Tag Archives: Jan Jones Worldwide

Q & A with Jan Jones: How Assistants Lead by Collaborating

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses leading by collaborating as it relates to the Executive Assistant position.

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 does collaboration between assistants help to meet company-wide goals and objectives?

Jan Jones: This is where assistants can play a natural leadership role, because communication and cooperation are essential attributes of an effective executive assistant. Assistants collaborating with each other to facilitate communication and information flow creates a powerful alliance that any company would welcome. The role of the executive assistant includes being a facilitator and a communication channel for their executive and their organization. Assistants play a vital role in reminding the organization that everyone must stay aligned and committed to the best interests of the company.

We know that fully engaged employees have higher productivity levels, resulting in reduced absenteeism and higher profitability.
Collaborative assistants can have an impact in this regard. It could be as simple as engaging in regular conversations with assistants in other departments. Without breaching confidentiality, talk about how your division is functioning. What strategies are you
implementing? What challenges are you experiencing? What projects are getting bogged down? Which team members need
encouragement? Who are the star performers on the team; can they mentor someone who is struggling, or needs coaching?

Research shows that most managers don’t engage in strategy
discussions with their colleagues in other departments. An assistant who engages with fellow assistants can serve to close that
information gap. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be about work. Take time to connect on a personal level. Being part of an
organization means you have common goals. Collaborating to achieve those goals is smart business. 

At the height of the Covid disruption last year, I wrote a widely read article for Chief Executive magazine sharing how some assistants have taken their role of connector and conduit to new levels of
importance. This is a natural outcome of the role the EA plays as a gateway and facilitator in making their executive more accessible to those with a legitimate need to connect.

EAs often have access to more insider information than other
stakeholders within the organization. The WFH environment is
perfect for EAs to share appropriate information with other
assistants who can channel it to their departments, and keep their team members up-to-date with relevant goings on. This one small act can help assistants who aren’t usually included in the action, to become a resource to their department or manager. It gives them visibility within their team and could help them to be brought into new projects, or areas of responsibility from which they were
previously overlooked. From my position as assistant to the CEO, I loved sharing relevant information with EAs across the organization, to make them a beneficial resource to their executives. They would be all smiles when I saw them in the corridor because of the kudos it gave them with their boss.

Assistants are known for playing a role in bringing groups together. They work across boundaries and promote cross-department
collaboration. They don’t buy into petty jealousies and suspicions. As a channel to top management, they can help far-flung departments and locations feel less isolated. This has been particularly valued and welcomed during the 2020 work-from-home mandate, where entire organizations have been distanced from each other. Executive
Assistant Dorothy Connell told me her CEO “Encourages me to be an added bridge of communication to our executive assistant and administrative assistant community so we stay connected as a team.”

Sometimes assistants tell me that sharing information isn’t always welcomed. People feel threatened, or disloyal to their team if they share what’s going on. In these circumstances, trust needs to be built. If you use the information they share to get results for them, or improve their circumstances, they will certainly start to trust you and work with you. Without betraying confidentiality, share
information that is needed to get the job done, or make life easier for others. If you know a way to make a situation better, then do so.

Jesse Egeonu, EA to the executive vice-chair at Globacom in Nigeria shared with me that even though assistants are reluctant to share issues across departments due to confidentiality concerns, recently he was able to assist one of his colleagues who is working remotely. The assistant had a hard deadline and was struggling with a
document her boss had sent her. Her boss had saved it as a Mac Pages file and the assistant was operating an Android device. Luckily Jesse was on hand to help her convert the document to Word, proofread, fix the layout and get it onto company letterhead, before sending it back to her boss for signature in time to make the
deadline. This led to them having discussions about how they could collaborate on projects that need to be managed in the WFH
environment. The trust that was built will help them work together remotely and when they return to the office environment.

An assistant I know told me about starting a job at a technology
giant. The culture of the organization encouraged people to be fiercely competitive, vying to get ahead at someone else’s expense.  She said no assistant would help her for fear that she would look better than they did, or get ahead faster than they did, so you were on your own. Imagine what a breath of fresh air a capable, confident assistant who is not threatened by others and wants to cooperate would be to an organization like that? It would cause a huge
paradigm shift. It might feel like a herculean task, but such an
assistant would catapult themselves into a higher level position the minute the company felt  the effects of this assistant’s outreach.
Believe me because I’ve done it. It takes supernatural amounts of passion and energy and not everyone is up for it, but if you are, don’t hesitate. The personal and professional rewards are immense, and you’ll grow in stature and ability.

