Concetta M. Green is a proud native of Boston, MA and has been a trusted advisor to executives in various industries for well over 10 years.
In this episode, Concetta talks about diving head-first into ambiguity, overcoming the anxiety of working for a well-known brand, being a recovering workaholic, and showing up as your authentic self.
Love is in the details.
– Oprah Winfrey
CONNECT WITH CONCETTA
Concetta M. Green is a proud native of Boston, MA and has been a trusted advisor to executives in various industries for well over 10 years. Concetta holds a B.S. in Speech Pathology and a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management. Author of the book, Too Busy, Too Bored for Prayer: A 7-Day Challenge (available on Amazon). Concetta also moonlights as a ghostwriter for self-help books and pretends to be a gardener on weekends.
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Concetta Green 0:00
Hi, I’m Concetta Green and today’s leadership quote is from Oprah Winfrey – “Love is in the details.”
Podcast Intro 0:13
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants
Jeremy Burrows 0:28
are you tasked with ordering food for your office? Let me tell you about ezCater with over 100,000 restaurants to choose from nationwide and 24/7 customer support. EzCater helps assistants like you and me succeed at work and makes our lives easier. Visit ezcater.com/leader assistant to find out more. Hey friends, welcome to The Leader Assistant Podcast that your host Jeremy Burrows and this is episode 238 and today I’m very excited to be speaking with Concetta Green. Concetta is a proud native of Boston, Massachusetts. And she’s the chief of staff at Harvard, business, publishing, Concetta Welcome to the show.
Concetta Green 1:13
Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.
Jeremy Burrows 1:16
Awesome. So you’re in Boston? What’s your favorite part about Boston?
Concetta Green 1:21
Oh, my gosh, my favorite part about Boston is the fact that you have the old and the new, right up against each other every day, all day all the time. Like literally the Paul Revere House is right next to skyscrapers, like that’s the perfect picture of Boston.
Jeremy Burrows 1:38
Nice, nice. And what is your favorite meal? Your like classic favorite Boston meal?
Concetta Green 1:47
You know what I should be able to say, clam chowder, but I just developed a clam allergy. So I think I’ll say Lobster.
Jeremy Burrows 1:59
Lobster. Nice. Nice. Well, I’m really excited to have you on the show and wanted to hear a little bit of your story, first of all, so what? Yeah, what will take us back to the beginning of your career. And tell us a little bit about how you got into the assistant, executive assistant office manager role. And then we’ll work our way back to the current day where you’re now chief of staff. So tell us a little bit about how you became an assistant initially?
Concetta Green 2:33
Sure, well, it’s kind of a funny story. I, I never imagined myself working in corporate, I actually always thought I would just be a singer. And I’d be on tour. So but you know, you go to college, and you realize, Wait, I have to pay for this now. And I had to get a job. And so my mom was a career secretary. That’s what they call the systems at the time. No disrespect to anyone. But my mom was a career secretary. One of my aunts was as well. And so they said, Well, why don’t you just try this, just try this for a while. Like, it’ll be like really good bread and butter. And what I found over time is that I was actually good at it. Like, I liked it. I enjoyed it. So my first job out of college was at a law firm. I didn’t know anything about law, I didn’t study law in college, I went to Emerson for like speech pathology, because that was like the closest thing to music that my parents were willing to sign on for it. So I know. Right? So I just I worked there, I learned under a lot of really seasoned assistants and paralegals. And what I found is that those skills ended up being super transferable. And they really blessed me and allowed me to work in a lot of different industries. So I think I went from there to working at a recording studio for commercials in our city. And then let’s see, I did legal again, for a while. I spent some time in higher ed as well. So my path has really just been, listen, I’m here to help. I can organize, I can get people together. But what’s interesting to me sort of right now, and that’s sort of dictated what industry I’ve played in for a bit.
Jeremy Burrows 4:25
Nice. Yeah, that’s one of my favorite parts about the assistant role as well is just the fact that our skills are transferable across company size, company, industry. Executive temperament, all the things.
Concetta Green 4:41
Yes. And I found that if you’re good at So personally, I can do a lot of things. Well, I have a lot of interests. You know, I do deep dives on YouTube. I love to read books. I love talking to people so you know event planning, painting writing all the things right? I love those things in my personal life. So what I found is that I can bring elements of all those things to whatever job I’m working at. And it always ends up making that place better. So if I can go to a job, leave it better than I found it. I’m doing well.
Jeremy Burrows 5:22
Nice, nice. So what’s been maybe one of the either funny or crazy or scary stories in your career as an assistant, that you would like to share? Just just one little snapshot of a time during your career? Oh,
Concetta Green 5:44
do you just want scary? Or do you want the scary to lead to someplace good?
