How an Executive Assistant Force Multiplies Their Leader’s 20%

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON WWW.HERGLIFE.COM ON AUGUST 13, 2018 

Last week I talked to two very successful Entrepreneurs who both expressed interest in hiring an Executive Assistant (EA). Smart move. An EA can work wonders for a busy Entrepreneur. However, both business leaders were unsure exactly what this person would do. Fair enough. The Executive Assistant role is one of the least understood positions, in part because it encompasses so many different responsibilities and can differ greatly depending on the industry or Executive/Entrepreneur. My husband doesn’t even fully understand what I do (and I talk about my work a lot).

In the past five years or so, I have seen significant improvements in both the perception of the position and the training available for this career. Yes, executive support and administration is a career. One, I was happy to discover, that was actually very fulfilling and lucrative, because it was made for me (a Type-A, overachieving, organized, detail-oriented, intrapreneurial leader).

SO, WHAT DO EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS DO? WHATEVER IT TAKES.

Executive Assistants are the ultimate force multipliers and project managers. Their project just happens to be their Executive. From purchasing unique gifts for a business associate, to managing internal and external communication, to preparing speeches, to reorganizing staff roles, to managing social media, to creating business plans, and everything in between, we’ve got it covered. Executive Assistants are problem solvers and fixers. They are some of the most resourceful and connected individuals in your organization. If you have a challenge, bring it to your nearest EA, and I guarantee they will have a solution for you by the end of the day. Executive Assistants are leaders and seeing them as anything else is a complete underestimation of their ability and a disservice to you.

The Executive Assistant position is even more unique when you’re talking about working with a Founder, Entrepreneur, or public figure. Earlier this year, I attended a retreat just outside of Seattle where Monique Helstrom, Chief of Simon Sinek (i.e. Executive Assistant to, and Producer of, Simon), was a guest speaker. She was explaining a bit about her position and told us that she recently was talking to Brene Brown’s Executive Assistant about their respective roles. While, in theory, they are in the same industry (EAs to very prominent authors and public speakers) Monique said their roles were completely different. I think that is perfect illustration of why the role is so hard to define in any real specifics. A job description for Simon’s EA, Adam’s EA, or Elon Musk’s EA could all be very different. The Executive Assistant position varies so significantly depending on what industry you work in, how established the organization is, and the personality and behavior of your Executive.

Last summer, Adam published a blog called The 3 Most Important Things a Leader Must Do. They were:

  1. Casting the vision
  2. Providing focus, clarity, and direction for the team
  3. Removing roadblocks

That is a Leader’s (an Executive’s) 20%. Clear and concise. Well, what about an EA’s 20%? It tends to get a bit murky, but I think this sums it up:

An Executive Assistant’s 20% is ensuring the objectives, goals, and vision of the Executive are executed.

So, in theory, the Executive Assistant’s 20% is the Entrepreneur’s bottom 80%, right? An EA handles all the miscellaneous responsibilities, tasks, and administrative duties that allow an Executive to stay focused on leadership, strategy, and communication. But we all know EAs aren’t just going to focus on the 80%, part of their job is helping their Executive manage their 20%.

Adam has a really great analogy for this concept, that I like to call the 0-10 Principle. As a visionary, Adam has brilliant ideas on the daily. They may not be completely fleshed out, but he has the spark and then sees the end result crystal clear. It is my responsibility to take that idea from a 2 to a 9, bring the idea/project back to him so he can do his final finessing to bring it to a 10. Here’s what that looks like in practice. Adam wants to create an inspirational speaker series that raises funds for his Foundation. Great! That’s at about a 2. I will then take that idea, gather the necessary people, create a timeline, budget, put together a marketing plan, interview speakers, plan the event, and come back to Adam with a final plan, including the speaker line-up. He will offer additional insight, perhaps tweak the speaker order, and come up with an overarching theme for the night. Now we’ve got a 10.

That is how Executive Assistants help their leaders with their 20%. You can apply the concept to almost every aspect of your Executive’s 20%, from drafting a letter to include in the company’s annual report, to revamping their blog, to preparing for a quarterly offsite leadership meeting, to planning a 40th birthday trip for their brother. An Executive Assistant manages the people, details, timelines, etc. to make an idea come to life. This can happen on a large scale like helping them write a book or on a smaller scale like choosing the perfect anniversary gift for their wife. Let’s break this down even further and look at how an EA helps their Executive with their 20%:

FORCE MULTIPLY THE VISION. Communicating the vision is perhaps the most critical component of an Executive’s job. Casting the vision wide and often through strategic communication and branding initiatives generates new business, attracts talent, and boosts employee engagement. Branding and casting the vision go hand in hand.