In an article discussing strategies for being a successful assistant, EA trainer Adam Fidler wrote, Share all your best tips and experience with another EA. Being secretive and defensive creates the wrong energy and if you take the time to share information, and work as a team-spirited EA, you’ll command respect and be seen as a true professional.” 

The nature of the EA role is to act as a hub. This means assistants are poised to share information, facilitate decision-making and help avoid bottlenecks, whether it is inter-department, or company-wide. Helping someone in another department gets the job done faster. It facilitates transparency, gives you insight into how they function and where inefficiencies may lie that you can help overcome. When
executives see you working with their assistant, or if they know they can finally get a long-awaited answer simply by their assistant
picking up the phone to you, they’ll notice. They’ll talk about you in the boardroom as someone who gets things done. This is how,
step-by-step, you land that sought-after seat at the table.

One thing that may affect assistants performing this function of
facilitator is the number of assistants who say they don’t read their executive’s emails, and who meet with their executives (virtually or actually), once a week or less.  If you are working like this, you are subject to only knowing what the executive shares with you, or
picking up information indirectly. If you are to serve as a conduit throughout the organization, you must be on top of what’s going on, otherwise you will not be as effective in that role. Another factor is assistants who are too widely focused on interacting with the
organization at large, they forget who they are in place to support.  Don’t neglect your responsibilities to your primary team members in your quest to be a company-wide champion. Your immediate team must remain your first priority. Keep them supported, assured and strengthened in the knowledge that you are firmly invested in the partnership.  With this assurance, they will support and encourage your efforts to be a company-wide collaborator.


©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: Consequences of Poor Attention to Detail by Executive Assistants

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses attention to detail as it relates to the Executive Assistant position.

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: Our recent interview on Multitasking produced many
conversations about how the digital world is creating distractions. Not only is productivity decreasing, people are having trouble paying
attention, so the percentage of mistakes is growing. You say in your book that assistants should be “scrupulous about details.” What are the consequences of poor attention to detail by executive assistants?

Jan Jones: “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it.
Autograph your work with excellence.” – Ted Key, Cartoonist

Attention to detail is a cornerstone of the executive assistant role. It’s what differentiates superior executive assistants from those who are content with average performance and not too particular about the quality of their end product.

I like the saying “Quality is non-negotiable.” Poor quality will destroy your credibility. If you are a freelance virtual assistant, it will destroy your business. Your work is your signature. It says this is the very best I can do. That being the case, we must make delivering a quality product a priority.

Steve Jobs insisted that the Mac should be as beautiful inside as it was on the outside, even though the inside was rarely seen. His wife said “Steve and Jony (Ive) would talk for hours about corners.”
Corners of the iPhone, how they should look, feel and function. If you are familiar with Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, which uses Apple as the example, this is the “How” Apple does what it does, (“Our products are beautifully designed.”) This fanatical attention to detail is why people line up overnight waiting for the release of a new Apple product. People will pay a premium for products that radiate attention to detail. Owning such a product says something about you and how you wish to be perceived. That’s why people willingly pay for designer labels that exude quality.

I remember a client taking me to lunch at a restaurant with a stellar reputation. When I declined dessert, she insisted I try one of the
signature desserts. After one bite I said to her “now I know why this dessert costs $30.” The attention to detail in the presentation, the precision of execution, the mastery of blending and balancing flavors that leaves your mouth dancing, it was stunning from start to finish. It didn’t just round out the meal, it eclipsed the main meal and turned the lunch into a transcendent experience.

In your role as executive assistant, what’s your version of these
examples? How is your end product demonstrating your attention to detail so that your executive and team members are ecstatic you are on their team, and that they get to work with you every day?  If
assistants truly value their reputation, if they wish to establish their credibility and be taken seriously, then they must make sure to
consistently put out a quality product that exceeds expectations, or at the very least is free of errors and done right the first time. If you have a reputation for being meticulous and paying attention to
detail, small transgressions will be forgiven. If not, it will be one more example of you not being invested in excellence, or caring about how you are perceived. Such a reputation is hard to live down.

