Toshiba has a funny commercial that shows worn-out businesspeople in a mental ward, each with their own psychosis brought on by having spent too much time at a copier. Now that I think about it, nearly everyone in the commercial is male. Which is an interesting perspective. Anyway, I was kind of surprised I didn’t see myself in that commercial, as I am a miserable copier. I blame it on having failed cutting and pasting in kindergarten. You just never really recover from a confidence buster like that. Whether I’m trying to copy a multipage document or just a single piece of regular paper, I can count on redoing it at least seven times. Invariably it’s upside down, in the wrong place, on the wrong paper, the list goes on. And you can count on not seeing me for hours if I have to reduce or enlarge something.

I’m equally bad about organization. My idea of organized is to make a folder, put a piece of paper in it, and file it away. I have hundreds of these folders. So finding something when I need it can become nightmarish. And that’s just for the stuff that actually gets a folder. There are other papers that must stay out in plain sight, all becoming little individualized piles that I shuffle around from day to day. I read once that Kofi Annan lives by the efficiency experts’ rule of only touching a piece of paper once. If I could limit myself to touching a piece of paper 50 times, I’d be light years ahead of where I am now. I’m sure that’s just one reason I’ll never be secretary-general of the U.N.

So what’s my point? Do I ever have one? Perhaps not, but in this case, I do. I’m not writing so much to poke fun at myself (which is always fun), but instead to illustrate how important our assistants are. And since April 21 is/was (depending on when you’re reading this) “Administrative Professionals Day” (that’s so PC), it seemed a good time to recognize them. Because let’s face it, no matter how successful you are or your company is, the place would come to a grinding halt without assistants.

I know that’s more than true around here. I swear that Lana, our assistant, not only has organizational powers that can only be genetic, she can read minds — everyone’s minds. No matter what we need or how we think it should be done, Lana has a better, brighter, and more efficient way to handle it, and in most cases realizes we need it and takes care of it before the thought even occurs to us.

And don’t get me started on organization. She handles 100 different things for 15 different people, yet whenever asked, she can always tell you what stage it’s at. Need something overnighted? I can still be pulling up the website, and Lana will already be printing out the label. How does she do that?? And on top of all that, she is one of the happiest and most patient people on our staff. No matter how stressed and cranky we all get, she laughs, smiles, and just ignores our irritability. No matter how long we sit on something she needs, she accepts our limitations and gently nudges us to get it done. I secretly hope that she’s making certain hand gestures behind our backs if only to prove that she’s human.

And I know we’re not alone here. I see these same traits in so many of our assistants and am constantly in awe. So if you haven’t done it already, take some time out to recognize the people who make it possible for you to do what you do every day. Because without them, we might just find ourselves side by side with those people in the commercial. Thanks, Lana!

SHERRI GULCZYNSKI BURNS
Editor