Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Value of a Good Assistant

On Friday evenings as we begin the evening meal that ushers in the Sabbath, it is customary to sing a poem/song (Eshet Chayil) to the woman of the house that begins as follows:

An accomplished woman, who can find?
Far from pearls is her value
Her husband’s heart relies on her and he shall lack no fortune.

Judaism has it right here.  The wife gets her due, as she rightly should, a serenade sung to her by the entire family. 

As we usher in the workweek, however, there are no such songs in our cultural or national heritage for our valued and beloved assistants. 

Mary Abrams, the estimable Associate Director of the Executive Office Center, suffices with, “Good morning.  How are you?  How was your weekend?   I could sing to her, I suppose, but at the risk of having a pencil thrown at me.    

Mary was only sixteen years old when my brother hired her as a part-time receptionist for our former real estate company, First Choice Real Estate.  Today, twenty-six years later, (it could actually be twenty-seven), she is married, and the mother of three children. 

I asked Mary recently to give me a suggestion for my next blog. “Write about me,” came her retort.  She was joking, of course, but her reply contained the knowledge that she is as relevant to the Executive Office Center Discourse on Business as any other subject I may choose to write about. And the fact is, she is right.

Mary has been with us for so long that it would be natural to take her for granted.  She probably thinks that we do, but every day, I am guided by her natural intelligence and her unerring intuition, and am newly impressed by her devotion and resourcefulness.

Mary played a critical role in the success of First Choice Real Estate, and she is the heart and soul of the Executive Office Center at Fresh Meadows.   It is only a matter of time before she becomes the executive steward of this company. 

Mary proofs everything that I write. She tells me what’s good, and what isn’t, what belongs and what doesn’t, what is great, and what will get me into trouble.  This will have to pass her scrutiny, too.

Such is the value of a good assistant.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Friday Before a Holiday: To Work Or Not To Work

To work or not to work

Here I am once again, in my office at 7:00 a.m. on a Friday before a holiday weekend, crunching numbers, assessing my progress, developing strategies to help me stand out from the competition. There was no traffic on the Long Island Expressway this morning – going west that is – just me and a couple of other shmendricks driving away from the sun.
An American Robin, by coincidence or by providence, has just landed on the hurricane fence that surrounds the rear yard of my office, carrying nesting material in his beak.  He jerks his head nervously in all directions, scanning the environment for predators, seeking more nesting material or perhaps a good worm.   Now, here’s a creature I can relate to, up early, building a nest for his family, cognizant and ever watchful of dangers in his environment.  He’s not going to the Hamptons for the weekend.  He has a family to protect and feed. 

I am not complaining about being here at the office today, while others are headed toward pleasure.  The quiet and stillness before an impending holiday removes the urgency of an ordinary business day, and lends clarity to the mind.  It’s a wonderful time to think and plan.  

I know that my phones will be relatively quiet today, but past experience has taught me that I’m likely to get a good call.  Pre-holiday Fridays, it seems, bring out the customers with the most urgent need.

The robin that arrived outside my window before by such timely coincidence has now flown off.  His tiny brain understands the imperatives of survival that many people seem to miss.  I'm sure he's not chirping “Ah, there’s no point in working today.  Everybody is already in holiday mode.”  He's chirping, "It's another day.  Gotta get on with it.  Maybe we'll barbecue on Sunday."