  1. Schedule regular company updates. These can be in the form of Town Halls, a Letter from the CEO in the annual report, daily blog posts, quarterly video announcements, weekly emails, monthly company meetings, etc. What matters here is that there is a cadence to the communication and that the leader is casting the vision and keeping the team updated and informed regularly. It is the EAs responsibility to schedule these, make sure the cadence is kept and to even prep these letters, meetings, video content, etc. Make sure the CEO’s vision is heard often!
  2. Along with their marketing or brand strategy teams, EAs must specifically reviewing their Executive’s social media regularly to ensure the messaging is in line with the company’s mission and their Executive’s vision. Once the brand is established, EAs must protect it and ensure the messaging is consistent across all channels. How an Executive shows up at church, needs to be the same way he/she shows up on YouTube.
  3. EAs are in a unique position to pitch their Executive for interviews on blogs, national media publications, podcasts, radio shows, etc. They know their Executive’s story, they know their language and how they would answer questions. Submit for awards and as many media mentions as it make sense. EAs are able to craft the message that their Executive wants to be heard, and usually these opportunities lead to even bigger opportunities. Don’t be afraid to start small and build up the brand presence.
  4. EAs can help their Executives write a weekly blog or do a weekly YouTube or Instagram show. The key is consistently delivering the vision and positioning their Executive as a thought leader in his/her industry.

FORCE MULTIPLY COMMUNICATION. Casting the vision means communication with both internal and external stakeholders, so how can an EA enhance these activities to maximize the leader’s reach?

  1. Listen on calls and participate in meetings to listen for anything that their Executive says will be done, delivered, or followed up on. Does their Executive say he’ll make an introduction or get the name of a book to someone? It is an EAs job to ensure that promises made are promises kept.
  2. Managing internal and external relationships is critical. Maintaining a database that houses important, and sometimes seemingly irrelevant, information about people can be a lifesaver. This can be family members, employees, candidates, vendors, community members, former employees, competitors, business leaders, etc. As the EA and their Executive meet with people and conduct research or meeting prep, store any details about the meeting or the individual. Set reminders for anniversaries, birthdays, or important life milestones. I recommend using an inexpensive CRM so you can set tasks and follow-up reminders so you don’t miss an important date. Create a VIP list of people that the Executive wants to either maintain or create a relationship with. Then set up Google alerts that keep you in tune with what these people are doing, awards their company’s receive, etc. It’s a perfect opportunity for the EA to remind their Executive to reach out, call, email, or send a hand-written note. Executive’s will run into these players at conferences or networking and social events. Keep this information handy so it can be pulled out and given to the Executive as a quick refresher before they go to a community event so they don’t forget to congratulate a potential business partner on their recent merger.
  3. The art of the handwritten note is not dead! Incorporate handwritten notes into the correspondence with an Executive’s VIP list. It could be one of the most impactful ways to maximize an Executive’s reach and build relationships. Whether that is thanking someone for coming in to meet with their Executive, or congratulating a competitor on building a new office, handwritten notes get noticed. Pop a business card in there (because not everyone can interpret the Executive’s handwriting and signature like an EA can). To really maximize this, EAs should write thank yous and general notes to vendors or the concierge who went above and beyond helping them book a massage for their Executive when he arrived at his hotel. The more relationships that an EA is able to create will only help them help their Executive. And you never know when a kind word or just knowing the name of the right person at a restaurant will come in handy. Provide value, expecting nothing in return, and it will be returned tenfold.
  4. If an EA travels with their Executive for speaking engagements or hosts training events where their Executive is the keynote presenter, they must pay attention to the audience. What content is resonating? What content could be removed for the next training event? After the event they can update and refresh the Executive’s content accordingly. EAs are the eyes and ears while their Executive is presenting. Watch the room. Who is fully engaged and asking questions? Who is leaving the room every five minutes? Is there talent in the room? After the presentation (especially if it is a day-long event) their Executive is going to be fried, and may need to catch a flight home, and yet everyone is going to want to talk to him. Often an Executive will have a line of people who want to thank him or ask questions. The EA should position herself/himself near their Executive to take business cards, take notes on who to follow-up with, answer questions, or take photos. And perhaps most importantly, to grab their Executive and steer him towards the exit so he doesn’t miss his Uber!

FORCE MULTIPLY FOCUS, CLARITY, AND DIRECTION. This is all about leading and managing up so the Executive is making the right decisions, has the right meetings on his calendar, and is in relationship with the right people in order to achieve the company’s objectives. If one of the Executive’s primary goals is to ensure the team is on track and focused on what must be done that day, week, or month, then that’s the Executive Assistant’s goal too.

