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Q & A with Jan Jones: Traits Executives Look For in Their Executive Assistants

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses the traits executives look for in their executive assistants.

 FlyPrivate is 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! 

FlyPrivate: What traits do executives look for in their executive
assistants? Does the list change over time or does it remain fairly consistent?

Jan Jones: I’ve noticed that executive assistants are like CEOs in that the list of traits these two groups apparently must have, keeps growing and growing.

The traits that make up the core strengths executive assistants need for the job, don’t exist in isolation. These traits serve as building blocks that go hand-in-hand with each other, resulting in a robust EA professional. As we discuss some of the traits, it will be obvious that they reinforce each other. They’ve withstood the test of time,
serving assistants of previous eras well, and they continue to be vital in today’s business environment. An assistant won’t go too far in the role without having at least a handful of these core capabilities, and some are more crucial than others. We’ll discuss the list of
characteristics executives emphasize more today, due to the tempo and nature of business, including before and during the current
pandemic situation.

Apart from what executives are looking for, I’ll share some traits I see as crucial to the EA’s playbook, that are underestimated or
missing in some EAs. Being intangible, they are harder to define and executives don’t always clearly articulate a desire for them.

In The CEO’s Secret Weapon, I devote 3 chapters to the
Crucial Characteristics of an Exceptional Executive Assistant, and why they should matter to the CEO. I categorize the traits into
“Tangible” and “Intangible” because I’m certain that the Intangibles are what differentiate an exceptional EA from other EAs. Intangibles are hard to quantify. They can’t be taught, but can be developed with practice. 

Two characteristics I view as inseparable are Anticipation and
Resourcefulness.  They are fundamental to the EA’s repertoire and one without the other will make the EA less effective. Since they are vital to the EA’s toolkit, let’s discuss them before going on to the other traits.

Anticipation: Executives, managers and assistants themselves all list anticipation as the most essential skill for an assistant. It’s the top skill cited today and it’s been the most desirable skill that executives have craved from their assistants for decades. They crave it because it gives them a sense of security that someone is watching out for them and they won’t be blindsided, or unpleasantly surprised by events. Ironically, this is also the skill that executives say is the
hardest to find in an EA, so let’s give it some attention here and
improve the odds of executives finding it in future.

To excel at anticipating requires that you thoroughly understand what your executive and the business are trying to accomplish. Brad Weimert, CEO of PayDirect defines this as “understanding the
intent of the mission. Knowing the intent gets you to the end goal,” and plays a key role in your ability to anticipate. Anticipation means the ability to look ahead, so assistants must become adept at
identifying what can go wrong, and make sure it doesn’t. It requires you to think forward. Envision scenarios, consider possible
outcomes, what are the pros and cons of doing things a certain way?  You must constantly be in evaluating mode so you can spot trends, anomalies, disruptions and opportunities.

To excel at anticipation also requires you to look backwards. What helpful insights did you gain from similar situations previously and how can you apply them? What went right? What went wrong and how do you make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Are there situations that are outside of the EA’s control? Sure there are. So the EA’s job is to diminish the likelihood of those situations and make them the exception, ultimately eliminating the majority of them.

Resourcefulness: From all my time and experience as an executive assistant and as a business owner, I cannot separate anticipation and resourcefulness. They are fast friends and you try to separate them at your peril. Anticipation alerts you to the pitfalls. Resourcefulness shows you how to get around them. Anticipation shows you the
opportunities. Resourcefulness shows you how to capitalize on them. Resourcefulness helps you to fix the problem once you
identify it. Resourceful EAs use whatever ways and means are
available to them to produce results. They see what needs to be done and they make it happen. They are quick on their feet.
Publisher Steve Forbes told me his assistant is “always figuring out how to get things done.” That’s what makes a resourceful assistant so valuable.

You ask why executives don’t always list Resourcefulness on their list of must-haves. It’s because they expect their assistant to get the job done. How the assistant gets the job done is of no concern to the executive. If you want a reputation for getting things done, make
Resourcefulness your faithful companion.

Let’s look at the executives’ list. We can’t discuss it all, so let’s
examine some of the traits executives said were a requirement when surveyed before Covid-19. They include Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Communication, Decision-Making, Inter-Personal Skills (EQ), Organizational Skills, Problem-Solving and Time Management.

During this pandemic, executives are particularly appreciating traits such as anticipation, communication, organization, detail-minded and problem-solving, to keep work flowing smoothly and uninterrupted.