No two ways about it, exceptional executive assistants are
scrupulous about the details. They know that sloppy output, typos, poor grammar, avoidable mistakes, don’t only reflect poorly on the
executives they support, it’s a negative reflection on them
personally, and no professional executive assistant wants that
reputation. Forget all that talk about your brand and the image you are trying to project of being a leader and strategic thinker, if you don’t produce work that is thorough and complete. Check your work. Your finished product is your autograph, your reputation, and credibility.

Careless work has real consequences. Close to 80% of recruiters say that typos or bad grammar on a resume are immediate deal
breakers, because they show a lack of attention to detail.

My first boss was an absolute stickler for the details. As an
inexperienced but ambitious secretary, I was itching to jump into big-picture activities, without even knowing what it meant, or what it took to operate at that level. How could I pay attention to the
details when I didn’t even know what those details were? My
inexperience would have caused me to drop the ball, and create problems for my company. Thankfully, with an eagle eye executive looking out for me and smartly capitalizing on my drive to excel, I grew to understand that the big picture is made up of smaller pieces, little details that meticulously build upon each other to create the big picture, just like the big picture comes into view as you build a jigsaw puzzle. As I learned and matured, I understood why I needed to get it right and get it right the first time. Obviously, if you’ve never done something before, it’s possible you won’t get it right the first time. But once you’ve learned how to do the job, pay attention to how you execute because you will be expected to turn in quality work.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the statement “Never time to get it right, but always time to do it over.” There is a cost to business in time and money when we don’t pay attention to the details, when things are missed or wrong, and the work has to be re-done. Do you know that lack of attention to details impacts employee morale? It frustrates your colleagues. These are the people upline and
downline who are relying on the job you do – you are that vital
component that allows them to complete their project on time and on budget. If you make mistakes it decreases productivity, wastes their time, and could result in delays that cause your company to
upset their customers, or even lose them. Worst case, there could be legal or compliance ramifications from inaccurate work.

In one fell swoop, your credibility is lost if your work is sloppy, or brands you as functionally illiterate. An assistant colleague asked my opinion on a survey soliciting input from EAs. The survey questions had some unsubstantiated assumptions and the EA didn’t want a
repeat of that infamous Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year. I sent a private message to the woman with the survey, asking a few questions and entreating her to be careful how she positioned the role of the EA because the last thing we need is another
magazine circulating misconceptions about the role. Here’s the
response I got from her:

“If any of the EA’s that you reference to are at the level to support my research then they would of all ready knew me and what work I have been doing while in Silicon Valley supporting my CEO to now being a business owner.” 

Can you imagine the shock people might get when they receive
correspondence from her? I’m always driving home to EAs that you are your executive’s face and voice to the world. What image is this woman projecting on behalf of her executive? She assisted a top
executive in Silicon Valley, where, we hear, they are demanding EAs have degrees. Yet, there exists a top executive there whose assistant seems barely literate in her native language. Not exactly modeling Steve Jobs’ passion for “how” we do things.

One group of assistants proudly displayed a newspaper
article that said they were a team of rock star assistants. The
problem is the article had a glaring typo in the big headline, which none of those EAs addressed, so instead of being celebrated, they were being ridiculed. Even if one of them had offered some
explanation (most likely the newspaper was at fault), things could have been different for them. Assistants, you have to get out ahead of things and head them off, or quickly set them straight with an
explanation. Leaving things to languish and hoping they go away is not a good strategy in protecting your reputation for being
scrupulous about the details.

Another area where assistants must pay more attention to detail is on social media. It’s a low-key environment, but that doesn’t mean you lower your standards. Recently, there have been postings where people meant to say “a part of”, as in they are happy to be a part of a group. They wrote it as “apart”, which means separate from. One memo we received said the caterer’s signature tamales are
“Handmaid daily.” These are examples of easily avoided carelessness. Pay attention and don’t let hasty work tarnish your reputation for reliability.

Proofreading, especially lengthy pieces, is not easy. That’s why it calls for your special attention. Read your work, then set it aside. Come back to it with fresh eyes. If possible, run it by someone else to get another set of eyes on it. If my bosses prepared their own
documents, they always gave them to me to read before sending out. If they were lengthy or complicated, I printed them out to proofread. Studies show, and for me personally, I know that reading on paper is more effective in detecting errors that get missed onscreen, not to mention being easier on tired eyes. Another tip is to read your work out aloud to yourself. Sometimes what we intend to say, and what we actually write, are not the same. Reading aloud lets you discover the errors more easily.

