Interview with Bonnie Low-Kramen: Advice for aspiring assistants

Bonnie Low-Kramen, author of “Becoming the Ultimate Assistant,” shares her experience as an assistant Administrative Assistant An Oscar-winning actress and her advocacy against workplace bullying and equal pay. Dive deeper into our interview to learn about Bonnie’s career and her top tips for aspiring administrative assistants.


  • Details matter: The success of EA depends on managing the details and setting priorities effectively. The smallest details can have the biggest impact.
  • Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ): Develop high emotional intelligence to anticipate needs, manage relationships, and communicate effectively.
  • Evolution of the character: Find ways to grow in the role by taking on responsibilities such as onboarding, team leadership, and projects manage.
  • Represent your supervisor:Learn to imitate your supervisor communicate Style and preferences become indispensable representatives.
  • Visibility is key: In a hybrid work environment, make sure you stay visible and connected, whether through a webcam or regular check-ins.
  • resilience and sense of humor: Develop a calm and composed character, don’t take things personally, and maintain a sense of humor.
  • Continuous learning: Embrace lifelong learning and pursue career development opportunities, preferably funded by your employer.

Start working as an administrative assistant

What was your path to becoming an administrative assistant?

“I didn’t have any plans for my career, so my path to assisting was not typical at all. I planned to be an actor. English Theater major at Rutgers University in New Jersey, I was convinced I needed to get into acting Business”.

“The most obvious way was to become an actor, but I came to understand that there was a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work that went into acting. After three months of auditioning, I realized that acting was not going to be my path.”

“Instead, I worked in the box office at several theaters and liked to stay in the heart of the theater. That led me to Olympia Dukakis, who runs the entire theater in Montclair, New Jersey. Olympia interviewed me last December She was not famous at the time, in 1985.”

“We met on a snowy winter night, and at the end of the meeting, she said, ‘When can you start?’ We worked together for 25 years. I was her personal and administrative assistant.”

Olympia Dukakis and Bonnie Low-Kramen filming “Over the Hill” in Australia, 1991

How did working with high-profile clients influence your view of the role?

“My mother worked as a legal secretary in the 1970s, so I had a role model for this profession. My job at Olympia is similar to my mother’s work, but much more, especially in the personal realm.”

“I quickly learned that the smallest details matter and the ability to prioritize tasks in the moment is critical to success. My mother showed me how a consummate professional should behave and the importance of politeness and kindness Sex, that’s the most effective way to get ahead. It’s done.”

“My work with Olympia is the reason my book and my seminars are called Becoming the Ultimate Helper. It’s about delivering excellence not just on certain days, but every day.”

People in Olympia’s life began to see me as an extension of her, and I took that responsibility very seriously. “

What traits are critical to success as an administrative assistant?

“Calm personality, doesn’t take things personally, has a great sense of humor, is resourceful, adaptable, communicates directly, pays attention to details, has a good work ethic, thinks outside the box, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

“High EQ (emotional intelligence) is the key to EA’s success.”

“That meant being comfortable with body language and being able to correctly answer questions like, ‘Is now a good time to talk to your supervisor?’ I developed an Olympian voice for writing emails and letters and representing in meetings. her ability to act.”

“For busy executives, it’s important to have EA as well-informed eyes and ears. Mind-reading and asking great questions is a must-have skill. Being highly organized, detail-oriented, and technically savvy are also critical skills. “

What is life like as an administrative assistant?

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

“I am rewarded for having a positive impact on this industry. Since 2012, I have traveled to 13 countries and 38 states to teach and speak, working with administrative assistants and the leaders they support.”

“I’ve trained executives at Microsoft, Wharton School, Amazon, Starbucks, and the UK Parliament, written two books, and delivered a TEDx talk titled ‘The real reasons people quit smoking’.

“I am excited to hear assistants and leaders around the world report on the positive impact my work has had on their jobs. I hope the workplace can improve to become a more respectful place for me and your grandchildren. “

What’s the most challenging aspect?

“In the post-pandemic workplace, employees at many companies are feeling fragmented. Some are working fully remotely, some are working hybrid, and some are working 5 days in a physical office.”

“Maintaining strong personal connections between team members is a huge challenge. It’s very important for administrative assistants to be seen, heard, and remain visible – like being truly visible on a webcam.”

“Proximity bias is a modern risk factor for people who work remotely. Workers who come into the office are closer to the decisions being made in the moment and therefore have an advantage over remote workers. This new reality gives remote workers That brings a burden. Leadership maintains strong connections with remote teams.”

What experiences have provided you with the greatest career growth?

“No one of the successful people you could name got there alone. No one.”

“I am no exception. My biggest influences are my parents, Ruth and Sol Low, and my employers, Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich, but I have had many other mentors throughout my life.”

“Throughout my career, I’ve stayed alert to opportunities that presented themselves and followed my gut when I said ‘yes.'”

“When Olympia asked me, ‘When can you start?’ I said, ‘How about next Monday?’ I listened to Olympia’s vision for the theater and where she thought I could fit into that vision. I believe she is a leader.

“Ten months ago, she starred in Moonstruck, a movie that would change all of our lives.

Advice for Aspiring Administrative Assistants

What are the career prospects for an administrative assistant position?

“The U.S. Department of Labor reports that Administrative Assistant “We’re seeing a reduction in the number of workers. That may be true because of artificial intelligence. But senior administrative assistants are a different story.”

“As long as there are CEOs and executives running complex companies and leading busy lives, there will be a strong need for talented and well-paid administrative assistants to surround them.”

“EAs can perform work virtually, but it still needs to be done. Robots and artificial intelligence will become their tools, just like Siri and Alexa.”

what’s your best advice For the aspiring executive assistant?

“Money is only one factor in choosing a job. Choose to work with people you respect and admire. Be the best assistant you can be every day.”

“Be the one who runs toward problems, not away from them. Commit to lifelong learning that your employer pays for, and don’t take vacations to take classes. Maintain balance. There will be a job tomorrow.”

“Go on vacation, don’t work on vacation. Have fun. Be sure to spend time with family, friends and the people you care about.”

“Don’t let work eat you up. You can love your job, but work won’t love you back or give you a much-needed hug. Work with people who believe in these things too.”

Reader Q&A with Bonnie Low-Kramen

What does a CEO look for in an administrative assistant?

The CEO is looking for someone who can compliment his/her own skills and talents; the CEO is looking for a business partner who can support them, understand what they read, and have insight into what’s going on around them.

Top EAs who are CEOs are independent, respected individuals whose opinions are valued and sought.

Is administrative assistant a dead-end job?

No, this is not a dead end job. Administrative assistants are continually developing their role within the organization by participating in onboarding, interviewing new employees, leading teams, computer skills training, and disaster planning.

It’s about using their strong talents and skills to fill a gap in the company. There’s even a name for it called “Quiet Recruitment.”

As an administrative assistant, where do I see myself in five years?

The answer to this question is not one-size-fits-all. In the C-suite, this could mean earning a six-figure income, it could mean being promoted to a team leader with supervisory responsibilities, or it could mean becoming a project manager.

Whatever the answer, I urge executive assistants to think of themselves as the CEO of You, Inc. You are in charge of your career and your life.

So no matter where you are in 5 years, you should be in a role that satisfies you, utilizes the skills you want to leverage, and compensates you fairly.

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