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Love What You Do – Do What You Love

Have you ever been in a job/role that you hated? Early in my career, I was sadly part of a “restructuring”, and lost a job I thought that I loved. I felt an urgent need to find another job right away. That was my first mistake.

I immediately accepted an offer from a company which had been my first and only interview since leaving the other company. That was my second mistake.

I was full of anticipation on that first day that this new job was going to be great for me. Boy, did I get a rude awakening! The manager who hired me did not give me any direction other than to answer the phone but as I quickly learned, this manager was never in the office (and maybe received one phone call a day). I was young and flying ‘blind.’ In addition, I worked in an office of insurance claim adjusters and as far as they were concerned, I was just in the way.

I kept a positive attitude. I was determined to be helpful and began to look for things I could do to be of assistance. I dove into their filing system to see if I could organize things and was promptly told by one of the adjusters to leave the files alone. Ok, (I thought) I will just move in a different direction and began to check out my manager’s desk and his files while he was out to see what I might be able to do to help him. He told me to leave the desk as it was.

Over the next several weeks I became completely discouraged. Can you imagine sitting at a desk with nothing to do, no action items to manage, no goals or objectives to work towards, and no one around you encouraging you to help them?

I quickly realized that I hated that job. I dreaded coming in to work every day. My two favorite times of the day were lunchtime and 5:00 PM. I finally gave notice and could not get out of there fast enough.

The lessons I learned there were invaluable:

  1. To never ‘rush’ into finding a new role. Instead, I should have taken more time to identify the right roles to apply for.
  2. I should have done the research and asked key questions about the job in the interview process to make sure it was what I wanted to do and that the hiring manager and their teams would align with my ideals. To ask what my duties would be and what my manager’s goals and objectives were for me.
  3. To make sure that the position I was being hired for was one I knew I would ‘love’ to do based on everything I had learned in my research and the interview process

While I made some mistakes early in my career, this experience taught me that the best role for me is one where I can help others, feel a part of the team and grow and thrive!

I finally landed a position in 1991 working for John Chambers, then Sr. Vice President of Worldwide Sales at Cisco as his executive assistant. That became a position that provided me with a career that I loved! What a wonderful and satisfying career we can have when we know what we truly want, what we love to do, and can do what we love. That thinking led me to my ultimate decision upon retiring from Cisco. To continue to do what I love to do today. To teach, mentor, and speak on the power and value of the administrative profession.

This February, a month focused on “Love”, I hope that you are loving what you do and that you are doing what you love!

Yours Truly,

Debbie Gross


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