Tag Archives: Executive Assistants

Q & A with Jan Jones: How Executive Assistants Get Their Executives to see Them as a “Business Partner”

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses how Executive Assistants can work to be seen as a business partner to their Executives.

 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: How can executive assistants get their executives to see them as a “Business Partner?” What are some things executives do that show they respect their assistant as a business partner?

Jan Jones: I’m repeatedly asked “How can I be a secret weapon if my executive doesn’t see assistants that way?” “I can’t get my executive to notice me and acknowledge my contribution.” “My executive doesn’t know how to use me.” “How can I be a business partner to an executive who wants to do everything herself?”

The answer to the first part of your question is not straightforward, and these questions from assistants clearly demonstrate that. There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the term “business partner”, that present a barrier to the title being widely acknowledged and used, with respect to the EA role.

A major hurdle in that effort is that many executives – across the age spectrum and across the world – are reluctant to bestow the title, or consider the idea that their assistant is their business partner. When I’m consulting with those executives, I allay their concerns by
suggesting they view it for what it is – a collaboration, an alliance
between the executive and assistant, rather than seeing it as an
assistant giving themselves airs, or trying to presume an authority, or legitimacy they don’t have.

While there is a strong push by EA advocates in western countries for the title, I hear from our EA colleagues in other parts of the world that their executives won’t countenance such a title for an assistant. Indeed, in parts of the world assistants continue to be called
“secretary”, although that may be because the title is closer to the job being done, rather than disrespect towards the person
performing it, or the profession as a whole. I know cultural norms are a source of dismay for assistants in some countries. But our EA colleagues in exotic lands should take heart because Adam Fidler, the UK’s premier EA trainer, says that many UK executives also
resist calling an assistant a business partner. It’s not only a cultural impediment, other factors are in play. But that’s a lengthy discussion to be had at another time.

As we see from these EA questions, too many executives are
unaware about the caliber of assistance an assistant brings to the table. And the truth is, a percentage of executives don’t require or want that level of assistance. Often, it’s the executives who are
conversant with technology, but have yet to determine how they can widen the scope of their own jobs, beyond the task-based way they are currently doing it. They are so deep on their treadmill of
churning it out and getting it done, that they can’t stop for a moment to delegate, collaborate, or consider there may be an alternative. Many of these executives have never had an assistant before, they’ve never seen assistants who are role models of effectiveness, they’ve never been taught the purpose and value of an effective
assistant. So they can’t immediately see how an assistant can be of service to them.

Assistants: You’ve got a job to do educating your executives on the role you play and what you can do. Just because they’ve hired you, doesn’t mean they know how to use all the features that come with a product like you. They’ve bought something and have yet to read and understand the how-to manual.

My unending mantra to assistants is: Showing is Better Than Telling. Show them what you can do. Until you show them, they won’t know. Many have no idea because they’ve never seen it done. They don’t know that it can be done, let alone how it can be done. It’s up to you. Realize that partners don’t wait to be told what to do. They know what the business requires and they do whatever it takes. Business partners have an investment in the business. They have financial skin in the game. What’s your stake in the business in which you work? How are you helping to grow and build that business the way a financial business partner would? What are you bringing to the partnership in return for asking to be called a “partner?” This is an important question that you should be asking yourself. How are you stepping up to the role of business partner?

Showing is Better Than Telling. That’s why I wrote my book for
executives and not for assistants. It’s deliberately called “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders And Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness.” I did that because executives need to be educated on what an assistant can do. They need to realize they have a secret weapon ready for deployment right beside them. And it’s the job of every assistant to demonstrate every single day, just what an assistant can do. If you don’t teach them, how will they learn? That’s what I did with my executives. I showed them more and better ways to utilize the depth of my expertise. I demonstrated that I clearly understood the business, what they were trying to achieve and how I could add value. You can do that by speaking intelligently, using the language of the business or the industry. Make pertinent suggestions. Bring relevant matters to their attention. If you can
relieve them of making one more decision, do it. You have to play the role of educator. You can’t sit back passively and wait for people who haven’t got a clue, to magically get a clue. People believe what they see more than they believe what they hear. So let them see what you can do.