  1. When an EA is scheduling or drafting regular communication for their Executive make sure the message is clear and ties back in specific tasks that keep everyone focused.
  2. During key leadership meetings, note all action items and follow up accordingly. If no action items are clear, do not leave the meeting without everyone agreeing to what the next best steps are or what the course of action is and who is doing what.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, when the Executive is getting hit from multiple angles or when they start chasing a shiny object, remind them of what is important and what the team had agreed to focus on that quarter. Entrepreneurs are visionaries and will have endless ideas. Make note of them and if they aren’t part of the overall goals, table them for now. If the Executive asks about them twice, then it’s time to bring them to the forefront and get their buy-in that they should be moved to the 20% for both the Executive and EA to tackle.

FORCE MULTIPLY REMOVING ROADBLOCKS. Once the vision is cast and everyone is clear on what they need to focus on for success, help the team get there!

  1. Research tools and provide cost/benefit analysis to the Executive so they can make the best decision for the team.
  2. Make sure the Executive is regularly available for impromptu meetings. While EAs are often the gatekeeper, do not block access to the “throne”. Schedule in time for the Executive to walk around and check in with people. Do no over schedule them so much that they are not available for a quick question that if unanswered could hold up a project for days.
  3. Be the eyes and ears for the Executive and bring the challenges and solutions to him of issues that if not nipped in the bud could fester and create organizational issues. This could be employee morale, inefficiencies in staffing, or a clunky system. Speak up and help find a solution so everyone can keep moving forward.

An Executive’s 20% is also an Executive Assistant’s 20%. They may complete different tasks to get there, but they are still a part of making it happen. Own it.

Regardless of the exact responsibilities Executive Assistants have, I haven’t met individuals who work harder to accomplish a mission. While I am no longer Adam’s Executive Assistant (I passed the torch to our amazing EA, Amy, last year!), when Adam did travel without me, I didn’t go to bed unless I knew he had arrived. I emailed with him at 2am before he went off the grid to hike Kilimanjaro. I came into the office on weekends to work on a project, prepare for an event, or move offices. I got out of bed more than once to rearrange travel and get him booked on a new flight after delays or cancellations. It needed to be handled. I handled it. I’m sure this is sounding pretty familiar to my fellow EAs (and perhaps many Chiefs of Staff).

For people who don’t quite understand this unique role, they tend to think Executive’s are expecting too much or that these requests are unacceptable or intrusive. But what they don’t know is that very rarely does the Executive actually have to request that these things happen – they just get done of the EAs own volition. I knew what I was signing up for, in fact, I thrive on this. I work for an incredibly interesting and dynamic entrepreneur and I am helping him build multiple organizations; occasionally work doesn’t happen between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. The trade-off? I get to work for an incredibly interesting and dynamic entrepreneur and help him build multiple organizations – the work is challenging, rewarding, and it doesn’t hurt that I have complete flexibility with my schedule and unlimited vacation and time off.

This is just a starting point for those Entrepreneurs who are looking  to hire an Executive Assistant or who want to establish a better relationship with their right hand. The nuances are endless. I have been the Executive Assistant, and now Chief of Staff for eight years with the same Executive, yet my job today looks nothing like it did eight years ago. The only constant is that I am still responsible for, and committed to, ensuring Adam’s vision is implemented.

Since we’re on the topic of the power of the partnership between EA and Entrepreneur, Adam and I are excited to share that we are working on a book about this very topic! Click here to get on the pre-order list and help us choose the title! 


 

lead and assistWANT MORE? JOIN ME FOR LEAD & ASSIST: A four-week online seminar designed to redefine the Executive Assistant role and help you take your career to the next level.

An Executive Assistant role is not just a stepping-stone to another position but a dynamic career all on its own. Executive Assistants are the ultimate force multipliers and project managers. Your project just happens to be your Executive. So, what exactly does an Executive Assistant do? Whatever it takes. Lead & Assist will help you tackle mindset, communication and leadership challenges, while building the confidence and gaining clarity needed to continue to take on the world. Join Hallie Warner, Chief of Staff of Adam Hergenrother Companies, this fall and become an invaluable business partner and confident leader.

THE CURRICULUM WILL COVER:

  • Building a strategic partnership with your Executive
  • Developing confident decision making skills
  • Leading and managing up
  • Best practices for managing communication
  • Career development

RESERVE YOUR SPOT HERE AND I’LL SEE YOU THERE!

