Editor's Note: Jessica Ann founded The Candied Yam, a Grand Rapids restaurant serving Southern cuisine, in 2016. She is also the owner of JA PR Group in Grand Rapids. As a philanthropist, over the past 12 years, she has been able to award over $115,000 in scholarships to high school and college students. She has been in West Michigan for about 25 years. Born in Lansing, Jessica Ann lived in a foster home until she was 7. She found her forever family at 8 in Kalamazoo. She is married with a daughter who just graduated high school and an adult son. She lives in Kentwood.
Every president needs a vice president.
Every car needs a motor.
Every pen needs ink. Every Batman needs a Robin ....
Or let me say it this way: Every Jessica Ann needs a Tamara!
Let me tell you that I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that my assistant is better than your assistant.
I am THE luckiest woman business owner, in part because I have THE BEST ASSISTANT EVER.
Period. Enough has already been said. I could drop the mic here but then the rest of the page would be blank.
Besides, you know I’ve got more to say, so let me continue.
Many years ago, a woman that everyone knows to be an extremely powerful woman told me two things that I will never forget.
It challenged my very core and made me look at her differently than when I first came to know her. Not in a good way either.
She told a group of aspiring woman leaders the following: 1.) Never tell your assistant how great she is. She may find her wings and fly away. 2.) Never tell others how great your assistant is. They might make her a better offer because there is always someone with more money than you and good help is hard to find.
I was floored and could not believe that I heard this powerfully big woman say these small things - especially about and for the future of another woman.
This well-loved, sought-after powerhouse who was supposed to be such an advocate for women tells me to basically keep a lid on another woman and keep her down.
She must have forgotten - you can’t keep a good woman down.
I don’t even remember a thing else she talked about that day.
I only thought about her two statements.
It was in such conflict to the way I have always operated and felt.
Then my insecurities set in. Was I taking this seriously enough? Was she right? I mean, she is the queen and all of the women clambered to be around her, including me. I wanted her autograph just like everyone else. I wanted the photo, the signed T-shirt, the signed book and for her to see my face. When I had first become aware of her and started following her, I was like, “Wow! I get to be in the same room and rub shoulders with her?”
Overstated, but you do get my point.
Then, when she made her statement, she went from a 10 to a flat-out zero in my book. I know it must’ve shown in my face. But here I am, the woman that has not ‘yet arrived’ like she had so maybe I had it all wrong. What if my assistant Tamara found another place to work? Of course there are others who could pay her more. Duh.
Then back to the statements she made, were they even true? Since when did I, Jessica Ann Tyson, concede to the thoughts of others?
My Rebound: See all of Jessica Ann's blog posts
I first met Tamara, my assistant, many years ago. She was a college student at Grand Valley State University. She interviewed to be my intern in the hospitality department program. At first I didn’t know if she would make it because I can be demanding, but two kids can be even more!
Tamara is a dedicated person, a great wife and devoted mother of two children, a girl and a boy - Kenzie and Kayden. Her children are young, bright and FULL of energy! I don’t understand how she can keep up with me and all of our three businesses from early morning and then have the stamina to leave and go home to make dinner, assist with school work, gymnastics, dance classes, drum lessons, camps and everything else they do.
AND on top of that she is a travel agent as well. But the woman handles her business very well, and mine too! I appreciate her every day. I respect her. I adore her. I can’t tell you where I would be without Tamara and her unwavering daily support.
She really is a rock star. I trust her.
Some days people want to talk ‘with the boss’ but the real power can sometimes be found with my assistant. On some projects she pulls the strings or even has the power to make ‘the call’. Sometimes behind closed doors we giggle at people who want to ‘only speak with me’. When we are in the meeting and I say, “Tamara what do you think is best for the business?” They look at me like, “whaaaattt - so Tamara is queen bee on this project? Ok!”
I am often asked to mentor other women. I absolutely love it. I WANT OTHER WOMEN TO SUCCEED AND EVEN SURPASS ME! If there is a lesson that I can school another woman, then I am up for teaching 101. I do not want another woman to have to go through anything that I’ve already gone through because that means she can be on her way to winning quicker and hopefully get further faster.
I was so disappointed to see a supposedly strong popular woman show me how weak she really was/is. I am telling you and you and you how awesome and amazing my assistant, Tamara, is because she truly is an incredible woman and I am not afraid to tell the world!
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