With the possible exception of Curiosity, there’s nothing on the
executive list that is unique to 2020. Curiosity is about having an
inquiring mind, venturing out, asking questions, being interested in the vastness of life. When you are curious, you are flexible and open to alternatives. Your work is a part of your life, so if you are curious about life, you’ll bring that curiosity to your work. If you are creative in your life, you’ll bring that creativity to your work. You are a
holistic being. You can’t compartmentalize yourself. Bring all of yourself to work and you’ll start to see results you never imagined.

Decision-Making Ability: If you want to be seen as an executive on your own merits, beyond being a representative of your executive, this is an invaluable skill you must develop. It’s timeless, it’s what separates great EAs from good EAs and it doesn’t come easy. You will have to work for it. It requires patience, dedication, commitment and desire to know the “big picture” perspective about the business and your executive. You must know it so thoroughly that the
credibility of your decisions never comes into question, and is not second-guessed by your executive or others. Frequent, meaningful communication with your executive is imperative so you are in no doubt about what they would say and do in a given situation,
because that is what you will say and do. Electronic communication has its place. For decision-making certainty, especially at the start of the relationship, in-person communication is superior because you can pick up the nuances that technology can’t deliver.

Critical Thinking: A much-requested topic in my presentations, I’m repeatedly asked about Critical Thinking by EAs, particularly when their executives push them to start thinking critically. I see the need for critical thinking in my business dealings with high-level
executives whose assistants exhibit flawed thinking and lack
problem-solving ability. It is also evident on social media where I
observe minimal analysis. If the topic is popular, if they like the writer, or if the writer offers a smattering of praise for EAs, that’s good enough for assistants to pour on the ‘likes’, no questions asked. That can’t be the criteria for evaluation. To think critically you have to set aside your personal biases, likes and dislikes and focus on the issue. Dissect, analyze, verify, determine its relevance, and draw your conclusion. Develop independent thinking. Verify your sources and question their claims. Broaden your horizons by getting your news and information from a variety of sources so you have a
diversity of opinions from which to compare, contrast and draw your conclusions.

To be a genuine Critical Thinker, you must have Courage. You have to look fearlessly at all sides of the argument, even if the thread is taking you away from where you feel mentally safe, away from the familiar ideology that insists you conform. After due consideration of the facts, you must have the courage to call it as you see it. If you can’t do that, you diminish your usefulness to your executive. They need to hear the truth from you. Be careful how you deliver it, but be a trustworthy and reliable source for your executive when they need to know the truth. Practice courage in your daily life and you won’t hesitate to do the same at work.

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 record-keeping must be up-to-date, the
status of all projects must be readily known, work inflow and outflow handled quickly, bottlenecks cleared, outstanding issues
followed up and status updated or finalized.

Participation: Adam Fidler, the UK’s preeminent EA trainer shared with me that increasingly his executive clients are telling him they want to see more participation from their assistants. They want their assistants to take part and contribute, instead of sitting
passively in the background. Adam says assistants who don’t
participate are reinforcing the old ‘secretarial’ stereotypes by not getting involved, showing any interest, or making a contribution. Adam cautions assistants, “If you act like a secretary, you’ll be
treated like one.” Speak up, let your voice be heard, share your
opinions, your observations and show your ability to problem solve.

Confidence: I heard someone say they’d like to give EAs confidence. Sorry, assistants, confidence is not something someone can bestow on you. It’s something you have to work at every day to acquire. It takes practice. How do you suppose those superstar athletes have the confidence to play their game with such certainty, taking risks and going for the gold? They train hard every day to develop their expertise. After winning the championship they get right back on court and practice some more. Their signature shot, their signature move, they practice until it is second nature. Kobe Bryant in an awards acceptance speech said, “Those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway.” That’s what you have to do in your job. Push yourself to mastery. As you do, you build your confidence and your credibility. You develop a sense of certainty about yourself and your performance. No one can argue with it and they won’t think of disrespecting you. Confidence is a gift you give yourself. Once you acquire it, no one will be able to take it away from you.

