Saturday, March 18, 2017

On Work / Life Balance and Supporting Those You Love

Dear Readers,

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm an introvert and I like routine/being consistent more often than not.  Being introverted doesn't mean I'm shy or I dislike being around people.  Rather, it means that I tend to get drained very quickly when I go out and socialize for too long of a period.  I need a lot of down time and quiet surroundings to feel re-energized and to feel like myself again.  And the routine part means that I like being mindful with how I spend my time and am methodical about it.

Like almost everyone, regardless of profession, I struggle with work / life balance.  And most often in life, my largest struggles center around knowing the sweet spot of when is something too much versus too little.  At what point is something acceptable vs unacceptable?  Where do I draw the line?  Much of the time this also might look like a struggle between head and heart, logic and desire.  This, of course, not only affects me, but also those around me, especially my loved ones.

I wrote the following post at my 3rd blog site about how I've come to view work / life balance, my needs, in relation to others, their need for it, and how I support them.  If you read all the way through, you'll see that this post is relatable to anyone regardless of the lens I filter my personal story through.  And if I'm being really honest, it means the post was written as a reminder to myself when I I'm doing too much of one thing vs what I really should be doing.

I hope you head over there to read it:

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you're the one who ASKED and read the post?   :)

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

Friday, March 10, 2017

10 Tips for Setting Up Your Social Media & Internet Presence Safely to Improve Your Job Search & to Protect Yourself

Hello New & Returning Readers,

About 2 years ago I wrote an in-depth post about how I job hunt.  I had always meant to expound on that post about how the internet, social media, and networking online play a very big role for how I conduct my search and also improve my chances of protecting myself.  So I figured, now would be a good time for part 2.  Here are my 10 tips on setting yourself up for a great job search, whether for the very first time or not.  AKA – Kiyomi’s 10 Tips for Setting Up Your Social Media & Internet Presence Safely to Improve Your Job Search & to Protect Yourself

They say that the interview starts even before you’ve walked through the door and it’s true.  Except in this day and age, it also starts even before they’ve contacted you for that interview to walk through their door.  Your online presence is probably everywhere and can be hurting you without you knowing it.  Whether fair or not, people make decisions based on emotions sometimes and exercise their personal preferences.  Here are some tips to think about.  I will admit they are not conventional, at all.    

1. Have more than one phone number and email address - Besides your personal cell number from your iPhone, get another free number just for job hunting or work.  Google voice, Sideline, and other companies offer local phone numbers for free.  They all connect to your cell phone, have texting capabilities, have apps, and offer voicemail with transcribed messages.  It’s also a good idea to have different emails for different purposes.  One for online shopping, one for job hunting/business, one for personal friends and family.  Through Gmail you can funnel all of them to one gmail address so you only have to sign into one account, yet you can reply back from the specific account that someone wrote to you at as well.  This way all of your accounts are separate.  This is key (more on that later).   

2. List your resume on career job sites - Okay, a lot of people will tell you it’s not worth it to post your resume on sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, etc.  The dangers are a lot of spam or recruiters in a different country or state reaching out to you with ill intent, etc.  As long as you are smart and don’t give out your social security number via email through them, I think you’ll be fine.  The reason why I believe in doing this is because I once got found by Facebook through one of those sites.  Yes, Facebook!  This was 2011 and I got really lucky.  The LA office was tiny.  They had asked an outside company to look for an assistant.  This outside company did NOT specialize in hiring EAs nor admin at all.  However, Facebook was so over-extended that they couldn’t do it themselves.  That company looked online and found me.  I could NOT believe it either.  I got an actual interview out of it too.  I was not the right fit.  They wanted to promote someone to a sales role eventually which I had no interest in.  So while that may never happen again, I still post my resume online with a stripped down version because you never know.  
3. How to strip down your resume - An online stripped resume is used to post at sites like Monster or CareerBuilder that have resume databases for when any recruiters want to see who’s looking for a job.  These are generally pretty public for recruiters who have paying memberships.  (And they are slightly different than sites where you can save/hold your resume online, but only you can decide which specific company sees your resume when you 1-click apply to a specific job posting.  I’m not referring to those sites.  You can use your real full resume for those since it will be hidden until you give permission to share to each company.)  Thus, my online resume that anyone can see at anytime, does not list my supervisor/boss’ name at any of my jobs.  My private cell is not listed, since I have the free job hunt cell number from Google Voice.  I do not put my full address on it, just my city and state.  You can also use your job hunt email or an even more modified version of your email address if you use Gmail.  Search Gmail hacks for using the + symbol to have your email inbox sort various accounts by what you use in conjunction with the + sign (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc).  Or you can use them as a “disappearing” email address for newsletter sign ups and to track who actually sold or shared your email address.  

