How an Assistant or Intern Can Be Beneficial to Your Business
In the past few months, nearly a dozen friends who run startups of their own have asked me about the benefits of having an assistant. We’ve had discussions about the pros and cons, the financial investment but most importantly the big question — “Am I at a point in my business to bring on staff?”
I tell them all the same thing. For me, the decision was easy: I can’t do it all myself. At some point you have to let others lead you in areas of your weaknesses. Over the years, I’ve hired staff to maintain my business(es) so I can make time and space to grow and develop them. My right hand is my Executive Assistant, Desiree. Years ago I put out a plea on Facebook requesting anyone who was looking for a part-time assisting job to step forward and let me know. Desiree was one of the first of many ladies who slid into my inbox with a killer resume. I only know it was killer because I remember how much I loved the design and layout. I honestly had no clue what it actually said.
Some CEOs would tell you that hiring decisions shouldn’t be emotional. But my hiring decisions involve part emotion because I always follow a gut feeling. That’s an emotion though, right? I rarely look at resumes anymore than I do your social media following or any bullshit like that. For me, what’s most important is that you have heart and grit. I can usually tell right away.
HEART & GRIT — If you have those two things, I can work with you.
Believe it or not, many people do not embody those qualities. Heart is more than the thing that keeps you alive. It’s part — empathy. It’s part — self-awareness. It’s part — don’t be an asshole, ever. It’s part — being open and trusting the journey as it happens. Grit is a whole other beast. I work with a team of ninjas. To me, grit is pulling all-nighters when necessary. Grit is being willing to take initiative and go above and beyond what’s requested of you. Grit is being smarter than me in at least one area and feeling confident enough to step to me and check me if I need to be checked.
I love working with people who stand for something.
I hired Des because my gut said to. Done. The next step was to get my entire life organized. The only problem was I didn’t know what to do or how to deal. In the beginning, it was kinda rough. I’d been burned by assistants in the past so I will admit I was a little hesitant. So my mental blocks delayed things a bit. We didn’t have a spark or a magic moment while running into the sunset. There wasn’t crazy chemistry to start. We didn’t always know what the hell we were doing and I’m sure she’d say that I’m a bit scattered and can be hard to read at times.
We weren’t perfect. But we kept trying until we got it right.
And we did. Desiree is my star player for more reasons than I can count. She has helped me with calendar management which gives me time and space to create. She has helped me streamline business processes, organizes my wild ideas and is a gatekeeper to people who try to enter my kingdom but ain’t got a pass. She has access to so much confidential information and there’s no one I trust more to take care of me when I’m frustrated. In short, she continuously gets my life in order. Hands down, best investment.
As a leader, it’s also important to form a mutually beneficial relationship. Don’t be an asshole and take the whole pie. Learn to share your blessings. How I put this into practice is by keeping my door open and letting Des know she can always ask me anything. She can always eat from my plate and never be afraid to request a favour.
It’s important. No assistant wants to feel disconnected. Include them.
Last night I sent an email to Des and asked her some questions so you can see how things are from her point of view. In my corporate career, I’ve also been an assistant to many C-level executives so I know it can be both a blessing and (pure madness) lessons. Here’s how she responded.
How long have you been working with my brand — when did you start?
I have been working for your brand since July 2015.
What is a typical day like for you?
I start each day by checking my “to-do” list and viewing what urgent items need to be addressed, such as following up on an email, calendar management or reminders. From travel, meeting and event arrangements, managing expenses and earnings sheets, I also spend time each day looking for anything that may be useful to the company such as sponsorship opportunities, etc.
Tell us about the most challenging part of the job?
Staying on top of EVERYTHING! I know you count on me to make sure you meet all deadlines, remind you of urgent matters and simply know everything about the brand so it’s less stress on you. That’s what assistants are for, so I have to stay on top of my game and not forget anything. I have someone else’s brand in my hands and I take that seriously.
Why do you stay?
There are so many rewards from this job. I work with one of the best entrepreneurs out right now, which means I learn from working with you. If you need something done, your communication is clear. I can reach you at anytime, which makes my job a lot easier.
How has assisting a CEO helped your own personal growth and leadership skills?
Anything I need, you are there. You have taught me how to be a #GIRLBOSS and remain focused. Watching you manage a million different projects has taught me how important it is to make goals and execute. If I am wrong, you will tell me but most importantly you will show me how to not make the same mistake twice. That’s what leaders do, they inspire and motivate others.
As I develop my own brand, you are always encouraging me and ensuring that I am keeping up with my goals. As I now work with my own clients, I handle all business relationships with integrity and professionalism as I do with yours.
At some point, you may decide to leave the company to move on to build one of your own. Tell us about your big dream.
I am currently working on creating my own event management and design company. I have always had a passion for event development and have recently decided to take a leap of faith in creating my own brand and I am so excited! My ideal client would be small business owners, entrepreneurs or anyone looking to create bold and chic events.
In the end — for me personally, hiring Des was a great decision. My advice is to try. You may go through a few assistants you don’t like but keep it pushing and try again until you get it right.
Peace & Love,
First published at pauleannareid.com