There are numerous other tangible and intangible skills that make up the executive assistant’s arsenal. Passion and enthusiasm for the job are high on that list because without them, the will and energy to do this challenging job would be missing. Detail-oriented,
responsible, resilient, trustworthy, diplomatic and a whatever-it-takes approach, along with the other desirable traits I discuss in my book, are the tools of the EA trade that keep the EA and the role
vital and alive. It’s what makes this profession the indispensable, but often unsung, champion of global business.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. The ideas expressed in this article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the,
intellectual property and copyrighted to Jan Jones. All rights
reserved. No unauthorized usage or duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

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.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ 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

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.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Q & A with Jan Jones: Smart Business Leaders are Transparent with Their Executive Assistants

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses why smart business leaders are transparent with their executive assistants.

 FlyPrivate is 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! 

FlyPrivate: This question is from an executive and his EA. The executive would like to know how transparent with his business and personal
objectives he should be in order to maximize the partnership with his assistant. The assistant wants to be “completely in the loop.” Are there certain things executives should handle themselves and not entrust to an EA? 

Jan Jones: Many factors contribute to how fast transparency
between executive and EA happens, or if it happens at all.
Fortunately, this executive and assistant are committed to a
long-term goal of full transparency, but saying she wants to be “completely in the loop” tells me that presently the EA feels left out at some level. Why is the executive not offering full transparency, even though they’ve been together over five years? Let’s explore some reasons why this might be the case.

Communication and trust are always major factors. Why is the
executive not trusting fully? Is the assistant yet to prove sufficient maturity in dealing with complex matters that need discretion or special handling? Does the executive have control or trust issues? Perhaps there are things the executive prefers to do himself
(because he enjoys them and nothing to do with “transparency”
issues). Are they both being flexible enough? Are they working too independently and not as a team? Are they a good fit for each other? Have they discussed their goals and objectives? Are their goals and objectives mutual, meaning do they want the same things, in the same way and in the same timeframe? All these things contribute to our perceptions about trust and transparency.

Your readers may wish to consider their own situations to
understand why there may not be full transparency in their own business relationships.

At the start of the relationship it makes sense to proceed with some caution unless you know for certain the assistant is adept at
handling high levels of sensitive information. Typically, an assistant to a CEO is privy to more confidential business and personal 
information than an assistant to a mid-level manager, so it depends on the level of the job and the experience level of the assistant. If the assistant has demonstrated their capability, the executive must share information, allowing the assistant to move into more
interesting projects that offer satisfaction from the job. High
performing assistants are not going to be satisfied with bits and pieces being doled out to them. They want challenging, invigorating work that uses their brain power.

If the executive owns the company, it’s a safe bet that virtually everything is transparent to the assistant. Since its all part of their responsibility, the assistant knows, sees and does everything. It’s the only way they can manage the executive’s affairs, because rarely does an entrepreneur, small business owner, or celebrity treat their business and personal life as separate entities. It all flows together and transparency is inevitable.

I put this question to CEO Rev. John Pellowe, about transparency with his assistant, Bonnie Pillsworth. He said “I would be
squandering the very traits (such as deep thinking) that led me to hire my EA, Bonnie, six years ago, if I were not fully transparent with her. I share everything work-related with her, including thoughts about my own leadership. I process and test ideas, communications, dreams and concerns with her and in return she is an invaluable source of expansionary thinking for me. Bonnie’s valuable
contribution to the success of our organization and my own success would be severely diminished if I were not so transparent with her.”

Bonnie added, “The more transparent John is, the better I can do my job. Knowing as much as I can about everything that’s happening in John’s work allows me to have an informed perspective that leads to sound suggestions and support. John and I practice full transparency as an integral part of our work method, and it goes both ways.”

Executives with less-experienced assistants are understandably
initially reluctant to completely hand over sensitive information. This is where trust has to be built as you test a little at a time to see how the assistant develops and shows they have what it takes.

Dave Ramsey, the famed financial advisor told me, “Show me two people who trust one another and I’ll show you an effective work relationship.”

When I was a young secretary, our managers mentored and invested hands-on time in developing their people. When my executives placed confidential information in my hands, they explained its value and how they wanted it handled. Because of my inexperience, I
appreciated that direction. With their guidance and with common sense, I learned discretion in business matters and grew confident in handling information that required discretion.

In later years, it was customary for me to have confidential
discussions with high-level stakeholders. I could easily identify who didn’t have a top assistant, or who had never mentored an assistant. They were the ones who were surprised I had unfettered access to protected information, and could speak confidently for my
executive. They didn’t comprehend that the only way I could know as much as I did is because he shared everything with me. I was his deputy. My mandate was to take charge and keep business moving.

