BY: KATIE MARSH
When you live your life accepting your nerd-dom, it’s a liberating feeling. At least that’s the way local virtual assistant, Denise Heidel, feels about it. As her business, The Office Nerd Virtual Assistant, prepares to celebrate its first anniversary, we decided to ask Denise to share a few things about her role as an office nerd assistant.
Katie: First thing—Why “The Office Nerd?” I’m sure that gets a response.
Denise: Oh, yes, people get a kick out of it. It’s true. I am a nerd, and I know it. I figured I might as well own it. Plus, there’s a little bit of a double entendre there. My husband and I are big fans of the TV Show, The Office. So, there’s a little bit of a double meaning.
Katie: Your website says, “Spreadsheets and essays make me happy.” That’s not something you hear every day. I mean, I know you love to write, because you’ve been a member of the Forsyth Magazines writing team for as long as I have, but spreadsheets? Really?
Denise: Yes, I know I’m weird that way. But it’s true. Yes, you know I love to write, but there’s this analytical side of me, too, and that part loves building spreadsheets and creating databases that cohesively organize information. If I can add a few pivot tables and charts in there—I’m even happier.
Katie: Have you seen a doctor about this condition?? Just kidding…How did you discover this love for spreadsheets?
Denise: My first “real” job in Corporate America was scheduling catalog production. This was 25 years ago, and I was hired to make sure every step of the process stayed on track, and adjust the schedule as needed. The woman who trained me spent the first day telling me how easy it was and then didn’t come back for the second day of training. And she was using a program that I didn’t know, and my boss didn’t know either. We found it cumbersome, so together, we figured out a way to build a calendar tracking system in Excel. I learned so much from that first experience, and it was so much fun when we found a solution! It’s something I’ve enjoyed ever since. There’s always something to learn and discover in Excel. In every job I’ve had for the last 25 years, I’ve used it. And every time, I’ve been able to use it to figure out ways to streamline processes and make things easier.
Katie: So how has self-employment been for you?
Denise: It’s been great! This is actually Self-employment Take 2. I wanted to do this in 2008, but didn’t know how to network or really manage a business. Then, I accidentally ended up working for the magazines full- time. While I later took another job in 2017, it just felt like it was time to try it again. And I’m so blessed! I am like a turtle—carrying my past employers with me! I took my last job and maintained my relationship with Forsyth Magazines…. And after I resigned from that job, I’ve kept my relationship with them as a freelance consultant.
Katie: I heard a story that a billboard had a significant impact on you and how it changed the course of your career. Will you share that story?
Denise: Sure! When I quit my job in 2008, I was a single parent. I wanted to be home more and be there for my son, but I just couldn’t figure out how to get the business off the ground. Almost a year later, I was sad, scared, overwhelmed, and my anxiety was at an all-time high. I saw a billboard for Allegacy Federal Credit Union that said, “You don’t need a new dream, you just need a new direction.” I wasn’t an active Christian at that point in my life, but as I look back on it—I do believe God was speaking to me that day. He put me on a path I didn’t expect, and eventually, He brought me back full circle. It’s not a new dream, but it did take me in a different direction.
Katie: So, after a year in business, what do you love most about your new career?
Denise: I love the diversity of it. I’ve got a wide range of clients who represent a number of different fields. It has been really interesting to be involved in all these different industries and learn a little more about them. I love working from home and having my dog with me in my office! It’s been everything I’ve hoped for and more! I am so grateful to everyone who has entrusted me as their virtual assistant and office nerd!
The Office Nerd Virtual Assistant is based in Clemmons, NC. Visit TheOfficeNerdNC.com to get all the details. Denise can be reached via e-mail (Denise@TheOfficeNerdNC.com) or phone (336.413.7610). Be sure to like The Office Nerd on Facebook and follow on Instagram!