A Hilarious C-Level Executive Assistant Spills Insider Thoughts You Wish People Knew

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Medium, written by Phoenix Normand who is a career executive assistant and operations manager turned professional development coach. Phoenix’s content has been lightly edited to fit the OfficeNinjas style and is published here with permission.

A quick search through Executive Assistant job listings typically throws me into a fit of rage. Those which dare to print salaries of $40–50K in an insanely expensive market like San Francisco, while requiring 0–2 years previous experience, are the ones that will one day land me in jail for arson.

Having been a career EA for more than 20 years, surviving and thriving through two dot-coms, several insane bosses, two ICU/CCU visits for “stress related heart incidences,” and enough internal organizational dramas to fill most of the pages of the book I’m currently writing, I’ve become a savant when it comes to C-level executives and navigating hierarchies. I know what it takes to be a successful Executive Assistant. And I assure you, someone with 0–2 years experience does not qualify. They’re still chum in a sea of gangsta sharks.

The “secretary” is now folklore. They’re dead, along with argyle sweaters. Please only use the word when referring to Board seats. Executive MEGA Assistants are a new professional breed that most organizations still have no idea how to use. We are tech savvy. We research the heck out of everything. We have business acumen on par with the people we support. We have deep connections throughout numerous industries. We can pick up a phone or send an email and make the world stop on a dime. We can spot a flagging employee and tell you when he’s quitting, along with why and what company he’s going to. In short, we have super powers.

Yet, time and again, companies hire us as the “calendar whiz” or the one who “creates calm from chaos.” We’re often reduced to note takers, coffee procurement specialists, and scapegoats for staff ineptitudes.

So it’s newsflash time, kids—the rules have changed.

And please, don’t get all beat up about your job descriptions, “overqualification” monikers, and budget constraints because you’re a startup. YOU CREATED THIS MONSTER. I’ll explain.

You hired us at your startups and proceeded to not only give us an administrative role, you then added receptionist, office manager, Board liaison, human resources lead, facilities manager, vendor procurement specialist, interior designer, event planner, social media coordinator, and travel agent to the role. That’s zero increase in pay and an exponential increase in expectation and accountability.

There’s not a single other human in the building with as much aggregate responsibility. This includes the CEO.

So we adapted, we studied up. We learned about anything and everything we could. We formed alliances. We created efficient processes so we could simply get through a work day with everything completed. We started listening, watching, and got really good at seeing how things worked—how others behaved in certain situations and what it took to be successful. We also tested our theories on the unsuspecting and figured out ways to circumnavigate the rules in order to achieve our intended outcomes.

And now, if our bosses are out of the office for any amount of time, we can literally run the company in their absence. We know all of the players, their roles, have comprehensive knowledge about all of the projects/initiatives on the table, which Board member to call (confidentially) to ask how to do something, or whom to assign it to. We have the respect of the entire organization because we’re the omnipotent resource (read: go-to) for the company. In short, we know how to get things done … even if it’s (mis)perceived as being way over our heads.

This will probably scare most employers. And to my EA Ninjas out there, those are the employers you should avoid like the plague. They will strip you of your most basic hopes, talents, career momentum and aspirations, and stuff you into a box to have complete control over you. RUN! Those days are done.

For employers who want to attract and keep an Executive MEGA Assistant, here’s what you need to know:

1. Pay Up

We’re martyrs. While you’re at home with your families, so are we … but one hand is preparing dinner while the other feverishly texts and answers emails ahead of tomorrow’s meeting. We’re usually first to arrive and one of the last to leave. We constantly take the blame when execs butt in unnecessarily and throw something that was airtight into peril.

We often get no recognition for the wins, but will get ripped for any and all mistakes we make. We keep our ears and eyes open to counsel and reel in key employees headed for the exit. We are your parent, your second spouse, your marriage counselor, your press secretary, and your biggest fan.

No one—except your mother—will have as big of an effect on your overall business success and personal life as your Executive Assistant. So reflect this impact in what you pay.

2. Let Us FLY

These days you’re requiring senior level business acumen and advanced degrees. So why do you excuse us from conversations and make us fetch donuts (that no one eats), when you should be having us at the table and asking our opinion? We see everything. We can spot a sketchy liar the moment it walks through the door. We’ve dealt with enough of them to know how to flesh out the truth when something just doesn’t add up.

We have mutated and trained ourselves to be indispensable. We’ve been underutilized and overlooked for so long that we’ve had to take our careers into our own hands. We’re constantly finding ways to make contributions to our companies that last long after we’ve left, likely due to poor pay and unnecessary glass ceilings blocking our ascension.

We know what you’re doing, often better than you do. Instead of being threatened (or just lame), partner up!

Let us shine when there’s an opportunity. Course-correct us, sure, but allow us to be bold, contribute, and have a say.

Of course, you still need us to get you on that flight to Boston, but guess what? We already suspected as much and booked it (no change fee) last Thursday. Exit row, aisle, left side of plane, vegan meal.

3. Surprise Us

Spoiler alert: it’s actually impossible. We know what you’re up to at all times. But we’ll find it cute and a sign that you actually care and appreciate us enough to expend the effort. We’re in the line of fire all day, every day—with a myriad of diverse, detailed, exhausting responsibilities, no less. Most of us are single because our jobs scare off our partners. If our boss throws us a bone from time to time, it can literally send us over the moon.

In my 24 years as an EA, I’ve only had one boss actually buy me flowers on Administrative Professional’s Day. Seems kinda trivial right? It’s not.

If you find a great EA, show you appreciate them. Offer them a sign-on bonus. Just like you constantly remind us that we’re not the only game in town, you’re not either. And when we leave, chaos ensues.

4. Watch “The Devil Wears Prada”

No, really! It’s homework. My bosses laugh when I insist they download and watch this movie. Funny thing is, it’s pretty much the story of our lives. There’s not one C-suite Executive Assistant who wouldn’t agree with me. It chronicles our evolution through the ranks, how we’re treated/mistreated/abused, not just by our bosses but by everyone in the organization.

It shows the peril we’re often thrown into by our boss’ requests.

It shows the struggle to remain relevant in position when there’s always someone gunning for your spot.

And it highlights the struggles with our own moral compass as we try to advance as far as we can in our own careers. If I accept a job with an exec, the movie is required viewing. Simple as that. And they typically thank me later. They still don’t get it, but they pretend to at least.

There you have it. A CliffsNotes version of “The New Executive MEGA Assistant.” We’ll still get you coffee—but only if we’re headed that way. And we’ll return with an overheard stock tip, already researched and vetted, and set up a quick con call with you and the CEO—you know, to introduce yourself. You’re welcome.

Anything else you’d add to this, Ninjas?

Phoenix Normand

Phoenix Normand

Having been an EA for over 23 years, surviving and thriving through two dot-coms, several insane bosses, and two ICU/CCU visits, Phoenix Normand has become an Office Ninja savant and is currently writing a book recounting his hilarious tales as a C-Suite Executive Assistant.

