Tag Archives: Jan Jones Worldwide

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 11 – Can Executive Assistants be effective working remotely?

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and
executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed
international executive assistant to well-known business people,
including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless,
practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.


For the past three years, FlyPrivate has been a proud partner and associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do!

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1-10!

FlyPrivateCan executive assistants be effective if they are working remotely?  What about virtual assistants? Can executives have their business needs met by using remote or virtual assistants?

Jan Jones: As the old saying goes, “there’s horses for courses”.
Meaning depending on the circumstances or conditions, assistants can be effective working remotely and many executives can have their business needs met by using remotely-located or virtual
assistants. We should take a closer look at the circumstances under which executives could function effectively using assistants who are working remotely, or are virtual assistants, to determine how
effective they can be.

Let’s take working remotely first. Actually, this is not something new. I was recently speaking with a former CEO of an international fast food organization. He told me that in the 1980s, within a few months of each other, several of his company’s assistants became pregnant, or wanted to leave due to their childcare situations. Since they had been with the company a long time and he didn’t want to lose their years of experience, he set them up with computers in their homes. He told them, “I don’t care when or how you work, just get the work done and deliver it on time.”  Technology today makes computers affordable and the internet gives us immense freedom to work from just about anywhere we choose, so it makes sense that remote and virtual assistants are gaining in popularity.

But how suitable is it for an executive who needs a certain level of support from an assistant? I checked in with two of the best, most celebrated executive assistants I know: Penni Pike former assistant to Sir Richard Branson for 31 years and Debbie Gross who spent over 25 years as assistant to John Chambers, former CEO and
current Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems. Both ladies are
featured in my book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”.

Penni told me “Richard included me in everything”, which is how she came to know and understand the Virgin business and what
mattered most to her boss. When I asked her about assistants
working remotely she said, “I can’t understand that because I always worked so closely with Richard. He needed his assistant by his side. People at the very top have to have someone who works with them like that. Otherwise, if they need something urgently, the assistant is not there. Richard needs someone with him all the time.”

Debbie Gross said, “For administrative professionals, working
remotely has become more of the ‘norm’ in today’s business world partly due to the change in business models.  Many administrators support teams that are based around the world and are never
actually in a traditional office.  With the advance in video
technologies, it has definitely become easier to work remotely.

“That being said, one of the key roles I believe an administrator plays is their ability to build relationships across all levels and be the eyes and ears for the people they support.  Harder to do effectively from a ‘home-office’ environment. This was a critical component of my role supporting a CEO making working remotely not really an
option. John always expected me to be the ‘face’ of the office
especially when he traveled.  When he would check in while on the road he always asked how things were going at the office, so I felt it was key that I be present there. It was about noticing what was
going on around me with other members of the organization and
being able to feel the pulse and morale and share that with John.  He was pretty adamant that executive assistants be in the office, so I am not sure I would have been hired to support him if one of my
requirements was to work from home. Many senior level executives prefer to have their executive assistants in the office, especially the higher they are in their organizations.”

This has also been my experience in my career as an executive
assistant. My jobs were much too interactive with my boss, staff, clients and vendors for me to be outside the office. Like Debbie Gross, my executives counted on me to be their ‘eyes and ears’ and their ‘face’ to the world. Situations were constantly arising that needed my immediate attention. Leaving my desk to go pick up a sandwich at lunchtime could prove tricky. When I worked for bosses who were constantly traveling, on the rare days they were
scheduled to be in the office, I brought my lunch to work so I would not have to be away from my desk for more than a few minutes. Meetings were being set up, canceled or moved at a moment’s
notice, people would drop by unannounced, phone calls were being made, sometimes I was holding 2 or 3 calls at the same time, project approvals were needed, documents required signature, and there were always more travel arrangements to be made, changed or
canceled. Most executives I worked for were constantly calling out for me and I tried to always be within earshot, or have my assistant or someone listen out and let me know if I was being yelled for.  How would I have managed all this remotely?

I am currently working on a project with an assistant who is located remotely and I find it arduous. Work that should take 2 days is taking 5 or 6 due to the back and forth across international time zones. Yet, I am constantly meeting assistants who say they’ve negotiated with their executives to work remotely. Perhaps these executives have become accustomed to doing many tasks their assistants should be doing, or much of the work their assistants do for them is not of an urgent or time-sensitive nature.  Their assistants probably aren’t functioning as their liaison or deputy as I did, or as Gross and Pike did for their executives.

A big negative with the arrangement of assistants working remotely is the burden it places on assistants who are working at the office. I hear complaints that the remote assistants show themselves as “available”, but when they are contacted they don’t respond for hours, sometimes even an entire day goes by when they are not
responding to emails, texts or phone calls.  The urgency arises to schedule or re-schedule meetings, for example, but the assistant can’t be reached. If the executive is traveling, neither the executive nor their assistant can be reached and too much time is being spent by other assistants trying to contact them, cover for them, or
wasting time putting their own tasks on hold waiting for a response. I’ve inquired why these assistants don’t insist HR or the remote
assistant’s boss does something about it. HR tells them the boss agreed the assistant could work remotely when they hired them, so there’s nothing they can do. This is a cop-out by HR and the
executive. They must step up and consider the overall effects this situation has on the company. If this arrangement were impeding my workplace productivity, I would actively agitate for it to be changed. I would lobby HR not to allow executives to agree to letting their
assistants work remotely, but instead offer it as an option with
certain conditions, mainly that the assistant proves they are mature and responsible enough to warrant that privilege.

The bigger concern I have for assistants working remotely is how do they learn the business? How do they grow and expand in the role if they are not there to witness the daily ins and outs of the business environment? How do they develop a relationship of trust and
familiarity with their executive if they are not in physical proximity to each other? Ultimately, are they setting themselves up to become redundant? With warnings about A.I. and virtual assistants stepping in to fill many of the routine tasks assistants do, I would pay close
attention to developing skills and processes that make me more valuable and available to my executive.

The exception to this is assistants who have been with their
executive a long time, have built up a strong relationship with an
understanding of the business and each other. If the business is in a mature phase, or the executive’s role is such that they can be gone for periods of time, their assistants have the freedom to work remotely.