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Lead Yourself First. Get Uncomfortable. Be Indispensable.

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of being on Liz Van Vliet’s podcast, Being Indispensable. Liz is as passionate about the Executive Assistant career as I am and has created content through her website and podcast to help EAs not just survive, but thrive. Liz empowers EAs to first shift their mindset to become true partners with their Executive, and then teaches them how to take action.

When Liz first asked me to be on her podcast several months ago, I had a very quick, “Hell, yes!” moment, followed closely by panic, anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt. Why was she interested in me? What did I know? I’m not a public speaker. Who is going to listen? I’m going to sound like an idiot. I like being behind the scenes, not in front. Negative self talk spiral ensued… so, naturally I emailed back and said, “Yes, I would love to!”

Why? Because despite my fear of public speaking/sharing my story/blogging/recording a video/doing a webinar/etc. (basically anything in the put yourself out there and wait to be judged category) the opportunity for career growth (i.e. results) outweighed any fear. I believe in coaching and have a deep desire to help others develop their careers and achieve their goals. The only way to do that is by speaking up and speaking out (even if it’s into a microphone huddled in the corner of my bedroom). Coaching and leading others, starts with coaching and leading yourself. How can I possibly help others grow and succeed, if I am not challenging myself, getting outside of my comfort zone, and growing? So I asked for it. I put it out in the universe that I wanted to coach and teach and grow. And the universe answered in the form of Liz. Thank you Liz (and universe)!

being indispensableClick here to hear my inaugural podcast with Liz on Being Indispensable. 

Podcast done. What’s next?

Something even further outside of my comfort zone. Being in front of the camera. Recorded for posterity. But comfort zone be damned. I’m stepping out of that small, limited little circle and finding that magic!

On Thursday, November 2, I am launching my first webinar series, Lead & Assist. Lead and Assist is a six-week online training program designed to redefine the Executive Assistant role and help you take your career to the next level.

As you know, I believe that an Executive Assistant position is not just a stepping-stone to another position but a dynamic career all on its own. Executive Assistants are the ultimate force multipliers and project managers. Your project just happens to be your Executive.

For more information about my upcoming webinar series, feel free to email me at hallie@adamhergenrother.com. You can also listen to my Intro to Lead & Assist recording here to learn a bit more about what we will be covering during the class. I hope to see many of you on the call and I look forward to masterminding with EAs from around the world!

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Now, let me ask you this, when was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone? Share your stories in the comments! 

 

 

Lead & Assist Survey Results: Long Hours, Longer Lists, and Loving What They Do

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Almost 100 people responded to my Lead & Assist Giveaway Survey and as I reviewed all of the data over the past week, a few things became very clear: Executive Assistants (and any of the other 28 titles they go by) work very long hours, struggle to find work/life balance, are constantly managing multiple competing priorities, and yet, still love what they do.

First, let’s look at the hard data. I asked this group of pro EAs the following questions:

  1. What is your title?
  2. What are the top three responsibilities in your role?
  3. What is your work schedule? Do you work 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday? Do you have a flexible schedule? Do you work weekends? Or something in between?
  4. What is the biggest challenge you are experiencing at home or at the office due to your role as an Executive Assistant?

Here’s what they said:

  1. What is your title? // The overwhelming title that EAs go by, is (surprise!), Executive Assistant. Just over half of the respondents went by Executive Assistant. The rest of the survey participants who identified as an Executive Assistant, went by the following titles:
  • Senior Executive Assistant
  • Office Manager
  • Executive Administrative Assistant
  • Chief of Staff
  • Operations Manager
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Executive Administrative Assistant
  • Senior Assistant
  • Executive Personal Assistant
  • Senior Administrative Assistant
  • Senior Executive Administrative Assistant
  • Personal Assistant
  • Executive Business Admin
  • Executive Administrative Specialist
  • Lead Executive Assistant
  • Administrative Coordinator
  • Office Manager & Executive Assistant
  • Administrative Business Partner
  • Team Administrator
  • Executive Assistant II
  • Executive Secretary
  • Lead Executive Administrator
  • Business Support Supervisor
  • Director of Operations
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Closing Coordinator
  • Transaction Coordinator

My personal favorite was Director of Getting Shit Done. So, what’s in a name? Some say it’s simply semantics, others believe a proper title clarifies the role and dispels confusion, especially in a large organization, and still others want clear titles because many have worked very hard to get promotions and yes, the title that comes along with those increased responsibilities and seniority.