One highly experienced assistant was struggling to get her
executive’s attention to discuss how she could help this new
executive. Every time she tried, her executive would push her away with some excuse. And then it was another, and another thing that she just could not look up from. I suggested the assistant make a list of all areas she saw where she could take tasks away from the
executive. Give specific examples: Here are some areas where I
notice… Let them see exactly where they are getting bogged down, and how you can help them to reclaim that precious time. Give them the list and let them look it over at their convenience. Let them know you’d be happy to discuss when they are ready. Meanwhile, you keep performing to the very best of your ability and keep siphoning off things that you can handle to make their load lighter.

At one point in my career, while I was deciding on my next move, I did temporary work. I covered for assistants who were on vacation, maternity leave, sick leave, or while the executive was interviewing for a new assistant. Guess how many job offers I got. When I arrived at those organizations, I didn’t sit back and wait for the executive to give me tasks to perform. I immediately set about finding out how I could make it an easy transition for them. Some EAs, particularly the ones going on vacation, who didn’t want to come back to a mess, left helpful directions. But not always. I would start by checking out what was in their In-tray to see what action needed to be taken, and the Out-tray to see what had been completed and what needed to happen next. I looked at the correspondence. I went through the files, their contacts, everything that would get me immediately
familiar with that EA’s job. Then, with my list of questions, I would ask for time with the executive so I could get some direction and get down to work. Many were surprised at my proactive stance and most welcomed it. I heard repeated whispers that they were getting more work out of me than they got from their assistant. Those
executives got a long-overdue lesson in how an enterprising
assistant takes charge of her role. They needed to be shown – this is what I can do for you. For the middle managers who didn’t want to use me (their work was too important to give to a mere temp), I showed them the meaning of important. I would go to the chief
executive’s assistant, introduce myself and ask if I could help them. 99% of the time, their grateful answer was “sure”.

Here are some examples of how successful business leaders utilize their assistants as business partners. This is how you want to train and develop your executive. This is how you’ll partner with your
executive, by knowing what the best leaders do and gradually
coaxing your executive into doing the same.

Access: Smart leaders give the assistant full access. This access
allows the assistant to understand the business, their executive’s priorities, what they like or don’t like. The assistant learns by directly observing the executive’s decision-making process, their style of communication, their values and interests. This perspective will give you a compass for how to act on your executive’s behalf. Assistants who are granted access to their executive don’t hesitate to act as their proxy when required. Get around your executive. Show
interest. Ask questions. Make suggestions. Encourage your
executive to relinquish tasks to you. If you have to start small, then start small, but start.

Autonomy: Good leaders know when to become immersed in the details and when they should let someone else take the lead. They hire the right person and trust them to get the job done. These
executives share the vision, mission and goals and trust their
assistant to use their experience, skills and creativity to take it from there. If your executive hasn’t been loosening the reins, ask yourself why. Is it because they are micromanagers and mistrusting, or have you not shown any inclination or ability to be autonomous and make good decisions? If you are waiting for your executive to “let” you, you’ll be a long time waiting.

Confidence: Strong leaders boost their assistant’s confidence and give them opportunities to show initiative and learn new things. They notice what you do and give you credit. If you make a mistake, they guide you towards a better way. The best way to gain
confidence is to start taking on projects and working independently. The more you do, the more confident you’ll become. Don’t hesitate to ask for guidance if you don’t know, or if you run into trouble. Get accustomed to speaking up and sharing your opinion. Easy does it at first. Test the waters before you start dishing out advice or
suggestions, unless you are certain of what you are talking about and how it will be received. Even if your executive doesn’t respond to your initiative, keep practicing how to expand your reach, work independently and get involved. It will increase your value and help you as you progress in your career.

Kudos: Smart leaders champion their people and recognize their
efforts. They understand the caliber of performance you are
delivering and never take you for granted. They don’t hesitate to say thank you, or praise you for stellar performance and reward you with increased responsibility, remuneration, or something more
immediate like time off. Even in my first job, when I was a junior
secretary, my boss would once in a while give me an “early mark”. That’s Aussie-speak for leave early. A consideration so appreciated by a young woman who was working hard to learn the ropes and
impress her employers. It told me my efforts were being noticed and rewarded.

Respect: Top business leaders show courtesy and consideration to their assistant – in public and private. They listen to you. They value your input. They treat you as a professional.