Comments

  1. Inesse Manucharyan
     

    Wow! This is such an amazing article, Phoenix! An eye opener for sure. I am so thrilled to be reading this and being part of this amazing journey! Can’t wait for your book in April.

  2. SHARON INGLIMA
     

    This article is spot on. I’ve been an EA forever and I know my worth. We could all write a book about our experiences. Our bosses couldn’t survive without us! They just won’t admit it.

  3. Leigh Ann
     

    Phoenix, this is amazing. So spot on, and really helps early EA’s know what it takes to be successful in this career. One that aspires to simply manages calendars will not have what it takes. Can’t wait to read your book!

  4. Kim Gigovski
     

    I love this and it makes me SMILE so much. what is the name of the book?

  5. Jae Jones-Harris
     

    Enjoyed your article and as stated above . . . you nailed it!

  6. Janine
     

    Impeccable timing as I rethink my EA career of 25+ years. I’ve mastered the relationship of 3 “Exec Husbands” – left them all! Now it’s time to figure out who this guy is that’s been sleeping next to me for 27 years! Oh, hi husband…

  7. Yvonne Jansky
     

    So incredibly true! I have stories that would make your hair fall out!!

  8. Sara
     

    Love the article! Tried to read through the comments but they are endless, most saying the same things we EAs have all experienced for years. My advice after 30+ years: get a specialized degree and don’t be an assistant. Once you are in that role, you won’t be seen as anything else no matter how much you try to redefine yourself.

    Phoenix – I have some good stories for your book. Maybe we can collaborate!

    1. Vicki
       

      HI Sara … I have been doing EA work for well over 37 years and I beg to differ on the fact that you are only seen as an assistant. You are what you make yourself! My CEO would NEVER classify me as “just” an assistant … I hear him say I’m his lifeline to his business as well as his work partner. I never refer to him as “my boss” and we have worked on our professional relationship for 16 years.

      1. Sarah
         

        Thank you for saying this. I was deployed for 8 yrs as an administrative specialist, administrative assistant and administrative officer as an Army civilian employee. I tell people you can do this job anywhere in the WORLD. You are NOT just an assistant.

  9. Emjay
     

    You covered it all and all I can add is nope, nope, nope. If you can run a company, don’t be the EA. If you can write a book, don’t be an EA. If you can do ANYTHING else, don’t be an EA especially in the DMV, for a non-profit, or an association.

  10. Grace de Leon
     

    Found this great article because researching a similar theme. In which of the three categories would Executive Administrators &/or Assistants be best classified: C-suite, Middle Management or Rank & File?
    Thanks!

  11. Lynne
     

    Ending my Exec Assistant career after the last unreasonable request from the last neurotic micro manager – was totally liberating. I’ve had fantastic bosses and lousy ones over the last 20 or so years. I ended my Friday as usual, waited until everyone had left (including psychoboss) packed up my desk and went home to write my very professional resignation email and pressed “send” – after several glasses of wine. Effective immediately. I’m not working as an executive assistant anymore and now with my transferrable skills I am working in a new role in a beautiful school where I am treated with respect and absolutely love my job. I will never work as an Executive Assistant again. I am done. I am 40+ with years of experience in media, publishing and marketing and I am so happy I will never be anyone’s EA ever again. Burn out. Done. Over. It got me where I am today but I’ll never, ever go back.

    1. Patty Hume
       

      Lynne I liked your comment. May I ask what you did for a career after leaving the EA position you had?

    2. Patty Hume
       

      What career did you choose after leaving the EA position?

    3. Vicki
       

      HI Lynne … this is so sad. Happy you are loving the NEW job – but SO SAD that your EA years were not the best. I am a Sr EA and have been doing this for ~ 16 yrs (current job) and 21 yrs (last job). I LOVE IT. Do I love it EVERY day … no. But, I do love being an EA (to a CEO and his family and his friends and on and on). Godspeed to you.

    4. Inesse Manucharyan
       

      Lynne, that is incredible. Good for you! It takes a lot of courage to do something bold like that. Can you please share what career did you take at school? I have been an EA for 15 years and it’s time for a change! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Jessica
     

    I’m just about to start a new career working for two c-levels. I come from having run my own business for 10 years and before that a corporate career. I really like these guys. I want to make sure that from the get go, I set the tone on how I expect to be treated and what role I expect to play in our new “team of three”, which is what I called us in my interview. Any advice on those crucial first days/weeks?

    1. Katy
       

      One of the better bosses I’ve worked for told me explicitly that he didn’t hire me to be a waitress, that I wasn’t to be running out to pick up lunch for him or for colleagues even if they requested for their ‘meetings at lunch time’. AND he let that be known to his leadership team, which he always included me on. If lunch is required, call it in, have it delivered, don’t be ‘the waitress’. He’s C-Level for a reason.

    2. Vicki
       

      Hi Jessica. Be sure to do a reverse interview on both of your new work partners! You want as much information on both of them as possible – personal and work-related – so you are able to do what you need to do without missing a beat! You will be so happy you did!

  13. Ally
     

    Omg thank you for this!! I just resigned from a position after enduring 5 years of micromanaging, and being treated as if I’m lucky to find my way to work…. I’ve now landed a job where they know my worth and want to see excel as part of their executive team NOT the hired help! I’ve learned to advocate for myself and walk of I see I’m not respected and appreciated.

  14. Diane Carrow
     

    LOVE THIS!! Thank you for this!! I often say I should write a book about being an EA for C-Suite level oh the funy scenerios we’re tact with!! My best in the the 20 plus years is “can you call the pilot and let them know i’m running 10 mins late”

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Ha! That’s a good one. Understood if it was his own airplane or charter, but hoping that wasn’t a commercial flight request.

      1. Mel
         

        You HAVEN’T lived until you’ve been asked to hold a commercial flight!

    2. NeverEnough
       

      Been there, done that!

    3. Sandy
       

      My hair-raising-est moment was the first time being asked to call someone and ask to borrow a jet. Had to take a deep breath but managed with grace.

  15. Diana Acosta
     

    I absolutely loved this article! Insightful, true, funny, sad, but most of all empowering to all EA’s. Glad there is a bold voice.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Diana!

  16. Priya Surujpaul
     

    Thank you for this! Our day will come and I will no longer have to say after 25 years of being an EA “this too shall pass”!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Our day is actually here. We simply need to embrace it and approach it from a position of power vs. “waiting” for it to manifest. That’s proven to be quite ineffective for decades. Time to step up actually make some in roads with an audience that’s quite open to what we have to say these days.

      1. Vicki
         

        AMEN! It’s a very Speak Up or Shut Up way of life now.

