Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pursuing Happiness at Work & Home in 2013

This year by far has been one of my happiest. A lot of wonderful things at work and in my personal life make it extra meaningful. As the year comes to a close, I am getting ready to shed the old and bring in the new. While I’ve always been happy, it’s always been a challenge to be engaged and fully active in my day to day personal life. I love work so it dominates a majority of my energy and mental space. And while that’s good, work can only stay meaningful and bring purpose for so long until you need another new, fresh outlet.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

7 Defining Traits the Most Successful Executive Assistants Have - Part 1

The most coveted executive assistants that appeal to senior management and recruiters are the ones that have either worked for a Fortune 500 CEO, reputable talent agency, or the ones that show great promise because they are hungry, smart, and can be easily managed. While it goes without saying that every EA should keep things confidential, be organized, and reliable, the best ones stand out for the below reasons.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Can an EA salary support a family?

“I was wondering if as a career EA, you can make enough to support a family. I've been an EA for about a year now and am thinking about the future. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10 Tips to be a Better Executive Assistant - Part 4

Here are 10 random tips I’ve culled over the years on how to be a better assistant. This is part 4, focusing on working with celebrities,VIP, and iconic folks.

I’ve worked red carpets, have been back stage, escorted the entourages, wrangled A-list talent, met civic luminaries who have been in history books, and have been around the infamous. One time, I was even offered a job after only working with an A-lister’s manager for a couple of hours. Here are my tips for you.

1. Don't gush.

You are there to represent your boss, dept, and company. The worst thing to do is to act like their #1 fan and be a total groupie. You want to make them feel comfortable and if they think are you totally in love with them or are too interested in them and their career, it will cross too many lines. The most you are allowed to say (and I even hesitate to even encourage this) is: I really admire your work with _______________.

The most appropriate thing to say is: Congratulations on ________________________.

If you must comment on their celebrity or fame, it really should be RIGHT after a big award night, business coup, or whatever that made national news within a month. It must be timely so it is considered relevant and rude if you DON’T say something. Otherwise, in all other non-timely instances, if you are going to acknowledge their work and give them kudos, keep it to one or two sentences and keep it business professional.

Why? They came to work, not to socialize or make friends. Chances are, their meeting, event, or business matter isn’t your project or domain. They don’t really care if you liked their work or not. They are there to meet with your boss and hash out business deals or say hello to their fans and the public.

And don’t ask for gossip or stories. If they want to talk about their project or career, they will bring it up or start chatting you up to be friendly. Otherwise, let them wait in silence or focus on whatever they came to do - do PR, pitch a story idea, sign autographs, etc. Dealing with fans or anyone who loves them makes them feel they have to be “on” and it takes them out of their “business mode.”

2. No photos allowed.

It’s usually a no-no to ask for a photo, autograph or swag. Again, this makes them feel as though you are a fan. And you are now a distraction because it becomes about you, wanting something from them, and for them to be chummy with you. The only times photos are allowed are if they or your boss suggests a photo or it’s a big group photo at the end of the project, etc. Photos in these case are to celebrate the wrapping of a project or marking a ceremonious occasion - again a very good business reason.

3. Find yourself online.

If you really need a photo of proof of your wonderful day with a famous person, you might get lucky and find yourself in the background of photos that were taken on the red carpet and by paparrazi. You can find the images online at Getty Images, Wire Image, IMDB, and any Hollywood site that covers events and gossip such as Perez Hilton. Look for it the next day.

4. There are many gatekeepers.

Anyone successful or famous usually has a lot of gatekeepers - assistants, publicists, agents, managers, family, or their sidekick/entourage. It’s your job to work well with these folks too. Very rarely will you get to have direct contact with the VIP. Treat all the above folks just as nicely and importantly as you would the VIP. You’ve heard me say this before, but it’s only good manners to be nice to everyone, even at your own company regardless of their role or rank. They know stuff you don’t know. Everyone is important.

5. Wear proper attire.

Whatever outfit you choose, you should fit in. Since you are working, you are either in your business casual attire, suit, or whatever appropriate. Wear comfortable shoes whether at the office or an event. Have a small purse you can carry with you everywhere and paper or a clipboard if needed. Most often there is nowhere to leave your stuff to grab it later. Keep in mind it gets hot so don’t bring a jacket or think about how much you sweat. Don’t wear anything with logos.

6. Red carpet journalists badger you.

There are a couple of difficult things when working the red carpet. It’s hot. It’s crowded. Sometimes people are rude or your toes get stepped on. TV crews and journalists will pester you and try to make you promise an interview. You can’t promise anything though because it’s not always up to you. If a VIP doesn’t like a certain media outlet, journalist, or host, they will skip to another section of the line. Your job is to physically lead the way for the VIP, ask them who they do or don’t want to talk to, tell them when it’s time to move to the next one, or it’s their time to sing or present an award. You are there to assist them in all matters - where the bathroom is, the fast route out the of the bldg, secret doorways, fetch them water or a snack, find their limo driver, or shield them from the public. It’s exciting but it can be hard work because you are on your feet, running every which way, or bored out of your mind waiting around.

7. Don’t gossip.

Believe it or not, the chance of you running into a celebrity again at work or around town is pretty high. With social media all the rage right now, it’s fun to say where and when you spotted a celebrity or to tell all your friends insider stuff you heard. However, keep in mind that celebrities are on Facebook and Twitter too. They will know who wrote about them. Living in Los Angeles, I have already seen three celebrities, twice each, at random parties or around town. This included A-listers, character actors, and comedians. One I saw twice within two weeks. This is why if you act like a total fan at work and creep them out, they will probably remember you whenever you see them by accident or at another work function.

8. Leave.

Once your role or job is done, leave. Don’t hang around eavesdropping or hope to be included in the social hour of the night. If they want you to stay, they will invite you. If you’re not sure if you should stay or go, start slowly inching your way to the door or back to your desk. Wave good bye slowly and politely and usually someone will thank you or say it was nice to meet you. That’s your cue to leave.

9. Don’t get nervous.

While it can be intimidating to work with famous or brilliant people, getting nervous and worked up is not helpful. I’ve heard of people being so on edge and stuttering that they were asked to leave their position because they couldn’t work or function normally. The pressure just became too much. Try to keep in mind they are people too. They are not perfect, they use the bathroom, pay taxes, are insecure, and they also die. Sure, they are well-known, but that also means any fear or nervousness you might be feeling, they may feel it 10x more. Afterall, any interaction you have with them you’ll remember for the rest of your life, right?

10. Don’t give out your contact info.

If they want to keep in touch with you whether professionally or personally they will let you know. They will either ask you for your information directly if they don’t already have it or they will get in touch with you via their agent or assistant. That job I was offered? We exchanged business cards and he asked me to give him a call first thing Monday morning, which I did. When someone cares, they will find a way to keep in touch with you, on their own accord without any reminding needed.

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the post? You can just write “Thx!” or something! :)

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. It usually takes me 3-4 days to answer.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Becoming Resentful at Work, Segueing Out

“Reaching out to you as another high-profile EA - I feel like you're my west coast twin after reading your blog. I briefly worked in media at a company who partners with all the movie studios. Not always a pleasant experience supporting C-levels there...

