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Bonnie Low-Kramen

TEDx Speaker | Author Be the Ultimate Assistant, Staff Matters

TEDx Speaker | Author Be the Ultimate Assistant, Staff Matters

Bonnie Low-Kramen is recognized as one of the world’s most respected thought leaders on workplace issues. Her work has taken her to 13 countries She worked as the Personal Assistant to Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis for 25 years until 2011.

Bonnie’s 2022 TEDx talk is called “The Real Reasons People Quit. The Be the Ultimate Assistant workshop (co-taught with Vickie Sokol Evans) is considered a must-attend for top assistants and was featured in Forbes.

Bonnie is the bestselling author of Be the Ultimate Assistant and Staff Matters, People-Focused Solutions for the Ultimate New Workplace. She is a writer for Executive Support Magazine and Harvard Business Review. Her passion is to affect positive change in the global workplace by paving the way towards healthy, respectful, and productive partnerships between the staff.

Clients include the Wharton School, Starbucks, Amazon, and the British Parliament. A committed advocate for women’s issues, Bonnie is at the center of the movements to close the wage gap and to end workplace bullying.

She is a sought-after keynote speaker and trainer at conferences and corporations around the world. Bonnie is based in Florida, USA and seeks to build better workplaces for her children and yours.

  • Areas of Expertise
    • Inspiring excellence in the executive & personal assistants of the world
    • Relationship Building between Leaders & Assistants
    • Closing the Wage Gap between women & men
    • Gender issues in our workplace – Why women need to help other women
    • Workplace Bullying as a global epidemic


  • Speaking Topics
    • Assistants as Leaders in Today’s Workplace
    • #TimesUp for Workplace Bullying
    • Be the Ultimate Assistant – Saving the Day Every Day
    • Finding Your Voice to Speak Up
    • Be the Ultimate Manager
    • Know Your Worth: Negotiating for the Salary You Deserve
    • Leaning In – Why Women Need to Help Other Women
    • Massive Mistakes and other Life-Changing Moments from a Celebrity Assistant
    • For Managers: Finding and Keeping the Perfect Assistant
    • For Managers and Assistants Together: Building the Ultimate Partnership
  • Staff Matters: Unfiltered

    This session is based on Bonnie’s new book, Staff Matters.

    Staff are referred to as the backbone of the company, the right arms, the face of the culture, the eyes, the ears, the heart, the lifeblood, the glue, and the soul. If this is true, why are people treated so badly and most importantly, how can we fix what’s broken?

    This question is at the heart of the matter for Bonnie, and anyone who knows her trusts that she will talk about how things really are – unfiltered.

    It’s time to shine a light on the issues slowing assistants and all staff down and stopping them dead in their tracks. These are the issues of dysfunctional leadership, unfair compensation, workplace bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination and too many are suffering in silence.

    Bonnie holds nothing back as she pulls back the curtain on what is really going on because there is too much at stake not to.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Learn how collaboration with leaders, HR, and recruiters is the key to fixing what’s broken
    • Understand how to move towards building a culture of respect and stability
    • Learn how to set your team up for success in the hybrid and remote workplace


    This session is available on demand in our Learning Library

  • Resignation or Transformation?

    The future is here and assistants have risen to it; there is no turning back. Join Lucy Brazier OBE and Bonnie Low-Kramen as they bring LIVE up-to-the-minute information on the ways executive assistants are evolving their roles and influencing their leaders and workplaces.

    There are new rules in a global landscape that has been shifting on a daily basis. In a welcomed movement towards true business partnership, assistants have flexed leadership muscles with hybrid structures, compensation, career progression, and professional development, as just a few examples. Assistants are racehorses and the gates have flown open. It is your time.

  • Speed Mentoring with Bonnie Low-Kramen

    The “Assistant Whisperer” is in, and you can ask her anything in this live session. Bonnie will begin by discussing some of the most burning workplace issues including the wage gap, career development, workplace bullying, sexual harassment, to name just a few. Then…let the burning questions and the answers begin.**

    Bonnie’s goal is to empower you to be the CEO of You, Inc. in order to have the career you want. If you are looking for honest and authentic answers to the challenges facing assistants, don’t miss this session.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Real-life solutions for real-life challenges
    • Strategies for thriving in the virtual world
    • Tips for better communication no matter where or how you work
  • Assistants Taking the Lead to Design the New Workplace

    Are you ready?