Jeremy Burrows 5:48
Oh, it doesn’t have to lead to something good. It doesn’t have to have a happy ending. And that’s all right.
Concetta Green 5:52
Oh, you know, I, what can I tell you know that that one might be too scary? You want something funny? I don’t know. Maybe I need a little bit more context.
Jeremy Burrows 6:04
Tell me the two scary ones. Just tell me what you’re thinking what came to your mind?
Concetta Green 6:09
Okay, so there was a time I worked in a place and there was a higher up who was known for being a hothead. And they made a comment not far from where I was threatening to harm a lot of people in the office one day. Wow, exactly. Immediate eyebrows. Also, like I just immediately froze, because I was thinking, I don’t know if this is a joke. And I don’t know if it’s serious. But this is on the news, way too much for someone to be yelling this in an office. And so I, you know, I privately reported it to HR, as is proper. And that person was relocated to a different part of the office. But it did change things for me in the office, because I learned that confidentiality actually wasn’t a thing in that space. So I wasn’t treated so great. After that, it took me a while to kind of put two and two together. But yeah, that was a, that was a crazy time. And realizing that I wasn’t, I wasn’t valued. My safety concerns, you know, weren’t taken seriously. Obviously, that was a major red flag for me. I could have chosen to stay, I could have chosen to brush it off. But for me, that was a red flag enough to say, You know what, I think I would do better in a space where people value safety a lot more. So that’s the first thing that came to mind when you asked him. That was crazy.
Jeremy Burrows 7:48
Wow. Yeah, it’s tough. Because, you know, it’s like, oftentimes, we put so much of our personal worth and our personal value and identity in our job. And so we’re, we’re, it can make us tentative to do the right thing like report those types of scenarios or, you know, stand up for what’s right, because we fear that we’re gonna lose the job. And we’ve attached, like I said, our identity and our job and so that that’s, yeah, that can definitely be a challenging situation to be in.
Concetta Green 8:24
I mean, it can be absolutely, but I think it, it made me reevaluate the commitment. And the relationship that I had with that company as an employee, which I think in the end was a good thing. I think it was a good learning experience, after all, because I wanted to be in a place where the employer was as committed to my well being as I was committed to the company’s well being. And I didn’t feel that it was reciprocal. In that moment. Yeah, so to me, you know, that that’s something that I look out for now, How committed is accompany to my well being? Is it reciprocal? Because it is a relationship and it should be a healthy one?
Jeremy Burrows 9:13
Yeah. Well, so, you know, you mentioned in when we talked about doing the episode and asked for some topics, you mentioned that you’re a recovering workaholic, so on the topic, just, you know, having maybe, potentially an unhealthy relationship with work. Tell us a little bit about your journey of being a workaholic and coming out of that world and that mindset and what have you done to maybe resist that tendency in yourself?
Concetta Green 9:48
Yeah, so I like to I’m an oldest child. So I like things to be done a certain way. I like there to be order but I’m not I’m also not super rigid, right. I said I’m a Korean So that comes with all kinds of fun stuff, too. Um, I’m not, you know, inflexible, but I do like to do a good job. That’s just a part of who I am. If you give me something, I want to make it better if you give me problems, let’s try to solve them as best as we can. To improve efficiency and effectiveness, you’ll always hear me say that. And I think that big that comes from that quote, that I share with you about love being in the details. My team hears me say it all the time, I bring it into everything that I do. So I genuinely care about my team, I care about our product. It’s a reflection, I think of our relationships. So I think at times I focus too much on Hey, like, how, how do we make it better and better and better? And, you know, not really watching the clock? It’s like, you know, six, seven, and a little late, okay, maybe you should sleep. What have I done? So, and I’ll give you another example. Just out outside of work, I helped a friend of mine, ghost write their book. And they were on a really tight deadline, really impossible deadline. Let’s say it was about a month. I said, Yes, I’ll help you knock it out. And I probably didn’t sleep much for about a week. Sure. I showered This is between you and i So don’t tell me about it. That’s right.
Jeremy Burrows 11:26
Nobody’s listening. Nobody’s listening.
Concetta Green 11:29
That’s fine. And we got it done. But it’s simply because I cared. So what did I learn from that I learned? Yes. Showers are important. Also, maybe building in better timelines, right. So that I’m also being mindful to respect my time, and my need to have some space to recharge, so that I can be fresh to do a great job. So that’s where I am now I think I do a much better job of saying, Okay, I’ve put in a lot, I can do extra, but there is a cut off. You know, if I feel that I need to make sure that I eat, I need to make sure that I get up. I’m a hybrid employee. So I spent a good deal of time working remotely. And I’m not the kind of person that slacks off, if anything, the company tends to get a little bit more out of me. And so I have to build in some parameters to say, No, this is where it ends. And this is where my personal life begins. Yeah.