4. Do not use your real name on social media sites - I know MANY people may disagree with me or raise their eyebrows at this.  Just hear me out.  When I say social media sites, I mean sites you use purely for personal posting and for socialising.  Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Pinterest, dating apps, or Twitter, as an executive assistant or admin assistant there really isn’t a reason why your personal postings should be under your real name.  If your job is in social media, that’s another story.  However, you do not need to be found with your full name or your job hunting email address/cell for any reason if you want to post about what you did that weekend or what you ate or bought etc.  As a testament to this, recruiting agencies or HR folks WILL Google you and WILL look you up on social media sites.  While it’s not fair that what they find may be used against you, they most likely will.  The more personal information you have online, the more they can use it against you.  Agencies will tell you to scrub your profile clean and will warn you their clients will also look you up.  

5. The ONLY time to use your real name is with LinkedIn and maybe Twitter - LinkedIn is a “social” media site for professionals which is why it’s the only one you should DEFINITELY list your real name.  Also list a photo (optional) and your job hunting email address, not the one work gave you.  With Twitter, depending on how you use it, you can use your real name.  If you are only using it to re-tweet and tweet business related content, by all means, go for it.  However, even then, there’s a news story online almost every week in which someone tweeted something and then got fired for it even if what they commented on was or was not related to work.  The problem lies in whatever they said, did, or endorsed was so terrible that people started to Google them and found out where they worked, it goes viral, the company they work for gets brought into the drama and things get worse from there.  I’m not saying you can’t have an online presence, I’m saying you should have separate accounts - lots of them.  But also, be a good person and learn from your mistakes.  

6. Separate accounts should truly be separate - Any names and photos you use for your NON WORK accounts should be nicknames, fake names, partial names, or photos where your face is not shown.  Use your pets’ photos, your favorite cartoon character, etc.  And make sure that you do NOT use the same photo or screen name across different social media sites.  Once they figure out who you are, if they go to another site they just have to look for the same name/phone/etc and they’ve found you everywhere.  So the key is to have a completely different fake name and fake photo for EACH account and that YOU add new people that are personal friends because new friends won’t be able to find you.  I’ve read articles online where people who use dating apps tend to use the best photo of themselves also for LinkedIn, Twitter, etc so even if your last name isn’t shown on one site/app, you can be found easily through other ones.        

7. Have multiple accounts for social media -  I sometimes have more than 1 account for social networks.  It’s wise to have a couple of accounts for EACH social media site if you will truly use it for work stuff. My name listed there does not have my full name regardless of if I’m using it for professional or personal use.  I only use my full name at LinkedIn and Twitter.   I am a part of 2 professional networking groups that are invite only.  They are professional groups on social media sites so a lot of people go there for advice, to vent, get feedback, or network with peers.  Almost any industry is small with about only 2 degrees of separation.  The point is, you don’t want random HR recruiters being able to find you online anytime you apply for a job.  Not that you have anything to hide, but do they really need to see a photo of you with a drink in each hand?  Or maybe wedding photos where they might think you spent too much money or perhaps not enough, even though it’s none of their business.  Or maybe they are a dog friendly office and see you are a cat person so they’d rather hire someone who also owns a dog.  Petty, yes.  Believable, also yes.  

8. Anything you write, online, in emails, in texts, anywhere, whether personal or business, assume it can be found and published at some point - With so much going on with hacking and lack of privacy online, assume that anything you write could potentially be seen by the entire world even if it’s 10 years from now, whether you are famous or not.  When Sony got hacked all those work emails got published and then archived forever to be searched by anyone for eternity.  Headlines mentioned a lot of personal things came to light.  You can never be too careful.  I just never understood why people used their work email address for personal use if the subject was strictly personal.  I realize a lot of these measures are very restrictive and you certainly have to pick your battles because you can’t live in a box or in fear your entire life.  I admit, it’s hard to know where to draw the line.      

9. At least twice a year, check your online presence - It’s always a good idea to Google yourself online and see what pops up.  Don’t forget to Google various name combinations, spellings, or your maiden name, etc.  You’ll want to see what links come up first, what pictures show up for you, or if other people have the same name for you that might affect you.  A couple of weeks ago, on Facebook, there was a post getting passed around about where you live, your family members, age, and contact information were visible at Family Tree Now so you should opt out.  I went to look and sure enough my information was there.  It’s probably a good idea to check a couple more sites that post public information for free online to see if you can opt out.  Also make sure your privacy settings are set so that people can NOT search for you in the public directory of any social media site.  This also means do not have your profile available to the public/Google search indexes, or without someone signing in and creating their own account.  Also delete old accounts, like MySpace.  If you find not nice things on the internet, figure out how to remove it or make it go further down on search results.  One of the ways to make it go away or not show up so high on Google is to create other pages for yourself so those rank higher.  You can create free pages at Strikingly,, or other similar sites.  Showcase yourself as a professional, but also humanize your profile by giving a glimpse of who you are as a person with what your fave business book is, or your hobbies, or where you volunteer, etc.  Again, HR folks should not be able to look for you at all with your job hunting email address, personal or job hunting cell number, real name, or a real photo via using Google’s reverse image search.  And if it’s really bad or really urgent...  

