Recommended Reading for Executive Assistants

Did you know that 42% of college graduates never read another book after college? And 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year? Do not let yourself become one of those statistics!

Anyone who knows me, knows that books are my thing. I am a bibliophile: I don’t just love to read, I love the feel of books, the weight, the texture, the cover art, the smell (library books are like a drug). I do not own a Kindle or Nook and I never will. Ultimate fantasy? Being blindfolded, led into a dark room, and having a spectacular library revealed to me à la Beauty and the Beast.

0ppkxwtyh0g-clem-onojeghuo“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
– Stephen King

My reading list is always in flux. It will continue to change and evolve based on my priorities, new projects at work, or my current interests. I always read what Adam reads, so my list will adjust based on his books, as well. Every EA’s reading list will be different because of the industry that they are in and the Executive that they work for. However, you can never go wrong with books about leadership and personal and professional growth. Other great topics to explore are organization, public relations, operations, and business and finance. Some of my favorite books are biographies or autobiographies – what an incredible amount of lessons you can learn from the success and failures of others!

Here’s what’s on my reading list so far for 2017:
  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness by Jan Jones
  • Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
  • For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations by Ron Torossian
  • Money – Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins
  • Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
  • Resilience: Hard Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens
  • Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. by Brene Brown
  • The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
  • The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
  • The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali
  • The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turn Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • The President Will See You Now: My Stories and Lessons from Ronald Reagan’s Final Years by Peggy Grande
  • What the CEO Wants You to Know: Using Business Acumen to Understand How Your Business Really Works by Ram Charan
  • Seeing the Big Picture: Business Acumen to Build Your Credibility, Career, and Company by Kevin Cope
  • #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness by Gary Vaynerchuk
Here are some additional recommendations specifically for Executive Assistants:
  • Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship with Those Above You by Rosanne Badowski
  • Ways and Means for Managing Up: 50 Strategies for Helping You and Your Boss Succeed by F. William Smullen
  • Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss by Rosemarie Terenzio
  • Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want From Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
  • Be the Ultimate Assistant: A Celebrity Assistant’s Secrets to Working with Any High-Powered Employer by Bonnie Low-Kramen
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  • The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage by Brene Brown
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire by Mirelle Guiliano
And just because I could talk about books for days, here are some of my all-time favorites:
  • Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm
  • Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron
  • A Widow for One Year by John Irving
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  • The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life’s Perfection by Michael A. Singer
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Looking for even more book recommendations? Follow me on Goodreads or email me!

What’s on your reading list for 2017?

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One Habit to Implement NOW to Make You an Invaluable Assistant

Do you want to be an invaluable resource to your Executive? Do you want to form a strategic partnership with your CEO? Do you want to seriously impress your boss? Then work on developing this one habit that will make you an invaluable asset to your CEO:

Know what your Executive knows.

Simple, right? But not always easy. This goes far beyond knowing how your boss takes his coffee (Note: Adam takes his strong and black, but prefers green tea in the afternoon). This habit requires some serious dedication (usually reading or listening to books and podcasts in your “off hours”). But I think it is the most critical habit to develop as an Executive Assistant and something you can implement right away, no matter how new you are to the EA role.

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This habit has helped me gain trust and become an invaluable resource to my employer. If he mentions a book he’s reading, I read it. If he is following a blog or podcast, so do I. I watch the movies, read the books, and listen to the radio stations he does. Why? Because the more I am able to align myself with his interests, and more importantly, his knowledge, the more I am able to not just listen, but to participate in conversations with him or that he is having with other leadership members or key business partners. He never asked me to do this, but my natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge led me to create this habit from the beginning and it has truly been invaluable. When he is in a meeting and says, “Who was that quote by?” or “What year did that company go public?” I know. He doesn’t have to repeat himself or fill me in on a critical article he read or a book that he would like to discuss at a company meeting – I’m already familiar with it.

As a self-proclaimed force multiplier, the more I can align my knowledge and thinking with Adam, the more valuable I become to him and the company. As Executive Assistants we are tasked with furthering the reach of our Executive. Often that is by completing tasks and projects that, while important, are not the best use of our Executive’s time. More often it means making decisions and speaking on behalf of our boss. The most effective way to do that is by having the same information as them and thoroughly understand the way they think. Yes, some of this will come with time. But start right away! Gain as much knowledge as possible. Study his/her emails and responses to questions. Listen in on phone calls (get permission first!). Attend as many meetings as possible. Be able to speak your boss’s language. This will allow you to be a part of the conversation and eventually be able to speak on behalf of them with accuracy and authority.

Does your Executive read the Wall Street Journal or Inc. Magazine? Get a subscription. Is he/she watching House of Cards or Blacklist on Netflix? Watch it. If nothing else, instead of being on the periphery, it will bring you closer to the inner circle. Your Executive will want to be able to discus the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy with you, just as much as the most recent article on Elon Musk. Be ready and ABLE to participate and add value to the conversation. This is such a simple habit to implement, but one that will set you apart and help you grow that much faster.

Knowledge is power. Start by gaining as much of the same knowledge as your Executive as possible. Couple that with a clear understanding of their thought process and communication style and you will be unstoppable.