Jeremy Burrows 12:33
Yeah. Well said. So kind of related to this, you know, talk about showing up as your authentic self. You know, you mentioned to me, you’re a black professional, you’re warm and proficient, and you’re often or I guess, maybe always the only black person in the boardroom weekly, you mentioned. And I quote and so Tell, tell us a little bit about that, and, and what you’ve learned, and maybe the challenges you face and how you’ve overcome, you know, showing up as your authentic self.
Concetta Green 13:12
Sure. So, you know, after the death of George Floyd, January 6, all these major events, you know, in the United States, it, it gave me time to reflect on, you know, what have I been doing? How have I been showing up in corporate spaces, you know, and at the time, before all of these events happen, I didn’t realize how much I was changing myself to fit into whatever company I was in, so for example, my hair, you know, with African American people, our hair is naturally curly, if you permit it straight. So I was constantly, probably my hair, keeping it straight, because I was trained. That’s how you look professional. That’s how you look sharp. And so when things started changing in our country, and I really had time to sit back and evaluate, well, what’s my part? How am I showing up? How am I helping people who are coming up behind me to see you know, how you should lead as an assistant, I realized I was not being authentic just with my hair. That’s it’s such a personal part of who you are. And so I started wearing braids. I started wearing full locs you know, and initially, I got a lot of commentary at that particular job, like, whoa, you look really different today. How did you get your hair that long? And I’m like, well, we’re not gonna go into a whole YouTube appreciation. But, you know, that might seem like a small thing. But for black women, our hair is such a big part of our identity, our experience, we spend months and weeks planning ahead, you know, how’s my hair gonna look for this trip? You know, how do I show up here? And people do look at you differently depending on what is going on. And so it’s really important to be centered in yourself grounded in yourself confident in your skills and your abilities. So that that does not ever become a distraction to yourself, number one, and you don’t allow it to be a distraction for the people that you’re working with. I’m fortunate to be at a place now where differences are celebrated. Diversity is encouraged. And yes, I might be the only black woman in the boardroom. But I am surrounded by a team of executives who really do genuinely care about getting things right. And so it shows up in our personal relationships and that that feeling of support. It’s made all the difference for me personally, it’s given me a great deal of confidence.
Jeremy Burrows 15:49
That’s great. That’s great to hear. Any, any tips for assistants listening? Who are you know, struggling to be themselves at work?
Concetta Green 16:03
Sure, um, I would say you know, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Because being yourself means you show some vulnerability. Sometimes maybe you say, well, there’s a little different sometimes I say, you know, ain’t can’t, you know, my family, I have family members from the south. So sometimes you might get a little twang, depending on what side of me you poke. You know, sometimes I might speak straight. Sometimes if I’m in a room full of Bostonians, you’ll hear a little bit of Boston, you know, you’ll get a little bit of all of that. So it’s okay to meet the moment. When being yourself I think it’s okay to meet the moment we we are not just black and white internally, internally, we are a spectrum full of color. And so whatever color you decide to show that day is fine. I think as long as your your morals, your integrity, and your personality are intact and consistent, I think that those other things can change and you can be a colorful person and and still be professional and prospective.
Jeremy Burrows 17:10
Well, it means you said meet the moment is that what you said? Meet the moment I love that love that phrase meet the moment.
Concetta Green 17:17
Sometimes the moment needs, sometimes the moment needs a spreadsheet.
Jeremy Burrows 17:23
Amen to that? Love it. Well, what What about ambiguity and diving headfirst into kind of the unknown what? And then But then yet, as assistants trying to emerge with answers, and a plan, and, and all that.
Concetta Green 17:48
Yeah, I think a big part of being successful as an admin and I can speak from my own experience is being able to handle ambiguity. The way I approach it, is by listening, I try to listen in meeting the moment it really requires listening, I try to listen more than I talk. I try to make sure that I’m not a busybody that I’m not a gossip. But I’m really listening. I’m reading the room. I’m elevating my emotional intelligence to hear what are the truest needs in this meeting? Right? Is someone not hearing someone is someone not listening is someone unable to communicate their truest desires? So that’s been my approach to ambiguity. I think I think it’s helpful, I found it to be helpful. And then really rooting down to see okay, well, what can we do? What are the facts? And how do we get to where you want to be?