You touched on something that really resonated with me, which was if you're no longer in to being an EA, you'll start to become annoyed, resentful, etc. - I was living in this space for several years after learning I dumbed myself down because of what I was taught by family and Fortune companies, that is, "secretaries" weren't supposed to work themselves out of their current job, or god forbid, outside "the box".

After parting ways a number of times for wanting to do more than type, I was able to let my inner geek fully emerge and have taken on desktop support functions; been hand-chosen by CIOs to consult on intercompany projects like emergency broadcasting notifications; designed my current company's social networking portal, complete with new branding and logo. While I've attended top universities in the nation (GPA: 4.0), I've only attained my AA - the tech stuff is so innate to me, I didn't want to put out the cash towards finishing my degree(s) - I realize this sounds ridiculous.

But I may have reached the station on this ride as I've been working feverishly on segueing into a tech position but can't. Ideally, I've wanted to become a BA for quite some time. I've had 1:1s with hiring managers of BAs; sat down with BA's; I've researched what BA's need to have to become a BA... I just cannot get there and am again, annoyed and resentful. I also run rings around my supervisor and now she ignores me since reading the feedback from the C-levels about my work.

Have you ever wanted to segue out of the EA role? Does any of this ring true to you?

I'd appreciate your personal input here.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Taking Your Career to the Next Level

“I just came across your blog and really enjoy the information you posted! I have been an EA to C-level executives for the past 6 years and am enjoying it. I was wondering about career path. I have tried to research what the next level(s) up is, I can't seem to find any information. I don't think I have hit the wall on the EA role, but I'm not sure what it takes to get to the next level or have a vision of how far this position can go. I have heard of EAs working for successful international corporations and earning a very large salary. Do you by chance know what it takes to get up there? Sincerely, Anonymous”

Dear NK,
Thank you for the great question and btw, your wording of it was great! :) No need for me to “pretty it up!” LOL

A couple of people have asked vaguely related questions so how to find that information is below, which I will expound upon to specifically answer your question.

I write at under Hollywood Executive Assistant so you should take a peek over there. I paste those answers and questions on this blog too, but to find it more easily and faster, go to and search these three key phrases:

Orlando EA on 05/15/2012
gregg on 05/12/2012
borclans on 05/10/2012

Here are my suggestions for you regarding career path and getting to the next level.

1) Evaluate if you really want this career path. If you are in it for the money, it shows.

As with any job, if you truly love what you do and believe in it, it will be slightly easier to stay in it for the long haul. If you’re doing any job for the money as the main motivator, it might hold you over for the first 5 or 10 years, but as some point, deep down in your heart and your soul you will have this nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right. While it’s appealing to pull in a lot of money, to get yourself to that level takes a lot of commitment. This is why before you decide to undertake any big or life-changing task you should make sure it’s what you really want. Focus and discipline will get you anywhere as long as you really want it. The nights where you have to stay late, go the extra mile, grit your teeth and do that same boring repetitive task or come to someone’s rescue will separate you and the next person. When you do things for money, it shows. You care less, you’re easily annoyed, you start to do a cost-benefit analysis, you feel resentful, and you feel short changed. Think long and hard about what it is you really want out of life, your career, and what makes you happy. Take personality tests, read books, talk to people. Become as self aware as possible regarding your beliefs, values, and principles. Once you know all these things about yourself, weeding out the noise and getting thrown off track aren't big problems.

2) Make it clear you have bigger goals.

If you’ve decided you want to be an EA or have a career that leads to a great salary, it all starts with growth. When you interview for new jobs, do your yearly job performance reviews, network, or whenever appropriate, make it clear you have bigger goals. State you’d love to be an EA and learn so much you can be promoted to coordinator, director, manager. State in 5 or 10 years you’d like to be VP of a division. And it’s not only important to state them to others, but for you yourself to live your life and to manage your career so you do 99% of the work and that 1% allows others to help you if they wish to get to you the next level. This means on your own initiative, ask to learn new software programs, volunteer for projects at work that will teach you something and challenge you, have interests outside of work that help your career in some sort of leadership, management, networking, or public speaking role. Work on your weaknesses. The most important thing is to take action and do something different so you can get promoted, get better tasks, that raise, or transition to a different role, dept, company, or industry.

3) Work for a bigger company in a smaller role.

One of the hardest parts of becoming a high level EA or transitioning out from EA to another role is making that leap from being just like every other EA to one of the best. The goal is to go from a busy role to one that is absolutely crazy insane busy and stressful to prove you can do it. It’s akin to saying you can plan one wedding really well once a year to saying you can plan three at the same time or saying you can plan 12 in a year. Or it’s like having a baby. One baby is hard, raising twins or triplets is a whole nother ball game. It’s not like one baby times two or three. It’s more like rip your hair out, can’t shower for a week, and your head will explode. Things become exponentially difficult the higher you go. There’s a cut off and large gap that most people don’t understand UNTIL THEY ARE ACTUALLY IN IT. So to get to that place, you need to work for a bigger company. And it most likely means you need to start out in a smaller role. The pace and problems will be faster and bigger and once you prove yourself there, you can work your way up to the 1st assistant.

4) Work for a well-known executive in a respected capacity.

Another strategy is to work for a well known executive, celebrity, or person in a respected capacity. If you can’t be an EA to them, be something close to that. Maybe you can be their personal assistant that works out of there business office instead at their house. I make this distinction because working at home means there is a less corporate environment, less office politics, less red tap and rigid rules, and less stress and craziness which will work against you because you aren't really in a business environment. Maybe you can be their estate manager in charge of everything from renovations, chef, gardener, pool boy, driver, security staff to nanny. While you will have to work out of their home, if you are in charge of everyone else, and all those projects, that's equivalent to being a project manager at a company. The point is to assist them but not just pick up their drying cleaning and walk their dog, but to manage their life and schedule as close to a regular EA job. Even asking to intern, shadow, or be mentored by someone well respected is a great first step.

5) Look for jobs under different titles with the same skill set.

Almost every job has an admin element to it. Maybe you are ready to be a project manager, a director of smaller division or program at work, or doing the same EA role in a better paying industry, city, or with a faster promotion rate. Expanding your job search to another state that has a talent shortage or leaving for a different company are fast ways to get a raise.

6) Key areas for growth and opportunity are joining when a company/executive/dept is new/young, transitioning, growing, or relocating.

When change is happening at a company, a lot of extra help and organization is needed. Even when a company is downsizing or merging, there’s a lot of opportunity for contract roles or temp gigs to help them thru the transition. When you job hunt keep this in mind. This also applies to when people go on maternity leave or are on extended sick leave. This is one of the main reasons why I endorse temping and working thru recruiting and placement agencies. They are the ones to help fill those roles which sometimes lead to FT work.

7) Be so good at your job they ask you to grow with the company.