Penni mentioned that she thought assistants working remotely might get lonely. Debbie also addressed this from her experience at Cisco. “3 years ago I came to recognize that at Cisco, there was a whole administrative community that worked remotely and in
talking with several of these administrative professionals it became clear that they all felt a sense of isolation from the broader
administrative community.  As a result we pulled together this group and created an initiative known as G.R.A.C.E. – Global Remote
Administrators Connecting Effectively.  This is a group of remote
administrators who come together once a quarter to discuss the challenges they are facing, as well as review of best practices that help them feel connected.

“One of the key areas discussed was the challenge of developing a relationship with the leader because they were remote.  I strongly encourage administrative professionals who are working remotely to make it a point to travel to the corporate office at least once a year and even better, quarterly if they can, in order to ‘connect’ with their peers, meet the people they interface with across the
organization and become ‘visible’ – putting a face to the voice.  I also always suggest that remote administrators attend networking events and administrative conferences to learn and engage with
others in their profession. Working remotely certainly has its
advantages. However, administrative professionals can be even more effective by not isolating themselves. I feel that it is in our
administrative DNA that we connect with others and build strong relationships and that means we have to get out of ‘home-office’
environment to do that.  Many of Cisco’s G.R.A.C.E. members are now coming to the corporate office and networking with their peers, enriching their relationships and friendships and growing their knowledge and ultimately being of greater assistance to the leaders they support.”

Virtual Assistants: I often meet assistants who tell me they are
toying with the idea of trying out being a VA because they perceive it as a freeing experience. The purpose of including information about the VA profession in this article is to help assistants understand what it takes to survive and thrive as a VA.

Thanks to technology, there is a role for virtual assistants in the
business world. I remember from the pre-internet days, a friend of mine who worked at a large university would earn extra money
using her home computer to type students’ assignments, or
professors’ presentations. It stands to reason then, that with the freedom the internet offers us, that the virtual assistant profession would flourish.  Originally, this was a service that many
single-operator or small businesses used, but it is becoming more common for established businesses with ample resources to seek out the services of virtual assistants.

Penni Pike is an advisor for Time, etc., the virtual assistant service started in the UK, but now successfully established in the USA as well. Penni was brought on board by the company’s founder,
Barnaby Lashbrooke to guide them in setting up the business. He said Penni provided invaluable insight into how the EA-Executive
relationship should work and what kind of support executives need. Assistants chosen to work for Time, etc., go through a thorough
vetting process, not only for administrative skills, but for
inter-personal skills such as a client-focused viewpoint,
responsiveness to clients requests, attention to detail and so on. Their VAs are a mix of mid-to-high level, offering a range of skills that are “not all admin based, but include the strategic management side of business as well” said Barnaby.

He says the VA role is not suited for everyone. Many assistants are better suited to working in an office, so Time, etc., probes the prospective assistant’s reasons for wanting to be a VA. This is an
important aspect of the vetting process because it would be
disruptive if clients like working with a particular assistant and
develop an effective working relationship, only to find out the
assistant has moved on. Quality assistants with young families who need the flexibility of working from home, yet still need to bring in an income, are the most typical profile of a VA.

Anita Armas of Anita D. Armas Administrative Services from West Covina in California told me she started her VA business because she needed freedom and flexibility when she was looking for a way to be at home with her young children while still earning an income. Anita said, “I knew there was a way to use my skills and experience to do just that but wasn’t sure how, then I heard about virtual
assistants. My husband’s business was hit hard by the financial crisis of 2008 and I needed another way to bring in additional income, so I officially began marketing myself as a virtual assistant and I soon gained my first client.”

I asked Anita what mindset a person needs to be successful as a VA. “Aside from skills, in order to be successful as a virtual assistant one must be confident, resourceful, thick-skinned, adaptable, a great communicator and have a servant’s heart. As a VA business owner, my business success depends greatly on the success of my clients. A successful VA will not just be a “doer” but will be innovative and strategically invested in his or her clients business, in order to know how to best support their client. A willingness to learn and grow are key,” says Anita. She added that some of the pitfalls a VA can
experience include the client not seeing the VA as an autonomous business owner and leaning towards an employer/employee
mentality. The client feeling a sense of exclusivity, thinking they are the only client the VA has, and lack of communication between the VA and the client.

When assistants tell me they are considering becoming a VA, I
caution them that before they leave a secure, well-paying job with benefits and career advancement opportunities, they should
consider how the uncertainty of not immediately having a steady
income might impact them. They should consider whether or not they are cut out for working alone and whether they are sufficiently disciplined to get down to work every day when they have the
option to work at their own time and pace. It’s easy to romanticize being your own boss when you are operating from the safety of a
secure job. The reality of being self employed can be a wakeup call when you have to prospect for business, deal with unhappy clients, pay bills, collect payments and furnish your own healthcare. Many VAs thrive in the role and others, after a mild flirtation with
independence, gladly return to the security of a full time job.
Evaluate your skills, your disposition and your self-discipline
thoroughly before you venture into the VA world. It is not for
everyone, particularly if you decide not to work through a platform such as Time, etc., preferring to source business on your own.

What’s exciting about all this is the many options assistants of all
calibers and experience levels have at their disposal today.  When you get excited about the opportunities, be sure to think through the potential downsides, not just the upsides. Use this article to make a Pros and Cons list for yourself. I wish you success in whatever you decide.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones


We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Advertisements

Q & A with Jan Jones – Part 10 – Collaboration: How Executive Assistants Help Build A Strong Company Culture

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1Part 9!

FlyPrivate: To what extent does it make sense to collaborate with other executive assistants to meet common company-wide goals?

Jan Jones: Assistants collaborating with each other makes complete sense! Communication and cooperation are essential attributes of an effective executive assistant. It cannot be otherwise because the role of the executive assistant includes being a facilitator and a
communication channel for their executive and their organization. Assistants play a vital role in reminding the organization they must do what’s in the best interest of the entire company, not just a
particular department or division.