Effective assistants are facilitators who make business life easier. They can do this because somewhere along the way, an investment was made in their growth and development. Executives who share information with their assistants set themselves up for long-term success because the assistant can step in as their deputy and save them massive amounts of time. I’ve been saying for over 20 years, “The role of the executive assistant is to give back time to the
executive.” This means they take on and manage all matters that
distract the executive from their primary purpose of running the business. The only way the assistant can do this is to have full access to information that provides a solid overview of the business, and permits them to make informed decisions.

Discussing his assistant Debbie Gross in my book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”, CEO John Chambers 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.”  

Concerning the executive’s personal objectives, one little boy was repeatedly disappointed because “daddy” was missing his baseball games, even though he kept promising to be there. When the
assistant found out about it, miraculously the game schedule got on the calendar and Mr. CEO, aka “daddy”, never missed another game if he could help it. Executives who are comfortable with their
assistants may share more personal goals and enlist the assistant’s help in keeping them on track. Don’t worry if the goal isn’t something earth shattering. The fact that it is your personal objective is
sufficient. One of my executives needed to lose weight. When he came back from the health resort, I made sure there were no
meetings that involved meals, and no breakfast muffins, or big slices of birthday cake were placed in front of him. So simple, but much
appreciated by my boss in meeting his goal. I kept everything
discreet, and he enjoyed the results. Executives should remember their assistant can be their biggest champion and cheerleader. Let them in, give them access and they’ll help you succeed in matters that have major business significance, or are important only to you.

Everything business related that concerns the executive must also concern the assistant. If not, the assistant can’t be effective in their role. And having said that, one area I suggest executives keep
separate and to themselves is personal emails, especially from
indiscreet friends who don’t realize your assistant has access to your business email. Keep that questionable material away from your business email inbox. 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. I assure you, there is such a thing as too much 
transparency, even for a seasoned assistant who has seen, done and heard it all.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. The ideas expressed in this article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the,
intellectual property and copyrighted to Jan Jones. All rights
reserved. No unauthorized usage or duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

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.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ 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

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.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Would you like to travel this summer?

 
 

Summer is a great time to get away to your favorite
vacation destination. Traveling safely, this summer in
particular, is likely your utmost concern. This is where we come in. While some of your typical summer travel plans may not be an option this year, many destinations are starting to reopen for business. Some of our customers are opting for more remote destinations, while others are choosing to stay closer to health care facilities should they need access. No matter where you plan to be, we have the jet to get you there and a hassle-free quoting and booking process. 

Let us take you, your family, friends and pets directly to your destination so you can enjoy more days at your
destination and less time traveling. We offer the best
aircraft values through our trusted partnerships and invite you to experience the FlyPrivate difference.
 
At FlyPrivate you have instant access to all types of
aircraft including:

Have a trip coming up? Give us the details and contact us today for your best options and pricing.  

 
We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us:

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.

Jet Setting: 10 Tips for Success

1. Arrive early. With no security lines and no crowds, there is no
excuse for being late. Time is money and the host can incur
additional costs for delays.

2. Have your ID ready. Be sure to bring the proper ID and travel
documents with you and have them readily accessible.

3. Pack light. With weight restrictions on private planes, less
baggage is ideal. If you don’t know what’s appropriate in terms of how many bags you may bring, ASK. 

4. Do your homework. The private terminal is called an FBO, “fixed base operation.” There is a pilot and co-pilot who fly in the flight deck, while the passengers fly in the cabin. As on a boat, the lavatory is the bathroom and galley is the kitchen. Some flights will have
additional crew including flight attendants.

5. Where do I sit? It is customary to let the host choose their seat first and assign the remaining seats. If you’re not sure where the host wants you to sit, politely ask “Where would you like me to sit?”

6. Pets. Don’t ever assume you can bring your pet unless you have permission from the host in advance.

7. In flight entertainment. When there is a lull in the conversation, make sure you have something to keep yourself occupied like a book or a tablet. If you’re traveling with children, make sure to bring quiet toys to keep them busy during your trip.

8. A tip on tipping…Don’t. This is not your responsibility and would be left to the host or person in charge of booking the trip.

9. Respect the amenities. This should go without saying, but keep plane lavatories clean and realize that you will have to sacrifice some privacy because of tight accommodations.

