THROWBACK THURSDAY: A Parisian Bookstore’s HIstory

shakespeare 1As we observe this week the anniversaries of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, April 23, and Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 30, here’s a brief history of world-renowned bookstore Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop in the heart of Paris.

Since opening in 1951, it’s been a meeting place for anglophone writers and readers, becoming a Left Bank literary institution. It  was founded by American George Whitman at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, Kilometer Zero, the point at which all French roads begin. It was constructed in the early 17th century as a monastery.

When the store first opened, it was called Le Mistral. George changed it to the present name in April 1964—on the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth—in honor of a bookseller he admired, Sylvia Beach, who’d founded the original Shakespeare and Company in 1919. Her store at 12 rue de l’Odéon was a gathering place for the great expat writers of the time—Joyce, Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Pound—as well as for leading French writers. It closed in 1940 during the German occupation and never re-opened.

George Whitman endeavored to carry on the spirit of Beach’s shop, and his quickly became a center for expat literary life in Paris. Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Anaïs Nin, Richard Wright, William Styron, Julio Cortázar, Henry Miller, William Saroyan, Lawrence Durrell, and James Baldwin were among its early visitors.

From the first day the store opened, writers, artists, and intellectuals were invited to sleep among the shop’s shelves and piles of books, on small beds that doubled as benches during the day. Since then, an estimated 30,000 young and young-at-heart writers and artists have stayed in the bookshop. These guests are called “Tumbleweeds” after the rolling thistles that “drift in and out with the winds of chance,” as George described. A sense of community and commune was very important to him, referring to his shop as a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.”Shakespeare 2

In 2002, Sylvia Whitman, George’s only child, returned to Shakespeare and Company to spend time with her father, then 88 years old, in his kingdom of books. Sylvia introduced several new literary endeavors, including a  literary festival; participants over the years have included Paul Auster, Will Self, Marjane Satrapi, Jung Chang, Philip Pullman, Hanif Kureishi, Siri Hustvedt, Martin Amis, and Alistair Horne, among many others.

In 2011, with the de Groot Foundation, Shakespeare and Company launched the Paris Literary Prize, a novella contest open to unpublished writers from around the world. Shakespeare and Company also continues to host at least one free literary event a week. The shop’s latest projects include a Shakespeare and Company publishing arm and an ongoing search for a farm and writers’ retreat in the countryside around Paris.

WORKFACT WEDNESDAY: History of the Administrative Professional

Today, April 27 is Administrative Professionals Day. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, admin 1there are more than four million secretaries and administrative assistants working in the U.S. How did this professional group come to make up one of the largest segments of the workforce? Here’s a brief history from the International Association of Administrative Professionals:

The role of the secretary seems to have always been that of a confidant and assistant. The exact origination is unknown, but it is known that the secretary, a role dominated by men until the 1880s, existed prior to the establishment of the Roman Empire. They labored long hours maintaining account books and performing stenographic duties.

15th and 16th Centuries – Secretaries often attained an elevated status and held prominent positions. Status titles frequently included “personal” or “private.”

1880s – Invention of the writing machine. Many women entered the office workforce in various clerical roles.

Turn of the Century – The industrial expansion caused business offices to face a paperwork crisis. To solve the crisis, women adapted to new technologies such as the adding and calculating machine, telephone, and typewriter. Many women held, or aspired to hold, positions as secretaries.

1930s – Women dominated the workforce as a number of men with the title secretary dwindled. The women were seeking the pay and professional status previously enjoyed by their male counterparts.

1942- National Secretaries Association (NSA) was formed. It’s now known as International Association of Administrative Professionals.

1951 – NSA first administered the Certified Professional Secretaries Examination, a standard of excellence for the profession.

1952 – First Administrative Professionals Week®

admin 2The 21st Century Administrative Professional

Nowadays, the administrative professional is often required to have skills such as project management, technology, organizing and scheduling, customer service, public relations internet/intranet communications and integrated computer software applications.

Among their many duties, admin professionals often are in charge of purchasing office supplies, planning meetings and events, creating and giving presentations, orienting and supervising other staff, handling correspondence (voicemail, email and postal mail), writing and editing documents and maintaining computer files, directories and databases.

According to an IAAP member survey, the most common job titles are:

– Administrative Assistant: 30%

– Executive Assistant: 18%

– Executive Secretary: 6%

– Office Manager or Supervisor: 5%

– Secretary: 4%

Among those surveyed, 26% have a wide range of titles including:

– Coordinator

– Administrator

– Specialist

– Associate

The future for the administrative profession 

The job outlook for secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to grow by 12% from 2010 to 2020, on par with the national average for all occupations. Technology will continue to play an important role, and employers are willing to pay more for specialized skills such as desktop publishing and database management.

As the IAAP puts it, “The future is bright for computer-literate, well-educated, customer service-savvy office professionals.”

TIP TUESDAY: Administrative Professionals Day is Tomorrow, April 27

Administrative Professionals Day is Wednesday, April 27, formerly known as Secretary’s Day. The observance was established in 1952. Today, the name has changed, but the spirit of Administrative Professionadmin dayal’s Day remains the same and is celebrated worldwide. According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, there are more than 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants working in the United States, and 8.9 million people working in various administrative support roles. Millions more administrative professionals work in offices all over the world.