We know that fully engaged employees have higher productivity
levels, resulting in reduced absenteeism and higher profitability.
Collaborative assistants can have an impact in this regard. It could be as simple as engaging in regular conversations with assistants in other departments. Talk about how your division is functioning. What strategies are you implementing? What challenges are you
experiencing? What projects are getting bogged down? Who are some of the star performers on the team? Who needs coaching?
Research shows that most managers don’t engage in strategy
discussions with their colleagues in other departments. An assistant who engages with fellow assistants can serve to close that
information gap. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be about work. Take time to get to know each other on a personal level. Being part of an organization means you have common goals.
Collaborating to achieve those goals is smart business. As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

We’ve all seen examples of assistants playing a role in bringing groups together. They work across boundaries and promote cross-department collaboration. They don’t buy into petty jealousies and suspicions. As a conduit to top management, they can help far-flung departments and locations feel less isolated. As a repository of
information many others don’t have, the EA is able to
judiciously offer guidance and input to other departments.

Sometimes assistants tell me that sharing information isn’t always welcomed. People feel threatened, or disloyal to their team if they share what’s going on. In these circumstances, trust needs to be built. If you use the information they share to get results for them, or improve their circumstances, they will certainly start to trust you and work with you. Without betraying confidentiality, I’m always willing to share information that is needed to get the job done, or, indeed, to make life easier for others. If you know a way to make a situation better, then do so. You’ll enjoy the wellbeing you feel from it.

I’m reminded of an assistant who told me about starting a job at a technology giant. The culture of the organization encouraged people to be fiercely competitive, always vying to get ahead at someone else’s expense. She said no assistant would help her for fear that she would look better than they did, or get ahead faster than they did. You were on your own. I can’t imagine working in such a brutal
environment where everyone is out for themselves. The company’s objectives are subverted by employees protecting their turf. Imagine what a breath of fresh air a capable, confident assistant who is not threatened by others and wants to cooperate would be to an
organization like that? It would cause a huge paradigm shift. It might feel like a herculean task, but such an assistant would catapult
themselves into a higher level position the minute the company starts to feel the effects of this assistant’s outreach. Believe me. I’ve done it. It takes megatons of passion and energy and not everyone is up for it, but if you are, don’t hesitate. The rewards are immense and you’ll grow in stature and ability.

I saw an article by EA trainer, Adam Fidler, which referenced
assistants befriending each other. Adam said, “Share your knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm far and wide. The more you give out the more you get back. Share all your best tips and experience with another EA. Being secretive and defensive creates the wrong energy and if you take the time to share information, and work as a team-spirited EA, you’ll command respect and be seen as a true professional.”

The nature of the EA role is to act as a hub. This means assistants are poised to share information, facilitate decision-making and help avoid bottlenecks, whether it is inter-department, or company-wide. Helping someone in another department gets the job done faster. It facilitates transparency, gives you insight into how they function and where inefficiencies may lie that you can help overcome. When
executives see you working with their assistant, or if they know they can finally get a long-awaited answer simply by their assistant
picking up the phone to you, they’ll notice. Make no mistake about it. They’ll be talking about you in the boardroom as someone who makes things happen. This is how, step-by-step, you get your seat at that proverbial table that many assistants lust after.

One thing that may affect assistants being able to perform this
function of facilitator is the number of assistants who say they don’t read their executives’ emails, and who meet with their executives once a week or less. If you are working like this, you are subject to only knowing what the executive shares with you, or picking up
information indirectly. If you are to serve as a conduit throughout the organization, you must be on top of what’s going on, otherwise you will not be as effective in that role. Another factor is assistants who are so widely focused on interacting with the organization at large that they forget who they are in place to support. Don’t neglect your responsibilities to your primary team members in your quest to be a company-wide ally. Your immediate team must remain your first priority. Keep them supported, assured and strengthened in the knowledge that you are firmly invested in the partnership. With this assurance, they will support and encourage your efforts to be a
company-wide resource.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 9 – “Multitasking”

 

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1Part 8!

FlyPrivate: We’ve been hearing lately that “multitasking” is a myth and we should stop trying to do too many things at once. But I recall you saying that being good at multitasking was vital to your success as an executive assistant. Can you clarify? 

Jan Jones: Yes, and I fully believe that, but I should clarify and make the distinction about “multitasking” as it pertains to the executive assistant, as opposed to executives and others.

We now have scientific evidence that multitasking is impossible for our brains and that, in fact, when we think we are multitasking what’s happening is that our brains are almost instantaneously switching back and forth from one task to another. It happens so fast that we are mistaken into thinking we are doing more than one thing at a time. And this is easy to prove. Try giving your full attention to reading an important document at the same time you are trying to pay complete attention to a phone call you are having. You will soon become aware that both tasks are suffering and you have to stop one of them.

So when I say that being good at multitasking was vital to my success as an EA, I mean that my ability to switch back and forth between tasks, at a remarkably rapid pace, was crucial to my ability to
succeed in my job and I’m sure that is the case for many EAs. I’ve
observed people trying to “multitask”, and many people are horrible at it. They get confused when trying to do more than one thing at a time. But for me, and outstanding assistants I’ve observed, it’s a piece of cake.

Something else vital for assistants is that there is evidence, as
published in Scientific American in April 2010, that the brain can keep tabs on two tasks at once, even though we can’t actually do two tasks at once. I think this ability to keep tabs on two tasks at once is crucial to EAs being successful in their job. I liken it to sleeping with one eye open. You’ve always got your eye on things. Nothing escapes your attention. When all those balls you are juggling are up in the air, you’ve got your eye on them to make sure nothing gets dropped. This is a remarkable talent and one that I think is highly developed in the best EAs.

The world of the EA is one of constant interruptions, and if you
support more than one executive, that’s even more applicable to you. But that’s the nature of our job. We don’t have the luxury of
taking ourselves off to some quiet corner where we can focus on one thing at a time, as the experts are constantly advising executives to do. We have to operate in the thick of it all day and everyday, so we must get better and better at making our brains rapidly switch back and forth from task to task.

What will increase your effectiveness is your ability to focus. The ability to switch back to the task you were doing originally, and quickly get right back into the thick of it is key. Yes, science has proved you lose time when you multitask because your brain has to switch back into the mode you were in before the interruption. So, learn to make up for those precious lost seconds by recovering quickly and regaining your focus when you have to get back to the task you were working on. Improve your ability to focus quickly. The ability to focus and not give way to needless distractions is a skill
assistants must develop, especially in this day and age where smart phones are purposely designed to distract us by keeping us addicted to checking them constantly.