    The pandemic of 2020 has set the stage for a massive revision of what has essentially been the post-WWII workplace. The global landscape will require new rules and a new vocabulary to keep our workforce safe, productive, engaged, and sustainable in their efforts to make their companies profitable. Long-term thinking and creative innovations are urgently needed now.

    Given the work from home situation, this will mean a fresh look at job descriptions, titles, and compensation structures that are reflective of what is really happening. The assistants of the world have been preparing for this moment their whole careers. After all, the natural strengths of assistants are
    creative problem-solving, resourcefulness, and diligent planning. As the backbone and frontline of their companies, they see and hear everything.

    Bonnie Low-Kramen explores the viable and realistic ways that assistants all
    over the world can play an important part of designing the new workplace in
    collaboration with their leaders and fellow staff. If we do this right, the assistant profession will come out stronger and with crystal-clear perceptions of their vital roles that will be organic to the new workplace.

  • Ultimate Assistant Training Modules

    The training modules  can be customized to the specific needs of your team and designed to support the goals of an assistant’s Career Development Plan (CDP.) The best results are experienced through frequent and varied learning opportunities each year.

    The Ultimate Assistant Difference

    As a former assistant to a world famous actress for 25 years, Bonnie Low-Kramen has instant credibility with staff and executives at every level. Her unique ability to connect in powerful and authentic ways enables her to get to the heart of the matter –fast. We’re all busy and have no time to waste in our 24/7 environment. Bonnie gets it and has the answers your team needs now.

    Ultimate Assistant Training will achieve one or more of the following goals:

    • To re-energize and inspire the assistants in their current role
    • To prepare an assistant for expanded administrative responsibility
    • To prepare an assistant for a promotion toa management and/or supervisory role
    • To expand relevant skills, thereby increasing an assistant’s value to the team


    The Problem We Solve with Training

    Education is transformational. With real-life tools and strategies, we inspire and motivate assistants to strive for excellence and to go above and beyond –not just on some days, but every day. When the inevitable problems arise, they will know exactly what to do and address them easily and with minimal angst.

    Duration for each module can range from 30 minutes up to a full day.


    • Taking the Reins: Assistants as Leaders in Today’s Workplace
    • Building the Ultimate Partnership: Assistants and Managers Together



    • Find Your Voice to Speak Up!
    • Handling Difficult People and Situations
    • Essential Communication Skills for Assistants
    • Public Speaking –The Two-Minute Lesson
    • DiSC Workplace Personality Assessment



    • Team Building –Understanding Your Value
    • Box Bashing Problem Solving
    • Career Development Plan & Skills Assessment
    • Where is my Mentor? Networking Strategies for Assistants
    • Seeking Excellence Through Resources, Apps, Websites, Vendors and more



    • Why Women Need to Help Other Women Succeed
    • The Elephant in the Room –Workplace Bullying
    • Gender in the Workplace 2.0: The Changing Landscape for Women and Men
  • Taking the Reins: Assistants as Leaders in Today's Workplace

    As the backbone of companies and the right arms to their managers, it is increasingly necessary for assistants to step up as leaders within their roles. This highly interactive workshop is designed to develop and fine-tune the mindset, confidence, and give you the tools needed to succeed as a strategic business partner.

    It will focus on the soft skills necessary to excel as an assistant including communication techniques and problem-solving strategies. Students will learn practical ideas on how to excel as an assistant and how to make the most out of their relationship with managers and fellow staff.

    When assistants are empowered to take the lead in collaboration with their managers and within their roles, the potential for increased productivity and professional growth is limitless. This workshop will focus on the ways to leverage these powerful relationships, resulting in a renewed commitment to excellence in communication and superior customer service.