We talked to the experts to help inspire ideas for this Administrative Professionals Day. You’re sure to find a great gift idea. Read on for a few gift/celebration suggestions; they might spark your own ideas:

* Go out for a group lunch where team members can take the opportunity to say something nice about your admin(s).
* If your staff wishes to express their appreciation for the office admin through made-from-scratch cooking, have a potluck. Everyone can enjoy one another’s company in a relaxed setting.
* Arrange for all the admins to have a nice evening out together within the next few weeks. Set up a caravan to bring them to dinner and a concert. Many businesses that sponsor venues have tickets already available for entertainment acts
* Have a local boutique bring fun knickknacks and set up shop in your conference room. Each employee could pick out one or two items as a thank-you for their hard work.
* While you want to honor your admin with his or her own special gift, don’t forget the families behind your office star. A gift certificate to a local restaurant or making one of your homemade specialties for dinner is a thoughtful gesture.
* It’s never too early to plan for next year. Keep a written log of the things your admin does throughout the year that you’re thankful for. Update it weekly (or at least regularly), and prepare the finished journal as a gift. Then next year, you have a nice remembrance book to give them.

WORKFACT WEDNESDAY: Interruptions are Productivity Killers

“Don’t interrupt me while I’m interrupting.” – Winston Churchill.

interruptions 2Interruptions at work can be maddening. Researchers at the University of California – Irvine, found after careful observation that the typical office worker is interrupted or switches tasks, on average, every three minutes and five seconds. And it can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds just to get back to where they left off.

Jonathan Spira, author of Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization, estimates that interruptions and information overload eat up 28 billion wasted hours a year, at a loss of almost $1 trillion to the U.S. economy.

Here are a few other facts about interruptions and productivity:

Employees endure an average 56 interruptions a day

Interruptions can cause as much as 20-40% decline in performance

Interruptions can cause as much as a 10% drop in IQ – the same as missing an entire night’s sleep

Because of unnecessary, unwanted, and completely unproductive interruptions, between 40 and 60 percent of workers’ time, surveyed at Fortune 500 companies, could be completely wasted.

Workers at these same companies were not only interrupted by their own managers, they also suffered embarrassment and low morale because they couldn’t meet the deadlines the managers set, due to the time lost by those interruptions.

Research has found that, in the financial services industry, interruptions can take up to 238 minutes a day. Then you have to restart. That’s the loss of another 84 minutes. That leads to inefficiencies like momentum loss, and do-overs because of errors. Stress and fatigue cost another 50 minutes. That’s 372 minutes, or 6.2 hours every day, or 31 hours a week – almost a whole person, in productive time lost because of interruptions.

(excerpted from an article in The Washington Post by Bridget Schulte.)

TIP TUESDAY: Confusing Word Pairs

by Laura Hale, principle at Impertinet Remarks

In grade school, did you ever ask your teacher “Can I go to the bathroom?” only for them to parrot back, “I don’t know, can you?” You’d roll your eyes then (and probably now) before asking “May I?” As annoying as that was when we were kids, your teacher was really on to something. While “can” and “may” seem interchangeable, they’re actually not. “Can” notes if you are physically able to do something whereas “may” refers to if you have permission to do something, or the possibility of something occurring. This is one of the most common confusing word pairs.

Check out some other confusing word pairs and keep your copy writing skills sharp:

1. Continual vs. continuous

“Continual” means to recur at regular and frequent intervals.

Example: “Because she was new to the copy desk, Amy checked the style guide continually.”

“Continuous” means to go on without pause or interruption.

Example: “The continuous flow of alcohol made last night’s happy hour quite entertaining.”

2. “Compare to” vs. “compare with”

Use “compare to” for items that are similar.

Example: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

Use “compared with” for items that are very different.

Example: “When compared with Shakespeare’s sonnets, modern sonnets fall flat.”

3. Dosage vs. dose

“Dosage” is the amount of medicine to be taken by a patient during a period of time.

Example: “The dosage is three times per day for 10 days.”

“Dose” is the amount taken at one time.

Example: “This morning’s dose is 250 mg.”

4. e.g. vs. i.e.

The abbreviation “e.g.” means “for example” or “such as.”

Example: There are several online dictionaries available, e.g., Wordhippo, Wordnik, and Dictionary.com.

The abbreviation “i.e.” means “that is” or “in other words.”

Example: “Do a bit of research if you are uncertain which word to use, i.e., use a dictionary.”

5. Feel vs. believe

Use “feel” to express physical sensations.

Example: “I felt a chill as soon as I walked through the door.”

Use “believe” to express personal conviction or the acceptance of something as true.

Example: “I don’t believe we’ll ever agree about the singular they.”

6. Fever vs. temperature

Do not use these words interchangeably. A fever is the physical condition that occurs when a person’s body temperature is elevated.

Example: “He had a fever.”

Temperature refers to body temperature, which everyone has.

Example: “His temperature was normal.”

7. Includes

“Includes” indicates that a partial list will follow. Do not use “includes” if the list is complete.

Correct: “The alphabet includes the letters a, b and c.”

Correct: “The first 3 letters of the alphabet are a, b and c.”

Incorrect: “The first 3 letters of the alphabet include a, b and c.”

(This one is not part of a confusing word pair, just a word that’s often misused.)

8. Since vs. because

Using “since” when you mean “because” can make your writing unclear.

Unclear: “Since I began reading Patrick O’Brian, my writing has improved.”

More clear: “Because I began reading Patrick O’Brian, my writing has improved.”

More clear: “After reading Patrick O’Brian, my writing improved.”

What additional word pairs would you add to the list, Ragan readers?

Laura Hale Brockway is a medical writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.