When you are EA, the best traits to have are being open to learning, growing, changing, and treating everything with a sense of urgency with everyone and everything being of equal importance while having your priorities in order. Having a great attitude will only work in your favor. Being an EA is already a role to wear a lot of different hats and one you should take advantage of. The more you know about your company and dept the easier your job will be. There have been times in my career when I would join any activities the interns went to. Why? Because companies have great programs for interns to help them understand the company since they are so new and young, they try to give them a great overview. I also would tag along on any public tours because you learn a lot of fun tid bits and trivia that normally don’t come up. I will sit in on orientation or training sessions that are really for new employees or other departments because I can better understand other people’s role and how it affects my dept or my boss. When you have the mindset to look at the 360 degree view, you are also able to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. The more you know the further you’ll go and any smart company will want to keep you for themselves!

ALSO: New “rule” - when you ask me a question and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the answer? You can just write “Thx!” or something! :)

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. It usually takes me 3-4 days to answer.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant. Don't forget to follow this blog too.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Making A Splash Without Changing Everything

"Hi! I found your blog while researching EA positions and I'm hooked! I've done various admin work for the past 3 years and am now starting as an EA next week for a C-level executive (yay!). My question is, how can I come in and make a splash, but not seem like I'm going to change everything? I'm a bit nervous as I've never done executive-level administrative assistance before (it was all general office support positions), and it also includes being his PA, so if you have any tips for a newbie that'd be great! Great work on the blog, and thanks very much!”

Dear MA,

Congratulations on the new role and promotion! Good for you! :) I am so glad you found my blog and are hooked! You ask a very good question, so here’s my advice, hope it helps!

1) The first 6 months or year, you should be observing and adapting.

There’s nothing worse than hiring a new employee and having them come in thinking they have all the answers and are God’s gift to the company. Just like new CEOs do, your first 6 months or year are really about learning about the company, your department, office politics, and how things work. You always want to listen and observe first because how will you make intelligent suggestions down the road? Realize a lot of the people you work with are smart and have common sense, it’s just that there is a lot of bureaucracy, red tape, and rigid rules on how business gets done at every company. Yes, a lot of it does not make business sense or common sense, but the better you can adapt and roll with the annoying punches the better off you will be. Most problems in life and in business will never be solved, you just have to find new and better ways to adapt to them because humans and the world aren’t perfect or fair. So go in and listen thrice as much as you speak, don’t prattle on just so you have attention, and do your job very well!

2) Be humble, hungry, and green.

Regardless of your age, seniority, or years of experience you will always find something new to learn. And the best way to be great at your job and have people enjoy working with you is to be humble, hungry, and green. There are times when you will have to do something that is not a part of your job description, you will have to pitch in, and you should always hustle. Be open to learning, be open to change, and be grateful, have fun, and be eager. One reason why hiring new college grads is beneficial is because companies can mold them and train them to their liking. The more experience you have and the older you get the stereotype is you don’t want to do things in a new way or see it from a different view point. Success is not stagnating and the best way to be successful is to embody an attitude of being a lifelong student in all areas of life.

3) Get to know everyone and align yourself.

It behooves you to get to know everyone from the security guard, to the cleaning crew to the other executives and your colleagues. Just smile and say hello, but no need to pester people who aren’t interested in getting to know the new girl. You’ll get a sense within the first few weeks and failing that, you can always send one polite email for a lunch invitation and if they don’t respond, don’t follow up. Align yourself also means to seek out the ones who have been around the longest and get their advice, have them informally mentor you, and make sure you figure out who your boss’ stakeholders are. Do not befriend the office Debbie Downer or the one everyone dislikes and don’t be that person either. :)

4) Be flexible and understand your role.

The job description you were given may be vastly different from the one you will actually do. If something seems way out of line, you can clear it with your boss if an assignment comes from someone else who is not directly managing you day to day. Observe seniority and the chain of command. Your immediate boss should know what you are working on and what is a priority or not. Understand what makes your boss tick, what he likes and dislikes, and adapt to his style. Get an understanding of what the different quarters will look like and your job duties in a year. When is budget season, how are summers and winters different, etc.

5) Take good notes.

Write everything down. You will be inundated with so much new information you will want to go back to look at it. Most people will only explain things once and you can ask them questions, but it should be for more insight and clarification, not for them to rehash everything from the beginning. Then type out your notes so you can save it and make a manual for yourself or search easily by keyword. This also means keep track of your accomplishments, any new skills you’ve learned along the way, programs you’ve used that you didn’t before. This will help in updating your resume, negotiating a raise, and how you want your career to unfold.

6) Don’t argue, be kind, and be concise.

When people correct you or offer a suggestion, say thank you or some version that you got the message. Doing long drawn out explanations on how you misunderstood or made a mistake aren’t necessary in most cases. This is why picking your battles is important. If something is a persistent problem, see yourself as the issue first, as it’s your job to work around your boss or anyone senior to you. If it’s a matter of bad business practice, having 3 good suggestions might be helpful. As always, be kind, to everyone, and grateful and appreciative. And be as concise as possible. When you speak to anyone, realize everyone is busy so they may need a refresher on the issue, or to see and hear things, don’t be overly emotional about situations, and don’t ramble on.

7) Think about your grand master plan.

In life and in work, it’s good to think about what you want and to formulate a plan. Sometimes it helps to know EXACTLY what you want and then to work backwards on how to accomplish those goals. Often it is easier to have vague foundations of a goal if you are very diligent and are good at having a sense of what you need to do. Other times, just learning what you like and don’t like is a good start. Try everything so you at least know what you don’t like. As long as you are learning something new, you are succeeding and are that much closer to your goal.

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the answer? You can just write “Thx!” or something! :)

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. Anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. It usually takes me 2-3 days to answer.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant. Don't forget to bookmark or follow this blog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Answering Reader Mail

Hi Everyone,

Below are some questions I answer at the other site - under Hollywood Executive Assistant. Don't forget to follow this blog and my entire web presence here:

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. It usually takes me 2-3 days to answer.

What have you been asked to do by a boss that you thought was the biggest overreach? Like something that just wasn't an appropriate ask given your job description.


I can't really think of anything outlandish that was asked of me as I had pretty reasonable bosses. Keep in mind one's job description is also "no task is too big or too small." I also have a different attitude than most people toward "menial tasks." My view is whenever I am assigned less than interesting tasks, it just means my brain gets a break and I am getting WAY OVERPAID for the task I am doing, which is great! :) Here are a wide variety of duties I had to do over the years that fell under the small percentage of personal assisting or odd tasks related to my role.

-Xerox offspring's college application
-Book spa appoint for spouse
-Remind spouse of appointment & call back in 15 min when they were to leave the house
-1x/week go grocery shopping & launder a set of towels for executive kitchen & bathroom
-Cut off 500 tags from stuffed animals that were gifts
-Research hotels and storage places for family vacation or family move
-Get $300 in cash at the bank in certain denominations
-Stuff thousands of envelopes for invitations
-Drive a few blocks to get frozen yogurt
-Drive my boss to the auto mechanic

From where can I send the all important make or break "gift." Say chocolate covered espresso beans (1/2 decaf)! I view the 4th asst as the 1st, the studio head far above of course... Help?