    Students will learn:

    • What a strategic business partnership looks like
    • Why assistants also need to be leaders to maximize their effectiveness with managers
    • To approach the work in a customized and personalized way specific and responsive to the needs of assistants and their managers
    • The skills, talents and expertise your colleagues (and you) possess
    • Ways to build healthy, positive relationships between assistants and managers as well as assistants and fellow staff
    • Importance of mentoring as a key to success
    • How to bring added value to the assistant’s role
    • Find your voice to speak up in an effective way
    • About moving forward: Strategies to exceed a manager’s highest expectations


    PowerPoint, real-life stories, interactive group exercises and video support and illustrate all of the above.

    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Building the Ultimate Partnership: Assistants and Managers Together

    Assistants can be a manager’s most powerful secret weapon. That’s why bringing both groups together for an interactive session has high positive impact.

    Managers will learn how to maximize effectiveness, productivity, and profitability by fully utilizing their assistant.

    Assistants will gain insights about taking their work to the next level for the benefit of their manager(s), themselves, and the company they represent.

    Designed to build mutual respect and empathy, the goal of this training is to learn immediately actionable strategies to empower managers and assistants –for now and the future.

    Students will learn:

    • What an ultimate strategic business partnership looks like
    • Best practices for managing the 24 hours in a day
    • The responsibilities appropriate for an assistant to handle
    • How to manage miscommunications
    • The importance of one-on-ones between managers and assistants
    • Your preferred communication style
    • How to set clear expectations and why it is important
    • Why periodic review of job descriptions in response to changing needs is smart business
    • What factors sustain the relationship for the long-term
    • The difference between leading and managing


    Real-life stories, interactive group exercises and video support and illustrate all of the above.

    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Find Your Voice to Speak Up!

    Many assistants (and managers too) find speaking up to be a difficult and often impossible assignment. Why? Fears sidetrack and stop us from fulfilling what we know instinctively could change our world. But, how? Bonnie walked this road as the Personal Assistant to Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis for 25 years. She will share “been there, done that” work/life experiences to provide real-life tools to conquer your own fears about speaking up. What is at stake is nothing less than your own professional and personal growth. Bonnie believes that finding your voice is the number one challenge facing assistants and she is ready to tackle it with you. Are you game?

    Students will learn:

    • Why speaking up is the #1 challenge in the workplace
    • What price we pay for staying quiet
    • How to handle difficult people and situations
    • How to begin taking bites out of the elephant(s) in the room
    • Strategies for making small changes today that lead to big changes tomorrow


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Essential Communication Skills for Assistants

    Everyone knows that excellent communication is critical to success in today’s workplace. However, because we are operating on so many channels verbally, non-verbally, and in writing, it is no surprise that there is confusion and miscommunication. The subtle breakdowns of communication can make or break an assistant and can explain why workplace relationships succeed or fail. The ability to find the words to say what you mean and mean what you say is a challenge for too many. In this session, we will explore ways to make it easier and even fun.

    Students will learn:

    • Tips & tricks for spoken, written, and body language communication
    • How to effectively handle a situation when you made a mistake
    • What to do when you get a “nasty-gram” email


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Public Speaking – The Two-Minute Lesson

    This module builds confidence, self-esteem, and public speaking skills.Each student prepares a two-minute timed lesson to teach to the rest of the class. It is a work-related story. For this exercise, students choose to sit or stand, read it from written notes, cell, tablet, PowerPoint slides or memorize it.

    Students will learn:

    • Why it is important to be able to speak in public
    • Tools to focus on the message and not the fear
    • Strategies to tell an effective story to anyone in the time it takes to ride an elevator


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • DiSC Workplace Personality Assessment

    DiSC is a personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork, and communication. DiSC is non-judgmental and helps people discuss their behavioral differences specific to the workplace. Minutes after taking the test, students receive an electronic 24-page report/analysis of their workplace personality. The DiSC has proven to be an extremely useful tool for assistants as it offers insight to their own personality as well as those of others. If an assistant understands what is important to the person s/he is dealing with, what makes them “tick,” the easier it will be to achieve desired results in the fastest, easiest way. Adaptability to another’s style is a key to healthy working relationships and is discussed in this in module.