I used to fall into the semantics camp – does it really matter what your title is? In the grand scheme of things, no. If you are providing value at a high level and leading up, down, and sideways, then a title is irrelevant to the internal team. However, as I have grown in my career and worked very hard to get where I am, I understand this whole title thing a bit more.

Earlier this year, when I was speaking at the Behind Every Leader conference one Senior EA brought up this topic. She was proud of her accomplishments and had earned the right to the Senior Executive Assistant position; she was no longer an Executive Assistant and she was adamant that the roles and titles be clearly defined. I tend to agree. It doesn’t mean that the Senior EA is better than the EA, simply that their roles and responsibilities are different. They are both providing high value to their Execs (one may simply be supporting the Chairman and overseeing a team of other Admins, while the other is supporting two VPs). But I guarantee both have worked their asses off to get where they are. I believe in clearly defined roles, coupled with clear titles. I think it is particularly important because the EA role is still largely misunderstood and the more clarity we can provide to the public, the better, especially when interviewing for a new position.

2. What are the top three responsibilities in your role? // The three most prevalent job responsibilities for EAs are scheduling/calendar management, travel planning and management, and event/meeting planning, preparation, and execution.

In other words, managing the Execs life (personally and professional as there is usually a lot of overlap, especially as you start working with more senior level Execs or company owners). Being an incredible planner and project manager with the ability to anticipate needs, create contingency plans, and above all, be incredibly resourceful, while maintaining the utmost confidentiality are all critical to being a top EA. Sounds easy, right?

3.  What is your work schedule? Do you work 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday? Do you have a flexible schedule? Do you work weekends? Or something in between? // As for work schedules, the majority of respondents worked 8-9 hours a day (usually from 8am/9am to 5pm), but that was just in-office. Most Executive Assistants said they check emails and work from home at night and on the weekends, and several EAs are on-call 24/7.

4.  What is the biggest challenge you are experiencing at home or at the office due to your role as an Executive Assistant? // The overwhelming response was work/life balance and boundaries, followed closely by not having enough hours in the day to handle all of the shifting priorities.

Let’s dive into questions 3 and 4 here. Long, often undefined hours, coupled with multiple competing priorities is tough. I’ve been there and I get it. But here is my (probably) very unpopular opinion: That’s the job. That is what an EA does. And it’s not for everyone. But that’s why we need an Executive Assistant community – so we can talk through the challenges, vent on those tough days, and strategize about ways to control the chaos and increase efficiency and effectiveness. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people should work all of the time. You need other hobbies, you need to spend time with friends and family, to take care of your mind, body, and spirit. It’s not easy for anyone to manage all of life’s obligations, and particularly difficult for EAs, but it is not impossible.

Ultimately, I think that EAs should make sure they are very clear about what they are getting into (with the caveat that no two EA roles are the same). Some positions may require being available at all times, some may ask that you simply stay connected via email, some require extensive travel, and others are simply 9 to 5, with no requirements outside of those hours. However, I would be skeptical about any position that is simply 9 to 5 (particularly at an Executive level). EAs make the life of an Exec flawless and what Exec do you know who only works between the hours of 9am and 5pm? Be aware of what the position entails before signing on.

Now, many of the survey participants also mentioned that they have flexible schedules. Again, they might be in the office from 9am to 5pm, but can run out to their kid’s soccer game, a dentist appointment, or meet a friend for lunch at their discretion. It works both ways. EAs may be up at 2am waiting for their Exec to land in Europe, but they may also leave early on a Friday for a pedicure.

So, why are so many EAs searching for that work/life balance if, in fact, most of the respondents said they love their careers in spite of the hours? I think it has a lot less to do with balance, and much more to do with not feeling in control of their schedules and their time. Very few positions are as demanding and dependent on the direction of someone else – someone else’s priorities, projects, needs, and deadlines. I believe that with the help of some clear expectations and extreme time management, inner balance can be restored, even if it still looks out of balance on the outside.

Reading all of the survey responses really bolstered my belief that being an Executive Assistant is an incredibly rewarding career choice. Despite some of the frustrations I read, I didn’t see anything that couldn’t be overcome with some personal development, fierce conversations, and time management. In fact, I think the frustrations only spoke to the passion and desire that all of these assistants have to be the best versions of themselves. They all wanted to learn, to improve, and take their careers and leadership to another level. No one was willing to settle for mediocrity, and that is both admirable and rare.

It is certainly an exiting time to be an Executive Assistant and I can’t wait to explore many of the above topics more in depth on my blog, during my Lead & Assist webinar series, and with my EA community.