Gratitude: Tuned-in leaders acknowledge the immense job their
assistants do on their behalf. Time after time, leaders have told me they could never do what they do without their assistant. In my book, management guru Ken Blanchard remarked, “Assistants give you the capacity to do so much more.” Great leaders remember to express their thanks, show consideration and once in a while, look for ways to reward their assistants.

These are some habits that for generations have enabled
extraordinary leaders to function at optimum levels, working
effectively with their exceptional assistants. If a mind shift is going to happen, it’s going to come from you and through you, dear
assistant. How successfully your executive makes the transition to seeing and accepting you as a “business partner”, is in your hands. The goal is to be treated as a professional, a respected business partner, with or without it being your official title.


©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

_________________________________________________________________________

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

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: Are Career Transitions Challenging for Executive Assistants?

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses the challenges associated with career transitions for 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: For over 20 years you were an Executive Assistant for some notable business names. You eventually started your own business. Are career transitions challenging for executive assistants?

Jan Jones: Most executive assistants are happy with their career choice and are not considering transitioning out of the EA career. They feel fortunate to work for a good company that meets their professional needs and provides the opportunities they want. I think many are looking for ways to enhance their role as an EA, rather than transitioning out of the role completely.

From time to time, I do get asked by assistants how I transitioned from being an EA to being a business owner. For most it seems to be a curiosity question, rather than truly considering starting their own business.

I wish I could say I had a plan and I could lay out the steps for people to follow, but that’s not how it happened for me.  I actually didn’t have any plans to leave my career as an assistant and start a
business, but the opportunity came my way and I took it.

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 considering college and thinking about a career. It evolved over time and I’m glad it did because when I was traveling around the world, I had no problem getting a good-paying job as an assistant. It’s a profession that travels well and I’m eternally grateful to my father for suggesting I give it a good look. The EA role gave me a breadth of experience and access to high places that few other professions can provide. I urge EAs to grasp the extraordinary
opportunities this profession can offer for long-term career
development, but you must be willing to put in the hard work and prove yourself before doors will swing open.

For assistants who want to know how they can get to higher levels in the EA role, and also for those who are wondering how I transitioned to business ownership, the reason opportunities came to me is
because I had a reputation for excellence, for being extraordinarily creative, diligent and service-oriented. I was always looking for ways to do more, so I could learn more. The words “It’s not my job” never
entered my mind, much less passed my lips. Same with “Pushing back”, or saying “No”. If it was necessary, I found a way to do it myself, or found a way to make it happen. That’s what being resourceful is all about. It’s a skill every executive wants in their assistant and what a business owner needs, especially when you are starting a business. Instead of “No”, I would say “Let me see what I can do,” or “Leave it with me”, and I did my best to accommodate the request. People
respond better to those phrases than “No”. Even if you can’t make it happen, they will know you tried. But don’t use them if you don’t
intend to try, because pretty soon, no one will believe you and you’ll lose credibility. If you think lack of credibility is bad for an EA, it’s
fatal for a business owner. If there is a secret I can share with EAs it is be known as someone who is at the top of their game, someone who is fully invested in sharing the load as a real business partner would. Then people can’t help but notice you for all the right reasons and they’ll seek you out and recommend you for opportunities. All these things will help you if you intend to become a business owner. They’ll certainly help you if you want to become an exceptional
executive assistant.

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 I evolved from a junior secretary into a high-performing executive assistant. I go to extreme lengths to produce results for my clients just as I did for my executives. 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 as I matured into a
top-level assistant.

Whether the transition from EA to business owner is easy or not will depend on what business you go into, and how much homework you’ve done about the market’s need for your product or service. Many EAs are trying out being a business owner by doing virtual EA work. There certainly isn’t a better time for it than now with work-from-home being the norm, since people have become accustomed to seeing home offices set up in bedrooms and kitchens. I would advise assistants to present a more professional look than showing your bed in the background, especially with options like Zoom
Background being available. No matter the circumstance, there’s never an excuse for being sloppy, or coming across as inappropriate or unprepared. No matter how expert you are with the latest Apps and technology, you’ll tarnish your brand if you look unprofessional because working remotely, your clients have no idea how you are treating their customers and what image you are projecting on their behalf.