10.  Hire a company to help you - A journalist friend of mine that wrote for a MAJOR front page web portal once was a random victim of repeated attacks on all their articles.  Someone who was bored had created an ENTIRE page/website to this person just to point out all of their mistakes.  Their colleague was very good with computers so they were able to figure out it was a complete stranger doing it and not anyone they knew at all, just an internet troll.  Unfortunately, by googling their name alone, this site comes up on the first page.  It’s towards the bottom, but it’s not a great first impression to make.  Companies like Reputation Management work with individuals as well as celebrities and companies in various different ways to help you manage your online identity.   

Now that you are harder to be found via your personal info and personal social media sites, create your own luck.  The goal in any job hunt is to find the hidden market, help others, grow and keep in touch with your network, and use the internet as a gateway to lead to a phone call, informational meeting, job interview, or fostering an in-person relationship.  Always send a cold email or take a chance.  Never be afraid to hear no as long as you asked nicely, are humble, and give them plenty of room to say no.  A future post will go over more tips on how I create my own luck.

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you're the one who ASKED and read the post?   :)  

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Hello, Readers!  It has been forever!  I've been alive and well.  The last half of 2016 was CRAZY for me.  It's why I've been so absent from my blog.  The more I write, the harder it is to find inspiration.  I have so many ideas brewing, but not enough to churn out a post worthy of your eyes of lessons I've learned or tips to give you or any answers about life.  With the New Year, life has been about finding inspiration.  What drives me?  What burns a desire in me?  What do I want to learn about and do for free even if it went absolutely nowhere, just because I love it?  Right now, that answer seems to be sports, and not necessarily playing it, but learning about it, and writing about it.  You know me, I love learning.  I love reading.  I will read many different topics, mostly non fiction.  Many years ago, I read "random" books - Andre Agassi's OPEN.  I've never played tennis in my life.  Still, it was one of my favorite books.  I've read a couple of books about Phil Jackson and the Chicago Bulls.  I never played basketball on a team or anything.  I've been to maybe less than 10 basketball games in my life and never watch it on TV.  Yet, I'm drawn to people and teams who are successful and how people make changes and overcome.  I've also read 2 books about Tiger Woods.  The one he wrote called HOW I PLAY GOLF and one book written about him.  I found both fascinating.  Again, I've never really played golf, I've been on the driving range twice.  I was TERRIBLE.  LOL  But the great thing about life and being curious is, you can find inspiration in the most random places.  I remember reading an article or essay about a well-known advertising agent.  He's really old, I can't remember his name or where I read it, but he was responsible for the magazine cover of Muhammad Ali with arrows sticking out of him or an a cross like Jesus.  His Sunday ritual was going to the museum every weekend for inspiration.  That was his methodology.  For decades he found so many of his ideas there.  And reading, movies, art, random things, and enjoying life are my methodologies.  So I am now blogging on a THIRD site.  (Don't worry, I will also still write here about my career too.)  If you're a reader of my blog here and like my style, it's very similar.  The only difference is, my writing comes from a different lens.  It's about the intersection of life, movies, books, hope, inspiration, learning, growing, self reflection, and golf.  In the end, all my writing is about helping others, reflecting on life, and sharing my adventures both big and small.  

My New Blog (my 3rd one)


Where do you find your inspiration in the most random places?  What did you learn?  Leave me a comment below!  Tell me if you hated or loved my new blog post in that comments section or here.  And if you love my 3rd blog, please don't forget to bookmark it.  

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you're the one who ASKED and read the post?   :)  

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. 

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

5 Traits of the Best Boss I Ever Had

I’ve had many amazing bosses and my luck with finding the best bosses is quite unheard of.  Many I’ve worked for were the most down to earth, humble, smartest, kindest and richest people in the world, but you would never know it by meeting them.  My bosses were not extraordinary in terms of charm, looks, humor, or personality.  By all outward appearances and spending a few minutes or even an hour with them, you’d walk away not realizing you were in the company of some of the greatest business people in the industry.  Today’s post on the best boss I ever had was actually the least well-known and also the least highest-ranking.  In fact, this boss was just barely at management level or had only been in the role a couple of years.  And it’s worth noting, all the below traits were held by all my great bosses.  I think what made this specific person the best boss I ever had was how much depth and breadth they had in their mastery.  

