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John was Right! Just Write!

My first few months of working for John Chambers taught me many things, but one thing was certain, I didn’t know what a truly exceptional executive assistant was.  Oh, I thought I knew.  After all, I had entered the world of the executive assistant profession just the year prior, so I felt I was fairly knowledgeable and a “seasoned” executive assistant. 

This was not the case.

John knew exactly what a true business partner & executive assistant should be. More importantly, he knew how the executive assistant could make a difference if they had the right skills and mindset.  I was ‘green’ in terms of my own skillsets, and thus, I learned, sometimes painfully, what those skills were to ensure both my career success and John’s.

One of the biggest skills I had to embrace was flexibility.  John moved at light speed and not always in the same direction.  In fact, he would change direction in a blink of an eye, and it was my job to move in unison with him. I had to be like a ballerina, staying on my toes and twirling when needed.

 I had to learn to accept that my days were not going to go as planned, no matter how hard I tried to make it so.   I also had to learn how to keep my emotions in check, to stop the eyes from rolling, and to keep the exasperated sighs from escaping whenever he threw a curveball at me.

I can honestly say that John was the absolute best coach an EA could have! Through our 26 years of working together, he gave me great guidance on what I needed to do to exceed his expectations.  I was always trying to keep my chin above his bar.

Shortly after our retirement from Cisco, I had an opportunity to have lunch with John, and he literally changed the whole direction in which I was headed in my next chapter in life.  It was because of his awesome coaching that I switched course in mid-stream from writing one book that was already in editing and started writing The Office Rockstar Playbook.

He provided sage wisdom when I needed it, both when we were at Cisco and afterward. He encouraged me to share “our” story and to share how I helped him become successful, and so…I did! 

Keep Rocking On!

Debbie Gross

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