  17. Christina Louis
     

    Thanks so much for writing this article!! I’m currently working with a Landscape Architect firm for a year and would like to write my ‘anniversary’ letter. Is that a thing? I’ve been in various roles supporting Execs but not as corporate as my current job. They are laid back but the work structure for my role is all that you explained in your article and what I’m reading in the comments. The company is currently in financial constraints. They’ve already sent my annual letter confirming a raise but it’s not what I want. I would like to write a letter that portrays what I think of the company thus far, highlight my work throughout the year, things I need to work on and what I hope to be paid in the future. Also, a bonus was advertised prior to getting this job but when the time came for me to receive, I was told that this is something they do not do; I’d like to touch on this. The woman (and husband) I work for is great and I think this could be a great learning environment for me but as you stated, I want them to hear my voice and understand where I’m coming from. I’m looking for a bit of guidance on how to write this letter. Can you help? Thanks again!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      I tend to be blunt, so here goes. You’ve missed your opportunity this time around, so you’ll likely have to wait about 6 months to bring up your grievances with a successful outcome. And when you write the letter the #1 thing that you’ll need to prove is the value that you provide the company. Aside from your ability to complete tasks in record time you need to state, in the “language” they speak, how you’ve made or saved the company money or created some sort of efficiency that saved time, increased revenues or decreased expenditures. For a company that is, as you state, financially constrained, this is CRITICAL. Otherwise, it will sound like whining and will be written off as such. If you need a 1:1 coaching session feel free to reach out to me at phoenixnormand.com. Can’t really answer as comprehensively as needed in the space of a comments bar. Remember: PROVE (not just state) YOUR VALUE. If you can put it in plain English with stats/figures to back up your claim, then it’s much easier to “find the money” to pay you more if that’s what you’re requesting. But you may want to consider a move if after you approach them you’re not making the money you want or if it feels like your request fell on deaf ears. Waiting around and hoping that people “do the right thing” is recipe for disappointment. Operate in POWER, not in passivity.

  18. Miranda
     

    Having worked at C-level for a global company and for a great boss where I had tonnes of autonomy, and loved being the lynchpin/go-to person.. I will say this. You don’t get paid what they get paid. The responsibility is theirs. Thanks to one poorly run division, the company I worked for ran into some terrible reputational issues which nearly tanked the whole organisation. The executive team, and me as support, worked non-stop for about 3 months under incredible pressure until the situation was resolved. I was on call 24/7, leave was cancelled, the stress level was beyond anything I’d ever dealt with before. My boss ended up losing his job, the new guy didn’t want anything to do with the ‘old team’ and treated us all so badly – me in particular – that the team who’d worked so hard to save the company resigned one by one. We then went through a huge internal review of ‘what went wrong’.. more long hours, more stress, everyone miserable. My old boss left with a huge payoff – I was left with anxiety issues and complete burnout. I repeat.. you don’t get paid enough to run the company, they take the responsibility with the fat pay packet . (Happy to report this was some years ago, and I’m now using my ace EA skills for a local company and have a much healthier work-life balance).

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      It’s important to remember this. If you don’t own the company, that company essentially has the right to do anything they please (within the constraints of employment law, of course.) When things go awry we get emotional vs. tactical. It’s human, but it’s also a weakness. It robs us of sound judgment and often makes us bitter when we feel disrespected or underappreciated. Hindsight is 20/20, but I’ll bet you would have done things differently looking back on the situation. I have a feeling you may have quit much earlier than you did knowing what you know now.

      My point: We must approach our roles more entrepreneurially. Almost as CEOs of our own businesses. With our execs as clients vs. our “superiors.” If our client isn’t performing to the original agreement (offer letter/expectation) then we have every right to bring it back to the table and renegotiate the terms of the agreement (expectation resetting). If neither party can agree on terms then it’s time to terminate the contract and fire the client. There are plenty of amazing “clients” out there who would love an incredble service provider on their team.

      You are an expert at what you do. Never allow your power to be stripped away or bequeath it in any way. If a situation goes south, instead of trying to save it consider removing yourself from it as quickly as possible. This is BUSINESS. Companies care about bottom lines, not your feelings. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise. Do what’s right FOR YOU at all times. If something doesn’t align with your personal/professional happiness, make the change.

      And congrats on finding a situation that works FOR YOU.

      1. S White
         

        Love this comment. Too many are loyal to the boss and not themselves. Yes bring your best everyday, yes bring the solutions, implement change where required – burn that midnight oil on occasion to do so – but never become so tunnel visioned that you lose perspective. Your role must work for you! If it doesn’t and you cannot fix it, time to move on!

  19. Cassie Withrow
     

    I think what is forgotten when it comes to Executive Assistants is that we don’t get an off button. I was in labor with my second child when my boss texted that he had 2 flats and didn’t know his AAA number, so I called and got him a tow truck. When I was in Mexico last year for a much needed vacation, I got a call from a contractor that a leak had caused lots of flooding in one of my boss’s rental homes, so I left the beach to get my laptop to contact people. EAs are warriors, and we will be there to do all you need, and we should be treated with that respect. Do you find in your career that you are treated with respect or treated like a secretary?

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      One of the most important tenets I teach in my masterclass MEGA University is that you must teach people how to treat you. Important phrase: “How you’re being treated is how you’re being perceived.” If you feel like you’re being treated like a “secretary” (that’s a perception, not fact, btw) then it means you’ve done a poor job of teaching people how to treat you. By constantly coming to the rescue and forgoing your own moments of peace, you’ve set the bar. Anything less than that bar is seen as a faillure or “dropping the ball.” Real talk, you can’t push the blame off onto anyone else for a bar that you set yourself. Doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to those expectations, but once you lock in an expectation it’s incredibly difficult to change it when someone’s already become accustomed to it. And anything less than what they’ve become accustomed to is seen as a less than satisfactory experience.

      Respect is the synergy of setting the expectation and delivering the goods, with consistency. Personal respect comes from being able to do all of the aforementioned in a manner that doesn’t squelch your voice or power and sets appropriate boundaries that aren’t crossed for any reason.

      People can figure out how to get a tire changed. If they can’t they shouldn’t be king. Playing savior comes at a price. That kudo or two you received for being “so selfless” is now the expectation you lament about.

      1. Susie
         

        So, so true! This is something I’m still working on. How do you set expectations but at the same time don’t appear ‘unhelpful’ or plain ‘incompetent’?

      2. PeaceC
         

        YES!! That is exactly my point of view. The sad part is there is always a boot-licker eager to one-up you and really step on toes. I have one such person who tries it over and over again. There are other issues here too, which involve subtle discrimination that I won’t go into. At this point, I am measuring whether after 14 years and at the second company of working with this person, I can leave. Retirement doesn’t look like it will be possible in 15 years, and this industry doesn’t tend to hire older women. It’s a hard position to be in.