    Students will learn:

    • Increase their self-knowledge: how they respond to conflict, what motivates them, what causes stress, and how to solve problems
    • How to adapt their style to get along better with others
    • To foster constructive and creative group interactions
    • To facilitate better teamwork and minimize team conflict
    • Develop stronger interpersonal skills by identifying and responding to others’ styles
    • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of an employer and fellow staff


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Team Building: The Power in Your Collective Value

    Do you know the skills and expertise of the people on your team? If not, you need to know. This is what effective leaders do even when they are in support positions. There is too much at stake in our workplace not to be fully utilizing the unique specialties of everyone on your team. After all, everyone was hired for an important reason. The question becomes, is it common knowledge what those reasons are, if not it needs to be. What do you do really well? That is one of the most powerful questions to ask all the members of your team.

    Students will learn:

    • How to inspire collaboration and utilize the talents of team members
    • How to quickly integrate a new assistant into the team
    • Best practices for effectively handling team issues when they arise
    • How to create an internal assistant network for ongoing learning and sharing


    Duration: From 30 mniutes to a full day

  • Box Bashing Problem Solving

    We hear so much about thinking “outside the box.” Ultimate assistants ask “what box?” In today’s non-stop workplace, we not only need Plans A & B, but C and sometimes even D because, well, you just never know. So many details, so many moving parts, and so many things that can go wrong are all part of the job description of today’s assistants. In a highly interactive session, students learn how to navigate the bumpy road that the most demanding employers travel on. After all, it’s not if, but when problems arise. Ultimate assistants are ready for anything and equipped to take initiative in finding solutions. The box is no more.This sessions utilizes actual case studies.

    Students will learn:

    • How to take a proactive lead in crisis management
    • Running the “what-ifs”: Essentials of disaster planning
    • How to fully utilize and deploy their most powerful not-so-secret resources
    • Group brainstorming and problem-solving specific to their workplace


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Career Development Plan (CPD) and Skills Assessment

    In the current workplace, administrative professionals are set up for success with a clear and specific Career Development Plan (CDP) that is initiated upon hiring. The CPD will include a Skills Assessment resulting in an understanding of thetraining needs for each individual. This session is designed to explore the professional development options that exist to meet the learning goals of a student’s current and future role. In an interactive module, students will design a plan for their career through the creation of an outline, a timetable, and an Action Plan.

    Students will learn:

    • How to evaluate career options to take your work in bold new directions
    • What training is needed to meet your learning goals
    • How to build an action plan in order to make a career move


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Are You My Mentor? Networking Strategies for Assistants

    “You don’t have to be an expert in everything, Bonnie. However, you do need to know who the experts are to tap for the answers we need” ~ Olympia Dukakis

    Everyone seems to want to work with a mentor but yet, very few assistants have one. Ultimate assistants know that the secret is to actually have more than one. The best way to find a mentor is to be one! In this session, students will explore what being a mentor really means and every student will leave the room with at least one mentor. In a workplace changing at warp speed, mentors can be game-changers for ambitious assistants who aspire to excel at the highest levels.

    Students will learn:

    • How to be a mentor
    • Keeping it personal in a very impersonal world
    • Methods for networking to find the perfect mentor
    • Exercise: 10-Minute Mentoring
    • How gender impacts the way we mentor


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Seeking Excellence Through Resources, Apps, Websites, Short-cuts, Vendors and More!

    Getting precisely what the assistants and their managers need when needed it is a challenge. An assistant is only as good as her/his resources. What’s on their A-list of go-to resources, apps, websites, vendors, experts, etc.? In this module, we all open our electronic black books and invite everyone to have access. The result is a best-of-the-best list of resources.

    Students will learn:

    • How to find the best time-saving apps
    • A system for sharing the latest go-to resources
    • How to keep up with the latest and greatest
    • Prizes for the best short-cuts!


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Why Women Need to Help Other Women Suceed

    In general, women are socialized as young girls to be competitive with one another and to see one another as adversaries, not collaborators. This training is hard to break, but break them we must because the landscape has changed. There are now more women than men in the workplace and more women than men earning college degrees. The number of women in leadership positions in companies and governments is growing –slowly, but growing nonetheless. Women working together will be instrumental in accelerating the process. After all, the data clearly shows that women are excellent leaders and diverse management means stronger, healthier organizations. The modern workplace requires a new way for women to work with one another and with men because it is not only the right thing to do, it is smart business. We need to do it for women and men, and for our daughters and our sons.