How about from here?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Re-Entering the Admin Field

"Hello. Thank you so much for taking up this blog. I'm getting a lot from it and appreciate your candid advice, detailed responses, and very approachable personality.  

My question regards the difficulty I am having in reentering the admin support field despite the fact that I have ten years of office management and administrative support experience. Six of these years were at a small, personal services start up, that I sold profitably, and the remaining four years were as admin support at two small businesses. I thoroughly enjoy the diversity of these positions, the project management, and the role of admin support. This experience spanned from 1997 to 2010. During the last six years I have earned two degrees, and finishing with a teaching credential two years ago. Since that time I've been substitute teaching, in several school districts, as a means of positioning myself for a faculty opening. Concomitantly, over the last three years I've served as a committee member and conference organizer with an educational nonprofit. Well, the educational field is dismal and I've given up on the teaching career. In reviving my former admin support career, I find that my current employment, "Substitute Teacher" isn't getting me any offers. I have joined several LinkedIn groups that are in the Admin Support and Executive Support field, seeking to discover further insight, or garner advice, from these accomplished people. Can you make any suggestions that may assist me in successfully reentering the admin field? Thank you in advance for your response."

Dear LM,
I am so happy you like my blog! You are obviously very accomplished so I'm not sure I can offer you advice you haven't already discovered for yourself or maybe heard from others on LinkedIn, but I will try. And reading my other posts will be helpful if you haven't already. I've been blogging for about 4 years now so that's a lot of material!

1. Temp, volunteer, apply for PT work and list that as your present role.

While your ultimate goal is FT job in admin, the only thing that will get you there is recent experience in admin - the good ol' fashioned catch-22. So, it's best to search for temporary, short-term admin work via temping, volunteering, applying for part time work so you have something to put on your resume. Even if you only get one temp gig in September, you can keep in on your resume indefinitely by writing "September to Present" as temp work is by nature, on call, and therefore has no end date. Through volunteering, you can network and keep your pulse on the industry of your choosing. And applying for part time work allows you to use the other 20 hours to find a full time job and make the leap when you get an offer. Just do something and start somewhere is the key.

2. Call your old contacts, do informational interviews, network twice removed.

Whenever I look for a job, I send out over 200 individual emails telling people what I've been up to. I also do this around the holidays or when I read or see something pertaining to them so it's not uncommon for people to hear from me at least once or twice a year to say hi and update them for fun. So when they get that job hunting email, it's just a typical update. I can see that you are already doing the informational interviews, even if only online. A tip I keep coming across in the business and start up world is this: If you want money/a job ask for advice or information. If you want advice/information, ask for money/job. The message isn't the point, it's the conduit and how you get your audience that lets the information unfold. When you ask for a mtg it's always implied you want something and it's up to your audience to give you whatever they feel comfortable with. Regardless of the outcome, you will come out richer for the experience because of insight, a connection made, or just even practice. It's also known that the people that can help you the most are not your direct contacts (cause they are too similar to you), but more often the people THEY know. It also goes without saying that networking is a two-way street, you are looking for a mutually-beneficial relationship. You should also pass along the random act of kindness when someone wants your advice, time, or help whether with a specific individual or people at large.

3. Look for jobs under various titles - admin asst, personal assistant, estate manager, house manager, executive assistant, coordinator, project manager, director, etc.

You are obviously well rounded so don't short change yourself in applying for jobs with only a specific title or industry. Cast a wider net and be flexible. High net worth individual also have private staff to help them manager their lives/homes. It might be worth it for you to look into that as well. Most jobs have an organization/admin element to it although it may not seem so at first, so try exploring other areas besides corporate/business.

4. Craft your resume based on experience and skill set, not chronologically - and tell a different story.

I think this tip bears no real explanation as by Googling different resume types you'll get the gist. The point is to sell yourself and spin a different story. If you can, perhaps don't even list all the degrees you have. I almost wonder if you may be coming across as overqualified and over experienced. While you don't want to outright lie, you do want your resume to get you an interview and you only have to tell the story of your career as it pertains to the specific job you are applying to. Just like they say have 3-4 different resumes for certain roles, your career history should be edited to get to the heart of your skills not the timeline of it.

5. Get into social media for your skill set and self branding.

Social media is big right now, both for companies and individuals. If you don't know how to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, a blog,, TweetMyResume, or Klout, experiment. Yes, it's nice to have your own page, but that costs money so the previously mentioned sites are all free and wide spread. Get a basic understanding and learn how to promote yourself or your future employer so you can network better. This also includes using career websites like Monster or Career Builder cause you never know who you might hear from by putting up your resume.

(Don't forget I also write at jobstr under Hollywood Executive Assistant. 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. It usually takes me 2-3 days to answer.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Social Etiquette for EAs

"Just wanted to start off by saying that you have a very captivating writing style.

My question is regarding social etiquette: I recently started working in a very small company that is very successful; I attribute this to the fact that we hire only the best (we have people from Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.). The interesting thing is that our company is comprised mostly of single people in their mid-20's (such as myself) and we all go out after work together. There is so much camaraderie that even one of the SVPs I support will carouse with us on a regular basis. Because of how small we are and because the executive staff fraternizes with subordinates regularly, our leadership caste system is never felt. I was astounded today, however, when someone (a married, mid-30's woman who does not go out) said that I should really not be fraternizing with the other employees on a regular basis. She emphasized that Executive Assistants do not have the same luxuries as other employees and that I should distance myself from others within the company. She remarked that EAs are way too close to the executives and that my fraternization with someone could be misconstrued if they were to ever receive a promotion.

While the comments she made had some validity, I feel that I should go by each company's specific culture... Should I really have to deviate from what is a normal social etiquette within my
company culture just because of my position? Thank you."

Dear Anonymous,

I'm glad that you like my writing style and enjoy my blog. I hope my perspective can help you. There are a lot of factors to consider and perhaps after some thought you can figure out what is best for you.

1. Your boss and their boss are your most important allies.

Your success at work depends on a lot of people - you, your boss, their boss, and your colleagues. You mentioned you support an SVP who also hangs out after work. I couldn't tell if the SVP was your only boss. I'm also unsure of what role/rank that lady is. What's important to think about is to mirror or conduct yourself at work that follows your boss and their boss' values. These two people people are the ones who have the most say in your career and reputation right now at the company. They will fight for you or not based on various factors. If that lady is equally powerful and important at the company, her input might hold a lot of weight. She might know something you don't know and she can't tell you outright. It's hard to say, so consider the source.

In past roles, I have been told when my boss didn't like someone. That became a clear indication to me that I shouldn't be friends with them either. And it could be such a tame comment as, "I'm glad you no longer work for them. They are slow to respond/follow up," with their face in a scrunched up expression. There have been comments such as pointing out who they really like and why. "She's really nice. I like her." Again, very tame, but the most minute expression of negative or positive commenting speaks volumes.

