by Bonnie Low-Kramen | IAAP Member since 2005
Like millions of others, I am a huge fan of Aretha Franklin and especially her famed anthem, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” This blog post is inspired by Ms. Franklin and the bold courage and directness with which she lived her life and managed her career. May her legacy live on forever.
When it comes to choosing to say yes or no thank you to your next job offer, let’s take some wisdom from Aretha.
- Be clear. Aretha was crystal clear about what she needed when she accepted a gig. She needed cash up front before she would sing and would not fly. That was the deal if you wanted Aretha and everyone knew it. As an assistant, you have every right to say what you need to make your ‘gig’ work.
Ask questions like;
- How much is the annual training budget for professional development?
- One of the ways I am successful is to have 1:1 time with you every week even if it is on Zoom or Skype. How do you feel about that?
- Will there be a laptop and a cell phone that can travel with me?
- What versions of the technology is the team using and is it the same for leaders?
- Commit to Excellence and nothing less. Aretha was committed to excellence and had high expectations for herself and for others. She could sing soul and gospel…and classical Puccini with equal skill. And she was a team player. With 30 minutes notice, she replaced Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards and saved the show.
In your interview, have a story ready for everything on your resume.
Ask questions like;
- Tell me your biggest problem and I will tell you how I will solve it.
- I see myself as your business partner and my job is to tell you what I see in order for you to exceed your goals. Is that who you are seeking?
- People talk to me. When I learn information that I feel you need to know, how would you like to receive that information?
- Be Ready. The Queen of Soul prepared and she rehearsed. Aretha was ready for whatever came her way. And she was not afraid to ask the hard questions up front.
- Do your homework on your prospective company and the people who are going to be interviewing you. Know that you are being judged from the moment you enter the parking lot. You never know who has the most influence on the actual decision-makers.
- Ask – How do I win with you? How do I lose with you?
- Ask – How are you on your worst day?
- What kind of culture are you working to build?
As the consummate professional, Aretha confidently knew what skills and talents she brought to the table for which she commanded deep respect. As the CEO of You, Incorporated, I highly recommend that you do the same. What Aretha Franklin knew is that when respect is in the room, everything becomes possible.
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Bonnie Low-Kramen is one of us. A long time IAAP member, Bonnie Low-Kramen is a celebrity personal assistant turned entrepreneur who now employs an executive assistant. For 25 years, Bonnie Low-Kramenworked with Oscar winning actress Olympia Dukakis. In 2011 she resigned from this dream job to take on a new one of traveling the world teaching and speaking and by the end of 2018, she will have been to 15 countries. Bonnie is one of the most respected leadersin the administrative profession and she is at the center of the movement to end workplace bullying and to close the wage gap. Her bestselling book “Be the Ultimate Assistant” is a must-have for every professional assistant’s desk. She is a proud Jersey girl who now calls Florida her home.