  1. This person was “self-made.”  

All my bosses were self-made.  There was no nepotism or anything of the sort at play.  This specific boss - their educational background was not Ivy League.  I can only assume they either didn’t go to college or went to a state university such as UCLA, UC Irvine, or Cal State LA, etc.  They probably came from a blue collar or middle class family.  Many of my other bosses were also from “regular” and also Ivy League schools.  And while we can’t deny going to a great college helps, the bottom line is, you don’t HAVE to go to a great college, or even go to college at all, to be a great manager, leader, or a star performer.  I believe where and how one learns just comes from different avenues and sources.  For example, I love this thing that has been making the rounds…

2.  This boss was relatable.

Most of my bosses could talk politics, the environment, current events, and tech.  When I say relatable, I also mean this person could talk to someone under 25 and know enough about culture or trends to also share what they enjoyed and why.  They could carry on a 15 min conversation and tell some funny stories too; it wasn’t just topical banter.  However they related to some, age 22 or 82, it was authentic.  They could also talk to a traveling foreigner about gourmet/foodie culture, sometimes in that exec’s native language.  I’ve had bosses who were trilingual, I’ve had bosses who were bilingual, and I’ve had bosses who spoke only English.   And what made this boss so likable was because they were so relatable, the every man and the every woman, sorta like how Tom Hanks is the every man in Hollywood.  They were personable.

3.  This manager provided excellent training and mentorship.  

The sheer hours of mentoring I received from this person was unmatched.  I’ve been groomed well and taught across the board in each of the roles I’ve held.  However, that was more basic training on how the office runs/works, my boss’ personal preference, and additional business acumen in various ways because it was a new dept, company, or field.  This boss upped my game and provided a higher level of one-on-one training, leadership, and management skills.  I also got to understand them a lot as a person, an employee, my boss, and peer just thru how they interacted with me, others, and coached me.  In some instances I was almost shadowing them, though this was very rare.  It’s one thing to be in a room and listening in.  It’s another to be at the table, leaning in, and getting tips and pointers once the mtg ends on why something was said, why this vs that decision was chosen, or why the better course of action/process is this.  There was a lot of consistent backfilling, explaining, feedback, and training for more than the customary one week or two weeks during onboarding.  This training and mentorship was extensive, thorough, and specific.

4. This executive was flexible and would bend rules, appropriately.

This executive had very sound judgment, interpersonal, and communication skills.  The soft skills they possessed, along with the hard skills was impressive.  They were able to navigate office politics very well because they smart and were “low enough” on the totem pole to know the various employees, departments, and the “masses” pretty well, but also just high enough on the management ladder that they could enlist change or provide exceptional insight.  Their role was in the middle of that sweet spot of having their feet in both worlds.  They would never do anything illegal, immoral, or overstep their jurisdiction, but if the rules should or needed to be bended slightly, they would be.  And they could gently persuade the rest of the team to come aboard on a plan, or point out things that were important to keep in mind during the decision-making process.  I also think this was possible because they were so relatable, they probably knew almost every single person in the company, if not all of them.  They had a personal/cordial friendship with each employee.  While this boss wasn’t the “class clown” or the “most popular/coolest” employee, they were certainly well-liked, respected, and most likely perceived as fun, funny, smart, and very fair.  So they had a lot of allies and would only use that leverage that would benefit the entire team/company.  They were also very firm and diplomatic, but in the nicest of ways or a sensible authoritative way.  

5.  This boss would not take anything personally and was a realist.

That this boss was a realist and would not take anything personally was the most admirable and defining trait.  I’ve never seen them mad or upset for THEMSELVES/THEIR NEEDS.  Like President Obama, the Dalai Lama, or the Royal Couple, they were always present, gracious, and attentive.  They did not seem to have a bad day.  Nothing was ever about them.  They were never in a bad mood, tired, or crabby.  And I always wonder about that.  Does the Dalai Lama EVER get mad?  And HOW is the Dalai Lama so patient and forgiving?       

I read a book once that said when people get mad, the reason is because now X has become more important than them.  And it sounds very simple, but it’s true.  This person was able to not take offense nor hold anyone in blame.  They could make the distinction that it was not personal.  I had only seen them so very empathetic and sympathetic for their team, employees, and the company.  They were very selfless in the truest sense of the word and lacked an ego.  The perspective they held was not personal, subjective, nor selfish.  

At work, their mindset and focus was always, what’s good for our employees, the company’s goals, and the company’s culture.  Like so many admirable public figures they constantly give of themselves where you feel like nothing else in the world exists and their attention is focused solely on you or the company.  They are good with all sorts of people - VIP, civilians, luminaries.  Their public persona was also their private persona.  However, since this boss was the least well-known, I should actually say their private persona was the public one…  I had never seen them do press because that’s how non-famous they were.  

And this boss was able to see clearly any situation without being waysided about their career trajectory, their workload, getting credit or blame, or their comfort.  In dealing with others on tasks, projects, or in meetings, they were able to account for each person’s strengths or lack of them, and would let that person succeed or navigate/solve things their own way.  It was very unlikely an employee would fail in a spectacular fashion, but this boss gave the employee the room to manage something and if the work was not of A++++ quality, it was fine.  This executive understood, as with all situations, problems and conflicts in life/work, there is typically no real or perfect solution.  When disagreements arise, everything is a difference of opinion, preference, or values. The only "solution" is to learn to deal with it better (not get frustrated), leave, or stay & try to troubleshoot/problem solve for the next time.  