    Students will learn:

    • To see the women in their life with new eyes and to begin the process of mentoring
    • To reject the old stereotypes of how women should behave with one another
    • To devise a new plan of how women can interact with one another


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Gender in the Workplace 2.0: The Changing Landscape for Women and Men

    Fact: 95-98% of the 4.1 million administrative professionals in the United States are women. There are a billion administrative professionals in the world and 98% are female. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor)

    Our workplace is in flux, especially for women. Women working for female executives –men working for female managers –men working for male directors –women working for male supervisors. Female admins are being increasingly viewed as a vital part of the management team. They are going back to college for certification and two-and four-year degrees in order to qualify for management positions –and it is working. It is no surprise then that this changing landscape has caused us to alter how we relate to one another –as peers and with managers and executive team.

    Challenges abound –job title confusion, technology upgrades, virtual offices, globalization, 24/7 access. The good news is that times of change are also times of opportunity –and there is no better time to be a female professional than today. So the time is now to make a difference!

    More good news is that no one is better at solving problems than administrative professionals. This conference will explore ideas about utilizing the same skills and talents that can be used with the employer, as well as directly for the assistant and with their colleagues. They will learn ways to navigate the changing landscape and work even better with their female and male colleagues.

    Students will learn:

    • Factors regarding the sexes affecting today’s workplace
    • Perception vs. Reality –The profession’s image problem
    • Exploding old stereotypes of who assistants are and what they do
    • Myth or Reality? Are women really not helping other women
    • What is holding women back –The “glass ceiling” vs. a “sticky floor”
    • How to best utilize role models and mentors
    • Tools, tips, and strategies for both women and men to create the workplace we need and want


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Workplace Bullying: The Elephant in the Room

    Never one to duck away from a controversial subject, Bonnie shines a light on an epidemic problem that affects 7 out of 10 offices and over 65% of assistants at least once in their careers.If you have ever witnessed or experienced bullying, you know that it takes many forms –from the “Devil Wears Prada” irrational diva, to the co-worker who intentionally withholds important information to the manager who applies rules to certain people and not to others. All of it these bullying behaviors are toxic to a happy, healthy, and profitable workplace.

    As someone who has first-hand experience with bullying, Bonnie has been researching this subject for years and has connected with some of the world’s experts on the subject. She focuses on proactive and realistic solutions that assistants are implementing that are slowing down the revolving door of staff. Together, we will break the silence and eat theelephant…one bite at a time.

    Supplemental Resource Book: Taming the Abrasive Manager by Dr. Laura Crawshaw.

    Students will learn:

    • What is workplace bullying and how do we stop it
    • Who exactly is being bullied and why
    • How to handle workplace bullies
    • How to build cultures of respect in response to bullying


    Duration: From 30 minutes to a full day

  • Troy Alstead, Chief Financial Officer Starbucks Coffee Company, Seattle

    Thank you for providing our 100 administrative professionals with an empowering and inspiring inaugural workshop. The feedback to our leadership teams has been tremendous! Our administrative partners are energized and highly motivated to utilize what they are learning to the benefit of all of the departments they support. We are beginning to see the positive effects on a daily basis, and this workshop has helped us launch our program to enhance the career experience for this very essential part of our organization.

  • Lauren Jiloty, Sr. EA to Bill Gates, Microsoft

    I left BTUA filled to the brim with new knowledge, skills, and professional connections. I recommend this workshop without hesitation.

  • Kristen Van Liefde, San Francisco

    I continue to connect with others from the training. It is 3 years later and it is so great to have this network and support each other. I love the work you and Vickie do. Thank you! Thank you!

  • Brenda R., EA to CEO, Dallas

    My executive and the team are pleased with my work and what I add to the team. I received a 15% raise today! It was a pleasant surprise. I’ve never, ever received such a large pay increase in my career. Also, I was asked to be on the board of the Admin Awards and be one of the judges! It’s been a red letter day! Thank you for all you do to inspire me. I am excited and will look for even more ways to up my game.

  • MJ Lupton, EA, New York City

    If you walk into the office on the following Monday with a bounce, a sense of self, a bit more confidence, ready to take on the world, the training has more than paid for itself. All of this is what brings me back each time.

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