It takes much more than being a capable administrator to be a
business owner. If you decide to go out on your own, you’ll need an appetite for risk. If you rely on the comfort of a steady income, you might struggle when the bills are due, no money is on the horizon and your savings are dwindling. As you are developing your business, you’ll have times when you are flush and times when you are skint. You need a good product, the ability to market yourself, find solid, preferably long-term clients who provide well-paying, repeat projects. You’ll need to be a confident negotiator and not afraid to ask for what you are worth. You must be able to cope with
uncertainty and weather the highs and lows of business cycles and manage cash flow. You’ll have to find ways to innovate and showcase yourself as having a better product or service than the competition.  As a business owner, the responsibility for everything is on your shoulders.

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. Develop your social skills and the art of
conversation. Broaden your interests.

If you decide you are cut out for the life of a business owner and are willing to put in the hard work, you’ll be rewarded with an immense satisfaction when you accomplish your goals. There’ll be hard days and there’ll be triumphant days. There’ll be days when you ask
yourself “Why am I doing this?” and there’ll be days when you won’t be able to contain yourself from the joy and satisfaction of living your dreams. On those days you’ll know exactly why you are doing this.

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

Jan Jones: I can say categorically that the reason I’m able to function successfully in my business is due to my background as an executive assistant 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. Saying “This is not my job” or saying “No” to my boss would have been unthinkable. Everything was always an
opportunity to learn and showcase my executives in the best
possible light.

When I went into business, I was disappointed to find that some of the famous executives I worked with, 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. If you take time to learn and develop the skills I discuss in my book, they will be there for you as an assistant, or if you venture out on your own. I have great admiration for people who have the courage to start a
business and give themselves a shot at the life they’ve dreamed of. It’s not easy to be a business owner, but there’s tremendous
fulfillment in doing what you love and being able to earn a living from it.


©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

_________________________________________________________________________

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

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: 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:

Getting Back to Business

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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.

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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.

Why Are Assistants Always “Putting Out Fires”?

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses why executive assistants often feel like they are always “putting out fires”.

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! 


“An utterly frustrated assistant asked me “Why is everything last minute? Why am I always putting out fires?”

 

The nature of business is that situations change constantly and rapidly. Things happen and they have to be dealt with, whether it’s clients who have last-minute issues, a boss who is stranded en route, or technology that is malfunctioning. The executive assistant is the go-to person, so that’s who people go to. On a daily basis you wear many hats and you will be asked to put on any number of those hats at a moment’s notice. Knowing this, realize that flexibility is key. To quote management guru, Gary Hamel, you must be “as nimble as change itself.”

 

Businesses are not static. They are alive and constantly
recalibrating, so you, dear assistant, have to constantly recalibrate with it. The assistant’s role is not for the faint of heart. You have to develop a stomach for uncertainty and learn to thrive on the
challenge. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with apprehension about what fire will erupt next. There are things within your control and your job is to take control in order to lessen the chance of fires flaring up unexpectedly.”

 

Read the rest of Jan’s blog on LinkedIn and follow her to see future blog content for Executive Assistants.

©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2019. 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.

Robust Communication: The Key to a Dynamic Executive-Assistant Partnership

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! 

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses robust communication
for executive assistants.


The idea that an executive assistant is a “business partner” with their executive is widely held and enjoying popularity today. Of course, astute executives have forged successful working alliances with their stellar assistants for eons, by understanding the immense
talent an exceptional assistant brings to the table.

How did they come to understand it? Mostly by observing assistants in action throughout the various stages of business. As executives came up through the ranks, they saw assistants at every level of the organization taking on increasing levels of responsibility and
developing their capabilities. These executives skillfully harnessed and nurtured that assistant talent as the assistant grew in stature, developed their confidence, deepened their business acuity and
became a “seamless extension of the executive”© as I say in my book, “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”.

How often have you heard it said about an exceptional assistant “she runs the place?” Have you ever wondered how these assistants came to “run the place” and have the self-assurance to do it? I was
fortunate to be one of those nurtured talents known to “run the place”, so may I share first-hand that we didn’t do it by sheltering behind e-mail and voicemail when our executives were sitting in an office beside us. We didn’t send text messages to our
executives instead of getting in front of them to have a conversation about things.

