Joni Elliot decided that her career came first
When vacationing with her boss Scott Magnesen's wife 12 years ago in Desert Springs, Calif., she met her husband-to-be. After a year of long-distance dating, she told him their marriage would be contingent on his selling his restaurant in California, and resettling in the Midwest so she could stay at her job. He agreed.
“The Magnesens are my best friends,” says Elliot. “Scott hosted my wedding in the backyard of his house in a suburb close by.” Elliot and Magnesen began working together nearly 25 years ago, and Magnesen says Elliot is the “backbone” of his business — with its 3,000 households and $1.5 billion in assets. “She is one of the most dedicated people I know, and is totally committed to running my business,” he adds. “I can count on one hand the number of days she has missed to illness in 25 years.”
Elliot says she gets a lot of satisfaction from making sure that the office runs like clockwork. “I'm busy from the moment I walk in the door, to the moment I walk out the door,” says Elliot. “I'm an all-around problem solver: I handle legal issues, process account transfers, distributions and special projects.” A little over a decade ago, Magnesen began to add some people to the team, including other sales assistants, so Elliot had to learn to manage other people and delegate. “Letting things go was really hard for me,” she says. “But I have, and it's actually been great. I delegated the phones, and certain duties that are part of the operational side.”
Elliot says she is proud of the service that she and the other assistants provide. Clients almost never call to complain that something was processed improperly. “I guess I'm extremely detail oriented and organized — and I take pride in my work,” she says. But she's modest about the challenges of her job, and gives Magnesen credit: “Scott keeps the whole business very simple, if it was complicated it wouldn't be so easy to manage.”