Do you know that a key factor of CEO success is their attention to detail? Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom says “CEOs are unbelievably detail-oriented. That’s one of the big ingredients of their success.” This is an executive success habit that assistants must absolutely mirror. Bloom says that when he teaches students, they get “over excited about the big-picture, sexy stuff of long-term
strategy and skip over the small details which turn out to be
critically important in business.” This is something I learned at the start of my assistant career, and can’t emphasize enough, especially to younger assistants today. If you can’t perform well in the small things, you won’t do well with the bigger critical tasks, and no
serious executive is going to take that risk. Would you if you were in their shoes? You have to practice excellence and demonstrate it
daily before you’ll be given entrée to inner circles, or invited to take that seat at the table you may feel entitled to. As UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “Little things make big things happen.”

If you’d like to brush up on making big things happen through your attention to detail, here are some suggestions:

  • To produce error-free work start by focusing on what you are
    doing. Slow down and give yourself time to think. When you rush, the finer points get missed.
  • Prioritize your workload so you don’t forget about a
    time-sensitive project and then rush to complete it.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum, especially if you are doing work that requires high levels of concentration.
  • Make sure you are clear about expectations. How much time do you have to complete the job? What are the deadlines? Is the
    entire project due at one time, or are there milestones you need to meet?
  • Analyze and understand what’s in front of you. Ask if you don’t understand so you don’t waste time re-doing things.
  • Plan your work. What’s the end result you need to produce and how will you go about it? It’s helpful to understand how your task fits into the broader picture with your team, or company. When you view it from that perspective, you get a better understanding, the details become clearer and you can make sure not to miss them.
  • Certain jobs that you do on a regular basis might benefit from a checklist that you can use to make sure no details are overlooked. For smaller or easier jobs, I would sketch out in my mind what needed to be done. But for bigger projects, I created a detailed checklist and crossed off each item or segment as it was completed.
  • A big project with many elements can be intimidating, so break the job down into manageable segments that will make it easier for you to review and catch any omissions or errors.
  • Remember, get the right things done and get them done right the first time. Check and re-check your work. If possible, get a second set of eyes on a project that is more involved.
  • Have confidence in yourself and your ability to get the job done.
  • Be passionate and proud of what you do. The way you present yourself matters. In the words of the poet, Kahlil Gibran, “Work is love made visible.”

©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: Can Executive Assistants be effective working remotely?

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.


For the past three 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!

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1-10!

FlyPrivateCan executive assistants be effective if they are working remotely?  What about virtual assistants? Can executives have their business needs met by using remote or virtual assistants?

Jan Jones: As the old saying goes, “there’s horses for courses”.
Meaning depending on the circumstances or conditions, assistants can be effective working remotely and many executives can have their business needs met by using remotely-located or virtual
assistants. We should take a closer look at the circumstances under which executives could function effectively using assistants who are working remotely, or are virtual assistants, to determine how
effective they can be.

Let’s take working remotely first. Actually, this is not something new. I was recently speaking with a former CEO of an international fast food organization. He told me that in the 1980s, within a few months of each other, several of his company’s assistants became pregnant, or wanted to leave due to their childcare situations. Since they had been with the company a long time and he didn’t want to lose their years of experience, he set them up with computers in their homes. He told them, “I don’t care when or how you work, just get the work done and deliver it on time.”  Technology today makes computers affordable and the internet gives us immense freedom to work from just about anywhere we choose, so it makes sense that remote and virtual assistants are gaining in popularity.

But how suitable is it for an executive who needs a certain level of support from an assistant? I checked in with two of the best, most celebrated executive assistants I know: Penni Pike former assistant to Sir Richard Branson for 31 years and Debbie Gross who spent over 25 years as assistant to John Chambers, former CEO and
current Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems. Both ladies are
featured in my book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”.

Penni told me “Richard included me in everything”, which is how she came to know and understand the Virgin business and what
mattered most to her boss. When I asked her about assistants
working remotely she said, “I can’t understand that because I always worked so closely with Richard. He needed his assistant by his side. People at the very top have to have someone who works with them like that. Otherwise, if they need something urgently, the assistant is not there. Richard needs someone with him all the time.”