Assistants who “run the place” understand that the responsibility for developing communication with our executives is in our hands, so we take every opportunity to be in personal proximity to them
because we know that to gain their confidence and respect, and help them run the business we need to:

  • Know what they know
  • Think like they think
  • Sound like they sound
  • Experience their emotions, body language, verbal cues in order to be clear on how they feel about things, and act on their behalf accordingly
  • Use the terminology they use so they know we understand what they are talking about.

Executives need big-thinking assistants with a wide range of talents, who give them the edge in a hyper-competitive global economy.
Getting this in today’s technology-dependent environment may be another matter because of the way many assistants are choosing to interact with their executives and teams.

When the practice of assistants texting and e-mailing their
executives who are sitting right next to them came to my attention, I reacted with disbelief. How, I asked, does an executive tolerate such a thing, but more importantly why would an assistant not take the opportunity to get face-to-face with their executive so they are
constantly on their executive’s radar?

“My boss doesn’t let me” is a common refrain from assistants. On closer examination, often it is because the assistant did not
previously step up, became complacent, or got discouraged and stopped trying after initial approaches failed. One executive told me, “She better try harder to get my attention”. I urge assistants to
remember your success or failure is always in your hands. Persist, but be smart about it so your executive doesn’t see you as a
nuisance. You are responsible for taking the initiative because you have the most to lose in terms of opportunities, job satisfaction, growth and advancement if you don’t.

Assistants, your executive is your best advocate and integral to your success. If you’ve been passive in your communication, if you’ve been cloistered behind electronic communication, or relying too much on AI and technology to increase your value and skills, then forgive your boss for forgetting you exist. If your boss rarely
interacts with you in person, you won’t spring to mind when an
exciting project comes up that you’d be ideal for. They won’t use you as a sounding board, treat you as a confidant, rely on your counsel, or consider you their “eyes and ears”. You’ll struggle to be an
influencer and won’t have credibility because you haven’t
established it.

If your relationship with your executive is to function as a dynamic partnership, and not just today’s feel-good buzzword, begin taking steps to spend time in each other’s company as frequently as
possible. Schedule time to meet and catch up, even briefly. Pop your head in the door and ask that question you might otherwise text about. Often, when I did that, my executives would invite me in to discuss further, or ask my opinion about something they were
working on. Those exchanges established rapport. I discovered my opinion mattered to my executive. In those one-on-one sessions I learned far more than I realized at the time. They helped me
become expert at my job and grow in stature as a valued assistant. It was not a mere partnership, it was a dynamic partnership –
compelling, productive and effective. Listening and learning directly from my executives set the foundation for the business know-how I apply in my own business today.

Now, I’m not saying don’t e-mail or text your executive. Electronic communication is the lifeblood of business and the convenience and practicality is irreplaceable in today’s workplace. What I’m saying is use your discretion. When you can communicate face-to-face, do so. If your executive is away and you have a challenging situation, pick up the phone, or use FaceTime, etc., to talk it through. You’ll quickly gauge where things stand when you hear tone, agreement,
disagreement, pleasure or frustration. From that you’ll learn how to handle a situation the next time it arises. Over time, your confidence and independence will flourish and your value to the partnership will be strengthened.

Commitment is paramount. If face-to-face communication has not been a frequent practice your executive may object, so you’ll need to persist. Pick your moments, but keep getting in front of your
executive. Make your presence known. Elevate your profile. Earn their confidence. They may feel confused by your new-found desire to take charge and expand your influence. But if you explain that you want to develop a proactive partnership, your executive will
probably welcome your initiative. Always be clear with your
executive that you are not claiming you are their “partner”, but rather you desire to function in a partnership, like allies working together. It will make a difference to those executives who feel
hostile to assistants who claim they are a “business partner”. Yes, many don’t like it, especially if the assistant has not yet proved themselves in their executive’s eyes.

Every executive who wishes to be more effective will appreciate a proactive, resourceful assistant who wants to learn and contribute more. Once you and your executive experience the value of frequent, face-to-face communication and commit to it, you will start functioning in a true alliance, sharing vision, responsibility, knowledge and experiences that enhance your performance and keep you productive, energized, engaged and fulfilled by your 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 2019. 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.