  20. Angie
     

    The Devil Wears Prada is ridiculously spot on! when i fist got this job supporting 3 VP’s a coworker jokingly mentioned that’s what my life would be………….BOY was he right! In hindsight i didn’t just support my VP’s, i became a facilities manager, kitchen manager, supply manager, maintenance head, parking guru. I by default assisted the CMO and an additional VP who’s assistant was located a mere 112 miles away in another city. To add to all of this i manage my household, my husbands schedules, my daughters schedules and extended family responsibilities while planning my sisters wedding. 1 year later and i can honestly say i’m saddened i’ve never been included in one meeting or call yet over half of what i hear i already know is detrimental to the company. It’s so depressing being the stepping stone that i’m arranging birthday cakes for everyone else and everyone forgets mine.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      You do alot, no doubt. But what I’m gathering is that it’s “in power.” This role now requires that you kick some doors in and take a place at the table. If you’re constantly running up against roadblocks or bosses who relegate you to cake duty, it’s time to look for a new role. Life is short. If you’re not being challenged and respected professionally, move on. People, essentially, don’t change. Expecting them to magically realize your worth is futile. Additionally, if you’re not advocating for yourself ad nauseam they have nothing to think about with regard to your professional development. The market is strong. If you’re not getting what you want despite REAL EFFORT, it’s time to go. Ordering cake…really? Is that what you aspire to? I think not. Take your power back, my friend. You clearly have the capability to run the world. Don’t allow ANYONE to dim your fire. Especially YOU! Sending best wishes and ton of energy and power your way. #bebold #makeanimpact

    2. Miyoka
       

      I use to feel bad when they forgot my birthday too. Especially, after all the fires I put out and dragons I slayed— but then I realized that they needed me to remind them of their own birthdays, lol. So no need to feel bad. Just put it on their calendar and buy your own cake or flowers for your exec to give to you, lol. I mean what else can you expect from someone who interrupts your vacation over a tire? If you want to be in meetings tell them. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with an executive who treated me like a partner from the start. He said if you want something make it happen, do not sit around waiting for everyone with your high expectations.

  21. Helena
     

    Love your article. I’ve been an EA for over 40 years and can read minds at this point. Corporate Structure:
    Chairman Of The Board
    Leaps tall buildings in a single bound. Is more powerful than a speeding locomotive; faster than a speeding bullet. Walks on water. Gives policy to God.

    President
    Leaps short buildings in a single bound. Is more powerful than a switch engine; just as fast as a speeding bullet. Walks on water when the water is calm. Talks with God.

    Executive Vice-President
    Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds. Is almost as powerful as a switch engine; not quite as fast as a speeding bullet. Walks on water in an indoor swimming pool. Talks to God if special request is granted.

    Vice President
    Barely clears a quonset hut. Loses tug of war with locomotive. Can fire a speeding bullet. Swims well. Is occasionally addressed by God.

    General Manager
    Makes high marks on the wall when trying to leap buildings. Is run over by a locomotive. Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury. Dog paddles. Talks to animals.

    Manager
    Runs into buildings. Recognizes locomotive two out of three times. Is not issued ammunition. Can’t stay afloat with a life preserver. Talks to walls.

    Trainee
    Falls over doorsteps when trying to enter buildings. Says, “Look at the choo-choo.” Wets self with a water pistol. Plays in mud puddles. Mumbles to self.

    Secretary
    Lifts buildings and walks under them. Kicks locomotives off the tracks. Catches speeding bullets in her teeth and eats them. Freezes water with single glance. She IS God.

    1. Jules
       

      LOVE LOVE LOVE!

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Adore this! And congrats on a, clearly, storied and successful career.

    3. ANGELA BRANDON
       

      This. Is. Epic…thanks for sharing!

    4. Wende Morrow
       

      God Bless EA’s!!!! Love this; thank you! (from your fellow Goddess of 32 years in our Profession/20 of them Legal).

    5. Vicki
       

      Seriously, this made my day! LOVE THIS! and it is SOOOO TRUE.

  22. Ann
     

    I love this article! I’ve been an Admin Assistant off and on for many years although I never reached your level of EA. I will definitely buy the book because I struggle being the introverted Admin to a boss that doesn’t usually share very much as to what is happening in our division. It has been a struggle for 10 years to get information. Your article and encouraging words gave me a boost of confidence that I needed. Keep up the good work!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Ann. Often we need to shame our bosses into remembering that without access to the same information they have we’re flying blind. It’s inefficient and opens everything up to interpretation. That’s not sound business practice. Wishing you all the best! Book will be out end of April.

  23. Diane McDevitt
     

    In all honesty, I don’t think anyone really knows what an Executive Assistant really is. Back in ’08, after being laid off from a well paying EA position (company had major cutbacks, I was one of 2 EA’s and she had seniority), I found EA positions being posted that were $20 to $30k LESS than what an Exec Admin traditionally sees in salary and the work load was astonishing – not only EA duties, but PA work for one of the principles (at least) and travel for the company as well as…one of my favorite phrases – such tasks as may be required – that’s a phrase that can mean anything from cleaning a restroom to preparing the next year’s budget. I’ve gone from being ‘in charge’ to being ‘everyone’s bitch’ and back again depending on the job. Worst thing for EA’s is a C-level who has no idea what an EA is capable of and holds her back.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      1. I’d encourage you to never be anyone’s “bitch” as you state. The role has changed and many companies are adding more responsibilities wherever there appear to be competencies or cost savings. It’s up to the EA to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. If you’re scrubbing toilets and that’s not your thing, say so. If that’s a deal breaker for the company, the choice is yours to stay and try and find a way to convince them to hire a real janitor, an intern or anyone ELSE to handle that task, or leave. Kinda simple really. Once you set the bar and the expectation, anything less is seen as failure or a unwritten breach of contract.

      2. If you’re not providing tangible and quantifiable value beyond the expectation of the role, don’t expect to be compensated at pre-2008 levels. The market has tightened with regard to comp, so if you’re not showing up with A+ recommendations, some sort of personal brand cred, and “killing it” every day to the point where they feel embarrassed at how little they’re paying you, then expect to be compensated at this lower standard of pay. However, you have every opportunity to consistently produce at an insane level and call them to the table to pay up accordingly. Most companies will recognize your efforts if your work is universally accepted as stellar. But please don’t confuse entitlement with crushing it. Whereas we could get away with “heritage compensation” because of experience or whom we’d worked for in previous lives, these days it’s about the value you provide to the company and your ability to make people take note. Do that consistently and you’ll get exactly what you want. Likely more.

      3. Now, more than ever, we have to educate our Execs on how best to partner with us. Yet we often don’t. We hear a few “no”s, get butthurt and bitter, and never broach the subject again. Execs negotiate all day, every day. Watch them. Listen to them. Do you think they sit around and allow themselves to be pigeon holed into a role that clips their wings? NOPE. They keep pushing the envelope or they mine their networks to find a role with a company that allows their upward trajectory to continue. Why should EAs be any different. We’re professionals as well. We are experts at our craft and deserve the same respect as fellow experts in theirs. If we’re not aggressive where necessary to make sure people understand that our worth and abilities (beyond what they see or presume), the fault lies with us. New game. New rules.

      1. Wende Morrow
         

        I’ve recently found this site. I deeply appreciate your honesty and deep dive and solutions on the angles that are REAL and NOW. We can’t rest on our laurels because we’ve done this so long we are practically Vampiric.. but it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our health or dignity in our jobs or stu up like old bones either. This site is a paragon of wisdom and hope for all stages of your EA career! Thank you!

