Editor’s Note: Nominations for the 2019 OfficeNinjas All-Star Awards closed Thursday, February 28, 2019. We’ll be announcing the winners throughout Admin Week (April 22–26, 2019). Make sure you don’t miss a single minute by subscribing to our emails!
Name: Lauren Bradley
Title & Company: Office Manager, DramaFever
Location: New York, NY
# Years as an Office Ninja: 5
Fun Fact: Interviewed to be Camilla Parker Bowles’ Personal Assistant!
Lauren Bradley has had a truly impressive career. She’s been a marketing manager, a professor, an interactive media designer, a salesperson, and a food blogger. And all those incredible experiences have led her to her current role: as Office Manager at the Manhattan-based video distribution company DramaFever. When asked about where she sees herself in five years, she said: “I feel like I’m riding a river and each new experience takes me down a new stream.”
Should we add ‘poet’ to that list above?
There are no two ways about it—Lauren’s a bona fide badass, and her outstanding Ninja skills have not gone unnoticed by her many grateful colleagues. Here’s what one colleague had to say:
Lauren Bradley is the reason I wake up and come to work in the mornings. She was the first person to make me feel like part of the team when I first joined the company, she continually answers all my very dumb questions with patience and positivity, she plans AMAZING company-wide events for us to all relax and blow off steam, she finds awesome charities for us to support every quarter, and as if that wasn’t amazing enough, she recently created an office newsletter for us to always find all kinds of little tidbits of useful info. The company would basically collapse without her.
Another team member shared Lauren’s impact on their company culture:
Lauren is amazing at shaping the company culture that attracts people to work at DramaFever in the first place. In the last 18 months, our company has grown ~2x, which typically changes a culture drastically, but Lauren has been incredible about keeping up traditions and creating new ones. She understands the importance of team bonding, and does everything she can to make DramaFever a happy, social place to work. Our company truly would not be the same without her.
Want to know more about DramaFever’s resident Jill of all Trades, how she got to where she is, and her tips on how to be an awe-inspiring Ninja? Then read our Q&A with Lauren as we stroll through her office.
OfficeNancy: How long have you worked as an Office Ninja?
Lauren Bradley: About five years total. I started with temp work when I first moved to London and then fell in love with it.
ON: What’s your favorite part of being an Office Ninja?
LB: So cheesy, but I have to say helping people. I love knowing I helped someone smile. It’s also really important to me to be able to help influence good in the company. I’ve pitched marketing ideas they have used, and I helped design the new offices from scratch. I can turn anywhere and see something I’ve touched and helped make better.
ON: Tell us about the craziest day you ever experienced as an Office Ninja.
LB: I can only pick one?
There was the day I interviewed at Clarence House to be Camilla Parker Bowles’ PA.
There was the day all our new office furniture arrived and the driver refused to bring it into the building, so I had to ask coworkers to stop what they were doing and help carry 100+ boxes of furniture inside.
There was the day I hosted the company picnic just a month after starting. I created and MCed all the games, even though I didn’t know anyone’s name.
Or the day my whole company surprised me with a speech from the CEO, a signed hard hat that had a tiara attached, and a generous spa package (the true way to my heart) as a thank you for moving us into two new office spaces within a week of each other. I cried a little. Then we partied!
ON: How does your team help you succeed?
LB: I work with a very fun and supportive group. I’m part of a four-member People Ops team and it’s the best team I’ve ever worked with. We all have each other’s backs and can help at a moment’s notice. They’re also great people to have a drink with, and we love hanging together outside of work when we can. All my coworkers are fun, creative people with tremendous enthusiasm. It makes my job easy and so fulfilling because they often express true appreciation.
The senior managers and especially our co-founders have fostered a true, high-trust environment that allows flexible working hours and unlimited vacation. The understanding is that you were hired to perform certain tasks for a role—do them and be responsible. If you can’t pull your weight, it quickly shows. But they hire people who are great at what they do, and it just works. You get rewarded when you go above and beyond. It’s a great place to work.
I also have a great honorary team member, Joe Schumacher, who helps me with tasks as our NYC office is over two floors. I’m on the 12th floor and he keeps me informed of the 3rd floor’s needs and though he only works with me part-time, it is great to have eyes and ears down there when I can’t always get between floors.
ON: Tell us about the office newsletter you created for DramaFever.
LB: As a former marketer, I was heavily involved in e-newsletters. After about a year and a half at DramaFever, I started feeling like I was spamming everyone with announcements of cakes, important fire drills, company events, and policy changes. One day I decided I’d put it in a cute newsletter format with funny gifs and memes and send it whenever I had a lot of news to share.
Everyone kept asking when the next one would come out, and I was eventually asked to do it weekly. It’s called “The Friendly Office Manager Newsletter” and it’s co-created with my amazing Office Manager for the Philly office, Kayt Gavin.
