Have you ever been so inspired by someone that you just believe everyone should get to know that person? If so, I’d like you to meet Peggy Vasquez.
Peggy and I met many years ago serving on an advisory council. Over the years, we have stayed connected through phone calls, email, social media, and seeing one another at various administrative professional conferences. Through our conversations, we have shared our professional goals with one another and have supported one another in those goals.
I’m a huge fan of Peggy because not only does she work full time as an executive assistant, she recently published the book, Not, “Just an Admin!”, while juggling her role as wife, mother, grandmother, and so much more. She’s an extraordinary professional. I’m excited to share our interview with you.
1. Tell us about your career as an administrative professional and why you have chosen this career. As long as I can remember, I had the desire to connect with others and encourage them to become all they could be. My three areas of interests have been constant: empowerment, writing, and teaching. The reason I chose to be an administrative professional is directly tied to these areas of interest and desires.
Administrative professionals play a key role in the success of the executives they support. We provide feedback, counsel, and suggestions to provide insight, organization, information, and encouragement. We ask strategic questions to steer them in the right direction. The support we provide enables our executives to use their strengths and resources to achieve more than they could achieve alone. I love the quote: “Life is good when we know the world is a better place because we have lived.”
2. What do you enjoy most about your current position as an executive assistant? My greatest joy comes from realizing my personal mission statement: “To empower others to succeed.” As the Chief Executive Assistant at PNNL (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), I play a key role to assure the success of my executive. I also gravitate toward opportunities to inspire, teach, and lead others.
As I think about the many executives I’ve supported, I can easily recall moments where only my executive and I knew about a particular situation. He trusted me implicitly as his number one confidant. We privately discussed the situation and all the nuances. We weighed out possible options. Together, we strategized and determined the next steps.
It’s in these moments that our role is extremely valued and we, as individuals, are held in the highest regard. When your executive knows, first and foremost, you are there to make him or her and the company successful, you are treasured more than any recognition ceremony could possibly indicate. These are the moments I cherish and respect. These are also the moments of power, and if used respectively, we can make a positive difference. Administrative assistants shape and influence business decisions.
Hearing your executive repeating words you provided, using your ideas for a new approach, and implementing decisions you made together as business partners provides a great sense of satisfaction knowing you are making a difference. There are only a few positions with this type of power and influence, and administrative assistants are one of them!
3. You have recently published a book. Tell us about it.
Not, “Just an Admin!” is a valuable handbook for anyone wanting to succeed. It is rare to find information that can make a difference both in your professional career and personal relationships in one easy to read book. Filled with thoughtful questions and answers, this book leads the readers on an exciting and well laid out journey to understanding what it takes to achieve the success they desire.
There are many how-to and self-help books that tell you they can help you achieve success. You may have read many of them in an effort to improve the quality of your life and still feel there is more. This book is a personal journey with the author into self-discovery, self-respect, and self-confidence. Experience is a wise teacher.
In writing this book and sharing my journey, I support and encourage you to find and achieve your dreams. I’m committed to my purpose – helping others succeed. With an unabashed passion for my profession, I encourage, mentor, and empower others. While this book is geared to the Administrative Professional, it is worthwhile reading for anyone in the corporate world.
4. How did you decide upon the name of your book? I’ve heard far too many people say, “I’m just an admin.” The same message kept being repeated, almost as if someone was playing the same song over and over again and as each word is sung you know what the next lyric is going to be. It was becoming a Déjà vu type of experience. The “cry for help” message I was hearing and am still hearing is: “People don’t respect me and my role as an administrative assistant. I don’t feel valued. I don’t feel respected.”
I realized the “cry for help” wasn’t just someone whining or being a victim. It was a deep seeded pain and a feeling difficult to admit or express. Those sharing the message were not just venting—they wanted change! They wanted the situation to shift and didn’t know what to do to cause a change. In order to change the culture and perception about the administrative profession, we need to first and most importantly have self-respect. Secondly, we must have respect for our profession as administrative professionals, and lastly, we must demonstrate respect to others. This is where the change begins. If we believe and act in this manner, we greatly shift the way others treat us.
My focus was to write a book that would change people’s views about the administrative profession. It is my goal to help administrative professionals discover the respect, value, and power of their profession.