        1. Wende Morrow
           

          I’ve recently found this site. I deeply appreciate your honesty and deep dive and solutions on the angles that are REAL and NOW. We can’t rest on our laurels because we’ve done this so long we are practically Vampiric.. but it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our health or dignity in our jobs or dry up like old bones either. This site is a paragon of wisdom and hope for all stages of your EA career! Thank you!

  24. Eliza
     

    Hello Phoenix. What would you recommend for someone that works at a law firm where an influential executive/attorney barely says “hi”, and keeps his door closed, and doesn’t ask for assistance, much less accept any? Just wondering, how you would interact or deal with someone of that nature in the workplace?

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      I counsel my MEGA Assistant University students to always remember, “It’s about the BUSINESS.” Not everyone is warm and fuzzy. And we’re all entitled to present whatever face we choose to the world. The goal here is to remove the emotion from any transaction that you have with this individual and keep it professional and curt. Still smile and be who you are, but don’t waste any additional energy trying to “convert” or force someone to behave in a way that’s not innate. That’s not your job. The work IS. Now, if it morphs into something hostile, you have a different decision to make. Even if this is an atmosphere that is no longer conducive to your happiness, again you have the superpower of CHOICE…whether or not to choose to work at the company or with anyone who behaves this way. However, I’d suggest just rolling with it and focusing on the objective, not what you perceive as moderate aloofness. Make sense?

  25. Colleen Davis
     

    Thank you for taking the words right out of my mouth. This Sr. Is Spot On! Thank you for writing this. Well done!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks so much, Colleen! Very sweet.

  26. Alyssa
     

    I’ve never commented on an article before but I couldn’t not comment on this. I’m technically an Administrative assistant at my company and have been for 3 years. Everyone knows I’m the wearer of the hats at my company. But I definitely fall into this executive mega assistant of which you speak. I often feel like my boss has no clue and have tried to give him my opinions about things that I think are bad or good ideas. Many times I get ignored which has been super frustrating because as you know, I’m the one that actually deals with the bad decisions and how it affects the employees. I’ve been job hunting and have had some good success so far landing interviews for exec. Assistant type roles. I’m looking to find someone that really gets it. I’ve made a list of a couple questions to ask potential employers but wondered what you ask? I feel like I’m the one doing the interviewing, which to me makes total sense and I’m guessing makes sense to many readers as well. Thank you so much for writing this article!! Could not be better.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks so much, Alyssa! I’m a big proponent of “going with your gut” when it comes to interview questions. One of my favorite is, “What does success look like to you in this role?” or “What, specifically, would you need in order for me to be considered successful supporting you in this role?” That usually puts the onus back on them to supply an answer which, in turn, becomes your benchmark and something to measure your performance against when it’s annual review time. If you’re both clear on the expectation, then you’re both officially accountable. Which means that if you meet (likely exceed) the expectation you have every right to request/receive raises, bonuses, etc. It’s when the expectation is not clearly set BEFORE day 1 is when we get into crunchy situations of not knowing what metric our performance is being judged against. And an “out” for not being raised/compensated fairly. Wishing you best of luck and thanks so much for the kind words.

  27. Jessica
     

    This article has given me life on a very hard Friday afternoon after a very hard week in Board Liaison/Exec Assistant to the CEO in the nonprofit world. Oh boy. THANK YOU.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      You have my ultimate respect. Non-profit is a completely foreign universe to me. As always, hang in there and keep it all in perspective. You made it through. That’s the win. See you on Monday!

  28. Cynthia
     

    Spot on! Touche! 33 years here. LOL!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      WOW!!! I bow to thee! Congrats, Cynthia.

  29. Tina Montana
     

    I laughed, incredibly hard on this. Then I cried a little. I’m a weird case…I’m but a babe (10 years in the game, but only 4.5 years with my current boss). But I’ve experienced so much, and see that this artcile is absolutely spot on. I have a dual degree, and initially I had a wonderful partnership with my boss (CEO), but then that dwindled. Now I’m treated like a receptionist. It’s horrible. I don’t know where things went wrong, but there is little worse than feeling so unappreciated. Thank you for your words, they are incredibly relate-able, and encouraging for whatever my future move is. Thank you.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Tina. Advice from a vet: Never stay somewhere you are not appreciated or valued. If you know in your heart that the relationship isn’t salvageable, then it’s time to buck up and move on. Think of it from this perspective which I teach at my class “MEGA Assistant University” (phoenixnormand.com)– You are the service provider. And your boss and his team are your #1 clients. You both signed a contract acknowledging the services to be provided and the expectation of that service (read: your offer letter). Much like any other vendor or service provider if the relationship breaks down…either the vendor isn’t satisfying the needs of the client, or the client isn’t paying the service provider consistently, either party has the right to terminate the contract. If your client seems to be unhappy with the service you’re providing and you’re not getting what you need from your client, it may be time to terminate the contract and go offer your (great) services to a client that would be more than happy to have them and pay you accordingly. Make sense? Don’t take it personal. Keep it transactional. Sometimes change is just what you need to spread your wings and reignite your fire. Wishing you best of luck!

  30. Laura Levinson
     

    So spot on and awesome!! I can’t wait for the book to out at the end of the month.

    After a corporate re-structure I am transitioning back to entertainment from professional sports. Anyone have any negotiating tips on salary, perks and other things you can ask for when negotiating an offer that may be lower than expected?

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Laura. Book got pushed to next year. It’s a good thing, believe me. Had to add a couple of chapters. Negotiation tips: Ask for a signing bonus. Or ask them to purchase your phone and laptop that you get to take with you if and when you decide to leave. And have them reimburse your cellular plan if most of the calls you take/make come through your cell phone.

  31. Kathleen Young Rybarczyk
     

    Spot-on fantastic article! I just recently switched fields from medical to education and am hoping to “climb the EA ladder”. My current boss is retiring August 1st. I’m going to miss her measured critiques, warm conversations, and gentle humor. I hope my new boss is just as awesome. And if I’m really lucky, that my future ones are as well!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Congrats, Kathleen! I’d caution thinking about “climbing the ladder.” Think more about creating a business of your own within the business unit you’re serving. The goal is to be an incredible service provider and let your exemplary work create opportunities for you to grow in position and garner the respect (and compensation) commensurate with you contribution. By being “the CEO of me” you hold the reins vs. handing them over in position. New day. New rules! :)

      1. Kathleen Young Rybarczyk
         

        I’m in a school system, so the power structure is a little different and the mentoring and professional development is insanely good. My current boss (the one retiring) was the former head of professional development, so she encourages me to take ANY class that fits into the Department’s schedule.

        I hear you on the “CEO of me” though. I’m headed for back-to-back conferences in July, one for my union and MSEA to become a Grassroots Orgranizing team leader for educational issues for the 2018 mid-terms and the other for IAAP’s 2017 Summit in New Orleans. I’m planning my PD for the summer and early fall, studying for my CAP certification, and surrounding myself with awesome in-house mentors.

