gal
One nominator observes that you’re always “thinking a few steps ahead” in your role. What tools, techniques, and strategies do you use to maintain this proactive perspective?
One of our team Core Values at Oliver Gal is, “Work Smarter, Not Harder.” This is a top-of-mind perspective I maintain in many areas of my life. I constantly wonder how to improve processes and experiences. This curiosity motivates me to find solutions. I frequently look for ways to improve efficiency, including with my own tasks — even at home.
But the goal is not always increasing productivity. In fact, it’s often about the experience. That includes my own and my team’s experiences. I imagine myself going through the step-by-step process, and ask myself, “What would I need to succeed?” and “What tools can I acquire to remove roadblocks?”
When I don’t know the answer to a question, I look for it. I read a number of administrative newsletters focused on support and knowledge sharing. I also read as much as I can and research available solutions. In most cases, I walk away from my research with at least a minor change I can implement to make an impact or yield a new perspective. In the best cases, I find a broader solution that is successfully implemented.
When it comes to supporting the team in our strategies and priorities, my curiosity also provides me with a “what’s next” mindset. This means thinking ahead about the next details, the due dates, the communication, and even what happens if something is not done or successful. Knowing what questions to ask and then asking those questions at your earliest opportunity allows me to be ahead and prepared. Then, I can prepare the rest of my team, too.
I keep and still reference a number of documents that list out clarifying questions and templates for planning. These resources are easily accessible and very helpful.
“Tyler’s ‘X-Factor’ is digging into the unknown. Any time an issue comes up — presented to her or the company — she jumps right in without hesitation or question. She knows where to go, who to reach out to, and won’t stop until we get a resolution!” — Jason Howard, Operations Manager, Oliver Gal
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Tell us about the craziest day you’ve ever experienced as an Admin+ professional.
One of the craziest days I experienced was while visiting the office last summer. I had just one week in town to focus on being in the office. It was already a bit crazy for me since I am used to working from home, and hadn’t been traveling much during the pandemic.
We had a corporate team-building event planned for that Wednesday in the office. It turned out that the event had not yet been organized… and it was just two days away. I volunteered to run the event, feeling a bit of pressure since we were just starting up our team-building activities again, and we wanted to make sure we positively impacted the team.
Unfortunately, my attempt to arrive early to the office was unsuccessful because I got lost on the way. I assumed I would be able to navigate my way since I used to live there, but I was wrong. I also lacked the products needed to complete the team-building. While I had a plan, it needed time and support I wasn’t sure I could get. But I was able to consult with our CEO on the event decision while still en route. Then when I arrived at the office, I rallied some team members to help.
Through it all, I somehow kept up with my regular workload, managed to hold a few in-person meetings with team members, and prepared our CEO and office for a major virtual interview taking place the next day.
That Wednesday was also an employee appreciation lunch for the corporate team. While I’d assumed my online order would be a smooth process, there was some confusion when I arrived to pick up the 30 subs. None of the drinks or chips were ready. Luckily, I had an amazing team member with me, and we grabbed what we needed and took off. We arrived back at the office just in time for me to hop in front of the whole team and lead the team-building event. I overcame lots of nerves to speak in front of the team, but the end result was a well-executed and fun event that received many compliments afterwards.
How do you and your employer and team members help each other succeed?
Knowledge sharing is the number one support tool everyone needs. This is not just company-specific or work-based; it can also be sharing experiences that helped you through a bad day. However, it must be a constant process.
A couple of years ago, one of our managers noticed that I was taking a little longer than expected to reply to a client over some product proposals. She reached out and asked me what steps I was taking to get the presentations completed. It turns out, we had an automated system in place that would have done most of the legwork for me. When she shared the system with me, I was able to use it in other areas to become more productive and accurate.
I have this same mindset, as does the whole team. When I learn something new, I think about who else may benefit. I ask questions when working on projects and assignments with team members to ensure that they and I have the tools for the best approach.
Tell us about a specific time you found success in failure. What factors influenced your ability to bounce back and be resilient?
Recently, I was told that I receive negative feedback really well. While I’m certainly not hoping to regularly receive negative feedback, it happens. And I’m glad it does because I’m given the opportunity to improve — to learn, really. The first thing I do is listen and process the feedback. I do occasionally feel self-doubt, but I believe this is normal. Still, I accept it and seek to identify what mistakes were made in order to understand how not to make them again. This motivates me.