This is not a joke.  Some brave souls who work in the technology
arena are now speaking up about the way devices are programmed in order to addict us to our devices.  We need to be vigilant about this so our devices don’t rule our lives in a negative way, destroying our ability to focus and putting us into overload. I urge EAs to read the 60 Minutes piece on “Brain Hacking” where former Google product manager, Tristan Harris discusses how Silicon Valley
exploits neuroscience to keep us addicted to technology.  It is a real eye opener.

Multitasking, even as we understand it scientifically today, will
continue to be the lifeblood of exceptional executive assistants so I say to assistants, don’t stop multitasking, get really good at it.
Develop your ability to focus. It is a life-saving skill for assistants. Practice treating the project you need to focus on as an obsession – as if it is something you really want to do to the exclusion of all else. Once you master this skill, you won’t resent interruptions because your exceptional ability to focus will help you to quickly get back on track.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 8

Photo Credits: http://money.usnews.com/

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1Part 7!

FlyPrivate: When interviewing for an EA position, how do you
determine how much you would be worth in the position and what salary is warranted based on the responsibilities of the job?

Jan Jones: If possible, ask other assistants who are in a similar
position if they would be willing to share an approximate number with you, or you could share a number you have in mind and ask if they would be satisfied with that salary for the job they are doing. Be subtle about it.  People aren’t going to tell you exactly what they are earning, but fellow EAs will probably be willing to give you some guidelines.  There are numerous resources online where you can do a search, but those salary ranges tend to be broad and they may just be a starting point.

The EA role varies considerably from position to position, so there is no one size fits all.  You should factor in your years of experience and your expertise in that particular role.  If you are a top-level EA who will be working long hours, be required to perform executive level duties and make executive level decisions, your salary requirements will be much higher than a mid-range assistant who does tasks as
assigned and isn’t required to make high-level decisions.  If you’ve got a track record established as having exceptional skills and
accomplishing executive level tasks without supervision, your salary expectations would be higher and warranted.  Do you have
supervisory or managerial experience that would be a bonus for the job? Do you have any degrees or diplomas that add to your value? Where are you located?  Salaries in big cities are typically higher than smaller towns, but there are exceptions, so do your homework.

Be flexible in your negotiations and consider what benefits are being offered which might offset lower salary compensation.  If you are being asked to accept a lower salary than you would like and you feel the position is worth it, ask for a review in 90 or 120 days at which time you would expect them to meet your salary requirements
because that would be sufficient time to demonstrate your worth.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 7

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1Part 6!

FlyPrivate: Executive Assistants do what their boss asks, but
sometimes a situation arises where the assistant feels they can’t oblige because they are being asked to meet unrealistic deadlines, or the tasks are not clearly defined.  Some assistants have said that they say “no” to their boss, others say they may be inclined to “push back” on certain
requests that they consider unreasonable.  In these situations how would you advise assistants to respond to such requests?

Jan Jones: Being an executive assistant requires a lot of flexibility. Assistants are constantly being asked to shift priorities, or meet deadlines that crop up unexpectedly.  These things are part and
parcel of the assistant’s job.  If your boss is asking you to perform a task that relates to your job, or is part of your job description, then saying “no” or pushing back would not be the first option to consider without an extremely valid reason for doing so.

I understand that Millennials want more autonomy and control over work conditions, but saying “no” or pushing back on legitimate work requests is not somewhere you should make it a habit of expressing your individuality, because you could end up losing your job if you are perceived as uncooperative or insubordinate.

Let’s take a closer look at some examples where assistants might consider “pushing back”, and explore options that are more
productive than pushing back, or saying no.

Unreasonable Deadlines

Let’s say you’ve been given a huge amount of work that has to be completed by a specific deadline.  If you are unable or unsure of how to prioritize the work, ask your executive for guidance.  Explain that it is going to take a certain amount of time to do the tasks and you need to know which of the tasks is absolutely vital to get done to meet the deadline.

If you have an unreasonable executive who insists that all of it has to get done immediately and has equal priority, then tell the executive you are going to use your best judgment to determine which of the tasks has the highest priority. Quickly draft up the order of priority and ask your executive for input.  If you can’t get input, just get
started and do your best.  If they are not satisfied with the decisions you made, ask them how they would have prioritized so you will know in future and politely say that investing a little bit of time to guide you would have been helpful in getting the job done to their satisfaction.

EAs often ask me how to prioritize work when supporting several executives.  To do this effectively, at the outset you must establish a procedure for how you are going to prioritize everyone’s work.
Typically, the executive who is more senior gets a higher priority. If they are part of a team, likely they would know which project and which team member’s task should get priority in order to complete a project by deadline. If each one is saying their work is high priority, and if they are being unreasonable, if you are unable to determine by yourself which task should get the highest priority, then go to their boss and ask for guidance.  Politely make it clear you need help in
order to do the most effective job possible.  If speaking with their boss is not an option, then go to the executive who is typically the most reasonable of the bunch and ask for help.  Explain that you want to make everyone happy, but you simply can’t do all the tasks at the same time, so what do they suggest?

If no one is cooperating, respectfully ask them to work it out among themselves and get back to you as quickly as possible so you can move forward on the right track. That would be the most “push back” from an assistant that I would advise.

In the meantime, get started according to your understanding of which is the most important project.  Worst case, you will have to stop working on the task you selected as being important, and have to start something else.  But assistants are used to interruptions and switching quickly from one priority to another. Always behave
professionally, even if you want to wring their necks.

When things have calmed down, have another discussion with that team and reiterate that you want to do the best for them, but you must have their cooperation in sorting out how work is to be prioritized.

These are some reasons why it is important for the assistant to
understand the business they are in.  Having an understanding of the workings of the business lets the assistant make better judgments about which tasks are a priority.  When you understand the reason for why you are being asked to do something, there is less inclination to “push back” or say “no”, because you see the bigger picture of why something is necessary and needs to get done.  Then you pitch in enthusiastically.

When your executives see you taking an interest in knowing the business, they will start working collaboratively with you, rather than simply giving you instructions and asking you to carry them out. You may soon find that the unreasonable requests are diminishing, and your executives start to treat you with a new level of respect.