5. How can having a mentor make all the difference? I strongly believe that each of us was designed for greatness. To be our best, we need to become our best unique self. We don’t need to become a “mini-me” of another great person. Sure, it’s natural to emulate someone we admire, but we need to stay true to who we are. When we strive to become like someone else, we will always be small –a mini version of someone else. When we play to our strengths, we can become more than we dreamed of—more than we imagined. I’ve had some incredible teachers who served as mentors by believing in me and making me feel special by doing what was needed to teach me what I needed to learn and by providing me feedback to help me grow and change.
One of my favorite mentoring experiences is about someone who is like many of us. She’s someone to whom most of us can relate—someone filled with potential bursting at the seams, yet she doesn’t quite see her potential and talent. She doesn’t have the confidence in herself to believe she really can do all the things she wants to do. It’s hard for her to verbalize her dreams. She wants to be a leader and influence others, but she is doubtful in her abilities. She’s afraid of being mocked or ridiculed for her dreams.
We all have so much to offer the world, if only we could see our own greatness instead of holding ourselves back from the possibilities of success. We’re afraid of standing out too much. We have talent and potential within us. The challenge most of us face is accepting and acknowledging our greatness. This typically is because we’re afraid. And so it was with her. She was afraid she would fail or be criticized. How many times have you felt this way?
I told her, “We’re all afraid, and we all doubt ourselves. None of us wants to fail. The only thing that builds confidence is action. We need to take that step forward even when we’re afraid, even when we might fail, be wrong, or are judged. A leader doesn’t have to have all the answers. In fact, the more vulnerable we are as leaders, the more approachable and real we will be to those we are leading. A leader needs to take responsibility for his/her actions and press on to meet the desired outcome. A leader needs to care about those they are leading and be able to make the tough decisions. A leader needs to do what needs to be done even when they are tired and when the task is difficult. A leader needs to do what is best, even when it’s painful. A leader must deliver the right message, not just the message someone wants to hear. The best part of saying “yes” to leadership is that we learn. We learn from our mistakes and from our successes, and with that knowledge and experience we become more confident and more skilled. There is no short cut; you just have to be willing to say “yes” to the opportunities that come your way.”
Once she understood I had similar feelings, her confidence increased. She understood I had fears and doubts just as she did, but I chose to take action any way. She realized taking action was exactly what she needed to do as well. She also learned we had much more in common than she had realized.
I challenge you to look in the mirror – who do you see? Can you see yourself as a mentor sees you? A mentor sees potential and possibilities inside you. A mentor sees you making a difference by living your dream and inspiring others to greatness because of your actions. Who are you mentoring? For whom are you a role model? Who will you inspire because of your actions? Will you be bold enough to see yourself as a mentor sees you?
6. What tips do you have for growing your professional network? Never stop growing your network. Your world will become richer because of the people you meet and become part of your world. We have two ears and one mouth. Our mouths often close, yet our ears do not. We learn so much from others when we truly listen. Surround yourself with people smarter and more experienced than you are as they will propel you forward and challenge you to grow.
Attend conferences and community service group meetings and events. Seek out social media connections to teach and inspire you. Be willing to take a risk and meet someone. If you offer a handshake to someone, what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that could happen? Take the risk! The time to build a network isn’t when you need one!
7. Are you available for speaking engagements? If so, how does someone reach out to you? Yes! I can be contacted at email@example.com. For more information, please see my website at http://notjustanadmin.com/
A special thank you to Peggy for being a leader in the administrative professional profession! The decision she has made to support business in her role as an executive assistant has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many. Peggy, thank you for taking the time away from your family over the last year to share your wisdom through your recent publication. Your enthusiasm for the profession is energizing! On behalf of A Great Day’s Work, thank you for inspiring administrative professionals to lead in the workplace!
Lisa Olsen says
Great interview! Really enjoyed reading insights from someone I admire and see as a role model for admin profession.
Peggy, you will be a tremendous asset to Girls Inc. Best wiehss in your new position. As a past President of the Junior League of Greater Winter Haven, you have all the right stuff to do the job! What a great role model you will be.
Congratulations Peggy! I am thrilled you will be our Executive Director at Girls Inc. Having been ivvelnod in the organization for many years, I appreciate your commitment and enthusiasm you will bring to our group. Thank you and good luck!