        My Department is undergoing massive change with the retirement of my boss, a new focus on discipline & students, and even a name change. I’m going to be here, calmly steering us through it all. And asking for a promotion via position reclassification when the dust settles, (as I’m the only one at my level who isn’t an Admin III ).

        Thanks again for the article and advice!

      2. Miss anonymous
         

        I had to screenshot this. I’m about to become EA for the first time & I’m scared. The CEO wouldn’t shake my hand because I guess it’s part of being orthodox Jewish. I’m beyond anxious.

  32. Michele
     

    Best EA article I’ve ever read. At 51 I’m finally starting to feel like people get me – Phoenix you are the voice in my head now.
    I’m new to the Ninjas and converting my EA colleagues left and right…I just forwarded this article to them and I’m taking a copy into my performance review this morning!
    I’ve been smacking my head on the ceiling at my job for a couple of years now – since being directed to take on someone else’s full time job (in addition to my own, for no more pay) … and the only feedback I seem to get (other than a very nice Christmas card) is that I am assigned more responsibility than either of my predecessors because I’m far more capable….yeah, that’s a slippery slope (how many times does this have to happen before I get a clue!).
    But with the support of my peers and the Ninja community I have newfound courage to lay the groundwork for change.

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Michele, stop the head-smacking! We’ve got you covered when it comes to navigating the highs and lows of Ninjalife ;)

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Hi Michele. Thanks for the sweet comments. Let me get in your head a little bit more. What I teach at MEGA Assistant University (phoenixnormand.com) is to really take a step back and look at how you approach your role. The goal is to get out of the top-down approach to the role, which usually ends up as a catch-all for any and everything they can load onto your plate that you have to “take” vs. negotiate for. Look at yourself as a service provider. No different than any other vendor you would hire to do excellent work. If you want additional services, those cost money. I will provide you with the same incredible service…and you will pay me commensurate with my contribution. We tend to fall into these patterns of accepting what’s given to us with little to no pushback. And it has done us all an injustice and continues to do so. I’d suggest creating a list of EVERYTHING you do. Google the market rate salaries for both your job as well as the job you’ve “inherited.” When you feel confident enough to do so, approach your exec and have a frank conversation about what your responsibilities are, how they’ve increased, and ask, “Do you think the compensation I’m receiving is fair and commensurate with my contribution to the company.” Put it back on them. If they think it’s fair, then you have your answer about how you and your contributions are being valued within the company. If they are willing to make an adjustment, you know that they care and want to do right by you. The objective here is to really empower YOURSELF to have the crunchy conversations and be proactive in creating parity, vs. waiting for some magical, non-existent change to come to you. You have to create it. And sometimes, you have to walk, not just to make a point, but to find opportunities that align with what YOU want for your career. Not what other’s determine as what you’re worthy of. #bebold

    3. Hilary
       

      Agreed Michele! Phoenix is the voice inside my head….article was a true joy to read!

  33. Jennifer Magana
     

    Phoenix, <3 your candid truth. Many smiles…ode to the life the EA. As soon as I connected with you on LI, your story came up in my feed. So many #tbt's! Indeed the game has changed and now we are directing the stories! Our words have power.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Jennifer. I’m often amazed at how “bluntly” we’re treated, but continue to sugar coat everything when we deal with one another. Conferences that are pure “rah rah” with no deep dive drive me insane. There seems to be a shift happening, thank goodness. Luckily, I’m being inundated with speaking opportunities for which I’m incredibly grateful. But my one caveat is, “I don’t dilute my message. And my message isn’t always pretty.” That’s caused me to lose a couple of gigs, but most are like, “NO…we want you to be YOU!” You’re right. Our words do have power. But we must consciously use our voice, as is, so that we can relate and bond instead of having a picture being painted for us that doesn’t really include the whole truth.

  34. Nora Caterino
     

    That article rates 10 stars on a scale of 1-5! Awesome and so true. When we HAVE to take off work, for example having major lifesaving surgery, sometimes the execs expect US to find someone to fill in. The no matter how good a VA you get to fill in, the bosses have some complaint because it wasn’t me doibf. I have actually been in the hospital recovering and worked a couple of hours each day on things that “no one else can handle like you” from the second day after surgery until I got to go home three weeks later!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks so much, Nora. I sincerely appreciate the love. And YES, we go above and beyond…at times to our own detriment. I always like to caution my students and coaching clients: once you set the bar and do that one or two things you really don’t want to do, they’ll expect it every time. With no extra special “thank you” attached. Choose well.

  35. Kathleen
     

    I have worked for every a**hole in Northern California! I could write a book about the mean, bully, don’t like people, psychiatric, eccentric, anal, drug taking, and unethical bosses I have had. I would appreciate a book that really tells the story of the subservant Executive Admin

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Haha! Let’s compare notes…and I’ll throw in a couple from SoCal for the win! But keep in mind, it’s all about attitude. I’m actually a pro at handling the screamers or the quirky ones. Before I took my current role my recruiting agency’s mantra was, “Find him an Ari!” (from the show Entourage). I’m a bit of an a**hole whisperer. (Wow…bad choice of words) Usually, there’s a disconnect between what they want, which they’re not very good at communicating, and what they get. Pairing a tough boss with a wallflower EA is recipe for disaster, every time. And this is something I teach in MEGA Assistant University. You don’t relinquish your voice when you sign your offer letter. In fact, you should get even louder once you do. The goal is to treat your boss like a client. If he’s an irate client find out why. Ask questions. Observe his behavior shifts. Dig a little deeper instead of simply writing him off as an a**hole. There’s always more there and it’s actually your job to figure that out. We get dragged into the emotions of human interaction far too easily when we’re AT WORK. Hear me when I say this. We are hired to perform. Period. Emotions are nowhere in your job description. And you aren’t paid to have them. They are baggage that, if left unchecked, will create bias and assumptions that sabotage the relationship with your boss and will paralyze you in getting your work done. We’re all human. We all have problems. But at work, we all have ONE goal. Move the needle. The onus is on us, individually, to set the stage for even our Ari’s of the world to do just that.

  36. Marcie Anderson
     

    Spectacularly accurate! Thank you for writing this. I have worked for a religious organization for 16.5 years and am currently on-boarding and supporting our new head pastor while supporting another ministry due to a vacancy as well as being Office Manager and supporting a team of 6 admins! Laughter is the best stress reducer – what else are we gonna do? Executive MEGA Assistants rule the world! Can’t wait for the book.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      It’s funny, but if you were to dissect the number and level of tasks that Executive Assistants handle on a year-over-year basis, the number of people we come into contact with, the number of touches it takes to complete a task…we kind of DO rule the world! Thanks so much for the kind words. And congratulations on 16.5 years! It’s a testament to the fact that this role truly is a career path, not something you “kinda fell into.”