Last-Minute Emergencies

There are times when executives haven’t planned sufficiently and are asking you to do things at the last minute, which may involve staying late, or changing your personal plans.  If there is a day when you absolutely have to leave by a certain time, be proactive and give your team plenty of notice that you have to leave and will not be able to take on any last-minute jobs. Then there’s no question of pushing back because you’ve told them in plenty of time you will not be
available.  If your executive has a habit of giving you things at the last minute, discuss with them that you can’t always accommodate last-minute requests.  Ask what you can do to help the executive plan their day. Sometimes last minute requests are completely
unavoidable because things do crop up unexpectedly. Do your best to oblige without being resentful. You are better off with a
reputation for being cooperative than for pushing back or saying no.

Not Part of Your Job Description

So what? If you are being asked to do things that are not part of your job description, consider the nature of the request and who is
asking.  Always consider the bigger picture.  Even if it’s not in your job description, it could lead to something bigger and better for you.  Maybe it gives you a chance to work on a project that expands your sphere of influence.  It could give others in the company exposure to you.  Let them see you at your best and spread the word about how outstanding your work is and how cooperative you are.  How would that hurt you?

At one job I had, once in a while our CEO’s housekeeper was away and he’d bring his dog to work.  A few times during the day I would take the dog out for a quick walk.  Certainly not something in my job description, but as assistant to the CEO I knew the value of his time so I was happy to do that for him and he was grateful that he didn’t have to stop what he was doing to take the dog out. If you can be generous, be generous.  It makes everyone feel good and people
remember you for it.

Instead of being quick to “push back” or say “no”, find a way to get the job done even if it requires some sacrifice on your part. I’m not saying make yourself a martyr, but if you can accommodate
requests, do so.

Take a lesson from comedian, Tina Fey who said: “Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” Why? “Because the fun is always on the other side of the ‘yes’.” Not just in your job, but in your life, stop
pushing back and start saying “yes”.  For EAs who are reading this, some day I’d love to hear your success stories about the miraculous journey on which that simple word “yes” has taken you.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

 

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 6

Two business colleagues reading a document

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1Part 5!

How Did Your Experience as an EA Influence Your Career Growth Opportunities?

FlyPrivate: For 20 years you were an Executive Assistant for several high profile business professionals. You then started your own business. Is it an easy transition for EAs to start their own business?

Jan Jones: I wish I could tell you I had a plan and I could lay out the steps for everyone to follow, but that’s not how it happened.  My
final role as an executive assistant was working for Tony Robbins, the world-famous personal development icon. I actually didn’t have any plans to quit that job and start a business, but the opportunity to start a business came my way and I took it. When people found out I had left Tony, they started calling and asking me to work for them. I had some extremely lucrative offers but they would have required me to relocate, so I turned them down. Before long I was introduced to author Michael Gerber, the small business guru, and I was
privileged to serve as his exclusive representative for 10 years. So it was a natural progression that I found myself evolving into a
speakers bureau which sends business experts and celebrities to speak at events around the world.

Starting a business was something I fell into, much like my career as an executive assistant.  It was not my ambition to be an assistant when I was thinking about a career.  It evolved over time and I’m glad it did because the EA role has enabled me to earn a living in many parts of the world, as well as giving me a breadth of experience and access to high places that few other professions can provide. I urge EAs to truly grasp the extraordinary opportunities this profession can offer for long term career development.

The reason opportunities came to me is because I had a reputation for excellence – working with Robbins, working with Gerber, people who knew me in those roles sought me out.  So if there is a secret I can share with EAs it is be known as someone who is at the top of their game, because then people can’t help but notice you for all the right reasons.

I’ve said it repeatedly, much of the reason I’m successful in my
business is because every day I use the skills I learned as a high level executive assistant. I go to extreme lengths to produce results for my clients just as I did for my bosses. I don’t easily take no for an
answer and I follow up meticulously. Things don’t get dropped or
overlooked. I keep my commitments and people know they can rely on me to do what I say.  I gained a reputation for all these traits when I was an assistant.

I hope I’m not giving the impression that starting and succeeding in your own business is an easy transition from EA to business owner. The going hasn’t always been easy. You need an appetite for risk.  There are times when you will be flush and times when you will be skint. You need a good product, the ability to market yourself, find good projects, be a good negotiator. You must be able to cope with uncertainty and weather the highs and lows of business cycles and manage cash flow.  It takes much more than being a capable
administrator.  Another secret for EAs is establish networks and keep up the ones you have. Don’t burn bridges. Business is about
relationships.  Whether you remain an EA or start a business, foster relationships, grow your connections.  Get out of the virtual world and into the real world of real people. Develop your social skills and the art of conversation. Broaden your interests.

FlyPrivate: Do you feel your book, “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” is more for executives, or for their assistants, or perhaps both?

Jan JonesWell, I am an assistant at heart and I can say categorically that the reason I’m able to function successfully in my business is due to my background as a high level EA for so many years. But I’m also a business owner so I know what a business owner needs from an assistant, and I was able to marry the two in this book.  As an
assistant I was fortunate to be exposed to successful entrepreneurs, learning from them, absorbing their habits, learning calculated risk-taking, learning to trust my instincts, learning that everything that related to the business was my business. I had to know the
business inside and out if I was to represent my bosses seamlessly and make important decisions on their behalf. I never said ‘this is not my job’. I never said ‘no’ to my boss.  That would have been
unthinkable. Everything was always an opportunity to learn and showcase my boss in the best possible light.

When I started my business, I was disappointed to find many famous executives had poor quality assistants.  Obviously, these executives did not know what to look for in an assistant.  When they don’t know what to look for, odds are high they won’t know how to effectively utilize a top assistant either. My book evolved out of my desire to not only help executives to hire correctly and work effectively with their assistant, but also to help assistants learn what they need to do to step up their game.  These skills will be there for you if you
venture out on your own.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 5

Signing documents

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4!

Iconic Business Leaders Make Smart Use of Their Assistants

FlyPrivate: Why write a book about EAs specifically for executives?