2. It's not unusual that some people have hidden agendas and personal motives.

The woman may have spoken up because she really does like you and care about your career either as a person or just that you are another female at the company. She could also be envious she can't go out with the group for whatever reason based on her personal life. A lot of people will give you advice about your life, only you know what's best for you. You are the only person that has to live with the consequences or rewards for your actions so never feel pressure to act a certain way. And don't be surprised why people have hidden agendas and personal motives. It could be anything from wanting a promotion to boredom, needing an enemy/scapegoat at work, to being so insecure they are just not emotionally healthy individuals.

3. An EA never has a say on who gets promoted, only the executive does.

I've heard of other people (the receptionist or EA) getting to weigh in if someone should get hired, this is not new. When people are brought in for interviews receptionists and EAs have been consulted if the applicant was nice to everyone regardless if that person was a VIP or not. However, I've never heard of an EA getting to advise who gets promoted. The EA's only direct reports are interns or other assistants. Even then or in a 360 degree review process, everyone's feedback is considered and the EA's will not trump the boss or CEOs. The logic the lady use didn't really make a lot of sense to me. If you were openly dating someone at work and using that to your advantage to get dinner business meetings with your boss for your significant other that might raise some eyebrows. However, everyone hanging out in a group won't get someone a promotion the last time I checked.

4. Read your company manual.

Since you're a small, young company I almost bet you don't have a company manual. But if you do, some companies do state if fraternization is not allowed or if you date others at work you must tell HR at the start of the relationship, etc. Never hurts to research just to be safe.

5. Benefits of hanging out.

The benefits of hanging out with work friends are numerous. You have better working relationships. People are happier. Teams work better together. You can better understand how people work and where they are coming from if you know them as individuals. Most often, the benefits outweigh the cons. It really does pay to follow company culture to be a team player and be social.

6. Fraternization at work is tricky because you're close with everyone so drawing boundaries becomes difficult.

The most difficult thing about being really great friends with everyone is that at some point, you will know stuff only your boss knows. And if you talk about everything with your friends, acting like you know nothing about top secret stuff at work becomes hard. Even saying you can't comment implies you know something. You can't talk openly about what is stressing you out or a problem at work because even if you confide in someone at work, it's not surprising when they tell someone else with the disclaimer of, "You can't tell anyone!" In some cases, business at work is just business and people will not be invited to certain meetings, the company retreat, the executive dinner, yet some won't understand that. Not everything is fair or equal at work or in life. Excluding people at work when you like everyone equally becomes a hard job for you since you work for an executive.

7. Alternatives and suggestions.

If you feel as though you need to compromise, here are some suggestions. Try one or a combo of these: Only go out as a group, during lunch, to non-drinking events (since people behave differently when drunk, secrets come out, judgement is impaired, etc.), or whenever your boss or the SVP goes. You can also spearhead coordinating events and personally invite this woman so she feels included. If you feel up to it, invite this woman to lunch alone just try to gauge what she's about, maybe it's a generational thing, maybe she has a really corporate background, maybe she wishes she could join, but can't. She doesn't have to know why you're doing this either. If you can do it without it being obvious, maybe check around if anyone else was told the same thing or what other people's interactions are with her. Or you could always just ignore what she said. :)

Good luck and keep me posted!

(As always, anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. It usually takes me 2-3 days to answer.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Green EA, Green Executive

"I recently stumbled across your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts! I was hoping that you might have insight/advice on how to create project work/better assist a C-Level exec that has never had an admin before.

I have only been an EA for 1.5 years and recently made an internal move, becoming the EA to a C-Level executive. Since we are both somewhat green, I was hoping that you might have some suggestions to spark project work (both business and personal related projects would be helpful). I am in a bit of a slump with my workload and would like to try new creative ideas to fill my plate. Thanks!"

Dear KC,

So glad you like my blog and hope I can be of help! You ask a very good question! Now's a great time to set a foundation and train your executive (if they are willing and learn to trust you) so a precedent can be set. Here are some things to work on for projects and what to figure out when learning to work with a new C-Level Executive during your first year. Be aware and mindful to ask insightful questions now over the course of many months. At the most basic level, you are there for your executive so what they prefer and what they are comfortable with is first and foremost, very important. You can suggest things or guide them a certain way, but they will always have final say.

1.Try to set up the communication of the office so your boss checks their own emails and responds, but you are in charge of all the mtg coordination, phones, and anything that happens in the office.

The point is to establish you are the gatekeeper and you are in charge of your boss' time and presence. Tech glitches happen all the time and 2 people controlling one person's calendar is not the easiest thing. The fewer cooks in the kitchen, the better. If possible, train your boss to cc you whenever something needs to be handled and clue you in on conversations so you have somewhat of an idea of what is going on. While many things are confidential, what you want to avoid is your boss double booking mtgs or not taking into consideration other executives coming to you so you can ask your boss on x, y, z. Whoever controls the flow of information, controls what happens. This also means maybe 10 min mini mtgs first thing in the morning and at the end of the day.

You want to impress upon your boss they do the leading, business strategy and run the department while you handle everything else so they don't have to worry. You do all the admin stuff, prep, and the misc tasks. They should do all the executive level work. You answer the phone, book travel, offer beverages to guests, book meetings, prepare the conference room, order food, etc...

2.Outreach and Prep

While you have the time and can, get to know the others assistants and go to lunch. Get to know all the departments you will be interfacing with. Start brushing up and training on weak areas with PowerPoint, Photoshop, business writing, or anything you can think of. Find or make an org chart so you understand your boss' direct reports and their direct reports. Start reading now about your company's mission, strategy, and goals.

3.Get your boss' personal information now.

In the event of an emergency or when family visits, it would be great for you to already know who the family members are. Names, contact information, relevant data. For example, some spouses do not share a last name. Does your boss have GPS in their car or do they use it on their phone? If not, they will expect maps printed out, etc. If you have to purchase stuff for your boss - ask to xerox the credit card, both front and back now. If your boss it absent, do they have a stamp of their signature that you are to use in their absence and only for emergency contracts and the like? Does your boss have allergies, special diet needs, medications (like epinephrine for bee stings?), or anything special you should know about? Do they prefer meetings no earlier than 9am? Do they like aisle seats on an airplane? Do they have a frequent flyer card for any business? Are there favorites of anything your boss likes - their coffee, restaurants, cafeteria lunch food, etc?


Are there projects that you foresee you will be assigned that you can start researching now? Where will you get flowers, baby gifts, birthday cakes, catered lunch, a venue for the holiday party, wine, a list of all the hot restaurants in town? Think about stuff you can discover now while you have time instead of waiting at the last minute.


Set up a great filing system now. While you have the time, bust out the label maker, order all the supplies and prep for what all the filing you will have to do. Order binders and enough office supplies so you always have some extra. You always have an extra ream of paper, extra toner ink. Once you use one, there is an extra, and you should order so you always have one in stock.

6.Cheat Sheets

Start creating cheat sheets now of the most dialed numbers, any information you will use a lot like the front lobby, the mailroom, IT, the janitor, facilities/operations, etc. The goal is to have at your fingertips information you will need at a moment's notice. Make a big binder now, even for daily information on how the office runs. If you are out sick, a temp will have to sub for you. Do they know the vm passwords? Your computer log in? A map of the building or floor you sit on, etc? What is the cut off time for FED EX? Lists, cheat sheets, binders, and detailed instructions will make things more smooth and idiot proof.

