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Live Event! Did That Really Just Happen? An exclusive presentation by Debbie Gross

Debbie Gross, CEA to CEO, Cisco Systems

This post originated at and was written by Reporter In The Field, Nancy Fraze.

Did That Just Really Happen? A fun look at the lessons we learn as assistants and how to be truly great in this role.

Debbie bounded to the stage with great applause. She discussed true stories of often hilariously funny, sometimes stressful, gut-wrenching and simply amazing stories of true admin heroes who pulled out all the stops to keep their leaders plowing forward to get the business done. It was a very entertaining and informative presentation!


Equally impressive to her great slide graphics and riveting delivery, Debbie also gave great pointers on the the top ten things to implement:

  1. Debbie GrossBuilding a greater awareness of what we do as assistants (even the simple things) are just as important as the really big things. 
  2. Create a “Do Whatever It Takes” mentality. Go the distance, do what it takes and earn the respect of peers and managers. 
  3. Make Yourself Indispensable – The role requires paying special attention to your leader’s weaknesses and then supporting them in that area so they can get the job done. 
  4. Learn to stop beating yourself up – don’t take yourself too seriously. 
  5. Realize that mistakes will be made – “I do precision guesswork!”
  6. Start a “Thing’s I’ll Never Do Again” journal and a “Super Human Feats I Have Accomplished” journal. Entries in each should be even!
  7. Create an atmosphere that invites less stress, more fun and open communication channels.
  8. Apply laughter and humor as applicable. Debbie shared a story about playing a joke on a manager by telling him the new copier was “voice activated”. And, they had an ugly tie contest one Friday with hilarious results. 
  9. Step back from the daily grind to look at things with a different perspective. Appreciate people and the role we play to make the organization successful.
  10. Recognize that you as an admin are human. It’s okay to “be” human.

Debbie received a huge “standing O” following her presentation. She said, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything.” 

Although we want to always do our best, and help our managers succeed, it’s often hard to anticipate a 4:00 am phone call from our manager as one admin story was relayed by Debbie. That admin actually had the manager’s itinerary on her bedside table at home, “just in case”. And, that’s exactly what happened!

I think the takeaway was that if Debbie can laugh at herself and do her best for her manager, and keep stress balanced, then so can everyone. She is a great mentor and role model for executive assistants and administrative professionals to become more than they were before.

Way to go, Debbie!

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