Editor’s Note: We're searching for the best and brightest admin professionals and workplace operators in the US. Know an outstanding Ninja? Nominations for the 2020 All-Star Awards are now open!
Everybody join us in congratulating today’s featured OfficeNinjas All-Star, Lisa Jones!
Lisa is based in Orlando, Florida where she works as an Executive Assistant at North Highland Worldwide Consulting. Lisa supports not one, but FOUR busy executives. As if that weren’t impressive enough, Lisa also is the office manager and receptionist for an office of over 30 consultants. And, based on the 17 glowing nominations from her colleagues, Lisa pulls it all off with a can-do attitude and a smile.
One appreciative colleague wrote:
Lisa is the epitome of an office ninja. She is versed in every aspect of what it takes to contribute to a successful organization. She handles her job description with ease, but what makes her special is that she has the expertise, passion and drive to help North Highland grow as a company. This includes providing insight into resources, providing ideas for marketing, and networking with other professionals. Lisa’s energy is contagious and she makes us a better company.
We wanted a first-hand dose of that contagious energy, so we chatted with Lisa and asked her a few questions.
ON: How long have you been an office ninja?
LJ: I have been mastering my ninja skills for 22 years. My first clerical position was with the FBI when I was a junior in high school. My father worked at the Bureau and I was fortunate to be selected for their summer work program. I was assigned to the Latent Fingerprint Section where my father worked and I performed basic clerical work, such as filing fingerprint cards.
ON: What’s your favorite part of being an office ninja?
LJ: The variety of responsibilities. I also like to work in the background, behind the scenes. If I’m doing my job to the best of my ability chances are you won’t know I’m here.
ON: What’s the one thing that’s always on your desk and why?
LJ: It might seem odd, but what I’ve carried with me ever since my first post-college job is the One Minute Reference for Excel 5. Excel was one of the first programs I learned. This guide was written in 1994 and even though Excel has come a long way, it is still quite helpful and relevant. If I don’t work in Excel consistently I lose familiarity with it. This guide still gives me a jump start when I need to dive into Excel. That and my red Swingline stapler because it just makes me laugh.
ON: Tell me about the craziest day you ever experienced as an office ninja.
LJ: I don’t believe anything is as crazy as an office move, and I’ve been through a few. Each one was different and had its own set of challenges. During the last move, we had internal annual reviews taking place, client meetings in the office, a local nonprofit that we work with needed to borrow one of our conference rooms, and a plethora of other activity taking place.
While all of this was happening we were packing our desks and offices as well as the break room and other areas of the office. In the midst of this, I needed to manage my executives’ travel as well as provide the normal support I do every day. It was controlled chaos.
The key in getting through that week was having a plan in place and a team. It wasn’t left to one person to do all of it. Without a plan and an administrative team to partner with, I would not have been able to support my colleagues or executives so they could continue working.
ON: How do your team members help you succeed?
LJ: My executives have been tremendously supportive of my continuing education and training. Whether it is attending a BEL conference, supporting my membership with IAAP, or taking classes to get a Microsoft Certification. If it brings value to my business and will keep me challenged to do my best, I have their support.
I am also assigned an in-office career coach. In my experience it’s rare for a company to pair administrative personnel with a career coach. My coach and I create a professional development plan (PDP) for the year, and I am kept accountable for achieving the goals set forth in my PDP. He and I will meet periodically to make sure I’m on track and I have what I need to be successful in achieving my goals.
ON: Where does your drive come from? What keeps you motivated?
LJ: My drive comes from wanting to be the best in my field. I’ve been at this for a little over 20 years and I’m still learning. Aside from taking pride in my work, what keeps me motivated is the gratitude that my executives and colleagues show me. They are a wonderful group to work with.
ON: What’s your favorite afternoon pick-me-up?
LJ: Lately, my afternoon pick-me-up has been running up the steps-per-day counter on my Fitbit. Generally I eat lunch at my desk and this little gadget forces me to get up and move — there’s no ignoring it. Just getting up and walking outside for 10 minutes is refreshing.
ON: What is your greatest professional achievement?
LJ: It’s difficult to narrow it down to one. At this point in my career, I believe my greatest professional achievement is having my peers view me as a mentor or trusted advisor. Occasionally I’ll get a call from an administrative professional I’ve never spoken with because they were told I could help them work through a difficulty. When they come back to tell me that they were able to work through that difficulty with success, that puts me over the moon. Putting to use all of this knowledge I’ve accumulated throughout my career to help others succeed — there’s no greater achievement for me.
ON: What are you most proud of outside of work?
LJ: My friends and colleagues are more than likely tired of hearing me grouse about it, but doing the Tough Mudder. It’s a 10-mile muddy obstacle course. I went completely outside my comfort zone to participate in it, and my colleagues thought I was crazy for doing it. Even though I was training for it, I truly was not at the fitness level needed to tackle the course, but I got through it anyway with some great teammates. I connected with my team through Facebook and did not meet any of them in person until the morning of the event. Learning to rely on people that I didn’t know was an exercise in trust that I had not experienced before. Sometimes you just have to step out on faith and go for it. Every lump, bump, sore muscle, and bruise was worth it.
ON: Any exciting projects you’re currently working on?
LJ: At present, I am working on a standard operating procedures manual for our office. It’s been an on-again, off-again process. Slowly but surely it’s coming together. I initially started the manual in a Word document but I’ve migrated my work to a OneNote Notebook. It’s easier to organize all of this information and I can locate what I need quickly.
ON: What are the top 3 traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?
LJ: 1.Good communicator. Communication is key, both in listening to others and expressing yourself. 2. Superior organizational skills. This should go without saying, but if you aren’t an organized, detail-oriented person you’ll never survive. 3. Flexibility. You must be willing to work outside of your comfort zone and have the confidence to easily adapt to any situation.
ON: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
LJ: You should enjoy what you do and the people you work with. You will spend the majority of your life with those you work with and if you don’t have those two things, that unhappiness will spill over into your personal life and it will show in your work.
ON: Office ninjas often have tips/tricks of the trade. Any you care to share?
LJ: Learn, learn, and learn. You have to keep up on the latest and greatest technology. If you can go to a conference like BEL or IAAP’s Summit you will learn a great deal and make valuable connections along the way.
Make sure you are engaged in social media. One of my goals this year is to be more active on Twitter and LinkedIn. Follow the experts in our field such as Julie Perrine (All Things Admin), Bonnie Low-Kramen, Vickie Sokol Evans, Lucy Brazier (Executive Secretary) and organizations like IAAP, BEL, and of course, OfficeNinjas.
Thanks for the shout out, Lisa! Now go use your $1,000 Delta gift card to schedule a relaxing getaway. Send pics!
You could win an awesome prize from Delta too! Head on over to today’s Flash Raffle and enter by 11:59 PM PST for a chance to win!
Today’s All-Star is presented by:
Delta flies to more than 350 destinations on 6 continents, serving more than 160 million passengers each year.
Photos beautifully captured by Kacia Valjean Commercial & Portrait, serving Southern California, Oregon, Washington and Florida.