Jan Jones: My book is called “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and their Assistants Maximize Productivity and
Effectiveness”.  I decided to target my book to executives because they are the ones who need to learn the value an exceptional
assistant can bring to their lives. Assistants know the significant role they play, but many executives and business owners have no idea how to work effectively with an assistant. They don’t know what an outstanding resource a top assistant can be to them, to help relieve them of day-to-day matters that are not a good use of their time. Executives need to learn to delegate, they need to learn how to work effectively with an assistant, but most important, they need to know what a top-quality assistant looks like, meaning what qualities and characteristics an assistant must have in order to best serve the
executive, whether it is a junior, mid-level, or senior role.  I dedicate a significant amount of space in the book to the chapters that discuss “the tangible and intangible characteristics” of an exceptional EA and I explain why they should matter to an executive.

Something else that executives and business owners often don’t
realize is that their assistant is their “face” to the world.  Through the assistant, people can get a favorable or unfavorable impression of an executive and the organization.  Since executives should always be putting their best foot forward, it is crucial that they engage an
assistant who is at all times conveying an air of professionalism, competence a willingness to be of service and enthusiasm for the job.  They need an assistant who is fully invested in the job, who is committed to getting things done and to showcasing their executive in the best possible light.

FlyPrivate: Tell us about some of the famous business leaders you have interviewed.

Jan Jones: In addition to world-class executive assistants, I was
fortunate to interview some of the world’s top business icons for my book, including Sir Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Steve Forbes, management gurus Marshall Goldsmith, Ken Blanchard, Simon Sinek, as well as Cisco Systems’ CEO, John Chambers, who wrote the Foreword to my book with such clarity and understanding of the role his long-time, wonderful assistant Debbie Gross has played in his life.  In fact, if executives only read the Foreword to my book, that in itself is an eye-opening lesson on what an assistant can do for an executive if the executive is smart enough to find someone who is capable of working with them as a strategic partner, not just in a
hierarchical way.  There are interviews with many successful CEOs who might not be world-famous, but who have managed to create a wonderful partnership with their assistants.  By “partnership” I mean the idea that we support each other, we are teammates, we have each other’s backs.

FlyPrivateHow do these business leaders maximize effectiveness
utilizing their assistants?  What benefit does the EA derive from the
relationship?

Jan Jones: One of my favorite examples is from the best-selling
author, Joseph Michelli, who told me his assistant, Lynn, made him richer because she increased his portfolio and keeps him on track with their business plan.  When he gets enthusiastic about some new opportunity, she says to him, “let’s see how this fits our business plan and our goals for this year.”  The great thing about Joseph is he listens to his assistant. He doesn’t say, “Well, I’m the boss and this is what I want to do so we are going to do it.”  He respects Lynn and her advice and he rewards her well.  How many executives can say that their assistant has made them richer?  Joseph was extremely smart when he was choosing Lynn and understanding the value she could bring to him.

Donald Trump had the best assistant I have ever had the privilege to meet, and I have met assistants of famous celebrities, famous
executives, government officials from all over the world.  She was truly in a class all by herself, the best ambassador an executive could have.  She retired after working for Mr. Trump for almost 30 years.  In addition to being Mr. Trump’s assistant, she was also a Vice
President at the Trump Organization. I wish more executives
understood the value of a high-caliber assistant like Mr. Trump does.   Mr. Trump told me he admired the fact that she was able to assess situations and take independent action.  Because he is so busy, he appreciated her ability to handle things without having to interrupt him.  She had a lot of courage and  “was a straight shooter – someone who will tell it like it is.  Norma would never take the easy way out and she always had my best interests in mind.”  Some advice for assistants from Mr. Trump: “If you need to ask the boss
something, ask yourself the question first.  A lot of times you’ll know the answer already and save your boss time.”

Steve Forbes, the publisher of Forbes Magazine told me,  “My
assistant has a good head on her shoulders and can make judgment calls that come from experience. When she is away, something that seemed smooth is anything but smooth if she’s not there to make sure it happens.”

Simon Sinek, the popular TED speaker and author told me that he views his relationship with his assistant “as an essential partnership.  I don’t see my work as more important or less important than hers.  I see our work as mutually beneficial.”

John Chambers said “I wanted a business partner who could help me to run my business and manage my day-to-day activities, who I can trust and who literally runs my life.”  He interviewed 17 assistants before choosing Debbie Gross.  She has been with him 24 years.

The assistants who work for these executives have a fierce passion for excellence and mirror their high-functioning bosses.  They reflect the boss’ high energy, confidence and decision-making skills.   They are an extension of the boss and enjoy the exhilaration of
achievement and a job well done.  Desire to succeed and be their best is everything.  They understand whom they represent and never let their standards fall.  Exceptionalism is everything to them.  It’s in their blood.  You have to embody this level of excellence and commitment. This is what it takes to support an executive at the highest levels.

FlyPrivateHow can other executives mirror these iconic business
leaders?

Jan JonesTake time to find the assistant who is the best fit for your needs.  To do this, follow the advice I lay out in my book about how to find the right person, how to work with that person and how to nurture the relationship so the assistant will stay and grow with the business.  Analyze your work style.  The executives I interviewed in my book were not afraid to say “this is what I need in an assistant, because this is how I am, this is how I work”. Be honest about your personality and work habits so you can find someone who will suit you.  Make a list of what is not negotiable for you in an assistant.  These are your “must haves”, whether it is technical skills or
personality traits. Try to keep the job interesting and challenging by delegating to your assistant and including your assistant in your
decision making.  Understand that if an executive chooses an
assistant with talent and skill, the assistant can add massive value by managing the executive’s day-to-day business activities.
Particularly, the assistant can handle many matters that are not a good use of the executive’s time.  When I was interviewing Steve Forbes, he said, “part of being an effective leader is knowing what your value add is, focusing your time on that and figuring how you delegate other things.  Even if you believe you can do a task better than someone else, it might not be a good use of your time. Good leadership demands that you put together an effective team.”  For a busy executive that teambuilding should start with an exceptional assistant.

While my book is geared to executives, I want assistants to
understand that they have to strive to be exceptional at their job.  We all have different capabilities, but everyone should make certain that they are dedicated, professional and always looking for ways to improve, learn and make their boss look good.  The best assistants are cheerleaders for the boss and for the company.  Other
employees feel motivated and inspired by them.  They have a
reputation for excellence, discretion, reliability, honesty and getting the job done.  They make their boss and the team feel secure.  I am inspired by this quote from noted Sicilian chef Guiseppe Carollo.  For me it sums up the passion an assistant must feel about their job:  Solo chi ha veramente tanta passione può fare bene questo lavoro. (Only those who have a lot of passion will be able to do this job well).

