I’m Not a Gatekeeper, I’m a Timekeeper

I'm a Timekeepr

I have a fantasy.

No, not that kind.

The kind where I stand in front of the full roster of attendees for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference and I share my brilliant! understanding of the administrative profession.

You see, with all the moving parts of the economic world of HR, recruiting, employee engagement– the front line is being forgotten when it comes to updating and re-writing the job descriptions and expectations of today’s administrative professional. Mind you, I do fundamentally understand the challenges of what type of support the company requests vs. what the job really needs vs. what the pay scale is vs. the vast swath of candidate/applicants for the position.  Please allow me to first address the term: GATEKEEPER.

Let me be clear. Executive Assistants| Administrative Assistants|Receptionists are not gatekeepers contrary to popular belief and the delightful, sometimes patronizing, verbiage from unsuccessful sales calls to the office. We are not gatekeepers;we are timekeepers.

TIME IS MONEY- Benjamin Franklin

It is the administrative professional’s key purpose/raison d’être  to save staff time. Whether it be a cold call at the front desk in person or a caller that cannot provide exact detail as to what they need– it is my job, my peer’s job to do the right thing and SAVE time for our managers. It is not my decision as to whether you’ll be able to meet with my manager or speak with my manager– that call is his/hers. However, it is my responsibility to carefully measure the intent and value of the interruption, and to assist the caller or visitor in getting the best chance of getting their information to the decision-makers.

So, please do not call me a gatekeeper. I prefer to think of the members of our profession as timekeepers. Or, better yet, time savers. And by that correlation, we become money savers and companies would be better served to see the administrative profession that way.

Repeat This Phrase: To Thine Own Self Be True

It’s been a tough jet lag couple of days getting back from #ExecSecLIVE..but so worth it.

It was wonderful to meet my fellow speakers, spend time with attendees and build new relationships. But, I have to tell you (This is an Anel Martin phrase I’m stealing) the best thing  I took away from ExecSecLIVE was the validation. Validation in knowing how to share my experience as an admin, my point of view. Validation in how I tell stories, stories my peers can relate to.  They got it!   Lastly, validation that some stories I tell are, in fact, redonkulous and can trigger laughs from others.  I had been concerned that my style, my approach — might not be the most ‘serious and professional’ compared to the presentations of the others. Had I done my presentations any other way..they would not have been genuine. They would not be true to my style. I’m glad I stayed true to myself and that others could relate.

I’m hoping the fog will lift soon and I’ll be able to write more succinctly and share additional take-aways from the event. For now, I just want to say, ‘Thank you’ to Executive Secretary for this amazing opportunity to learn from my peers and the time to build new friendships.

Executive Secretary Live 2015- #KeepLearningKeepGrowing

For a few years now, my motto has been #KeepLearningKeepGrowing.

Being here in London for Executive Secretary Live helps me refresh that purpose, that focus. Because it’s not just about presenting, but learning from presenting (what works, what are attendees getting from the session, what do I need to refine). It’s not just about networking but it’s about listening and learning from more than 250 peers from around the globe. If we keep an open mind, remain open to the possibilities that we have valuable information to share and others have important things to share with us– it’s just golden.  A golden opportunity to #KeepLearningKeepGrowing

Looking forward to an amazing weekend. ~ K

Do You Follow Your Own Advice?


In the world of the assistant, we organize, schedule, document, remind, direct the people we support. Do you ever find that your work desk is more organized than your home?  Or, you try to encourage your supervisor to enjoy a city they are visiting while on travel, only to hear them say,  I won’t see anything but the conference hotel.

Today feels like a week ago. I mean in the sense that landing at Heathrow feels a lifetime ago even if it was early this morning.  I did NOT follow the advice I give to others, nor did I prepare myself as I would my supervisor. I’m not proud of this. Don’t misunderstand what I’m confessing on this blog tonight.

So, the best part about being an older  more experienced administrative professional is that I can catch my errors more quickly and recover almost immediately.

  1. Let’s start with making sure my phone will work overseas.  (Ouch, that is embarrassing to admit.) I’ve rectified that issue.
  2. Listen to what my body is telling me. (It was telling me I was tired and just needed to get a nap.) I was fighting sleep because I really don’t want to miss anything.  I caved. Grateful that the hotel had my room ready early, and as soon as I got my suitcase unpacked, I slept.
  3. Eat well and drink more water. Ha! Travel for me usually means carte blanche for pastry indulgence.  I did go get a kick-butt cappucino..But alas, I drank lots of water, had a nice leisurely veggie-based dinner. Got more water and a few healthy snacks at the Sainsbury.