 

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Lead and Assist Favorite Things Giveaway

April is all about Admins.

how to take betterfamily vacationpictures (1)I want to honor all of you who have chosen this career and who are committed to bringing clarity, levity, and leadership to this position. Our roles are each so unique, but one thing remains the same: We do whatever it takes to get the job done.

So, here’s my little gift to you. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing a few of my favorite things with you and on April 26th (Administrative Professionals Day!), one lucky EA will win all of my favorite things. To get a sneak peek of the goodies, connect with me on Instagram.

To enter, just fill out this survey and click submit. 

I look forward to hearing your answers and providing even more value to you in the future!



Behind Every Leader is Coming to the East Coast! 

Join me and Adam on April 21 in Washington D.C. as we share how we have created a strategic partnership while working together for the past 6+ years. Top Executive Assistants and their Execs will be there to learn and share how the power of the partnership helps everyone succeed.

Behind Every Leader has become globally recognized as the premier event for senior Executive Assistants and Celebrity Assistants around the world.

The conference has been referenced as the Epicenter for the top 1% in the industry. In addition to congregating with like minded peers and career driven individuals, attendees gain exclusive access to a cutting edge curriculum presented by prolific speakers.

Prepare to immerse yourselves in career enhancing seminars, interactive workshops, compelling panel discussions and expect to adopt a slew of best practices to integrate in your daily routine.

Be inspired to become outstanding when we hear from Executive Assistants to high profile business tycoons, celebrities and inspirational leaders live on the BEL stage!

Behind Every Leader has been referenced by the WSJ as ‘a gathering of powerhouses’. And rightly so.

Don’t miss your change to network with the best in the business!

Get registered today!

9 Things To Do on Sunday to Set Yourself Up for a Successful Week

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During the week, from the moment Executive Assistants wake up, until the moment their heads hit their pillows – they are on. I don’t mean they just show up to the office and sip coffee while scrolling through Facebook and occasionally answering the phone. I mean, they are responding to emails while they eat breakfast, scheduling social media posts as they slip on their stilettos, listening to leadership books while they grab a latte, and preparing for meetings between meetings. They don’t just show up, they step up, and step into any role that needs filled that day or any other day for their Executive.

It can easily get overwhelming if you don’t have measures in place to streamline your days and weeks. Like many Executive Assistants/Chiefs of Staff my weeks are packed. So I use the weekend to set myself up for a successful week ahead. Every Sunday I spend several hours planning and preparing for the upcoming week. I hope some of these ideas will help you enter the week feeling a little less stressed, more in control of your time and schedule, and even more badass than I know you already are. Here’s what works for me:

  1. Family Meeting – My family consists of myself, my husband, Bill, and our mutt, Karma. And we all show up at the dining room table at 11am on Sundays. Bill makes the coffee. I bring the calendar. Bill works at night and has an unpredictable schedule including several meetings and trainings throughout the week outside of his regular hours. And I often travel several times throughout the month. We both work a lot and could end up being two ships passing in the night if we didn’t make it a priority to get on the same page. Every Sunday we meet to go over our schedules in-depth to make sure we each have errands covered, know who is on doggy-duty, and in general just make sure we know where each other are during the week! We also plan at least one date night. At this meeting we also go over our financials. We have specific goals to pay off all of our debt by the end of the year, so we make sure we are on track and transfer funds into the appropriate savings accounts and discuss any big trips or expenses that are coming up (hello, taxes!). This has been such an important part of our marriage; I highly recommend you institute weekly family meetings.
  2. Schedule Workouts – As I mentioned in a previous post, fitness is a huge focus for me this year (and for the rest of my life!). I’m on day 18 of a 30 day workout program right now. Every week as I’m going over my schedule with Bill, I also make sure I am scheduling all of my workouts. Depending on my work schedule, after-hours events, and date nights, that sometimes means I have to work out the morning. Not my preferred time to work out, but I’ve got goals.
  3. Meal Plan and Prep – This is such a critical one for me. I am on a fitness and health journey to lose 50-60 lbs and change my lifestyle indefinitely, so making sure I have healthy meals and snacks prepared for the week is essential. I usually make quick snacks like hard boiled eggs and oatmeal energy bites, and portion out other snacks, such as trail mix, fruit, and veggies. I also prep and portion out all of my lunches (for example, quinoa, chicken and broccoli or pesto shrimp and sweet potato noodles). Dinners are usually the hardest for me. My husband works at night so I don’t have a whole lot of motivation to cook for just myself. So I make two meals on the weekend that can last the week or are really quick to make (like quiche and salad or turkey meatloaf and squash). Even if I don’t prep everything ahead, I have meals and snacks planned for each day so I never have to think about what I’m eating or when.
  4. Call Family – While you’re meal prepping and cooking, it is the perfect time to call  your parents, siblings, in-laws, best friends, etc. and catch up. Everyone’s in a good mood on a Sunday morning after a fresh cup of coffee.
  5. Review Executive’s Schedule – Every Friday afternoon and Sunday I review Adam’s calendar for the week. If I haven’t already, I will confirm any meetings and make sure there aren’t any outstanding items I need to get ready for his meetings or training events for the week. If there are any meetings that are out of the ordinary or that might need additional explanation, I will email him so he has all the information he needs.
  6. Prepare & Anticipate Questions – Every Monday morning I meet with Adam for one hour. I prepare any questions or important items on Sunday night after reviewing Adam’s calendar in order to maximize our meeting. We may go over presentations for the week, travel schedule, or move through a list of items I need a decision on. In addition to preparing questions for him, I make sure to anticipate his questions in order to have that information ready (such as number of registrations for an event, specific amenities at a hotel, or cost of a new insurance premium) so we can both move forward with our priorities for the week.
  7. Plan Outfits –  I am a huge proponent of the office uniform and basically only wear skinny ankle pants, a blouse, and a blazer in either black, white, or beige. Why over complicate it? I do like to fancy it up with some gold or turquoise jewelry and leopard print heels every now and then. I also look at my calendar and plan accordingly. If I have a presentation or important interview, I may go more business formal, then if I have a solo day in the office following-up on emails or writing content. Regardless, it’s still black, white, or beige. I may throw in some navy blue or gray just to switch it up a little. Perhaps you have a little more fun with your fashion than I do, which means it’s even more important to plan your outfits – including jewelry and shoes. One less thing to worry about during your whirlwind week.
  8. Plan and Schedule Social Media Posts – If you manage social media for your Exec or have an avid following of your own, then plan your content and schedule your posts ahead of time. I’ve used Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule posts such as inspirational quotes, thought provoking questions, articles or blogs of interest, career opportunities, upcoming training events, and personal photos or anecdotes. It’s not always perfect, and there are things that often come up in real time that are more relevant. But, this way, you always have content planned and ready to go to continue to build the brand, provide value, and increase engagement whether that is for yourself or your Executive. Real time events that come up (like the massive blizzard we had in Vermont this week) are just bonuses.
  9. Complete Weekly Goal Setting Sheet – Every Sunday, I outline all of my priorities and must-do projects for the week (both personally and professionally) and then make sure I have time-blocked those items into my calendar. I use a document call a 411 from the book The One Thing (which is a MUST read for increased productivity and better time management). Click here for a copy of the 411.

Most importantly, don’t forget to relax and refresh! Grab brunch with you best friend, read a good book, binge watch your favorite show, go for a hike with your partner, take your kids to the movies, get a massage, sleep in! Whatever your go-to is to decompress and rejuvenate… do that.

How to do you relax and recharge? What do you do to prepare for the week ahead?

Top 3 Lessons I Learned in Las Vegas

Two weeks ago I was in Vegas for work with over 17,000 Realtors, executives, and administrative staff from around the world for a few days of intense training and networking for Keller Williams Realty’s annual conference, Family Reunion. We were only there for three full days, but it felt like three weeks! Each day was packed with masterminds, vision speeches, classes, and high level conversations. Mind expansion at its finest!

phone-and-coffeeThis is the fourth Family Reunion I’ve attended in the six years that I’ve worked with Adam, but this year was a little different. At previous conferences, I would obsessively study the agenda, pour over the class selections, and hurry from one breakout session to the next. But this year, I wasn’t there for the classes (which are all incredible!). I was there to make sure Adam had everything he needed for the two classes he taught (one of which was with the Founder and Chairman of the Board, Gary Keller!), to ensure that people who had questions for Adam were taken care of and followed up with, to handle social media in real time, and to network, network, network. My goal was to support Adam, to connect with leaders from around the country, and to scout for talent. And that is exactly where I thrive.

Now, while, I didn’t attend any formal classes, I still had some really big ahas while in Vegas. In fact, getting outside of my daily routine and having the time and space to think, and not just do, was critical. A different environment, a different routine, forces a different perspective and is invaluable in being able to think strategically and creatively. It also didn’t hurt that I got to spend three days with some of the best business minds in the country.