They accepted people as they were and understood/assumed everyone was operating at their very best.  They didn’t expect one to change or do things a different way.  They very, very rarely might offer a suggestion or a tip, but if one didn’t take it, they didn’t even bat an eye.  They led with positive reinforcement and ignored anything else.  They understood that people have a core set of talents. We CAN all learn new skills and get better/improve, but it's unrealistic to ask/expect someone who is more left-brained (more organized and systematic) to be more right-brained (more creative and intuitive) and vice versa. Very few people have BOTH sets of skills at a very high level.  Skills are on a continuum/spectrum which means one set of skills is a lot more lacking than others based on if you are right or left brained.  

This executive never got annoyed, upset, or angry when something didn’t pan out as well as it should have because they didn’t expect perfection or for everyone to perform at the same level.  They really saw people for who they really were, in that specific moment or scenario and accepted it.  They were very patient, helpful, and wanted to help you succeed/grow, but only if you were interested.  They realized some, if not many, just had a job to have a paycheck, and others had a job because it was their life’s passions and they loved what they did for a living.  They understood that people had full and active lives outside of work and had interests or hobbies that may or may not relate to work.  

Most importantly, this executive was able to understand, relate, and cater to the entire/whole individual - one’s mindset, personality, work ethic, and quirks.  It’s sounds weird to say this, but I imagine this executive sort of saw every employee, regardless of rank or title, as their children (learning/growing individuals) and treated each with unconditional support, unconditional forgiveness, and unconditional encouragement with proper gentle feedback if/when needed.  Their attitude was very much a mix of, “Ask what you can do for your country,” “It is what it is,” “And this too shall pass...”

Completely selfless unconditional support, unconditional forgiveness, and unconditional encouragement takes a lifetime to master.  And somehow, this executive had that skill set very early.  While many of my bosses had these traits, it was only this boss that mastered them ALL at such a high level, so thoroughly, and didn’t have an “off” day.  And that’s what made this boss the best boss I ever had among the very many amazing bosses I’ve had the privilege to serve.  

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you're the one who ASKED and read the post? :) As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

Friday, July 8, 2016

10 Tips on Taking a Vacation (and Derek DelGaudio)

Hi New and Returning Readers,

As you know I always wish I was blogging constantly, but it takes a lot of inspiration and something meaningful to impart for me to blog.  This is partly because I’ve been writing this blog for so long.  I’m also juggling work/life, and I want to be really passionate about what I write and share.  

Every day I feel very blessed in the life I lead.  Whether it’s because it was the 4th of July and I’ve heard too many freedom/USA/patriotic type songs or perhaps it’s because I know I should always be grateful for what I have, the reason is so not important.  I’ve been extremely busy both at work and in my social life and it’s all great and exciting stuff.  Each year gets better than the last and I am astonished how lucky I’ve been.  The high-octane lifestyle had me feeling tired and worn out; one can only operate at a break-neck speed for so long until you need to go on vacation or really unplug and do nothing.  After the long July 4th weekend, I do feel much better and every week, if not every day, I make time for non-work activities too, to get away from it all.  

A week or two ago, it was one of those weeks where my brain just felt tired.  I was stressed out from the pace of work and also the length of a couple of special projects with a long lead time.  I hadn’t gone to the gym and lunch for about a month or two and it was starting to have an affect on me in the tiniest of ways.  In the span of about 48 hours, I made about 5-6 minor mistakes, which is unheard of for me.  While I don’t have 100% accuracy, I’d say it’s pretty high up there as I am such a worrywart and have a fear of failure that I quadruple check stuff, don’t assume anything, also get others to help me proofread, and usually take a stance to over-communicate.  The mistakes were along the lines of typos, not explaining a request so it was 100% dummy-proof, and not catching a detail buried on a multi-page group email that had been forwarded to so many people by the time it got to me that I had to hunt and peck for the bits of information like I was looking for Waldo.  So my mistakes were generally understandable, but I was HORRIFIED and EMBARRASSED because it’s not my work ethic nor how I operate, and it was too many in such a short period of time.  More on this later -- how I bounced back.  Which brings me to today’s post...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

My Boss Has Been Fired... Now what?

Hi Everyone,

I got a reader question that I wanted to answer.  For any new readers and for BL, I cover the basics so much of what I say to BL may or may not apply to them.  However, for new EAs, and those climbing the ladder, I want to be as thorough as possible. Here is their question:


I came across your blog and found it so informative and interesting.

I landed my dream job a year ago, I absolutely loved it and had plans to stay for the very long-term.

That's when the universe lowered the boom on me! My boss, the CEO, got fired in September last year and the company still hasn't started the process to replace him.

The company has told me they value me and want me to stay on, but it's been seven months now and I don't have any work to do, despite offering my services to a variety of Partners.

My company has now recently started 'cost savings initiatives'. I know that I earn SIGNIFICANTLY more than any of the other Assistants so I'm feeling vulnerable. I want to put my CV on the market but I don't know how to say that I'm leaving behind because my boss has been fired, I don't know when they're going to replace him, I don't have any work to do and I'm worried I'm next on the chopping block!

