How the Best Assistants Stand Out

My most frequently asked question from friends and colleagues is:

“How do you set yourself apart?”

It’s a fair question. There are a lot of excellent executive assistants out there, and our field is shrinking. If you’re a lifelong assistant, you’re used to riding the waves of change, and my advice will serve as a friendly reminder. And if you’re new, I hope this tidbit will serve you as well as it has served me.

I set myself apart by following this little twist on the golden rule:

Treat others the way they would like to be treated.

Yep. Not the way you would like to be treated; the way they would like to be treated.

For instance, I like to spend my Saturdays reading books by the pool (it’s too hot in LA to do much else right now). But my best friend likes to spend hers hiking. If I were to plan a Saturday for her, I wouldn’t add reading The Secret History at a swanky WeHo rooftop pool — I would map out a hike in Malibu with breathtaking scenery.

Apply this same thinking to your tasks as an executive assistant. When you’re booking restaurant reservations, consider what the parties would find most appealing in terms of food, decor, style, price, etc. And think about what they’ve done already that day. If your executive is meeting a longtime friend for dinner after a day of sightseeing, she’ll probably appreciate a reservation earlier in the evening at a more casual restaurant. However, if she’s meeting with an important client first thing in the morning before a panel at Ad Week, you might want to book a restaurant with great coffee and a more private dining area.

It sounds simple, but I think you’ll find the applications are endless. Before long, you’ll have a reputation as a considerate professional who can anticipate needs. And when you really think about all the qualities executive assistants should have, most executives would agree those are the most important.


I’d love to hear about other advice that’s worked for you in your career as an executive assistant — let me know in the comments or better yet, let’s connect on LinkedIn. And as always, if you’ve enjoyed this article, please click the heart and follow me for more thoughts on our industry.