I got a good walk in today/tonight as shown in the photo above. I did check in with work. I did promise myself an early evening. Going to enjoy the city tomorrow, maybe even shop a bit. In other words, I’m going to take my own advice!

Appreciating the new connections on LinkedIn and Twitter coming from Executive Secretary Live conference delegates.  Look forward to meeting you.


Day 3/2 – Countdown -Executive Secretary Live – Give Credit Where Due

Giving credit where credit is due is so important. It’s important in the workplace but especially so when sharing information across social media.

I share and retweet information I get from social leaders on Twitter. But it’s so important to acknowledge that 1) it wasn’t my idea and 2) where I picked up the article/blog/photo/infographic.

You’ll see examples of this on Twitter written as

h/t-> Hat tip to @(source) for the article.   This not only thanks that person but acknowledges you picked it up off their timeline.


This is a great infographic on workplace tools via [blog name] or [other source].

This really is best practice for all social sites Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc. So as I’m posting this week, you’ll see a good deal of these type posts from me as I’ll be learning new ideas, too.

Day 4 Countdown- Executive Secretary Live- Just Do It

Don’t get paralyzed by the worry of imperfection..

You’ll never get anywhere ~ unknown

I’m just gonna list off where I’m at..because, well, because I can.

Knowing that inevitably I will forget something before I travel, forget to pack one item, forget to bring something, it’s okay. I’ll survive.

I used to get paralyzed before traveling. Then I was reminded one day to just do my best and if I forgot something while I’m on travel, most likely I can buy it or live without it. I have my list of essentials I put on a post-it and  on my calendar as an appointment.

  • Hearing Aid (very important)
  • Medications
  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Airline boarding pass
  • Passport
  • Laptop
  • One suit in my carry-on luggage

So, don’t put off zipping up that suitcase. Just pack. Just do it.

Day 5- Countdown -ExecSecLive- My Tribe of Career Teachers

My career started in academics where I was working for a law school in New York out on Long Island. I directly supported the Dean of Records– and he was not only a Dean, but he was also a Rabbi. Little did I know he would turn out to be my first career mentor. He helped me navigate the college policies and procedures as well as took time to explain the meanings and history of many Jewish holidays and customs as I was not raised in that faith.

Move forward to last month when I was working on a gratitude list — a list of people who had been part of, or had crossed my career path over the last 25 years, and a pattern began to emerge. I considered this list of people (and it’s a fairly extensive list) to be my career tribe.

Each person I consider to be a part of my career tribe has had most, if not all of the following qualities:

  • A significant amount of volunteer time dedicated to serving others
  • Had a hobby or interest that brought them great joy
  • A history of traveling to and/or living in multiple countries
  • Spoke at least one additional language
  • Was interested in learning what made other people feel good about themselves
  • Was interested in improving communications and work relationships — even if it made both parties uncomfortable
  • Did not mince words about their concerns
  • Kept in touch with colleagues that they no longer worked alongside
  • Actively participated in social and business groups for personal and professional development
  • Acknowledged their own career challenges

Now, I’m not in touch with the entire list on a regular basis, but I can tell you that I still have a connection at almost every single company where I have been employed.  I have been diligent about keeping a contact at each employer, even if it is purely a courtesy.  And my single most important work lesson from each of these persons has been key to shaping my career perspective – best phrased by The Rolling Stones.

See below:


 And it’s true…  I didn’t always get what I wanted, but I always got what I needed, whether it was a tough lesson, a superb review, thoughtful suggestions for improvement or a department transfer.  Do you have a tribe of career teachers?  Some of mine will be at #ExecSecLive in London. Can’t wait to give them a hug and tell them ‘Thank you’.

Day 7/6 Countdown to Executive Secretary Live- Music.Mayhem.Motivation.

Today was all about music for me.

When I’m staring at a tough deadline (like being out of the office for a solid week and have to get it all done) and I have to focus to get it done, I have to have music.

One of the things I love to do… and hope to do while at #ExecSecLive is to gather from each attendee, the name of THE song.. the song that makes their heart happy.. makes them immediately want to hit the dance floor, or jump starts their day.  I’ll gather all the titles and create an iTunes playlist for the attendees– and they can always consider this their very own #ExecSecLive playlist.

So what are my go- to tunes to get me going?