  37. Stephanie Powley
     

    Phoenix. You have taken every word I have been trying to string together right out of my brain. This is an incredible read for it’s length. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Stephanie! Much appreciated. #werisetogether

  38. Tamara Leger
     

    You are dead on target with this one! I’ve been an administrative professional for 30 years! The biggest hurdle for someone with my MEGA qualifications is my age. They want someone younger, but want the experience and qualifications of someone like me! I left my last position which I held for 15 years, because they wanted to save the institution money and hire someone to do my job at 30% less pay. I am the proverbial Jill of All Trades — the Sgt. Bilko of Administrative Processes — I can do it all and do it right the first time! I now have a position that took me 10 months to procure –and I’m giving it my usual MEGA effort. The pay is ridiculous, but they are appreciative and give me freedom to get things done. Age and experience should be appreciated and compensated, not shoved aside for younger and less expensive. I do not begrudge the younger set getting EA positions, but they should earn them and be experienced enough to be a real asset to their executive partner. Go Office Ninjas! Phoenix Normand– looking forward to the book!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Tamara, this was beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing. Here’s the deal. I’m 47. Ding! Cat’s out of the bag. But my attitude and my approach to this role have always been lived through the eyes of a wanderlusty, hyper-driven, slightly crazy 27 year old kid who still believes that the world is a good place, companies DO care about their employees, and one day Executive Assistants will be appreciated, recognized and rewarded for ALL that we do. I can work circles around most 20-somethings because I master the technologies they’re using, I can draw on my experience to line jump anywhere at any time, I can search my “Rolodex” and come up with a contact through a contact’s contact that can get me a freakin’ unicorn with a rainbow horn, AND I can still run my desk like a boss. My age has absolutely NOTHING to do with my approach to my job. And when I apply at companies my goal and my mantra is, “Just get me to the face-to-face.” That’s where I shine and where my enthusiasm and love for this role are evident.

      I love that the new breed of Assistants is on the way. In fact, I’m training them through my MEGA Assistant University classes. I believe us “old birds” should embrace them and partner up as much as possible. They keep us young and we can provide a wealth of information that will allow them to pick up the torch and continue up the mountain when we’re done. Yes, I know for a fact that I’ve been passed over for jobs because of my age. And I reserve a very specific finger for those companies who were too short-sighted to see beyond a wrinkle or two. But, you should know, there is a trend happening. Assistants like you and me are quickly coming back into vogue. Companies, especially startups with young CEOs, are actually hiring older EAs because they realize our wealth of knowledge, experience, business acumen and ability is immediately applicable the moment we start. And the patriarchal spirit we bring to the team is often what helps galvanize and create a “family spirit” at small but quickly growing companies.

      So I salute you and bow down to your 30+ years. Clearly, “you ain’t goin’ NOWHERE!” And that makes me smile with my heart. Huge hug and tons of love and respect to you.

  39. Voncile Hodges, CAP-OM
     

    Hey Phoenix,

    Your article pretty much sums up my 29 years as an EA. And you’re right the movie is an excellent example, but may I suggest a weekly example of the EA character (Donna) on “Suits.” She is awesome and a prime example of who we must be these days to demand the respect we deserve for all we do to make our executives look good and keep our companies running smoothly. Your book should be required reading for anyone in the field and certainly for anyone considering it. Hats off to you!!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Voncile! The book will be hilarious, no lie, but will be full of great lessons, tips and tricks and action items, I’m hoping it will be required reading for EAs at every level. It will be available late June of 2017. Can’t wait!!

  40. Juli
     

    if you dont mind a little pidgin speak from the Island of Oahu I must say…
    Phoenix- you are da masta!! I bow down to you for writing this and am grateful I saw it to send to my CEO [who is on a 3-week vacation]. Our company recently sold and of the 86 staff when I joined, I’m one of 3 left to close everything down. On the market for my next gig and getting daily alerts from Glassdoor for “EA jobs” then seeing the qualifications of 1-2 years experience w/ salaries at $15/hour is maddening, as you stated. Looking forward to reading your book; please add me to your marketing list so I’m notified when it prints. Aloha.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Juli,

      I’m hoping congratulations are in order for the sale of the company. The family is dissolved which sucks, but I’m hoping that you’ll be able to stay in contact over time. That is a TALL order being only one of 3 to close everything down. Wishing you the best of luck and sincerely hope it goes smoothly. Hang in there with the job search. LinkedIn has been a great resource for me. In fact, I start a new job on Monday that I found on the site. Also, research the top recruiters in your area and get on their radar. And MINE YOUR NETWORK! You’ll find your next home in no time. The book will be out in late June 2017. Can’t wait!! OfficeNinjas will make an announcement so stay tuned!

  41. Kristine Bixel
     

    This made my day! I need that book! I’m the EA for Purchasing & Export Compliance at a Government Contractor. I’m blessed with a fabulous boss who is all about training and increasing my knowledge and skills. My “problem” is that I have to balance both sides of my knowledge, along with administrative skills to be the go-to for the rest of the company, and administer the travel program for all of our North American subsidiaries. I have an identity-crisis on a daily basis but just keep on keepin’ on. I love my job and the diversity, so I’m thrilled to see someone else’s experiences through humor. Thank you so much!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Wow! Welcome to my life. A much as it can be a struggle to get through the day, I kinda wouldn’t change it for anything. The book will be out end-of-June 2017. Can’t wait!!

  42. Carole
     

    Thank you for writing this! Some days I just need a witness! Love you and can’t wait for the book!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Ha! Trust us, your woes do not go unnoticed Carole ;)

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      You have a witness with me for sure! Excited to get that book done. You’re going to LOVE it!

  43. Lori
     

    Please let us know when the book launches. Can’t wait!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      On it, we’re keeping a lookout!

  44. Daniela
     

    Wow, so so true. Seemed like you describe my job, even though I’m overseas in Switzerland in a company with more than 150 years legacy…

    Can’t wait for your book, it’s definitely wish-listed!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks so much, Daniela! I’ve been hearing from EAs all over the world saying exactly the same thing. It’s comforting to know that our struggles and, hopefully, triumphs are similar. The book should be available mid-2017. Will beg OfficeNinjas for some sort of online launch as it will hopefully be a book that we all keep handy when we need a laugh, to help guide us through choppy waters, or to demand the pay/responsibility/respect we deserve. :)

  45. MaryJane Powell
     

    OMG this is so accurate and so on point! It’s like writing my own experience LOL. I’ve been a MEGA Assistant for almost 30 years and I’ve supported all kinds of C-Level execs as well in several industries. This article should definitely open some eyes and ears of what we go through with our executives. Being a MEGA EA, one needs to be BOLD, Exude confidence, has thick skin and flexible. Kudos to you for writing this! It gives a lot of clarity to others who are just starting to become an Office Ninja. Hope to meet you at the event on Nov 1st!

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Mary Jane! Officially bow to your greatness. Thanks so much for your kind words. And YES, I will be at the event on Nov 1st! See you then :)

    2. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Whoa, and kudos to you for being MEGA for 30 years!

  46. Leslie
     

    Love it! So glad you are sharing the message. I’m in line for that book.

    1. Phoenix Normand
       

      Haha! Thanks, Leslie! I will make sure that book makes it into your hands the moment it’s off the presses.

