Last week, Exceptional EA’s Real Careers feature took us to South Africa and PA Anel Martin. Today, we’re off to the Pacific Northwest, from which American EA MistiLynn Lokken generously shares her insights.
MistiLynn Lokken is an executive assistant at Starbucks Coffee Company.
A Commute Like Few Others
I drive into the office, which takes about 10-15 minutes. It’s a beautiful drive, despite being short, with spectacular views of the Puget Sound. I generally arrive just before 7:00 AM and leave around 5:30 PM.
At the Office
Morning Routines: A small group of us get together each morning at the Starbucks store in our office, it’s a great opportunity to start the day on a positive note with friends. Although we all know how to make our drinks, we enjoy the time together and connecting with our favorite baristas. My drink of choice is a Vanilla Chai Latte.
Primary Responsibilities: The top three items that fill my days relate to calendars, email and travel coordination. I also have the honor of leading a very talented team of administrative assistants, I keep the department SharePoint site updated and do extensive event planning. Additional responsibilities span the range of working with office space planning to preparing presentations and being the general tech guru.
The joy of this role is there is no such thing as a typical day. Every day brings a new opportunity and new challenge, although I am always assured of answering emails, playing calendar Tetris and assisting with questions from the team. The partner (employee) in the cubicle next to me has commented that it’s much quieter when I’m not in the office – not because I’m loud but because my desk attracts so much attention.
Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? I’m guilty of perhaps being too connected during my “off” hours but when you work in a global organization, fire drills can sometimes occur in different time zones. Thankfully technology allows me to stay connected without impacting my ability to enjoy time off.
What might be a typical lunch? Where do you eat? With a full cafeteria, two Starbucks stores, two restaurants and daily food trucks at my office (not to mention all the restaurants that deliver), lunch is a daily adventure. My newest favorite is Peach, they text meal-of-the-day options from local restaurants and deliver to the office. I typically eat at my desk, it’s a treat when I can step away for a few minutes.
Thoughts on the Career
The most challenging aspect of your day or career? I have seen and have embraced the elevation of the administrative profession over the last decade and believe our responsibilities will continue to increase, but that journey is not always a smooth one. This role has developed from being strictly clerical towards becoming integrated business partners and it can take time for people to adjust to a shift.
It can take time for people to adjust to the elevation of the administrative profession
What do you most enjoy about your career? I love that moment when my executive is in a moment of panic only to find that I anticipated the issue and had it resolved before he even knew about it. You can actually see the stress slip away and it’s a great moment.
On Saying “No”
I try not to say “no” whenever possible. If I am not able to help someone, I work to provide them options in moving forward rather than just declining. Being helpful sometimes means directing them on how to resolve an issue rather than it always being me to resolve it.
I was born in California but as a member of a military family, we moved to Japan when I was four months old. We moved back to California when I was five years old so I was given the gift of starting my life in a different culture.
I enjoy doing MMA (mixed martial arts) as a workout and stress-reliever. I also enjoy exploring my new home of Seattle, including going shark diving as a I recently earned my scuba certification. A casual day at home would generally include listening to an audio book while doing household chores.
I listen to jazz music at my desk but once outside the office, I listen to everything from Linkin Park to Adele.
A dream holiday or travel adventure? The top destinations on my travel list are New Zealand, Spain and Japan, although Nicaragua is where I am next headed. I will be joining a group from the Seeds for Progress Foundation to volunteer on a coffee farm next spring.
Education and Professional Development
I have been a firm believer in the value of personal development through continued learning, advancing as an administrative and business professional by attending conferences, workshops and webinars. I have attended several Behind Every Leader conferences, which I highly recommend, and look forward to attending the Administrative Professional Conference later this year.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to complete a degree previously, thanks to the recent College Achievement Plan announced by Starbucks, I will be attending Arizona State University in the fall with a major in Global Leadership.
Pay it forward by mentoring others
I have had the honor of several mentors throughout my career, including a manager early on who took me under her wing and changed my life. Bridgette saw more in me than I saw in myself and invested time in my development over the course of several years. I am a better person today thanks to her and have committed to paying it forward by mentoring others.
Take ownership of your development and don’t wait for someone to hand you an opportunity
Peer and Professional Associations: I am a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and the American Society of Administrative Professionals, and am an alumna of Be the Ultimate Assistant.
Following various admin blogs helps keep me current on developments in the profession and abreast of the newest technology tools available. I love the trainings and webinars from Red Cape Company and All Things Admin! I also curate a Flipboard magazine dedicated to executive assistants; it’s called Administrative Magic.
LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
Awards and Recognition
- Selected as headline speaker for the Office Ninjas Tech Mixer & Showcase in August 2013
- Nominated for the 2011 Administrative Excellence Award, sponsored by OfficeTeam in partnership with IAAP
- Recognized by the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP) as Admin of the Month for November 2011
- Recipient of the Brad Anderson Legacy Award at Best Buy Co., Inc. (former employer) in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010
Inspirational reads? There are so many great options! For administrative development, Administrative Excellence by Erin O’Hara Meyer is the book that has been most personally influential. There is a section describing the difference between striving for perfection and striving for excellence that I still go back and refer to. For personal development, I found Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg both brilliant and inspiring.
Role models? I have had the honor of several mentors throughout my career, including a manager early on who took me under her wing and changed my life. Bridgette saw more in me than I saw in myself and invested time in my development over the course of several years. I am a better person today thanks to her, and have committed to paying it forward by mentoring others.
What insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? It’s okay to make mistakes as long as they’re learning moments and you never make the same mistake twice.
Your most effective time management strategy? I try to follow the Eisenhower Matrix for time management, focusing on investing time in the “important” categories which will ultimately reduce the “urgent” (fire drill) moments. I’ve seen the effects of those who try to keep up with the urgent, such as responding to emails within seconds, but who don’t invest in the important items, such as personal development. That can easily lead to getting burned out in the busywork without completing high value projects.
For those interested in promotion: As admins, we have constant access to high-level data and information in our teams. Read the reports and presentations that are sent to your executive and be able to understand the information. If there is something you don’t understand – ask someone. Most importantly, take ownership of your development and don’t wait for someone to hand you an opportunity. Never stop networking!
Executives: Admins who feel supported and allowed to develop their strengths will go to the moon for you
Advice for new executives on how best to work with an assistant: The first step in your success is to learn what your assistant’s strengths are, being aware that they may not fit inside a strict job description. I would recommend asking your assistant for ideas of how to best work together, they may have suggestions that you hadn’t yet considered. Admins who feel supported by their executive and are allowed to develop their strengths will go to the moon for you.
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