Here are the top lessons I learned while in Las Vegas:

  1. Choose your struggle.  On the plane, I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and one of the themes throughout the book was about deciding what you were willing to struggle with. What really drove this home for me was when Gary Keller said you are only five years away from wherever you want to be. Only five years. But those five years are not going to be easy. Success is not easy! It requires a lot of sacrifice and struggle. You just have to get on board with what you are okay not being good at for a little while. As a perfectionist, this is definitely not easy for me. But it did get me thinking…  I like to be comfortable, and I like to be uncomfortable. But I only like to be uncomfortable in the areas that I’m comfortable being pushed in. There are a few areas in my life where I consistently grow – anything related to work and my career. That was pretty clear to me. And the areas where I haven’t grown over the past few years? You guessed it, the areas where I wasn’t okay with being sub par, where I wasn’t okay being a beginner, where I wasn’t okay not being “the best”. The next question I asked myself was, “Well, are you willing to be bad at it for a while until you get good?” For some aspects of my life, the answer is no. I am not a very domestic individual and that is not an area I intend to struggle in – I’ll hire someone! I’m also not particularly tech savvy and while I wish I could navigate an Macbook Air like a boss, that is not a struggle I choose. What I do choose to struggle with is my health and fitness. I choose to struggle through workouts, struggle through repairing my nutrition, struggle through saying no to that second glass of wine. In five years, what was once a struggle, will just be my life. And then it will be time to choose a new struggle. That is the only way we grow.
  2. Talent is everything.  If we don’t have the right people on the right seat on the bus, we are never going to get where we want to go. You only know how great the individuals are in your organization based on the top talent you currently have. One of the benefits of attending national conferences is that you get to be around the best leaders in the industry. I very clearly saw the people I wanted to be in business with.   Empire builders are incredibly rare, yet we need to bring them into our world. I realized that in addition to making Adam’s life easier and him, as a leader, more effective, my 20% now needs to include better relationship management, more recruiting, and ultimately talent acquisition.
  3. Step up and own the role you want.  Being surrounded by top talent for three days really got me reflecting on whether or not was top talent. I concluded that I could be better. I love my career as Chief of Staff and have largely created the position that I currently have. But I want more. Therefore, I need to step up and own the role I want. While, I don’t actually want to change careers, I want to be a better version of myself, a better version of Adam’s Chief of Staff, and a better leader. This means elevating myself in all areas of my life. How? By taking ownership of my health and fitness, by dressing the part, by working on coaching and leading others, by joining a Board of Directors, by being vulnerable, and by not wavering from the standards I have for my life and career.

You control the course of your life with every choice you make. I choose to struggle. I choose to focus on my 20%. I choose to step up and own the role I want in business and in life. After all, we are only five years away from who we want to become and from where we want to be. But if I am purposeful, focused, and maximize my time, I think I can get there faster.

 

Executive Assistants Unite!

melburne-ea-groupA few months ago, Carmel Bond, founder of the Melbourne EA Group (MEAG) reached out to me after seeing my blog. Turns out we both work for real estate companies, just on opposite sides of the world! This is what is so cool about my career – EAs/PAs/Executive Secretaries/Chiefs of Staff/Coordinators of Chaos are so willing to connect and share, are so passionate about teaching other how to be successful in this role, and most importantly, so quick to support each other in this exciting, challenging, and often crazy world we’ve chosen to live and work in.

This week I had the privilege of being the featured guest on the Melbourne EA Group blog. Check it out and while you’re there take a look at the amazing work Carmel and her team are doing to support, teach, and inspire their fellow Executive Assistants.

behind-every-leaderHere’s another example of the power of the Executive Assistant network around the world. About three years ago I attend an amazing conference in NYC – Behind Every Leader. I felt like I had finally found my people and was in total awe of the presenters – all either current or former EAs to the greats like Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg, JFK Jr, Nate Berkus, and Magic Johnson. I remember emailing my Exec, Adam, after the first day and telling him how amazing it was and how much I loved my career as an Executive Assistant. And he told me that one day I would be on that stage. Little did I know one day would come so soon!

Fast forward to sometime last year when Victoria Rabin, CEO and Founder of Executive Assistants Organization, which hosts Behind Every Leader, saw Adam’s blog about strategic partnerships and connected with us about speaking at Behind Every Leader this year in Washington DC and NYC. Circle complete. Victoria is a consummate badass and a huge advocate for the EA/Exec strategic partnership. I am honored to be a part of anything she’s doing and I hope I can inspire just one EA like those amazing individuals did for me several years ago.

Want to learn more about Behind Every Leader? Check out my interview with Victoria and Adam as we gear up for Behind Every Leader in DC in April. 

Your turn! Share where you are from, one of your recent successes, and one of your current challenges in the comments. Together, we can all elevate our careers and master the art of leading and assisting.