7.Get a list of VIP folks your boss will always want to be interrupted for.

Your boss has a boss and probably has a family. There will always be a handful or more of people your boss will always take a call from. Learn who those people might be, now, before someone who is important calls and you sweat it out debating whether to grab your boss.

8.Try to figure out your boss - how they like to communicate (and mirror that), their personality, and the way they work.

People generally have a preference for the phone (talking), email (writing, taking time to think, and for the paper trail), or texting (quick reminders while they are in mtgs and something comes to them). This also means when you have to go in and interrupt your boss while they are in a mtg they have a preferred method. Do they like you to whisper in their ear so they can whisper back? Do they like you to come in silently and have a post it note with a large message written on it (my preferred method)? Do they want you to take them out of the room? Are they a morning person so it's best to grab them while they are still upbeat and awake? Are they type A and super organized so they like lists printed out so they can carry it around or do they like information only in digital form? Be mindful of your boss' preferences, perks, and style of working, communicating, and handling stress, conflict, bad news, good news, etc. Your goal is to become a mini-me version of them and to make their life easier. Study and observe your boss for the best working relationship.

9. Professional and Personal assistance

Think about an entire calendar year and an entire fiscal year from your boss' professional and personal perspective. Don't forget about official, company, school, and religious holidays. Start forecasting the myriad of duties that come with different quarters of the year. Try to automate and formalize processes for projects that will repeat. Here are some examples. Every year around November I start inputting next year's holidays on the calendar including annual conventions or trade shows my boss will go to. I start putting in reminders of when I should start working on updating the addresses for holiday cards. I mark out vague time slots on when my boss will probably go on summer and winter holiday. I block out time on my calendar when I know I will have to work overtime because it's budget season. Since it's August right now, are there things you can do to help prepare for the start of the school year? Should you be shopping for Halloween costumes now online? Should you be brainstorming business gifts for the holidays?

10.Contemplate your future

If you have a lot of down time, figure out where you want to be in five years and how you may be able to take on some of those duties now to place yourself better for a future of your choosing. If you want to be CEO or CFO maybe offer to help on budgets, financials, and with Excel documents. If you want to be in Corporate Communications, maybe ask to do social media stuff or write your bosses speeches. If you want to be in Sales, maybe ask to sit in on meetings and take notes so you can silently observe. If you want to be in HR/Recruiting, maybe offer to help find interns or assistants if you will have one. Maybe you can think of activities for Bring Your Kid to Work Day. Now is a good time to establish how you want your job to unfold. Maybe you ask your boss for lunch meeting twice a year. Or you can think about yearly goals you can achieve at work. Create yearly, 5-year, and 10-year goals for yourself and how you can move up in your department or company.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: 1000 Emails Project

“I really enjoy reading your blog. Certainly is helping me during my current job. My boss hired me to help them get organized. So the task at hand is tackling the unread emails and sorting them as follow up, projects, inquiries, factory orders, catalog etc. They want to print them out and organized that way, but there are over a thousand emails. Is there a more efficient way to attack this? Any advice would be helpful. Thank you!”

Dear NC,

So glad you are enjoying my blog. I’m not sure how helpful I can be! Eeeeep! You have been tasked with a major project. I couldn’t really tell if the 1000 emails were it or if you will continue to get emails every day that would increase the number of them forever. Yikes! Here are my suggestions for you.

1. If it’s not too late, sit down with your boss and try to get a sense of their goal.

Aside from having everything printed out, you will want to find out any future steps that would help you organize everything. Maybe they want all the factory orders Products A thru Z to go to one person. Or do they want one type of project’s emails all together, say everything related to Product A - follow up, inquiries,, factory orders, catalog requests, in one big stack. Once everything is sorted who will handle the next step, carry out the task, and keep your boss apprised of status? In the beginning, it’s best to start on the course they asked you and to then offer suggestions if they will help out your boss first and foremost later (not just make things less of a hassle for you). Also try to make sure you have all the categories they want and hope that it is less in number. Once they add more categories you'll have 100 different ones with only 10 sheets in each which may not be as helpful. Or you may find yourself having to re-sort constantly as your boss figures out new categories.

2. Once you print everything out, how should it be displayed?

Depending on usage, maybe they should be in a binder, file folders, taped up on boards, just stapled in a packet or interofficed somewhere. You will need to order many many office supplies to accommodate this project and find yourself and nice big desk, floor, or room to spread out and work. It’s important that once the day is over, the cleaning crew does not come in to disturb all your hard work as well.

3. Every now and then, check in with your boss.

You’ll find that there is a lot of back and forth between you and your boss. They may change their mind on any little thing as they hear updates from you. Ask them if you are heading in the right direction or bring up points that may give them a bigger picture. If you are getting emails every day that you have to also print out, it would be helpful if your boss could tell you which ones are priorities so that you address what is very important first. If your boss has time, get a full list of the projects ranked in order of priority or even just three groupings - 1/urgent, 2/time sensitive, 3/timely.

4. Get a deadline, have a plan, plot your strategy.

You should pace yourself and get an understanding of a reasonable timeline. This way you can figure out how many hours you should dedicate to this project while juggling your other duties. I’m a little concerned that 1000 emails went unattended until you were hired. Perhaps you can work overtime if that’s allowed.

5. Print first, sort papers later.

This will sound horrible, but sometimes it’s just easier to print an entire thread of emails and throw out the other pages you don’t need instead of going thru each email and figuring out if you only need the first page or the first 5 pages. Try to recycle the pages you don’t need. Also keep in mind if any of it needs to be shredded. Don’t forget to see if sorting the emails via keywords will group similar emails together so that when you print stuff out they are already collated by topic/keyword. Or perhaps your email program will allow you to “check all” and then “print all selected.”

6. Follow up and future strategy.

It’s important to figure out once you get thru this project how they will manage future emails and tasks. The goal is to not have to print 1000 emails every month because no one was regularly checking the email inbox and dealing with business in a timely manner.

7. Get help.

If at all possible, maybe an intern could do all the printing so you can focus on sorting. If that’s not possible, maybe you can print while you are multitasking - on hold on the phone, waiting for 5 minutes for someone to show up, etc. Every minute helps!

Keep me posted and I wish you luck on your project! Tell me what worked and didn't!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7 Unexpected Ways Your Finances Matter When Job Hunting And Working

It occurred to me that even the most basic information isn't common knowledge sometimes. I only realized this when I had the below conversations with my friends who had great jobs, but were not executive assistants or outside of the corporate realm. I hope these tips help you!

1. Have a great credit score.

Believe it or not, major corporations will run a background and credit history check on you. Why? Because if you’re working for any C-Level Executive or executive, you’re dealing with money, whether the executive’s or the company’s. The worse your credit score and history, the more likely one is believed to be at risk for white collar crimes or embezzlement. Major corporations want to eliminate as much risk as possible, including getting sued for any wrongful lawsuits. So if you have a good credit score it’s more peace of mind for your executive and company. It gives the impression that you are extra trustworthy. There are numerous examples of people stealing from companies or doing illegal things. Google Disney insider trading scheme assistant or just look at Enron.

