January 2013 Elite Admin: Bonnie Low-Kramen





Author of Be the Ultimate Assistant and co-founder of New York Celebrity Assistants

Bonnie Low-Kramen is an Instructor, speaker and Coach. She is the author of, Be the Ultimate Assistant. The Be the Ultimate Assistant workshop is a 15 hour, 2-day workshop that teaches attendees the essential skills needed to be great assistants. Her workshops include instruction on leadership, technology, and communication techniques. Here is the link for the upcoming Santa Monica workshop on Jan 19-20, 2013 http://conta.cc/PDMICF

Bonnie began her career 25 years ago as the Personal Assistant to award-winning actress, Olympia Dukakis. She noted that she had no experience or training; everyday was like "winging it." Bonnie did whatever it took to get the job done. Her passion for education caused her to resign and start her own business with the goal to provide training so that no other assistant has to "wing it." As a result, Be the Ultimate Assistant was born.

Bonnie is a strong advocate for mentoring. “Mentoring is very important in anyone’s professional development.” In today's corporate world, reverse mentoring has become a popular method of learning as the lesser experienced professionals are training the more experienced employees. Bonnie recommends that assistants should strongly advocate for the support of their employer to increase professional development opportunities. Managers question the R.O.I. (Return on Investment) of providing training for the administrative staff. Bonnie believes that the R.O.I. is revealed in the improved productivity of the managers and in the increased profitability of the company.

The Real Issues in the Workplace
Bonnie states that communication is key and that lack of communication is the number one problem within companies. Employees are reluctant to make their voices heard out of fear. As a result, they are quitting jobs in order to avoid having difficult conversations about a misunderstanding with a manager, for example.

Another concern is that graduates from business schools are taught how to manage a business, but not taught how to manage people. Business graduates are taught how to make a profit, but are not taught the necessary interpersonal skills that would benefit the organization and strengthen workplace relationships amongst employees. She suggests that this problem can be confronted through education and training, awareness provided by the media, Human Resources departments, deans, and educators of institutions and businesses to design employee training plans on techniques for effective communication.

Organization doesn’t have to be Electronic
Bonnie stays organized by using an At A Glance Weekly Calendar and paper lists. She is a fan of the "pen to paper" technique. In her office hangs an 12-month laminated wall calendar in order to "see the big picture" at all times. Since today's priorities may not be tomorrow's, she conducts an "administrative triage" by reviewing to-do items regularly.

Tips for Success
Bonnie offers two pieces of advice to be successful: First, get a mentor; someone who has "been there and done that." They will teach you valuable skills as a result of their experience. Second, volunteer for as many projects as possible. Volunteering provides exposure and will diversify skills. Choosing a mentor and showing others your talents exude great leadership skills.

One of her strengths is the ability to “read” people - body language, facial expressions, and tone. She remarks that everyone is different and the differences make her strength valuable. She says, "If you can find out what makes a person tick, you will be able to better work with them."

Want to follow Bonnie’s advice and get trained on how to Be an Ultimate Assistant?  Here is information about an upcoming workshop in January.

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