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

This interview originally appeared in Secretary.it Magazine.  It has been modified for re-print for the FlyPrivate blog, by Jan Jones. All rights reserved.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

How the World’s Best Leaders Enhance Their Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4!

Jan Jones: The world’s best leaders know how to get things done by skillfully utilizing the talents of the people around them. One of the best examples of this is the relationship successful leaders enjoy with their high-performing executive assistants.

Leaders know how to choose the right person for the job.  As Jim Collins wrote in his book “Good to Great”, leaders start by getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats.  In my book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”, I interviewed global
business leaders such as Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Steve Forbes, John Chambers and others, who repeatedly demonstrated this knack of hiring the right person who could operate as a
“seamless extension of the executive”©. In the case of these business leaders, all their assistants have been with them well over 20 years, and sometimes, over 30 years.  Donald Trump told me, “I have good instincts but I always believe every hire is a gamble.”  Knowing
yourself, your work habits and your work style are key.  In discussing hiring his assistant, Norma Foerderer, who was with him over 25 years before she retired, Trump told me, “I needed someone strong because I work quickly and am demanding because of that. I also needed a straight shooter—someone who will tell it like it is. I’m that way and I can’t have someone who isn’t. Every boss appreciates someone who is honest with them.”

So, how do these global business icons manage to get so much done through the smart use of their assistants?  Here are some
suggestions for how an executive can do the same in their business.

Give Them Access:  Give your assistant complete access to you.  Let them learn by observing your decision making process, your moods, why you like or dislike something.  This perspective will give them a compass for how to act on your behalf. Confident of what you would want, they won’t hesitate to act as your proxy.

Give Them Autonomy:  Great leaders know when to become
immersed in the details and when they should let someone else take the lead.  If you’ve hired the right person, let them do their job.  Trust them. Don’t second-guess what they do.  As General Patton
reportedly said, “Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”  In the case of exceptional executive assistants, you don’t even need to do that.  Simply share your vision with them and trust their experience, skills and creativity to take it from there.

Give Them Confidence:  When you trust people, you build their
confidence and encourage initiative. I was fortunate in my positions as assistant to successful business leaders such as peak performance strategist, Tony Robbins, to be allowed considerable latitude in how I did my job.  Then the job becomes exciting because you care for it and run it as you would your own business. Richard Branson’s
former assistant, Penni Pike, told me that after many years of
working in close quarters with Branson, one day he told her to take all his most important papers and move back to the houseboat from where they worked earlier. She said that while it felt strange to be away from him in the beginning, it came to feel like she was running her own business. In fact, the experience I gained through being trusted by my bosses and working independently, gave me
considerable confidence when I started my own business, because decision making and going out on a limb were not new to me.

Give Them Kudos:  Management consultant Peter Drucker told me he didn’t have much interest in discussing assistants with me
because his focus was on strategy and assistants don’t create
strategy.  If he were alive today, I think Mr. Drucker would be
pleasantly surprised to see the role many assistants are playing in helping their executives define strategy because of the strategic
position an assistant to a leader occupies in an organization. The
assistant is often privy to information that would never make it to the ears of the CEO unless the assistant told them.  Who is doing or saying what, how employees are reacting to new directives, much of this is communicated to the CEO by their assistant, whose finger is on the pulse of the organization.  Smart leaders take note of their
assistant’s recommendations.  Management guru Marshall
Goldsmith commented in my book, “Executives should get in the habit of asking their assistants, ‘How can I be a better partner in our relationship’, then listen, learn and act on the assistant’s ideas.”

Give Them Respect:  Every top influential business leader I’ve had the privilege of knowing or hearing about, shows courtesy and
consideration to their assistant – in public and private.  They don’t disrespect their assistant and they don’t let others disrespect their assistant. I remember, as a young assistant, telling my CEO boss that someone had been rude to me.  My boss immediately called him
saying that when I called, this person needed to speak to me as if he were speaking to my boss. That experience taught me that bosses back up their people.  As much as the assistant “has the boss’ back”, the boss should do the same.

Give Them Gratitude:  Acknowledge the immense job your assistant is doing on your behalf.  Time after time, great business leaders have told me they could never do what they do without their assistant.  As Ken Blanchard remarked in my book, “Assistants give you the
capacity to do so much more.”  Remember to express your thanks, show consideration and once in a while, look for ways to reward them.

Develop these habits and you will have learned some of the secrets that for generations have enabled exceptional leaders to function at optimum levels, working effectively with their exceptional
assistants.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

This article originally appeared in Leadership Now, December 2015.  Copyright Jan Jones.  All rights reserved.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 4

Busy EA

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Enjoy Part 4 and catch up on Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3!

FlyPrivate: What are the top 5 traits an EA should have in order to
succeed?

Jan Jones: In my book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”, I devote 3
chapters to discussing the Crucial Characteristics of an Exceptional Executive Assistant. I categorize the traits into the “tangible” and “intangible” characteristics that make up an exceptional executive assistant, because I’m convinced that what sets the exceptional
executive assistant apart from other assistants are these intangible traits which can be hard to quantify, particularly for an executive who has not had an assistant before.

  • The Ability to Anticipate: The executives and assistants I
    interviewed for my book all said that anticipation is the number one most desirable characteristic of an exceptional executive
    assistant. Anticipating by constantly looking ahead and beyond what is happening now, so that the executive is always protected from any unwanted surprises. Executives who had assistants with good anticipation skills could not praise their assistants highly enough and gave numerous accounts of how their assistants saved the day and averted potential trouble. They repeatedly used the phrase “my assistant has my back”.
  • Resourcefulness: I rank resourcefulness equal first with
    anticipation. Both traits require assistants to be solution oriented and quick on their feet. Being able to look ahead is vital, but being able to take action to avert a mishap, to know what to do, whom to call, which direction to go, this ability is crucial if you are to get the problem fixed, often without the executive even knowing there was a problem. That’s what makes a resourceful assistant so valuable. Publisher Steve Forbes told me his assistant is
    “always figuring out how to get things done”. An exceptional
    assistant doesn’t just identify a problem, they fix it. And their
    talent isn’t limited to fixing problems. Just as vital, they have the ability to look ahead and see opportunities that will benefit the company. I give examples in my book about forward-looking
    assistants who saved their companies money by being
    resourceful.