2. Have enough credit.

One of the most surprising things for me was to learn that not all companies will give you an expense account or a company credit card. The company will ask that you charge everything from business travel to catered lunches on your credit card and they will reimburse you. This adds up to thousands of dollars and it usually takes at least two weeks to get your money back. That’s assuming you have enough free time to do an expense report immediately for 2 hours on top of your already busy schedule.

3. Have a huge savings account.

Besides having a checking, retirement account, and a rainy day fund, you should also have a huge savings account of 6 months to a year or more of living funds. This is in case you lose your job or want to look for another one. Most people fall into the trap of taking the first job offered to them because they are running out of money. That’s the worst way to make a decision and to plan for a life - out of desperation. You deserve more than that!

4. Have cash in your wallet.

Every now and then your boss or co-workers will ask to borrow money or to break a big bill. Since you are the executive assistant they expect you to have the answer for everything in a pinch. There is nothing more embarrassing than to admit you have no cash in your wallet. The most anyone has ever borrowed from me was $40 and the executives always insist you remind them they pay you back and do give the money back. It’s a little odd to borrow money from someone you supervise, but it has only happened once or twice with any boss I have ever worked for.

5. Have cash in your bank account.

You’d think that if you had a credit card, you’d be safe, but I once had to get a cashier’s check for almost $400 for a work event. It was for catered food at a place that did not take payments over the phone with a credit card. I had to either drive 20 miles each way which would have taken over three hours, 1 hour each way and standing in line to pay (this place serves over 5000 customers a day not counting pre-ordered food.) Or I could mail in the money. Or you may find you need a money order or traveler’s checks. Since you never know when a work emergency will come up and you need funds, you should always have a positive cash flow and not live paycheck to paycheck.

6. Have money for group gifts.

It’s inevitable that someone will have a baby or it’s someone’s birthday every now and then at work. Although you don’t have to contribute or offer the same amount as everyone else, you should have it in your budget. Alternately, you could say you only had X amount of dollars in your wallet and give that, offer to write a check, or give your own gift by baking cookies or something.

7. Have money for job hunting and working.

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Whenever you interview for a job, there’s at least 2-3 interviews if not more. You have to wear a different outfit each time. Sometimes companies don’t validate for parking especially if you are doing testing at a temp agency and are there for a few hours. You will spend a lot on gas just driving around town or on business travel. You’ll need to make copies of your resume or have a nice folder. Thank you cards, buying people coffee when you network or need advice, thank you gifts, and postage all add up.

Now you know why it's always important to pay yourself first! :) Happy job hunting and working!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How I Read To Help My Career

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July. I was originally going to write a post on why I am so grateful to be an American. And while I am, I wouldn't be able to churn out a post long enough with either some personal insight or helpful advice. I was going to start off with the notion that I'm constantly amazed at how lucky I feel about being born in America. I could have very well been born in Africa in the sweltering heat and constantly starving instead of a 4th generation Asian American. Life can seem so beautiful and unfair all at the same time...

I started reading a new book today and I wanted to explain why I read. I read for entertainment, solace, knowledge, and advice, but at the heart of it, I read because I'm moved. The best books have inspired me to act and have caused me to think, reflect, and question. At the very least it distracts my mind and new ideas or thoughts come to me that are sometimes totally unrelated to the subject at hand. Studies have shown that your brain needs that quiet time, that other focus, so that it can work out problems and come up with solutions. I've experienced it often.

I think this is why everyone should read. Books are better reading material because of the long, in-depth subject. Regardless of what it is, it will keep your mind engaged on the same topic for a longer period of time. And I'm grateful to be in America where information is free for anyone to access. Censorship is not an issue and people can write their own opinions freely as well. To not read in this country is to not take advantage of the freedom so many other countries are denied.

As I've gotten older, my reading habits have changed. These are tips on how and why I read.

1) I read every single day without fail for at least 30 minutes.

Any habits you practice daily are markers of what you find important. My habits range from reading at lunch for 30 min or at night before I go to bed. Sometimes I read articles on LinkedIn about my industry or other trending topics. I subscribe to a couple of magazines that relate to technology, business, and personal growth which I also count as reading. I follow daily and weekly blogs. Every day I allow myself to seek out new information, a different perspective, or relaxation through reading. And what I gain can be anything from how to network better or bringing up an interesting topic of conversation the next time I am out. Even reading about what new restaurant opened up in town helps me with all my event planning duties.

2) I mark up my books and take notes.

When I read books, I've gotten into the habit of highlighting passages I find important, want to delve into further, or look up the definitions to words. I also find myself putting my book down every couple of minutes to write down ideas that pop into my head. Anytime I read, it reminds me to do something at work or to try a new method or share a tidbit of information with someone who would enjoy it. Reading is the catalyst that gets the wheels turning in my brain in the most unexpected and profound ways. At the very least, highlighting passages keeps me focused on reading and comprehending instead of letting my mind wander too far. If anything, as I read, I am more or less studying as if I were taking a class. I'm not reading to pass the time and forget the information. I'm reading to apply and incorporate that knowledge into my life in any way shape or form applicable.

3) I read several books at once.

I have a really long list of books that I plan to buy and I am always reading at least 2-3 books at once. Not to mention, I have about 30-50 books I've purchased but have not gotten around to starting. I will sometimes start books and get 1/3 of the way through and lose interest so I allow myself to pick up another book that speaks to me. And yet, when I return to the first book, I find it so intriguing I can't believe I put it down for a couple of months. For whatever reason, certain books mean different things to me depending on when I'm reading them. Either I'm not ready to read about a certain subject, I'm distracted in my life, or the book isn't pulling me in at the moment. The books that interest me the most, I will finish within three days. That is a mark of superb book.

4) After 50-100 pages, if I hate a book I will stop reading it. If I try reading a book twice and still hate it, I give up.

I can only think of one book that I honestly tried to read and never could get into it. I read to about page 50 and tried to revisit it. I ended up giving the book away. I let a couple of years go by and I bought the book again! I tried reading it and could not understand it at all or the worldwide craze it became. It was a personal growth book endorsed by some heavy hitters. The only thing I may try now is to buy a different book from same author if I were to try again. Perhaps that book just wasn't the right message for me.

5) Reading as a gift.

When I was young my father always explained to me that he would buy me any and as many books as I wanted. I was a late bloomer when it came to becoming a bookworm. I was a good reader at a young age, but was never interested in sitting still until about 5th grade. My father would take me to the book store frequently, just the two of us, so he instilled my habit of reading very early.

Now as an adult, I lend out my books freely. I offer them saying if I never got it back or if it took them a year to read it, it would be fine. I do ask for the book back once or twice so others can borrow it. And if no luck, I let it go. Hopefully they can read the book and pass it on to someone else as well. This is a practice I engage often that I have a circle of friends where I am there de facto local library. I ask them what sort of book they want, if they need me to bring them new books when we meet up, and we talk about what they borrowed from me.

