To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of her first book, The Innovative Admin™, we talked to Julie Perrine, Founder and CEO of All Things Admin, about how the book came to be, why it’s just as relevant 10 years later, and what’s on the horizon for The Innovative Admin.
Why did you write The Innovative Admin?
When I worked corporately, it seemed like the higher up the ladder I climbed, the more I was being singled out by my executives for going above and beyond my job description. And I was confused because I honestly thought everyone was doing things the way I was.
As I started asking questions and clarifying what I was doing differently, it occurred to me that if I could share my way of doing things with others, it could help them provide better support to their executives, and raise the bar for the admin profession as a whole.
At the time, I had no intention of writing a book; I just wanted to share my findings with my colleagues. But then I left the corporate world and started my own business as a virtual assistant. Suddenly, I was helping my clients turn their best practices into courses, webinars, and books, and I thought, “I can do that, too!”
If the past 10 years have done nothing else, they’ve proven that in order for the admin profession to stay relevant, we need a different way of thinking. It’s not enough to come up with ideas. You also need to know how to implement them and identify improvements. You need to know when to initiate these ideas yourself and when to ask permission. This is how we’re going to collectively ensure that the admin role is valued in the 21st century office. And that’s the whole idea behind The Innovative Admin.
When you wrote The Innovative Admin 10 years ago, innovation and admin weren’t often used in the same sentence. Do you feel it’s more widely accepted now?
Yes, I’m starting to see and hear it more and more, and I’m delighted! It’s important for assistants to understand they can cultivate innovation in their careers. And it’s crucial for executives to know they can and should expect their assistants to be evolving into more innovative professionals every day.
A current challenge for admins, especially during the pandemic, is that they feel stretched thin. What tips do you have for admins to make space and time for activities that cultivate an innovation mindset?
I think we all need to ask ourselves questions and be honest about where our time is really going. For instance, how much TV are you watching? How much time are you spending scrolling on social media? If you cut back on things that add minimal value to your life, that’s time you can spend on the things that really matter.
Are there times and places that you can effectively kill two birds with one stone? For instance, you might listen to a podcast while you’re out for your evening jog, or thumb through an industry publication while you’re waiting in the school pickup line.
Whenever people tell me they don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day, I suggest that they spend a week tracking their daily tasks, and how long it takes them to finish them. It really is illuminating to see how much time we’re wasting when we’re not conscious of it. And it can help you identify places where you can do things more efficiently.
I’m also a huge proponent of tracking and measuring. The more you track and measure things, the more growth and improvement you’ll typically experience. PowerSheets Goal Planner is my new power tool of choice in this area.
How is The Innovative Admin still relevant today, and what new trends or additional updates would you include in the book based on the current work environment?
I think The Innovative Admin was really a bit ahead of its time. Ten years ago, people weren’t even using “innovative” and “admin” in the same sentence, let alone really trying to stretch the boundaries of the profession.
One of my strengths is helping people see the potential that exists no matter which path you take. I wanted to give people a different way to see not just the skills they need today, but the skills that they’re going to need tomorrow. And although this book is 10 years old, the practice of innovation has remained unchanged. The world looks a lot different now, but the book definitely still holds up.
As far as what I’d do differently, I think I’d be a lot more direct about some things, and definitely dive deeper into subjects like artificial intelligence. In fact, I have plans to release a second edition of The Innovative Admin in the not-too-distant future, which will include more content on how to add value, articulate your value, and become a better problem solver, critical thinker, and strategic planner. I’ll also address the impact of artificial intelligence on our profession, and how to learn and leverage it versus worrying about it replacing assistants.
What we’ve seen evolve in the past 10 years, especially in the past two years, is how absolutely critical innovation is to stay relevant in ANY profession, but particularly this one. In an era where people think artificial intelligence can replace us, we have to make sure we are consistently adding and articulating our value.
What advice would you give assistants in overcoming complacency?
The only person who can motivate you is you. I can inspire. But if you don’t have the internal motivation to pursue something, I can’t give that to you. So you need to figure out your motivation. For some, it’s fear. For others, it’s being first. For me, it’s staying relevant and on the front edge of my field. So figure out what motivates you and pursue learning from that angle.
I also think you have to have a purpose to your career to be motivated to learn. If you don’t have a strategic administrative career plan that helps you make decisions on what to learn in order to reach your goals, then you need to start there. When you have the right goals in place, it’s much easier to define how you are going to pursue achieving them, and what you need to learn on that journey.
Since The Innovative Admin, you’ve released two additional books: The Organized Admin™ and Become a Procedures Pro®. How has your writing process evolved since your first book?
Writing The Innovative Admin, while ultimately rewarding, was an intense, painful process. Writing for admins is hard because we’re a pretty critical bunch. I’d never written a book before, I didn’t have the right systems to keep me moving forward, and it was, overall, a traumatic experience. So much so that I didn’t even begin promoting the book until six months after it was released.
But everything is hard the first time. The more we do something, the easier it becomes. For The Organized Admin, I had much better systems and processes because I’d learned from the mistakes I made with the first book. By the time Become a Procedures Pro rolled around, it felt like I’d been doing this forever. And I’m excited to announce that my fourth book, Prove Your Skills! With a Powerful Print PortfolioTM, will be available soon. Join our early notification list here.
© 2022 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.