10. Sharing is caring. Make sure to bring a personal gift for the host, something that shows that you put thought and planning into it. If traveling with other guests, it is polite to bring something for
everyone to enjoy. A box of chocolates, fruit basket or cheese plate are just a few examples.

Be sure to contact us for your next trip, we’re always happy to help!

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

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

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.

Getting Back to Business

Photo credits: Bombardier

As you open things back up, we want to help you in “Back to Business” planning.

Private Charter is a valuable tool for your company.

FlyPrivate’s “Pay as you Fly” Service is your best solution.

*Light and Midsize Jets $50M+ and Super Midsize and Heavy Jets $100M+

Contact us today to discuss your current or future business trips

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.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us:

Considering Private Aviation Due to Uncertainties in Commercial Travel?

Are you considering using private aviation due to the uncertainties associated with commercial travel?

Are you feeling a bit uninformed about how to make the right choice? It is an expensive choice. We completely understand. We have been helping people like you charter aircraft for 20 years.

After completing over 10,000 flights for our customers, there are a few things we would like to share with you.

There are a lot of jet options.

Jets come in different sizes and have different capabilities. Some have the same name but are made in multiple sizes. You need to work with an organization that has access to all of them and can recommend the best options. Here’s where we come in!

The lowest price may not always be the best option.

This is strange for us to say because our mission is to deliver the best pricing possible, on the best aircraft options. The lowest priced
option for your trip may come with some stipulations you may need to be aware of. This can include: possible fuel stops, limited luggage capacity, tough cancellation policies, or a limited cabin configuration for your passenger count. Sometimes a few more dollars can make for a much better experience. We will make you aware of the
differences so you can make an informed choice.

Safety/Insurance

Chartered aircraft operate under the FAA’s Part 135 regulations. These are the most stringent safety requirements in
general aviation. There are compliance requirements for pilot
training, pilot duty hours, weather, maintenance and safety
equipment. We also add a second layer of safety. The charter
operators we use for our customers are also audited for compliance by third party safety organizations such as ARG/US or Wyvern, Ltd. These organizations audit the FAA’s records on each operator to
ensure ongoing compliance. This allows us to use the best charter operators for our customers. Each aircraft maintains liability
insurance. Coverage limits vary based on the size of the aircraft and liability limits range from $50M-$300M on each flight.

24/7 Live Expert Customer Service

Although you can book your trip using our App or by emailing us, there is always a live person available to handle any questions
regarding your flight at any time. Our personal customer service is a priceless benefit in an increasingly impersonal world. Our process allows us to offer you direction on the best aircraft, the most
convenient local airports, and other day-of-flight logistics, making your flight as enjoyable as possible.

“Pay as you Fly” Service

In 2002, we pioneered the “pay as you fly” complete access national charter service. Complete access gives our customers the ability get one–way and round trip pricing on demand, without having to pre-pay hours or join a membership by making a prepaid deposit. Our best customers are experienced private fliers who have owned planes or been in membership programs. This is the best
endorsement of the value of our service. These customers recognize from their own expensive experience, that what matters most are safe aircraft, flown by experienced crews, at a fair value and
delivered with unmatched customer service.

As you consider this decision, please rely upon us as others do, to take care of your family and friends.

Testimonials

“We had a great flight on a nice plane with a couple of delightful pilots and are now in our Florida home. Thanks for arranging this and I will be sure to check back with you when we want to go back to NY next Spring.”
– Oyster Bay, NY

“Thanks for great service again. Super crew and plane.” – Hobe Sound, FL

“I think they are fantastic. My boss is in the air all the time. All I do is pick up the phone and call, it’s very easy.” – Boston, MA

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.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Q & A with Jan Jones: Iconic Business Leaders Make Smart Use of Their Assistants

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses how business leaders make smart use of their assistants.

 For the past five 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!

Iconic Business Leaders Make Smart Use of Their Assistants

FlyPrivate: Because of the COVID-19 global lockdown, suddenly
business has to drastically change the way it is operating, so we thought it would be valuable to revisit the discussion we had when your book first came out.  Many assistants are on the frontlines of their companies at this time. We’ve heard that they are playing a bigger role in helping processes to flow smoothly, making sure communication is maintained and leaders are visible to remote employees. Other EAs tell us their
executives could utilize them much more. What would you say to those executives who are not fully utilizing their EAs during this time of crisis?

Jan Jones: I’m certain that the executives who are not fully utilizing their assistants during this time, are the ones who didn’t utilize them effectively before the crisis.

