Years and years ago, I wore a different hat. I worked for 20 years in Corporate America where I started as a "lowly" receptionist and went up through the ranks to become a generously paid Executive Assistant at a Fortune 100 firm. The truth of the matter, however, was that my title was irrelevant. My job was simply to make things run smoothly. A wise woman I worked for at my first office job (27 years ago!) named Mary Gonzales taught me that the receptionist was an important person. Whether answering the phones or greeting a walk-in client, the receptionist was the face of the corporation the client meets. To that end, she expected me to be friendly, professional, and helpful because that is what she how she wanted our customers to perceive our company. It was my first real education in the power of first-impressions and it stuck with me from that point forward and I kept it in mind, no matter what job title I held. (I wasn't always part of the administrative staff, either, but it was honestly my favorite type of job, even if it wasn't prestigious.) Now, unfortunately, we consider these jobs even less worthwhile than ever. In an era of text messaging and email messages, we're losing that opportunity to be solicitous. In fact, in Superman's large-sized firm, he could only think of 5 Administrative Assistants in the whole company. He appreciates these women tremendously and when I noted it was "Secretary's Day" (as it used to be called), I asked him if he'd like to take some token to them to let them know he appreciates their help (from setting up conferences to making travel arrangements), he was enthusiastic, but wanted me to remember they don't work for him directly, they just help out (see, there is that helping thing again!). It seems to me that saying, "Thank you, I appreciate what you do for me," is never inappropriate or out of fashion.
So, today five admins at Superman's firm got giant cupcakes! (You can't tell, but these are huge...you only get 12 cupcakes from a box of cake mix.) How fun is that?
P.S. I heard from Superman that the ladies loved them and were so touched to be remembered. How perfect is that?