Is there any advice you can give me?"

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Interview Styles: How I Aced A Job Interview Without Selling Myself

I’ve been on many interviews over my career and have encountered many different interview styles - the behavioral interview, the panel format with a few people interviewing me at once, the “mean” interviewer, and so forth.  One interview “style” that caught me off guard was the NON interview style.  It was almost like going out for coffee, as it was more of a hello, meet and greet, and ZERO questions were asked about my background, skill set, or qualifications.  My resume was not even looked at.  So in an interview style without the actual interview questions to answer and sell myself, it was hard for me to figure out my competitive edge.  In the end, I passed with flying colors and here’s how.

Monday, July 20, 2015

10 Tips to be a Better Executive Assistant - Part 6

Here are 10 random tips I’ve culled over the years on how to be a better assistant.  This is part 6.

1.  Be a ninja

Whenever I go into people’s offices, I try to train them to understand that if I need them, I wait in the doorway until they see me or acknowledge me so I can ask them a question.  If I only need to drop stuff off, I walk in silently, don’t make any eye contact, put stuff in their in box, and leave silently.  This way, after repeated exposure, they understand don’t need to greet me and don’t need to stop working unless they want to.  Usually when I enter in silently, I will get a thank you and I say thank you/you’re welcome and leave.  Or sometimes they are so focused they do not even hear or see me come in.  So be a ninja!  And you might be interested in being another sort of ninja too.

2.  Create an office bible

In case you get sick, go on vacation, or get hit by a bus, it’s always good to have an office bible so your temp or co-worker can have info at their fingertips when needed.  This will likely cut down on a lot of basic questions like the what the fax number is or your boss’ parking spot number.  Keep it somewhere where it can be easily found, but either limit the amount of confidential information or put it in the your top desk drawer so it’s not out in the open.  This office bible should list any detail you can think of from both basic information, like or dislikes, favorite catering places, etc.  Also have a digital version so you can easily find stuff by keywords or phrases.  If you need to list confidential information like passwords, put it in code by using hints, clues, or only putting part of the info, but use your best judgement.  Constantly update it as well.   

3.  Use your cell phone alarm

Chances are, you use your calendar to remind you about meetings and any important events. However, I found that not helpful and I’ve always used my cell phone’s alarm clock.  I have an Apple phone so I use the “chimes” tone because it’s soft, sounds pretty, and is not as disruptive as other sounds available.  The cell phone alarm clock method is much better because I set several alarms giving myself 15 min warning, 10 min warning, 5 min warning, and a warning for when the actual engagement is.  I also always have my cell phone with me so if I’m greeting guests, in the copy room, restroom, I don’t miss an alarm.  The alarm that everyone else can hear allows me to say, “Oh sorry, that’s just my alarm.  I have another meeting after this one.”  I also don’t write what the alarm is for, I generally know is on my calendar, but even if I don’t, I know I have something soon so I check my calendar right away.  I have 2 sets of alarms on my calendar.  The ones for work I label Wk in my phone and the really loud alarm that I use for myself at home or when I’m not at work is just labeled Alarm.

4.  Save all food orders and preferences

Chances are you order in lunch a lot and probably from the same 5-10 places.  I save “food profiles” of each individual for each restaurant.  This way, I tell them I will order them what they usually get unless they want to see the menu again.  This helps track preferences, any allergies, diet restrictions, and cuts down on circulating a menu and following up to make sure people get back to you in time.  For buffet style lunch meetings, I look back on the calendar or in my account history to see what was ordered and try to order completely new stuff so they don’t get bored.  I also try to find new places that cater or look for different cuisines to keep in interesting.

5.  Save emails and details

I very rarely delete any emails.  I will work at a company for 4 years and have emails archived from my very first year that I’ve had to look back at for handy information three years later.  When I book meetings for my boss, I paste in the body of the event the entire email thread to help refresh their memory or put in attachments and links as necessary.  Also list a phone number, parking instructions, confirmation numbers, and other details in the subject, location, or body fields of a calendar event.  

6.  Refer to the past, and start on a positive or grateful note

When I haven’t spoken to someone in a long time, or especially when I need help, I always try to remember a detail from our previous conversation or exchange for a more personal touch.  I will either ask them about it or thank them for something.  This can be anything from asking how their vacation was, their children’s recital, or thanking them for the lunch spot suggestion.  It starts the conversation on a positive note.

7.  Know the players of your industry, your local community, government officials, luminaries, and the competition

If you work for a high level executive, chances are, they know EVERYONE.  Whether that person is a governor, senator, actor, or works for a competing company, or is high profile - smart, wealthy, business people tend to network and know people from all walks of life through their philanthropy work, and have ties with universities, and probably worked with a great many of those they compete with.  At the core of every successful and rising executive is their desire to SOLVE A PROBLEM and that means they consult and meet with others to tackle and come together to solve an industry-wide problem, a policy problem, or a humanitarian problem.  So at least be familiar with all the key players, even if it’s just their name.  The degrees of separation are very few and they’ve met each other at conferences, retreats, seminars, and grew up with them at university or at the same companies when they were younger.  When you know the players and they call for your boss, you will save face instead of asking how to spell their name or what company they are calling from.

