Jasmine Ventocilla Moves to the Arthur Murray All Star Championships
What is the AM All Star Competition?
The Arthur Murray All Stars is a skills competition for every level of professional within each location around the world. The goal is to grow, develop, and reveal the professionals that demonstrate the best customer service, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. The competition begins in each studio and winners advance to small region, or District, competitions. From there the District winners advance to the large region, or Area, competition. Finally, the Area winners advance to the World Championships in Las Vegas where each Area team tests and one team is pronounced the winner.
More importantly, the real winners are the students of the Arthur Murray Dance Studios as these tests, and accompanying training, help to deliver better communication, teamwork, problem solving, and confidence from every member of the staff.
AML: First off, congratulations on moving into the finals in Las Vegas. How did you react when the announcement was made?
JV: Thank you! Honestly, I feel like my reaction time was about one to two seconds slower than everyone else's, even though it probably all happened in a fraction of a second. I saw the name fading in on the screen and just started clapping. And then I realized people were looking at me, people's phones and cameras were pointing towards me, and then I processed that it was my name up there and I should probably walk up to Russ Clark!
I was so surprised, and I could feel so much excitement and support coming from my AM district family cheering around me.
AML: How did you feel going into the Semi-Finals?
JV: I just felt happy to be there! I was still on a high from winning the district quarterfinals. My All Star goal this year was just to get past our district, which I've never done before. Any experience after was just going to be a bonus for me.
AML: What kind of last minute things did you do to prepare?
JV: Well, what I thought really messed me up at the semis was that we registered and got our testing information at 5:30 PM, and I wasn't scheduled for my very first scenario until 8:00 PM; my nerves REALLY set in during those hours in between.
I went back up to my hotel room to read and reread these papers and rehearsed out loud to an empty room. I kept stuttering, and my voice was trembling, and I realized that I was really psyching myself out. So I did a couple jumping jacks and watched Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network before heading downstairs for my testing time.
AML: How has this process made you a better professional?
JV: This process has made me a better professional because the scenarios we get during these tests are totally probable real-life situations. All the scenarios we've received as testers can happen, probably have happened, and will probably happen again in the future. Figuring out the best way to handle these things in a test sets us up for success in real-time.
AML: What's you All Star backstory? If you can give a little synopsis of the highs and lows of this competition over the years.
JV: For my first All Stars competition, I automatically advanced out of the studio to the district because, well, I was the only admin. I had only been in the company for about three or four months, and I was terrified. Like seriously-out-of-my-mind terrified. A week before the district All Star testing, one of our instructors, Alex, asked me how I felt about going, and I just started crying (sorry Alex). I was so scared.
I look back on that, and I think I needed that moment to just get it out. On the day of the testing, I was at the Hayward studio super early. I walked in, did my test as best I could, and walked out totally fine. Like, "Hey, I didn't die, and that was kind of fun." I felt that with some training and a little more experience, I could do well at this. Each year after that, I've felt more and more comfortable following my instincts in there.
AML: What will it mean to you if the team wins it all this year?
JV: Three-peat! The thought of being part of the Area 6 All Star team that three-peats... What. An. Honor! Plus, bragging rights as being, officially, the best office manager in the world until next All Stars sounds pretty darn cool.
AML: Who are some people that helped you get to this point?
JV: I have to give so much thanks to Richard and Marianne Myers. Did you know, that when I first started the job, they left me alone on my third day of work?
So I've had to learn how to handle situations with whatever knowledge and resources and I had from the very beginning. Over the years since then, Richard and Marianne have not only trained me, they provided me with opportunities and trusted me to use and apply that training.
P.S. A little shout to Chris Lynam for happening to fly to Seattle with me on Friday morning of All Star testing when Richard and Marianne couldn't. At the very least, just not having to be alone was a huge comfort. The conversation that turned into training between the airport and the hotel didnt hurt either.
AML: Last question: what does this mean to you? What makes it special?
JV: As a Studio Manager / Office Manager / Administrative Assistant / Receptionist / whatever you want to call it... as part of a studio's administrative team, so much of what we do is the background stuff. I can confidently say that we have the busiest job in the studio, but no one knows what the heck we do. The All Star competition is special because it is the one time a year that an administrator can be acknowledged for an award!
This year specifically means a lot me because my 2017 has been challenging. The year with the honor of my first promotion in the studio. Then, with Marianne and Richard unexpectedly out of the studio for most of the year, I really needed to step up. I needed to do what I could, with what I knew, to take on both their jobs in the studio on top of mine and lead the team to manage the studio. Those were really big shoes to fill, and this year's All Stars isn't much different. With the previous admins on the winning teams being Brienne and Charlotte (who were/are both admin role models I have Iooked up to, and both from our district), I've got some awesome acts to follow. It would make me so happy to know I could be as big an asset to the All Star team as they were!
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