It goes back to the question you asked when my book first came out. You asked Why write a book about EAs specifically for executives? Knowing why I did that will help executives to understand why they should be making better use of their assistant’s capabilities.

I targeted 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 little or 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 must get comfortable with delegating. In order to work effectively with an assistant, 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.  In my book (“The CEO’s Secret Weapon”), I dedicate three chapters that discuss “The Tangible and Intangible Characteristics of an Exceptional Executive Assistant” and I explain why they should matter to an executive.

What has happened since my book came out is that numerous
publications have followed my format of listing characteristics of
executive assistants. However, they overlooked my caution to
executives that not every assistant has these characteristics. I was specific with executives that they would be lucky to find an assistant who had some of these characteristics, let alone most, or all of them.  I called the assistants who have these characteristics “exceptional executive assistants”, because these characteristics make them
exceptional, setting them apart from the rest.

Executives and business owners often don’t realize that their
assistant is their “face and voice” 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 has enthusiasm for the job. They need an assistant who is fully invested in the role, 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  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 (prior to
presidency), Steve Forbes, Barbara Corcoran, management gurus Marshall Goldsmith, Ken Blanchard, Simon Sinek, as well as Cisco Systems’ then-CEO/Chairman, 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 hire someone capable of working with them as a strategic-thinking partner. There are
interviews with many successful CEOs who might not be world-famous, but who have managed to create a wonderful partnership with their assistant. I should stress that by “partnership” I mean the idea that we support each other, we are allies, teammates, we have each other’s backs. I don’t mean it in the legal or HR sense of the word.

FlyPrivate: How 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 made him richer because she increased his portfolio and kept him on track with their business plan. When he got enthusiastic about some new
opportunity, she would say “let’s see how this fits our business plan and our goals for this year.” Kudos to Joseph for heeding his
assistant’s counsel. Not only did he respect Lynn’s advice, he
rewarded her well. How many business owners can say that their
assistant made them richer? Joseph was extremely smart to choose Lynn and understand the value she could bring to him.

Donald Trump had the most outstanding assistant I have ever had the privilege to meet, and I have met and worked with assistants of famous authors, celebrities, famous executives, economists,
politicians, you name it, from all over the world. Norma was truly in a class all by herself, the best ambassador an executive could dream of having, let alone actually have. She retired after working for Mr. Trump for over 30 years. In addition to being Mr. Trump’s assistant, she was also a vice president at the Trump Organization, as is Mr. Trump’s current assistant. A close second to Norma, was pop star Michael Jackson’s assistant, who also was a vice president at MJJ Productions. Mr. Trump told me he admired the fact that his
assistant was able to assess situations and take independent action. 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.” I urge younger executives to listen to Mr. Forbes that his assistant’s judgment comes from experience. Many younger executives shy away from hiring an older assistant. They do so at their peril because these assistants bring years of business know-how, acumen and protocol that can guide younger, inexperienced executives and show them how to develop and polish their
professional image and business acuity.

Simon Sinek, the popular TED speaker and author told me that he viewed his relationship with his assistant, Monique “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.” Debbie was with him over 25 years.

Don’t let their unassuming, unflappable demeanor fool you. 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 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. Playing small is not for them. I tell you from first-hand experience, you have to embody this level of excellence and commitment. This is what it takes to support an
executive at the highest levels. It’s something you learn coming up through the ranks, year after year. You don’t arrive fresh from
college knowing all this. It takes practice, commitment, dedication to your craft.

FlyPrivate: How can other executives mirror these iconic business
leaders?

Jan Jones: Take 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 ask for what they needed. They were honest about their work style and personality. Executives: be honest about your work habits and personality 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. If it’s feasible, include your assistant in your deliberations so they understand your objectives.

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. As I stress repeatedly in my book, the role of the executive assistant is to give back time to their executive. An
exceptional assistant routinely handles matters that are not a good use of the executive’s time. Steve Forbes 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 executive 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 executive look good. When they look good, you look good, because in the case of some executives, making them look good takes some doing! 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. They come to work every day ready to perform at optimum levels.