8.  Have your full signature in every email

I never understood those people who only had their name in their signature or only put the full signature in the very first email, but did not enable it for replies.  Your contact information should be easily found instead of people having to scroll through many emails to find it.  This is what should be in your signature - a closer like Best, Sincerely, or Regards, your full name, your job title and who your executive is, your mailing address, your email address, your phone number, and if applicable, your fax number, and if appropriate for your work responsibilities, your social media handles/info.  Don’t forget to do this for your cell phone if your work email is connected to it too.  

9.  Write down reminders as you think of them

As an EA, you will get stopped by so many people, interrupted a lot, and have to multitask.  Make sure you write down all requests or questions as you think of them.  I make it a habit to either text myself, email myself, or write it down in my notebook as it happens or the thought comes to me.  I utilize Siri a lot for this and if my mind wanders while I shower and I think of something, I repeat it to myself over and over until I get out.  LOL  You can also call your office line and leave yourself a voicemail, if helpful.    

10.  Try finding the answer first

The more self sufficient you are, the better colleague you can be.  Even if you need IT or tech support, most often you can Google for an answer or solution if you have a question about how to set up a signature in Outlook or do something in Excel.  If you need to put toner in your printer, either read the instructions by yourself or be taught how to do it once.  Also, take good notes so you don’t have to ask the same question even if something only comes up about 2-3 times a year.  I keep notes from my very first day on the job and find myself referring to certain passages every now and then.  Your co-workers will love you more if you can do those things yourself, as long as you are not breaking union rules.

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you're the one who ASKED and read the post?   :)  

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

13 Tips for Establishing Healthy Boundaries at Work and in Life

Hello New and Returning Readers,

Many apologies that I have not been blogging as much.  I have been getting your comments and emails.  It’s been a very busy year so far and I can’t believe half of the year is almost over.  Wow!  Time flies when you are having fun!  

It’s startling to me how things seem to be getting more amazing every year, and until you try something new or different, you don’t realize how much more your happiness can grow exponentially.  If you’ve read my blog since the beginning you know I am strong believer in creating your own luck, planting seeds consistently so they can come to fruition later, not making things worse, and controlling what you can, because you can’t control other people or circumstances.  The inspiration this latest blog was spurred for 3 reasons.

First, I read a quote that put that message in the most concise way I had ever read it.  

You can never have a happy ending at the end of an unhappy journey; it just doesn’t work out that way.  The way you’re feeling, along the way, is the way you’re continuing to pre-pave your journey, and it’s the way it going to continue to turn out until you do something about the way you are feeling.  -Abraham Hicks

Second, without much thought or effort, I’ve changed a couple things by lucky coincidence that have made a big impact like dominoes that will permeate in other areas of my life.  I can attribute these to exemplifying my happiness to becoming the happiest I’ve ever been.  And you know I was pretty psyched about life before!  :D  Here are some little things that made a drastic difference.

1.      I sleep with an eye mask that also covers my ears and the entire bridge of my nose so no light can seep in from under. 
2.      I am less a raging night owl.  There was actually a period of a couple of weeks where I was waking up at 630am every day to work out, sometimes twice a day - a pilates class and then walking 4-6 miles too.  Prior to that, it was not surprising for me to be up until 3am or 4am and then to catch up on sleep all weekend by sleeping in until 2pm or later.  I now sleep between 12am-2am and will take the rare nap when needed on the weekends.  
3.      I have a routine where I go grocery shopping every Sunday night to buy my food for the week.  The money I was spending on eating out 3x a day can be put towards fun things or even more for my savings accounts.

Third, I’ve been asked for advice a lot - from a family member about negotiating a salary and an employment contract, a friend on how to interview and prepare for a job, a loved one on how to make the better decision, and with 2 friends who are budding entrepreneurs, and a couple of others.  I also am navigating my way through the barrage of requests in my personal life & hobbies - whether to become a committee member where I volunteer, taking a meeting, or doing a favor however big or small.  

Now, onto the reason for this post.

I’ve written before on learning how to say no.  And in consulting with some of the people above, I also realized a part of it was tied to self esteem/confidence, knowing what they wanted, or establishing priorities.  These changes require a tremendous amount of time and effort.  However, the deeper realization came that it’s more so about awareness, having healthy boundaries, and you yourself are an investment worth protecting.  Right now, whether you believe it or not, you have talents, time, energy, and skills unique to you that must be safe-guarded for the mere fact that you are alive and no one lives forever.  Only you can live your life, no one else can live it for you, so only you can be the first line of defense to protect your own well-being.  Of course, this is assuming you are not a conjoined twin.  :)

I’ve given a lot of thought to being an effective EA, living life well, and learning and growing for many years.  And on that journey, I’ll share an actual incident that happened to me shortly after college.  By this point I had been working for maybe a year or two.  Near our office was a small little mini mart type shop similar to what you might find connected to a gas station, but a lot nicer.  One day, I was walking out to lunch and I ran into a co-worker who was on their way back to the office after having eaten.  This person wasn’t in my department, much less on my floor.  I didn’t know them well and if anything, we only knew each other because we worked at the same company, but did not work together.  I knew them more or less in passing.  