Other top traits include:

  • Decision-Making Ability: This allows the assistant to step in for their boss when necessary. Being able to make good decisions means the assistant must understand the business and the
    industry their company is in and understand thoroughly what
    decision their boss would make. This is why I say an exceptional executive assistant is a seamless extension of the executive. There is no doubt that what the assistant is saying or doing is what the executive would say or do. It goes beyond confidence. It means the assistant must have a firm grasp of the business and think like the executive would. They must have excellent “big
    picture” skills to be able to grasp the vision and objectives so they can make effective decisions. None of this is possible unless the executive and assistant communicate frequently and take time to meet face-to-face as often as possible. Face-to-face meetings
    allow the assistant to pick up on subtle clues about their boss that they can’t get from electronic communication.
  • Organizational Skills: You can’t manage an executive or a team if you can’t manage yourself. The ability to create and keep order is a vital skill for an executive assistant who must be able to put their hands on whatever they need at a moment’s notice. In
    addition to an orderly workspace, all files must be up-to-date, the status of all projects must be readily known, work inflow and out flow handled quickly, outstanding issues followed up and
    status updated or finalized. Nothing can be allowed to fall through the proverbial cracks.
  • Focused & Detail Oriented: Because assistants are constantly being pulled in many directions, they must have excellent ability to focus, to quickly re-group after distractions and get back on track. Exceptional executive assistants are obsessive about
    attention to detail, whether it’s sending out error-free
    correspondence, or having good spelling and grammar. An
    exceptional assistant knows how to apply the apostrophe
    correctly and never confuses “your” with “you’re”.
  • Communication Skills: Exceptional executive assistants
    communicate with clarity and have strong speaking and writing skills. Since they are frequently speaking on behalf of their boss, they must communicate in a clear manner which conveys that they are in command, but also conveys approachability. The
    assistant must remember they are not the boss, they are the boss’ spokesperson. It carries a big responsibility and the tone and
    intent of the message must be accurate if the assistant is to
    engender credibility and respect.
  • High Energy and Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm for the job and a
    willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. A
    whatever-it-takes approach to the job is a major factor that
    separates an exceptional EA from the rest. An exceptional EA is a champion and cheerleader for their boss and their company,
    because many employees use the assistant to the CEO as a barometer of the company’s success and progress, or lack of it. High energy is imperative if you are going to keep pace with a
    demanding boss who is juggling a hundred balls and keeps tossing them to you.

Add in trust, integrity, loyalty, a strong sense of responsibility,
diplomacy, and many other traits that I expand upon in my book, to scratch the surface of the characteristics that help the assistant function as the “eyes and ears” as well as the “right arm” of their
executive. It’s what makes them so highly prized by the executive who understands the value they bring. Donald Trump told me, “I know my assistant can handle anything that comes along.” How
reassuring for an executive to have that level of certainty about their assistant. How satisfying for an assistant to know they are enjoying that level of trust from their boss.

Author: Jan Jones

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Q & A with Jan Jones: Part 3

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Enjoy Part 3 and catch up on Part 1 and Part 2!

FlyPrivate: How transparent with your business objectives and
personal objectives should you be in order to get the most out of the working relationship? Are there certain things you shouldn’t entrust an EA with and handle yourself instead?

Jan Jones: It depends on the job level. An assistant to a CEO for
example, is typically privy to more confidential business and
personal information than an assistant to a mid-level manager. Do a thorough job when hiring your assistant so you can feel confident about giving them information. It may take a while for the
executive to feel comfortable with full transparency. It will certainly depend on the maturity level of the assistant and whether the
assistant shows they can be trusted with information. The greater the transparency the more effective the assistant can be in getting the job done. I have taken phone calls from lawyers, accountants and others who needed urgent responses while my bosses were away. I was able to help them because my bosses kept me fully informed. There was 100% transparency because I proved worthy of it. Use your judgement about what you are sharing, but generally, if you can’t be transparent with your assistant, they should not be working for you. If you have trust issues and are unwilling to take your
assistant into your confidence, learn to work through those issues so your assistant can represent you effectively. Many assistants are more trustworthy and capable than they are given credit for.

Speaking about his assistant Debbie Gross in my book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”, John Chambers, the executive chairman and
former CEO of Cisco Systems said “From our first day together I let her know that my office, files and everything in my business life were hers to manage and that I had complete trust in her capabilities”. The Chambers/Gross relationship is the epitome of transparency and teamwork between the executive and assistant. Mr. Chambers
interviewed 17 candidates before he selected Debbie. This is the level of diligence that executives need to adopt in finding an
assistant they can trust implicitly. For a certain caliber of executive there is no separation between business and personal matters and their assistants know everything.

As far as personal objectives, if they are relevant to the executive getting the job done, the assistant should know about it. If the
executive wants to be at their child’s baseball practice, or has promised their spouse they will be home by a certain time, then the assistant should be informed so they can plan the executive’s
schedule accordingly. I recall when one of my bosses hired my
replacement. His wife had him on a strict weight loss program.  One of the first things the new assistant did was to place a bowl of candy on his desk. I swiftly removed the candy and had a chat with her. With the weight loss objective being so paramount, he should have let his new assistant know it was a major priority for him and
enlisted her help in staying on track.

In many corporations, assistants are not permitted to do personal work for executives. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. In fact, it is quite widespread and I’ve done it myself. If someone owns the company, there is typically no distinction between personal and business matters. Everything is transparent to the assistant. It’s the only way they can manage the executive’s affairs. One area I suggest you keep separate is your personal emails, especially from friends who don’t use discretion when they circulate jokes or photos,
because they don’t realize that your assistant is seeing every
message that goes to your business email. If your assistant is joining you on a phone call, let the other parties know your assistant is on the line so they mind what they say. There is such a thing as too much transparency, even for an assistant who has seen and heard it all!

Author: Jan Jones

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.