ON: You’ve worked as a marketing manager, professor, interactive media designer, salesperson, and food blogger. Whoa! How does being an Office Manager compare to your previous roles?
LB: I feel like I do all those roles in one now. I send out the newsletter and help plan events (marketing). I create instructional signs and processes, and teach staff members how to follow those processes (teaching). I had a large part in designing the look and feel of the office (design). I negotiate vendor deals (sales). And if we do anything in excess at DramaFever it’s feed people (food!). I often bring in my blueberry banana bread or organize awesome cakes for monthly birthdays.
I feel like I’ve been training all this time for this role, and not just professionally. I was always a mothering type person, even before I was a mother. I feel that’s a large part of why I’m attracted to office management; I get to take care of people and watch them flourish. They’ve dubbed me ‘Drama Mama.’ I feel it’s appropriate.
ON: What keeps you motivated?
LB: Recognition is big. Nothing is worse than busting your butt to make something ten times better and having no one notice. Just a simple thank you goes so far. I try to remember that when working with anyone who helps me.
Also, my beautiful family: my husband, Tim, and our adorable daughter, Layla. I want them to be proud of me and know I am doing my best to help provide a good life for us.
ON: What’s your favorite afternoon pick-me-up?
LB: Builder’s tea! It’s a British term for a strong cup of tea. I often use two tea bags and have a piece of chocolate. Also, my boss, Tanaz Mody, and I go for power walks (which often end in accidental shopping trips) when we can.
She is amazing, and I wouldn’t be having nearly as great success at DramaFever as I am if it weren’t for her. She’s a great friend and boss.
ON: What would you say are the top three traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?
LB: To quickly determine what’s important. Our jobs are often reactionary, and prioritizing is something you must do quickly. Not only that, but our jobs are to assist others, and sometimes we get bogged down in details or perfection. After several years at this, I’m getting much better at determining what the big picture is and what I should really focus on.
Get dirty. If the cabinet door keeps coming loose in the kitchen, don’t always rely on someone else. Try to learn from your super or handyman when he fixes something. Having a good base knowledge of these things gives you street cred in the office and prevents you from getting hosed by shady vendors.
Do not be intimidated by those more senior than you or think your role is less important because you are an admin. You are an integral part of the company. You help so many with so much. You should speak your opinion and treat others as your equals. Not doing so is a disservice many admins, especially women, do to themselves. Speak with confidence, but always be helpful. Find solutions and be proud of what you bring to the company.
ON: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
LB: When I was in sales, a former boss told me to “run my business,” and he would be happy with my work no matter what. He was a busy man and was giving me the freedom to do my job as I saw fit to get the results I was hired to achieve. It made me start thinking more about how I would do things rather than always ask if I was doing it the way he wanted.
ON: Do you have any hacks for balancing hectic professional and personal schedules?
LB: I get lots of requests when I’m away from my desk. I often ask people to send me an email so that I can add their request to my to-do list. I am usually so busy that I will easily forget a random request while I’m performing another one. My inbox is only full of items I have yet to act on, so it’s a great way to keep things straight.
Develop a prioritization system that works for you. I have a to-do list book. Each day I write a fresh to-do list. I write priorities in a different color or circle them so that I know to do those first. I cross off items as I get to them, and anything that isn’t completed I leave on the list. I put a line down the whole page only when all those tasks are complete or I’ve moved the task forward to the present to-do list, which I do every few days. I also set lots of reminders in my calendar. I review my calendar each day before writing my to-do list.
Understand that we are moving into the age of the blended life. Sometimes you have to get personal stuff done on work time, and sometimes you have to get work stuff done on personal time. But try to keep a balance. Don’t let one tip too far into the other.
ON: Where do you see yourself in five years?
LB: I have no idea. If you told me five years ago I’d be an Office Manager in Manhattan, I would have been shocked. If you told me five years before that in five years I’d be married to a Brit and living in London, I would have laughed.
I feel like I’m riding a river and each new experience takes me down a new stream. I’d love to have my own bakery and cafe or release a cookbook. I hope that I’ll have visited at least two more countries I’ve never seen. I hope that I can wake up and cuddle my family on sleepy Sunday mornings. If I can at least do that then I’m doing alright.
We think you’re doing more than alright, Lauren! Congrats again!
As part of her prize package, Lauren received $1,000 worth of gorgeous tech products from Moshi. Enjoy your goodies, Lauren!
Today’s All-Star is presented by:
Moshi has revolutionized the dusty, neglected landscape of mobile accessories with a gorgeous line of fashionable computer bags, tailored tablet sleeves, sleek power banks, streamlined cables, and more.
Join us in congratulating Lauren Bradley, 2016 OfficeNinjas All-Star!