They stop me and say, “I didn’t have a chance on my lunch break to go buy my lottery tickets.  Here’s some money, would you go buy it?”  I was so shocked at the request that I didn’t know what to say except yes.  Meanwhile, my inner dialogue was annoyed, asking what sort of person blatantly asks for a favor like that, why should I spend 15 min of my lunch break to do a personal favor because they didn’t plan well or remember, and how would I prepare myself in case they asked me again tomorrow or everyday going forward.  Luckily, it never happened again and like a dutiful, obedient person, I ended my lunch break early to walk to their office and hand over their change and lottery tickets.

There was nothing in the situation where the person asking for the favor should have believed I owed it to them to do it.  They weren’t my boss, they weren’t even senior to me on the org chart, we were barely acquaintances, and I didn’t owe them a favor.  I might have seen that person once a month in the halls.  And yet, from their PERSPECTIVE they thought it was totally fine to ask because they needed something.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always been interested in learning and growing as a person so I will read all sorts of topics.  And even though I’m not a parent, I read that the latest trend is NOT teaching your kids to share.  To quote the blog post by Joe Martino:

I think it does a child a great disservice to teach him that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it. And I can understand the desire to give your children everything they want; we all have it.  This is not how things work in the real world.

With this new trend, I’m pretty confident that person who asked me to buy their lottery tickets or anyone reading my blog came from the SHARING IS CARING movement.  So we may have a hard time establishing boundaries, setting expectations, saying no, and grapple with taking care of ourselves, even before or supposedly at the expense of others.  As kids we were raised to share upon demand - whether it was having to give up the toy or expecting the toy without waiting just because we asked, which shapes our minds as adults too.  Once you learn to be aware of an unreasonable request or situation, to trust your gut, and establish boundaries, THEN saying no, negotiating for what you want, and asserting yourself becomes much easier, and if I dare say, natural.

While EAs should and are often expected to help out and wear many hats, there are still lines that need to be drawn.  I’ve heard from others where they were asked to run out and get lunch for their more senior co-worker, and then never reimbursed either because they were too shy to ask or felt it was inappropriate.  Even though the person said they’d pay them back they never bothered to remember they owed money each week they asked for lunch to be picked up.  I do agree that money is a very touchy subject.  Unfortunately, this meant they  lost out on hundreds of dollars.

At some point, the healthy boundaries help you draw the mental line where you acknowledge to yourself you are a separate person with your own wants, needs, desires, and opinions and it’s okay to talk about it and be your own individual.  So this post is less about how to do x, y, z in a specific order and more about how to simmer on the below 13 points.

1.      Realize that it’s not that people are “against” you, but rather they are just FOR themselves.  
2.      Anytime someone tries to rush you into a decision, it’s probably an emergency and priority for them AND NOT YOU.
3.      Anytime you unhappily make an exception for something, it’s hard to resist doing it again since you’ve already taught or shown the other person that behavior/decision is acceptable/okay.
4.      You must have bare minimums or requirements of what is acceptable or allowed so you know what you are basing your decisions on and why.
5.      Stop, think, ask for more time to make a decision, and ask yourself why you should do or not do x, y, z.
6.      Even if you have to say no, do it nicely.
7.      No one has the right to tell you that the way you feel is wrong.  They may disagree, but you are allowed to have your feelings.  They don’t get to decide how you feel.
8.      Be okay with re-visiting or re-opening the issue at a later/better time if you feel like you didn’t get it quite right.  
9.      Practice saying no, or you’re uncomfortable with something, or you will need to get back to them so when you are in a situation, your response is not automatically yes because you felt uncomfortable or didn’t know what to say.
10.  Don’t be surprised if people will make you say no or decline 2-3 times until they realize you’ve made up your mind.
11.  Be honest and let the first thing out of your mouth be what you are feeling:  Wow, I don’t know what to say.  or Hmmm…  I’m a bit surprised.  or I’m listening; I just to need to process what you just said.  Name your feeling then gather your thoughts on what you want to say.  
12.  If the person you decline gets angry, upset, or don’t like your response, that’s not your issue.  It’s theirs.  It’s okay they disagree, it’s not okay that they try to make you feel bad for it.
13.  Do your best, be patient with yourself and others, and know life will forever be a learning curve.  

I hope these tips help!  If you have any to add or a story to share, please do so in the comments.

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you're the one who ASKED and read the post? :) As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.