I am inspired by this quote from noted Sicilian chef Guiseppe
Carollo. For me it sums up the satisfaction, pride and commitment an assistant must feel about their career: “Only those who have a lot of passion will be able to do this job well.” This is the level of drive, passion and commitment executives must look for when hiring their assistant. It doesn’t matter if the assistant’s position is junior,
mid-level, or senior. The passion and resolve to excel must be
apparent at every level. With such an ally by their side, executives can be assured they will succeed in their mission.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2020. All rights reserved. No unauthorized usage or duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author, or without crediting the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

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.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ 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

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.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Q & A with Jan Jones: The Importance of Feedback Between Executive & Assistant

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses the importance of feedback
between executives and their assistants.

 For the past five 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! 

Business meeting

FlyPrivate: How often should you meet with your EA and provide 
feedback about their performance? How important is this to the
 working relationship?

Jan Jones: Being honest and respectful does wonders for any
relationship, but especially for the delicate balance that must be struck between an executive and assistant. Feedback should be
ongoing, particularly at the start of the relationship, or if the current assistant is not performing up to standard and adjustments need to be made. If something gets dropped, or mistakes are recurring,
address them quickly so there is no undercurrent of dissatisfaction impacting the relationship. Don’t let the EA assume that everything is OK and then suddenly get hit with the news that you are not
happy with their performance. I shared in my book the example of an EA whose new boss seemed to be annoyed with her and she could not figure out why. At a social gathering she finally asked him. He said he was not a morning person so when she called out “Good Morning!” in a cheerful voice, it irritated him. The discussion about work style should have been on the EA’s priority list at the outset. Since she didn’t ask, and it obviously was an issue for him, he should have said something about it. Instead, uncomfortable months went by during that early period when they could have been building trust, respect and rapport.

When an EA is new in the job, I recommend they ask their executive if everything is satisfactory no later than at the end of the first week. Are there any challenges with communication, or work
performance? A simple “How did we do this week, are there any
issues you’d like to discuss?” should quickly let the EA know how they are faring and lets the executive know the assistant is open to feedback. When I started a new job, on the first day I would tell my boss I wanted to hear immediately if they were not satisfied with anything, no matter how minor, so I could fix it. Executives should be specific when giving feedback. Let your assistant know exactly what the issue is. Don’t beat around the bush and leave them perplexed about what you really mean. Don’t let problems build up. For me, once the relationship was established and I knew I could be candid with my boss, I shared my observations but I was careful to pick my moments. The timing has to be right or you’ll wind up doing more damage than good. Feedback works best when it is communicated sincerely and respectfully, without either party feeling intimidated, or put on the spot. It should be communicated in private because it may start out positively, but it could lead to other issues that should be discussed confidentially.

Schedule time for an informal performance discussion at the end of the first 30 days and a formal performance review at the end of the first 90 days. If things are not going well, don’t wait 90 days to
address them. Similarly, if the assistant has settled in well and you are pleased with their performance, let them know and say thank you. If the executive and assistant are working together
comfortably, they probably have sufficient rapport to be able to talk to each other about performance, expectations or
misunderstandings on a frequent basis, not just at review time. Use your instincts. If something feels uneasy, speak up and get it handled.

All relationships require effort and commitment, and the
executive-assistant relationship is no exception. Develop trust and confidence in each other. It creates a space for both of you to safely share what’s on your mind without feelings being hurt, or intentions misunderstood. When trust and support back up your relationship, it creates a sense of comfort in which you are free to thrive and do your best work.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2020. All rights reserved. No unauthorized usage or
duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

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.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ 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

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.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Q & A with Jan Jones: Can Executive Assistants Have Work-Life Balance?

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses how executive assistants can maintain some sort of work-life balance when they have no backup.

 For the past five 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! 

FlyPrivate: Do you have any advice for EAs who would like to maintain some sort of work-life balance when they have no backup and have to be available 24/7 for their executives even when taking vacation?

Jan Jones: If work-life balance is a priority for you, don’t take a job that doesn’t give you that choice and requires you to be available 24/7. Whether it’s a priority due to family commitments, or your
desire to have personal time for other interests, you make work-life choices. You have to decide your priorities and find a job that fits them.

For certain types of executives it’s expected that their EA will be on call beyond normal business hours. EAs who are accustomed to
supporting that caliber of executive know what’s required of them. For other assistants, ask about it specifically during the interview. If you are concerned about how it might come across, you could ask about the executive’s work style preferences. If they say that their weekends are family time, you’ll know that you probably won’t be disturbed over the weekend. If they go to the gym, get coffee and catch up on the news first thing in the morning, likely you can have those early hours free for your own routines. If they say “I work all hours”, you’ll know what you are in for. Pin down the executive as best you can in order to determine if you’ll routinely be required 24/7, or whether you can have some guarantee of private time
outside of regular business hours.