When someone shares feedback with me, it’s because they want me to improve. They aren’t giving up on me, and I want to prove them and myself right.
I think about my friends, and how if we were out together and I had food in my teeth, and no one told me before we took a smiling photo together, I’d be worried about their friendship! When my mistakes aren’t brought to light, I can’t improve.
What’s one thing you’ve done that’s been the most impactful in advancing your career? Did you know at the time the significance of that move? Were there any risks involved?
The most impactful thing I’ve done in advancing my career has been investing in myself. This comes down to joining administrative networks and taking on new opportunities to learn. My CEO is a big proponent of continuing education, which has inspired me. While I was always interested in learning more, I tended to take my own individual path. This often left me brainstorming and problem-solving alone. When I joined networks, interactive courses, and even coaching cohorts, I not only expanded my skill set, but also gained a new level of confidence that allowed me to continue to excel in my role.
I’d watched my CEO and other people I admire use networking and continuing education to advance their teams. I knew these things would do the same for me. However, the most significant impact, which I had not anticipated, was the community and support I’ve found within these networks.
The biggest risks were initially finances and time. I invested my own money in many of the courses and networks. And as a mom, I was worried about what the commitment would look like since most days I had limited time. Yet, the skills and support I’ve acquired have brought more balance to my life, as well as promotions, which have meant increased salary. Plus, the knowledge I’ve been able to apply has improved my work to the point where I can accomplish many tasks in a shorter time. And I don’t overthink them anymore, either!
Deciding to invest in myself brought more fulfillment to all aspects of my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
“There have been multiple occasions where the management staff has not been able to be present during certain meetings. Tyler is always one step ahead. If someone can’t be there, she picks up their slack and presents what is needed from them and addresses everything that must be addressed so that everyone is on the same page! — Lazaro Santana, Artist, Oliver Gal
What’s the one thing that’s ALWAYS on your desk and why?
A large water bottle to stay hydrated and a printed or hand-written note sharing an inspirational quote or something I heard in conversation that I didn’t want to forget.
What’s a unique system, habit, or framework you’ve followed that has accelerated your career goals?
As a mother and a professional, I sometimes resort to a helpful speed-reading technique. When I’m looking for resolutions or learning about a new topic, I’ll review the source — book, article, report, etc. — to find only the section with the most relevant information. I highlight these sections and come back to them as needed. I may not read the additional content or I’ll return to it later. This process keeps me focused and allows me to find exactly what I need to move forward with the project or task.
Share something that you used to believe about the Admin+ profession but you no longer believe.
When I think back to my earlier expectations about the Admin+ role, I thought the main responsibility was daily office operational needs with the primary focus on supporting everyone else on the team and taking a lot of direction from a lot of people.
I have since found that although I constantly aim to support our team, I do it in many more ways. I make strategic decisions, provide direction, and manage and influence team members just as any leader in our organization does.
I also feel confident that it’s my place to be on the leadership team. When I first joined our management and leadership meetings, I used to take notes and observe. I’d be there when my CEO was not able to be, and I’d update and remind the team of the deliverables determined in the meetings.
Then, I started adding my own thoughts to the notes I shared with my CEO, or I’d email a manager after the meetings with my thoughts or suggestions. Now, I lead the meetings, drive accountability, and share my thoughts in real-time.
Being a supportive Admin+ team member does not mean only executing daily office responsibilities. It also means leading initiatives and giving direction to accomplish overall priorities that benefit the whole company. Our unique experiences working with team members of all levels gives us the valuable perspective and knowledge to lead strategically.
Tyler Travis has built a fulfilling career as a valued and successful Executive Assistant while raising a family and being an ambassador of hope for people living with ulcerative colitis. Join us in celebrating the remarkable achievements of this 2022 OfficeNinjas All-Star!
Onyx generously gifted each All-Star winner with a luxury gift package.
We want to hear from YOU!
Take a few minutes to congratulate 2022 All-Star, Tyler Travis, and share what her stories and perspective mean to you. And if you have a question for Tyler, please include it with your comment.