  47. Aeryka
     

    *praise hands* for days!!!
    I’ve been the sole person in an administrative role at my company for the last 2.5 years. So, a total n00b compared to 15/20+year folks. I’m still hustling to grab coffee for a meeting in the middle of completing the company’s monthly financials, right after I just ran payroll, and right before editing a management training slide deck. Add to to-do list while in line: check in with managers on progress of performance reviews, create new business cards for our new hire and send the file off to the printers. Oh crap, we ran out of paper towels and people are angry…How dare I let this happen? Sorry guys, I’ve completely failed as your Office Manager. I’ll stop at Walgreens after I drop off this coffee. *walk away a la sad Charlie Brown*

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Mhm, this is basically the same reaction we had when we found Phoenix :). And whoa, you’ve definitely got your hands full—definitely Ninja status!

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Aeryka! Clearly, you’re well on your way to becoming a MEGA. Funny thing is, in a few years you will look back at this number of responsibilities and their scope and just laugh, because you’ll be able to do them in your sleep. One smidge of advice: AUTOMATE everything you can on the Ops side. It will save you a bunch of time and keep you focused on the higher level business objectives.

  48. Mrs.W
     

    This is fantastic! 3 cheers for Phoenix!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Hip hip hooray!

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Too sweet! Thank you!!!

  49. Andi Groen
     

    Fantastically accurate! Thank you for putting it to words.

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Everything you’ve always wanted to say out loud, right?

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks, Andi. I’m that guy. MOST of my bosses love it. (I’ll leave it at that.) ha!

  50. Cheryl Dyer
     

    I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Phoenix’s face here this morning. We met a year or so ago at an EAO Conference in New York… Immediately drawn to him both because of his smile and happy face, but also because of his warm and welcoming demeanor… He is outrageously smart, articulate and yes, he is totally hilarious. This article is SPOT ON!! I may just have to add “The Devil Wears Prada” to my boss and future bosses “must watch” lists.

    Phoenix, I cannot wait for your book! Sign me up for the first release!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Small world! There’s no network like the Ninja network. Let us know how the mandatory movie-viewing goes ;)

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Love me some you! Check your email. Such a wonderful surprise to hear from you. Wishing you well and can’t wait to cross paths again.

  51. Annette
     

    Drop the mic!!! You hit it out of the ballpark. I too can’t wait for the book. Thank you for sharing.

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      We agree, there’s no more appropriate mic-drop moment than this

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Haha! Thanks, Annette. I’m speaking at a conference next week so I’m trying to get “drop the mic” out of my head as I have a propensity for the outrageous at times. Kinda want that return engagement, so I’ll behave :)

  52. Lynette
     

    Great article, thank you so much for writing all of the things a lot of us would like to say……wish there was a discrete way to share with the one’s in charge. I report to 2 Chiefs directly and assist with the 17 Directors that are under them, they are all great and I am very fortunate, however, our CEO does not see the importance of my attending conferences or furthering my knowledge if it cost anything which means anything I do comes out of my pocket and from my PTO. How do you let that one person know how much of an impact you can make for them and the company and to see how important it is to continue to stay up on all of the new technologies and things to make their lives better.

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Bummer about covering your own job expenses, Lynette! Your last statement is so close to the heart of the OfficeNinjas mission. Next time you attend a juicy conference (or ON event ;) ) and come back with a useful tool or process to implement, communicate both its benefits and where you learned it. Hopefully after a few of those instances, it’ll be super clear that you’re a driving force behind internal advancements.

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Left you a private email. You’ve got this. Remember everything I suggested. Be prepared. Be through. BE BOLD. Huge hug coming right at ya!

      1. Phoenix Normand
         

        *thorough (oy vey)

  53. Barbara
     

    Love this article. Thank you for being the voice that says exactly how I feel but didn’t know how to say it.

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      It’s definitely spot on :)

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      My pleasure. Now it’s your turn :) #bebold

  54. desiree
     

    Thank you Thank you THANK YOU!!! amazing article with truth , humor, love and inspiration – I cannot wait for the book !

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      We’re excited to read it too, Desiree!

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks so much, Desiree! The book is 10x this article. Get ready! :)

  55. Abbey
     

    Great article!! I love the term, “MEGA assistant.”

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Right? It’s way more accurate.

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      I say we change our titles. Who’s in? :)

      1. OfficeNinjas
        author

        *raises hands*

  56. Andrea Estrada
     

    I have been in the administrative support field for 24 years supporting C-level executives for 15 years and love, love, love, this article!! “Let us shine when there’s an opportunity. Course-correct us, sure, but allow us to be bold, contribute, and have a say.” That’s the perfect description of a position in which I will be fulfilled, and thrive and be successful! Thank you for sharing Office Ninja’s!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      You’re very welcome Andrea! Sounds like you and Phoenix have a lot in common :)

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Thanks for the love, Andrea! My goal is to inspire however I can. Hopefully, I have!

  57. Lori Radford
     

    Preach! Oh excuse me. Lost myself for a moment. Wonderful article!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Ha! We completely understand, we got a bit taken, too.

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      *two fingers pointing at my eyes, then yours* Thanks, Lori!

  58. Jayne Plummer
     

    Thoroughly brilliant! Never have I read an article on the role I have played in businesses that has reflected so accurately what it is I do. Thank you Phoenix Normand

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Yep—it’s definitely spot on

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      You’re a MEGA! Know your power and continue to BE BOLD! Thanks for the sweet words.

  59. Megan
     

    This post just made me realize that (while my salary is nowhere near the “national average” for this position) my job is amazing and I have a GREAT boss and support a wonderful staff of execs (and you can’t buy that!)… I knew I love my job but now I know how blessed I really am to have such good coworkers. Color me naïve, but I didn’t realize people actually regularly got treated as badly as what we see in the movies. I had always assumed that was a gross exaggeration. Wowsa! My boss and coworkers sent me flowers on Admin Day and on the first anniversary of my hire date. I must be a lucky, lucky duck!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Yay! Some offices and bosses have already caught on. We’re glad your Ninja skills are appreciated, Megan

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      Emailed privately. Know that you are, indeed, fortunate. Doesn’t mean that outside those walls is complete bedlam. Hopefully, this article and my upcoming book will shine an honest light on the triumphs and pitfalls of being a C-suite MEGA. It’s still the greatest career I’ve had. And everything I went through and survived has led me here. For that, I’m eternally grateful. But, real talk, it’s come at a cost.

  60. Noa
     

    Can´t wait for the book!

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      We’re in line too, Noa!

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      It’s coming! Hopefully, I can convince OfficeNinjas to bring a few boxes to an upcoming event and sign some copies for all of you. :)

  61. Kim
     

    Hit the nail on the head-love this article! Could not be any truer, given with a touch of humor.

    1. OfficeNinjas
      author

      Gotta have humor to deal with some of the things Phoenix mentioned for sure!

    2. Phoenix Normand
       

      I laugh to hide my tears. Often. haha! Thanks, Kim! Keep an eye out for the book launch mid-2017.

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