Debbie Gross said, “For administrative professionals, working
remotely has become more of the ‘norm’ in today’s business world partly due to the change in business models.  Many administrators support teams that are based around the world and are never
actually in a traditional office.  With the advance in video
technologies, it has definitely become easier to work remotely.

“That being said, one of the key roles I believe an administrator plays is their ability to build relationships across all levels and be the eyes and ears for the people they support.  Harder to do effectively from a ‘home-office’ environment. This was a critical component of my role supporting a CEO making working remotely not really an
option. John always expected me to be the ‘face’ of the office
especially when he traveled.  When he would check in while on the road he always asked how things were going at the office, so I felt it was key that I be present there. It was about noticing what was
going on around me with other members of the organization and
being able to feel the pulse and morale and share that with John.  He was pretty adamant that executive assistants be in the office, so I am not sure I would have been hired to support him if one of my
requirements was to work from home. Many senior level executives prefer to have their executive assistants in the office, especially the higher they are in their organizations.”

This has also been my experience in my career as an executive
assistant. My jobs were much too interactive with my boss, staff, clients and vendors for me to be outside the office. Like Debbie Gross, my executives counted on me to be their ‘eyes and ears’ and their ‘face’ to the world. Situations were constantly arising that needed my immediate attention. Leaving my desk to go pick up a sandwich at lunchtime could prove tricky. When I worked for bosses who were constantly traveling, on the rare days they were
scheduled to be in the office, I brought my lunch to work so I would not have to be away from my desk for more than a few minutes. Meetings were being set up, canceled or moved at a moment’s
notice, people would drop by unannounced, phone calls were being made, sometimes I was holding 2 or 3 calls at the same time, project approvals were needed, documents required signature, and there were always more travel arrangements to be made, changed or
canceled. Most executives I worked for were constantly calling out for me and I tried to always be within earshot, or have my assistant or someone listen out and let me know if I was being yelled for.  How would I have managed all this remotely?

I am currently working on a project with an assistant who is located remotely and I find it arduous. Work that should take 2 days is taking 5 or 6 due to the back and forth across international time zones. Yet, I am constantly meeting assistants who say they’ve negotiated with their executives to work remotely. Perhaps these executives have become accustomed to doing many tasks their assistants should be doing, or much of the work their assistants do for them is not of an urgent or time-sensitive nature.  Their assistants probably aren’t functioning as their liaison or deputy as I did, or as Gross and Pike did for their executives.

A big negative with the arrangement of assistants working remotely is the burden it places on assistants who are working at the office. I hear complaints that the remote assistants show themselves as “available”, but when they are contacted they don’t respond for hours, sometimes even an entire day goes by when they are not
responding to emails, texts or phone calls.  The urgency arises to schedule or re-schedule meetings, for example, but the assistant can’t be reached. If the executive is traveling, neither the executive nor their assistant can be reached and too much time is being spent by other assistants trying to contact them, cover for them, or
wasting time putting their own tasks on hold waiting for a response. I’ve inquired why these assistants don’t insist HR or the remote
assistant’s boss does something about it. HR tells them the boss agreed the assistant could work remotely when they hired them, so there’s nothing they can do. This is a cop-out by HR and the
executive. They must step up and consider the overall effects this situation has on the company. If this arrangement were impeding my workplace productivity, I would actively agitate for it to be changed. I would lobby HR not to allow executives to agree to letting their
assistants work remotely, but instead offer it as an option with
certain conditions, mainly that the assistant proves they are mature and responsible enough to warrant that privilege.

The bigger concern I have for assistants working remotely is how do they learn the business? How do they grow and expand in the role if they are not there to witness the daily ins and outs of the business environment? How do they develop a relationship of trust and
familiarity with their executive if they are not in physical proximity to each other? Ultimately, are they setting themselves up to become redundant? With warnings about A.I. and virtual assistants stepping in to fill many of the routine tasks assistants do, I would pay close
attention to developing skills and processes that make me more valuable and available to my executive.

The exception to this is assistants who have been with their
executive a long time, have built up a strong relationship with an
understanding of the business and each other. If the business is in a mature phase, or the executive’s role is such that they can be gone for periods of time, their assistants have the freedom to work remotely.