Artist Name                    Title
Gap Band                             Party Train
MC Hammer                       Too Legit To Quit
Rage Against the                Renegades of Funk

Missy Elliott                        Music Makes Me Lose Control
Bruno Mars                         Uptown Funk
Commodores                      Brick House
Chuck Brown                      Money (is a friend of mine)
Avicii                                    Blessed
Johnny Kemp                    Just Got Paid
U2                                        Desire
No Doubt                            I’m Just a Girl

If the music is for focus– I go with classical– Yo-Yo Ma or any piano concertos.
If it’s just background, I usually have the movie soundtrack for ‘Garden State’ playing on a loop. It’s my favorite.

That’s a pretty good start on my list.
Music is a joy to me. I can’t sing. But I can dance.. not too badly, either!
Enjoy the weekend. #ExecSecLive will be here before you know it.

Day 8 Countdown- Executive Secretary Live – The Balance We Seek

Good morning from Commonwealth of Virginia.

Like many other working women, I have responsibilities and obligations outside work. Over the last five years, I have focused on adding myself into that list of responsibilities and obligations.

This week leading up to #ExecSecLive is a great opportunity for me to put those practices into place.

I looked at the calendar last Friday and saw what I had coming up.

Saturday- myriad of banking errands and driving our daughter to/from places

Sunday- family obligations and my meetup with my coffee girls

Monday- Auditors at our office for our annual audit & at night, a parent meeting the high school 7-8pm

Tuesday Work 9-5 then-7-8:30 Daughters chorus concert  at the high school. Rehearse presentation

Wednesday night – Daughter gets her driver’s license and we have another parent meeting at the high school. Run errands w/hubby.

So… knowing what was coming- I scheduled some time (this past Saturday) to get an hour long massage. [Boy! Am I glad I did that!] I made certain to make my coffee time with my long time girl friends on Sunday morning.

I’ve limited my caffeine intake (no, it’s true!) and tried to spend lots of time being quiet and NOT working myself into a frenzy of to-do’s before the weekend.

It’s common to talk about work-life balance but one of my best friends puts the issue into a different context. She likens it to starting out the week with a full tank of gas in the car over the weekend, and by Thursday, I’m down to a quarter of a tank. What do I need to do to re-fuel my body? My spirit? What do I have to look forward to that will bring me joy? What do I already have– and can I take a moment or two to acknowledge those items and be grateful for them? I’m a big fan of  writing daily gratitude lists which I try to do at the end of each evening before heading to bed.

If I do these things regularly, I may not find perfect balance but I certainly keep more on an even keel.

One book I love, love, love is– Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. I’ve had my copy since 1997 and it is a well-loved and treasured resource for me.

Day 9- Countdown to Executive Secretary Live – A Confession About Travel

Do you like flying on airplanes? Do you prefer trains? How about long drives to get where you need to go?

My first flight ever was from Boston, Massachusetts to Dallas, Texas and a connecting flight to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I think I was seven years old. The flight was in the evening so I didn’t really get to see anything. I don’t recall much about the flight– I don’t even remember sitting with my mother and sister– and I’m pretty certain we all were together. Back then passengers could smoke on airplanes..and that I do remember because my mother smoked Pall Mall cigarettes.

I’m not a great flier. By that I mean, I feel each and every bump. Take off rattles my nerves..but I can tell you it is SO beautiful to take off from Washington Reagan National Airport– as  you can see almost all of the awesome monuments moments after takeoff. I try not to think about the horrific happenings of 9/11 as the flight banks away from our Pentagon building– the site of one of the attacks that day.

And, I’m also happy to have resources– right at the source.. two friends of mine are pilots for major carriers. I can always message one of them if I am nervous. If they AREN’T flying an aircraft when I message them, they’ll usually text me right back and reassure me.

I travel with 3 vital tools..My Kindle, my iPod and my journal. I find if I stay focused on something else, I’m less likely to be anxious. On my Kindle I will have books, movies and performances from stand-up comics. My favorite is Craig Ferguson! On my iPod I have my meditation music, as well as about a dozen playlists to fit my mood. And my journal.. allows me to get all my ideas, poetry, short stories, blog ideas, thoughts, lists – out of my head.

What do you do to pass time when you’re traveling? Do you sleep? (I’m jealous of you!) How about chatting with your seat mates? (I don’t do this generally.. I prefer quiet travel.)

I do know two things that are VERY important when flying, 1) Drink lots of water! 2) Get up and walk a bit.

It’s all good, I am better these days about getting on planes. I do prefer trains, but that’s not a trans-atlantic option this week. :) Safe travels to all the conference speakers and delegates. And remember the hashtag is #ExecSecLive.

journal (3)

Yes.. that’s an old-typewriter image and typewriter font on my journal… :)