Five Unexpected Things Every Executive Assistant Should Carry

When I leave my apartment every morning, I take a quick inventory of my briefcase. Wallet? Check. Earbuds, soon to be AirPods? Check. My mini essentials kit? Yep, it’s in there. Almost every executive assistant I know has a bag of useful odds and ends. And while some items are specific to their executive’s needs, many items are those you’d find in a sewing room or a bridesmaid’s purse.

But recently, when a colleague asked me if I had floss after a late lunch, I checked my bag and came up short. I thought to myself, “Why have I never thought to have floss handy? What other things haven’t I thought of, or heard anyone mention?” And thus, this article was born.

Here are five unexpected things every executive assistant should carry:

Universal Charger Adapter

Many executives are traveling more than ever before. Some have suitcases everywhere — in their offices, in their cars — maybe you even keep a spare under your desk for a last-minute departure. Just last week an executive in our office decided to go overseas that same day. His assistant purchased flights, arranged pickup and car service at the destination, and created a full itinerary for the spontaneous trip. She also had a universal charger adapter in her drawer to give him on his way out.

Many items can be purchased on the go or at the airport, such as toiletries. But it’s much harder to find a universal charger adapter on short notice, even in the international terminal. As with anything else, make sure you test it before giving it to your executive. My colleague’s executive was thrilled that he had it for the trip, but he wouldn’t have been nearly as excited if it didn’t work.

Parking Validation

I am LA-based, so I don’t know about you, but parking here is crazy. Finding it, squeezing into it, paying for it… it’s never easy. Luckily, our office has a parking deck that is free for employees. However, if you are a visitor, it requires payment upon exit.

If you visit our offices, we provide parking validation. Our office manager keeps them and as guests leave, we can swing by the office manager’s desk and get our guests’ parking validated. But as an assistant, you might already be thinking “What about after-hours meetings? Before-hours meetings? What if the office manager is on vacation?”

Ask your office manager or facilities operator if you can keep either a parking validation stamper or individual tickets at your desk. This not only allows you to have validation at any time, but it also allows you to skip the step of going to a third party if you’re in a hurry. You’re also prepared if the internal parking system goes down and can’t create additional validations.

Super Glue

You’re probably thinking, “Really? You didn’t think of super glue?” But hear me out. I have Scotch tape, duct tape, fashion tape, masking tape — and could come up with electrical tape if needed. I haven’t personally had a situation yet that required super glue.

But when I was conducting research for this article, nearly everyone brought it up! Some of the things my friends have fixed: High heels, eyeglasses, paper cuts, and in one interesting case, a sentimental vintage trophy that had to be on display in 30 minutes. You never know what you’ll be asked to repair, and that’s why I’m looking forward to receiving my very own tube of super glue in a few days (thanks, Amazon).

Blank Index Cards

I used to carry these but got out of the habit when I entered into a long-term, exclusive relationship with my iPad Pro. I keep most of my notes there because I can type or write on it, and my executive has one too, so we can compare notes.

But most executive assistants I know are either transitioning to a fully paperless workplace or still using paper. And there are times I need something more tangible, too. So as much as I hate to say it, I need to have these in my bag again, because sometimes a post-it or sheet of printer paper just won’t do. Post-its are ideal when you have something to stick them to and don’t need much room to write, but they’re not great for last-minute speaker notes and they don’t hold up on-the-go. And printer paper is flimsy, large and looks unprofessional on its own.

Enter the blank index card. They’re sturdy, easily transported and without lines, you can write or draw on them easily. I have worked for executives that liked to have index cards on the plane to memorize their pitches on quick flights when pulling out and booting up their laptops didn’t make sense. They can also easily be tucked away in a suit jacket.

Tech-Safe Screen Cleaner

Remember my beloved iPad Pro? I would hate to spill something on it, or be asked to show a deck at the last minute only to have my fingerprints all over the screen. Keeping a small bottle of screen cleaner around with a microfiber cloth can save you from everything from embarrassing situations to expensive repairs.

Think of all the screens in your office: Phones, TVs, computers, tablets, conference room cameras… Having screen cleaner around doesn’t sound so crazy now! I have a large bottle at my desk, but I also keep a small bottle of it in my bag with a separate cloth. The cloth is optional with some cleaners, but make sure you read the label first, as many suggest using one for optimal results.

And in case you’re wondering what else I have in my essentials kit: Mints, gum, OTC pain medicine, a miniature first aid kit, feminine care products, nail clippers, a nail file, ponytail holders, bobby pins, a compact mirror, mini scissors, safety pins, phone chargers, sunblock, chapstick, mini deodorant, mini hairspray, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, Tide To Go pen, and now, floss.

I hope you enjoyed this article — please follow me for more, and heart this article if it was useful to you. As always, if you’re an executive looking for an assistant, I’d love to help you find the right fit. And if you’re an assistant, stay tuned for more on our evolving industry.