Penni mentioned that she thought assistants working remotely might get lonely. Debbie also addressed this from her experience at Cisco. “3 years ago I came to recognize that at Cisco, there was a whole administrative community that worked remotely and in
talking with several of these administrative professionals it became clear that they all felt a sense of isolation from the broader
administrative community.  As a result we pulled together this group and created an initiative known as G.R.A.C.E. – Global Remote
Administrators Connecting Effectively.  This is a group of remote
administrators who come together once a quarter to discuss the challenges they are facing, as well as review of best practices that help them feel connected.

“One of the key areas discussed was the challenge of developing a relationship with the leader because they were remote.  I strongly encourage administrative professionals who are working remotely to make it a point to travel to the corporate office at least once a year and even better, quarterly if they can, in order to ‘connect’ with their peers, meet the people they interface with across the
organization and become ‘visible’ – putting a face to the voice.  I also always suggest that remote administrators attend networking events and administrative conferences to learn and engage with
others in their profession. Working remotely certainly has its
advantages. However, administrative professionals can be even more effective by not isolating themselves. I feel that it is in our
administrative DNA that we connect with others and build strong relationships and that means we have to get out of ‘home-office’
environment to do that.  Many of Cisco’s G.R.A.C.E. members are now coming to the corporate office and networking with their peers, enriching their relationships and friendships and growing their knowledge and ultimately being of greater assistance to the leaders they support.”

Virtual Assistants: I often meet assistants who tell me they are
toying with the idea of trying out being a VA because they perceive it as a freeing experience. The purpose of including information about the VA profession in this article is to help assistants understand what it takes to survive and thrive as a VA.

Thanks to technology, there is a role for virtual assistants in the
business world. I remember from the pre-internet days, a friend of mine who worked at a large university would earn extra money
using her home computer to type students’ assignments, or
professors’ presentations. It stands to reason then, that with the freedom the internet offers us, that the virtual assistant profession would flourish.  Originally, this was a service that many
single-operator or small businesses used, but it is becoming more common for established businesses with ample resources to seek out the services of virtual assistants.

Penni Pike is an advisor for Time, etc., the virtual assistant service started in the UK, but now successfully established in the USA as well. Penni was brought on board by the company’s founder,
Barnaby Lashbrooke to guide them in setting up the business. He said Penni provided invaluable insight into how the EA-Executive
relationship should work and what kind of support executives need. Assistants chosen to work for Time, etc., go through a thorough
vetting process, not only for administrative skills, but for
inter-personal skills such as a client-focused viewpoint,
responsiveness to clients requests, attention to detail and so on. Their VAs are a mix of mid-to-high level, offering a range of skills that are “not all admin based, but include the strategic management side of business as well” said Barnaby.

He says the VA role is not suited for everyone. Many assistants are better suited to working in an office, so Time, etc., probes the prospective assistant’s reasons for wanting to be a VA. This is an
important aspect of the vetting process because it would be
disruptive if clients like working with a particular assistant and
develop an effective working relationship, only to find out the
assistant has moved on. Quality assistants with young families who need the flexibility of working from home, yet still need to bring in an income, are the most typical profile of a VA.

Anita Armas of Anita D. Armas Administrative Services from West Covina in California told me she started her VA business because she needed freedom and flexibility when she was looking for a way to be at home with her young children while still earning an income. Anita said, “I knew there was a way to use my skills and experience to do just that but wasn’t sure how, then I heard about virtual
assistants. My husband’s business was hit hard by the financial crisis of 2008 and I needed another way to bring in additional income, so I officially began marketing myself as a virtual assistant and I soon gained my first client.”

I asked Anita what mindset a person needs to be successful as a VA. “Aside from skills, in order to be successful as a virtual assistant one must be confident, resourceful, thick-skinned, adaptable, a great communicator and have a servant’s heart. As a VA business owner, my business success depends greatly on the success of my clients. A successful VA will not just be a “doer” but will be innovative and strategically invested in his or her clients business, in order to know how to best support their client. A willingness to learn and grow are key,” says Anita. She added that some of the pitfalls a VA can
experience include the client not seeing the VA as an autonomous business owner and leaning towards an employer/employee
mentality. The client feeling a sense of exclusivity, thinking they are the only client the VA has, and lack of communication between the VA and the client.