Business is constantly changing so even if you were told you won’t be needed 24/7, your hours may start increasing as the business
environment shifts. In that case, have a conversation with your
manager to determine if this will be ongoing or temporary and try to establish some middle ground balance that suits both of you.

One assistant shared that her boss agreed not to contact her
between 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm because that was family time when her kids did homework, ate dinner, relaxed and it gave her time to catch up with her husband. Once her kids were in bed, she would resume working if necessary. So these are the kinds of parameters you can establish with your executive to make sure you have private time, but are not completely out of reach.

I understand that assistants may feel frustrated because they don’t set the agenda and that makes life feel out of control. But even if you don’t set the agenda, you can manage the agenda. Set guidelines with your manager that work for both of you. Negotiate the
parameters as early in your tenure as possible. Know that if you let creep happen and the hours start to get longer and longer, it’s up to you to manage it. Remember though, if you are inflexible you could end up in a strained working relationship and find you are not
invited to participate in brainstorming sessions, or given meatier
assignments. You have work-life choices. Choose wisely and accept the consequences of your choices.

Being on call has been typical for higher-level executive assistants even before email and smartphones invaded the workplace. It’s
simply the nature of the EA role, especially for EAs whose executives partner closely and rely on them. 24/7 is routine for that breed of assistant who, like me, thrives on being central to the action and
appreciates the fluid nature of business. But that work style doesn’t suit most assistants. On-call EAs should remember not to overdo it. Burnout sneaks up on you and at some point even the most
committed assistant needs time to decompress and rejuvenate body and soul away from the business.

For better or worse, these days I don’t know of any
senior-level assistants who go on vacation without checking in with work at some point. If you are going on vacation and have no backup, decide with your executive how they’d like your responsibilities
covered. If they don’t want to bring in a temp, or use one of the other assistants, try not to leave them stranded. Some assistants say they like their manager to experience what life is like when they’re not around. OK, but be prepared in case they also realize what is missing when you are around. I like hearing from executives who tell me how thoughtful their assistants are, that even when the EA is not there, they’ve thought things through and made sure their executive is not left high and dry.

Showcase your anticipation skills and come up with contingency plans for when you are away. Offer to find a time when your
executive can reach you if necessary. Or, set up a time when you will check in to make sure your executive doesn’t have anything pressing they need from you. Let them know if you are able to occasionally check messages if your vacation plans permit. I’m not encouraging you to do this; I’m simply suggesting alternatives if your executive will be left to their own devices while you are gone.

In jobs where I had an assistant, when I went on vacation we set up a time for her to call me every day so we could keep current. If later in the day I had some time to spare, I would give her a quick call just to check in. Even though I had an assistant who covered for me, I
completed or got started on recurring work such as end-of-month reports, meeting agendas, signing purchase orders, etc., so work could proceed in my absence and I wouldn’t be too far behind when I got back. I briefed my executive thoroughly on the status of
outstanding projects, let him know that I would be checking in daily with my assistant, and assured him I was available if he needed to get in touch.

Being a 24/7 EA suited me because my work gives me energy. It’s a means of self-expression. The role allows me to do something I’m passionate about. If your lifestyle preferences cannot accommodate being available at all hours, then choose a job that doesn’t place such demands on your time. Your work should support your life choices and those choices should be made without guilt or anxiety. Then, in the words of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, you can have work-life harmony.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2020. All rights reserved. No unauthorized usage or
duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

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.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ 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 and Instagram 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.

Get Out of Town: Extend Your March Vacation 2 Days

Falcon 900

Are you planning to get out of town for an early spring getaway with your family and friends? We can help you add as much as two extra days to your March vacation by flying privately. Let us explain how.

Most vacation destinations will require a full day of travel to arrive and depart from your home. By traveling privately you will be able to travel directly from your home to your destination, allowing you to reduce costly travel time, begin your vacation sooner, and stay longer.

Falcon 900

If you want a few extra days at your favorite vacation spot, consider these popular jets to get you there.

Light Jets
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Learn more about your available aircraft options and check out our blog for more helpful resources on private aviation.

We will be happy to provide you with details on how you can get the most out of your vacation travel, and provide you with a free flight quote. Let’s get started planning your spring getaway today!

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram 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.