And nine times out of ten, when someone has a baby or there is a gift-giving occasion, I will give a book.

Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness can all be found in a book! Go get some! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is The EA Role Right For You?

When I was little, I never envisioned I would become an executive assistant. I bantered around various ideas from being a photographer, teacher, newscaster, or print journalist. I just sort of fell into being an executive assistant when I graduated college and started looking for a job. I started out as a temp and figured I’d pay my dues, network, and hop to another company or department. When the Chairman/CEO’s office asked me to join their team, I said to myself, “Who says no to the CEO?!” and told myself it’d open many more doors than if I said no.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Advice from My Dad :)

Over the years, my dad has given me great career advice. He writes down all his words of wisdom and accompanied by an anecdotal story. Every now and then I ask him to send me the updated Word document. However, in light of a belated Father’s Day post, I thought I’d write something more whimsical. It dawned on me that my dad also gave me a lot of practical advice regarding food. LOL I thought I’d share those here for fun.

Friday, June 15, 2012

5 Random Things Helpful at Your Job

Over the years as I've worked for various Fortune 500 companies or C-Level executives, I've noticed a pattern of a skill set that is never written in job descriptions, but is vital. To put it succinctly, being a "tastemaker" and very aware is a very helpful skill. To be a tastemaker is to be able to spot trends and be an "early adopter" and having very good, refined taste. It comes in handy when you are setting up catered lunch meetings, giving gifts, event planning, and being a well-informed assistant. If you can't be a tastemaker, try to know a little about everything with regard to the below. If you can't do that, at least know where to find the answer, fast!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Your Indecisive, Forgetful, Disorganized Boss

"I have been doing very well in my new EA/Hybrid role. I work for absolutely one of the most disorganized individuals I have ever encountered. Brilliant, but horrifically disorganized. To the point where she blows the the binder system, the different color folder system, and I could go on. But the worst of them all is a lack of clarity in desired results, so that many times, we have to repeat a process 2-3 cycles before her team finally comes close to something she "may" want. HR has told me, she is the type that just wants to sign it and let me take control and its done. The issue is, I've tried this to some degree but find she is also the type that tends to quickly judge a person and dismiss a person and it depends on the day. I am sure some trust issues are there. Her favorite statement is..."It's the same old process that doesn't get any better." I believe that I can help here, but I am at odds on how to organize my day to stay on top of hers. For one thing my Executive Assistant role is a hybrid where I do a number of other items as well. But I believe support of her has become critical to the unit. How would you go about assisting "the disorganized on paper and in thought" executive?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Employment Lawyers, Attn to Detail, and the Assistant Mindset

“I am an executive assistant. I knew going in that my level of experience was low for what this job typically requires, but my bosses seemed aware of that and willing to allow me a learning curve.

I have been here less than a year, and my responsibilities have increased in some ways. However, I've also been brought in for reviews every three months and told that my attention to detail is lacking. I am not sure how to cultivate this skill or get better at it. They just re-evaluated me after giving me two weeks to improve and are holding up three minor mistakes I made as evidence of a continued problem. They claim that I haven't internalized the "assistant mindset" yet. Any ideas on how to best approach this?

Our HR director has also gotten anonymous complaints of a bad smell coming from me. However, it is inconsistent from day to day and no one can describe what it smells like. No one in my personal life can detect it at all! In good faith, I have spent a lot of money to remedy the problem, but I feel like I am being harassed. Would it be off base to talk to an employment lawyer?”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Phone Calls and Following Up Tips

"Hello! Could you give us some tips on how to deal with calls? Say when a client follows up something constantly, and you haven't had any instructions from your boss. Should I ask my boss or deal with it myself? Thanks."

Thank you for your question! I hope my answer will shed some light.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Even More Questions Answered

I am writing at another site while blogging here as well. I welcome questions at both places. It usually takes me a couple of days to answer questions, usually a week at the most. :) Thanks for your patience. Hope these answers help you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Answering More Reader Mail

I've started writing at another site answering questions related to my career. This week I've answered questions about horrible bosses, career trajectory, and working 24/7. If you ask me a question here or there, be as specific as possible about what you would like to know. Bookmark this page:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Tips and Tools for EAs?

"Do you have any suggestions for tools that would help in the day to day work? For example, I am about to start as an EA, and am a bit worried that I won't be able to write down everything my boss says. Do you use a voice recorder? Do you recommend any other tools?"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: From Lawyer to Executive Assistant?

“First of all I would like to say thank you for the wealth of incredibly useful and generous advice on your blog!

Secondly, I was hoping you might be able to extend that generosity to offer some specific advice for my own position. I am currently looking to transition into an executive assistant position and although I've knocked on a few doors I would like to put together something of a game plan before I really start approaching people. I like many aspects of my job, but the most important thing for me is working for the right company, in the right industry and with the potential for growth, and my current position offers none of those things.

I currently work as a lawyer and undertake every day many of the types of responsibilities that make up an executive assistant role, such as administration, communication, project management and so on, usually in a very demanding and high pressure context, and before this I worked in various communications/PR roles. Despite this, I get the feeling that convincing employers of my suitability for an executive assistant job is not going to be an easy task - in a competitive job market, employers don't want to hear about skills as much as they want to hear about experience in the field. From this perspective, I would really love to know whether you think a transition from my current position is feasible and, if so, what the best ways of communicating and building on my skills might be to land a job?

Thanks very much!”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Persistence vs Meddling

The past few years, the more I’ve become an adult, the more I’ve struggled with the concept of balance and drawing the line. It has taken up most of my “self reflection” time as I ponder how to make better decisions. Growing up in two different countries that are exactly the opposite, I have opposing views on how one should execute decisions and even how to think about a situation.

My cultural background is very dichotomous. One culture emphasizes never sticking out, not being different, nor going out on your own. The other believes being an individual, strong willed, and promoting yourself. While it may seem ideal to be well-rounded, it also makes it more difficult to figure out what to do and more importantly, when.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Seek Greener Pastures or Stay Put?

Since my last email to you, I have found an executive assistant position. I am very happy with my position, responsibilities, opportunity for learning and the support from all my colleagues and managers, but there is always the idea of greener pastures and higher salaries lingering in the back of my mind. I still have recruiters seeking me out for higher paying positions. While I do feel like I may not have enough experience for this particular role I am interviewing for, they are seeking specific skills that I do possess. I am bilingual and have experience in financial analysis/reporting and database management. A 20% increase in salary seems too good to pass up. Do you have any advice on what I should also consider? I'm not sure if a significant salary increase is a good enough reason to leave my current position I've been at for only 3 months.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Office Productivity - Effective Loitering & Dropping In

Whether you are an executive assistant or anyone needing face time with your boss or colleague, effective loitering and drop ins, also known as drive bys, are tactics you should employ. It means standing around and waiting while they finish up their conversation so you can swoop in unscheduled before the next meeting starts. Here are 10 tips I hope you find handy.