Jeremy Burrows 18:48
Yeah, that’s great. So what about, you know, let’s talk transition a little bit. Or piggyback off of that, with your title, you know, your executive assistant, and you were supported SEO? And then now you’re the chief of staff. Did you have a little bit of ambiguity in the title change? Or was that a very intentional thing that you’re like, hey, I want to be a chief of staff. Tell us a little bit about that transition.
Concetta Green 19:22
Interesting. One second. No problem. I love my notifications, but I’m so sorry. Oh, here we go. So I’m changes with my job. So when I came on, I came on to support an acting CEO at my current company. And so I supported that person for a year. And then there was a search and a different person was hired. And so I became EA to the second CEO, and that second year. So there has been a lot of ambiguity in transition, you know, in these two years. And there’s been a lot of meeting the moment, you know, managing expectations, communications, things like that. So the scope of my role, I think, has grown tremendously. And there was a change to the structure of our organization. And my current CEO said, Listen, you can’t just sit here with the EA title that does not encompass everything that you touch here in this company, because you touch a little bit of everything. And you always have an impact. So let’s talk about what titles make sense. And so we had several conversations, that title came up. There’s no way I was gonna say no, like, no, yes, it does make sense. Because it’s managing so many diverse projects. And you know, as an EA, we often live in a sort of purgatory of organizations is sort of this gray space. You’re not the CEO, you are not the receptionist, but you have to make sure that both ends of the organization are able to touch one another, hear one another, understand one another. So it’s a unique space. And I’m really grateful for it. I’m grateful for the opportunity, mainly because I’m thinking about the people that will come after me in this organization, the people who will replace me, the people who want to come in and be a part of this organization and elevate the role of executive admins.
Jeremy Burrows 21:31
That’s great. So, you know, speaking of the organization, did you you know, Harvard Business publishing, you know, Harvard is obviously a well known brand or well known name. And did you experience any nerves or anxiety? You know, working?
Concetta Green 21:55
Oh, yes. Let’s talk about it. Yeah.
Jeremy Burrows 21:59
Working for a brand like Harvard?
Concetta Green 22:02
Yes. So I would say, you know, initially, no, I was really excited about the brand. Because I was excited about the product, right? And then I think maybe the first week, I remember driving in and it started to hit me. And it just felt like a weight was progressively like, Oh, my God, can I do this? And ironically enough, I got a text from a friend who heard that I got this job. And in the text, she said, Listen, I don’t know how you’re feeling. But I want you to know, if you’ve got the job. It’s because you have what they need in that space. So don’t let the brand don’t let the name intimidate you show up and give them who you are. That little text changed everything. I’m sure I cried a lot of tears in that moment. It just it started to the anxiety started to feel so oppressive. Because there is this expectation and the standard oh my god, it’s Harvard. Like, Oh, am I going to be able to, to do what they expect. I didn’t go to Harvard. I went to Emerson, like, I would cause disorders major, and I love music and art, and I’m not an academic. So, um, but she was right. She was absolutely right. What I bring to that space is not what they’ve had. And it is everything that they’ve needed. So you know, I’m hoping that people who are listening to this experience, feel the same way if they come into brands or they’re interested in big brands, you know, not to be intimidated by the logo, like jumping there. Show them what you’ve got, and let your skills have the opportunity to prove themselves.
Jeremy Burrows 23:47
Have great. Talk about a timely, timely support text from a friend. Awesome. Well, Concetta. Thank you so much for being on the show if there was something that you could put on a billboard for. Let’s say there was a highway where it was bumper to bumper traffic of assistance every morning going to work at the same highways like the assistant 101 or something. And there was a billboard that every assistant saw what would you want that billboard To say?
Concetta Green 24:24
I would say love is in the details. And remember to love yourself today.
Jeremy Burrows 24:32
Love it we’ll order the billboard now. That sounds great. Let’s do it. Well, what what can people or where can people reach out and say hi and what’s the best way to reach out if that’s okay for them to say hi and reach out.
Concetta Green 24:50
I’d love for people to say hi I can be found on LinkedIn. Concetta Green I can also be found on Instagram, Instagram. @Concetta_Green
Jeremy Burrows 25:01
Awesome. We’ll put those links in the show notes at leaderassistant.com/238. Leaderassistant.com/238 Concetta, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate your insight and your story and just keep leading well and we’ll hopefully hang out in Boston and I’m not a lobster fan, but you can have some lobster and I’ll have something else. Get you a sandwich. There you go. Thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you.
Concetta Green 25:32
Thank you Jeremy. This was great.
Unknown Speaker 25:44
Please review on Apple podcasts.
Unknown Speaker 25:53