When assistants tell me they are considering becoming a VA, I
caution them that before they leave a secure, well-paying job with benefits and career advancement opportunities, they should
consider how the uncertainty of not immediately having a steady
income might impact them. They should consider whether or not they are cut out for working alone and whether they are sufficiently disciplined to get down to work every day when they have the
option to work at their own time and pace. It’s easy to romanticize being your own boss when you are operating from the safety of a
secure job. The reality of being self employed can be a wakeup call when you have to prospect for business, deal with unhappy clients, pay bills, collect payments and furnish your own healthcare. Many VAs thrive in the role and others, after a mild flirtation with
independence, gladly return to the security of a full time job.
Evaluate your skills, your disposition and your self-discipline
thoroughly before you venture into the VA world. It is not for
everyone, particularly if you decide not to work through a platform such as Time, etc., preferring to source business on your own.

What’s exciting about all this is the many options assistants of all
calibers and experience levels have at their disposal today.  When you get excited about the opportunities, be sure to think through the potential downsides, not just the upsides. Use this article to make a Pros and Cons list for yourself. I wish you success in whatever you decide.

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new 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


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Q & A with Jan Jones: What Makes Assistants Successful at Multitasking?

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses multitasking as it relates to the Executive Assistant position.

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: We’ve been hearing that “multitasking” is a myth and we should stop trying to do multiple things at once. But I recall you saying that being good at multitasking was vital to your success as an
executive assistant. Can you clarify? 

Jan Jones: Yes, I did say that and I fully believe that multitasking – as it pertains to the role of the executive assistant – is a fine art that many executive assistants have perfected. But I should make the
distinction about what I mean regarding “multitasking” as it pertains to the executive assistant, as opposed to executives and others.

We now have scientific evidence that multitasking is impossible for our brains and that, in fact, when we think we are multitasking what’s happening is that our brains are almost instantaneously switching back and forth from one task to another. It happens so fast that we think we are doing more than one thing at a time. This is easy to prove. Try giving your full attention to reading an email at the same time you are trying to pay complete attention to a phone call you are having. You will soon become aware that both tasks are suffering and you have to stop doing one of them.

So when I say that being good at multitasking was vital to my success as an EA, it comes down to that ability to switch back and forth
between tasks at a remarkably rapid pace, and then quickly
regaining laser focus. It takes discipline and practice and is not something everyone can do effectively. But for me, and some
assistants I’ve observed, it seems to be less arduous. My opinion is that because of the demands of the EA role, assistants are
constantly multitasking and as a result have mastered the ability to switch from task to task very quickly, along with the ability to regain focus. Obviously, some are better at it than others. The key is not to multitask with projects that require 100% of your concentration. That will result in you making mistakes, doing the job poorly and
taking longer to do it. It helps to batch similar tasks so that it’s easier to switch back and forth, but realistically, EAs don’t always have that option when requests are piling up, so you end up devising your own system and style of working in order to get it all handled.

I think another part to the talent of multitasking as demonstrated by assistants is revealed in an article published in Scientific American in April 2010. The article says that the brain can keep tabs on two tasks at once, even though we can’t actually do two tasks at once. I think this ability to keep tabs on two tasks at once is crucial to EAs being successful in their job. I liken it to sleeping with one eye open. You’ve always got your eye on all those balls you are juggling, to make sure nothing gets dropped. Nothing escapes your attention. This is a
desirable talent and one that is highly developed in goal-oriented executive assistants.

The world of the EA is one of constant interruptions, and if you
support more than one executive, that’s even more applicable to you. But that’s the nature of our job. We don’t have the luxury of
taking ourselves off to some quiet corner where we can focus on one thing at a time, as the experts are constantly advising executives to do. Assistants have to operate in the thick of it all day and everyday, so we must get better and better at recovering our focus as our brains rapidly switch back and forth between tasks. I don’t know of any scientific evidence to back up my assertion, but I know from
personal experience that I’m quickly able to adjust back and forth. I’m sure other assistants have this capability as well, and I’d be
interested to hear from them about it.

Multitasking can be tiring and one clue to help reduce the stress it causes is to give your brain a re-set if you’ve been doing a lot of
multitasking. Take a break, or focus on one task only. I know this sounds like wishful thinking to assistants, particularly with the
current Covid lockdown, which is forcing assistants to multitask business and homelife demands. So you must allow your brain even a brief rest. Reduced stress allows your immune system to function better. I was just reading a conversation between a medical working group that includes surgeons and neuroscientists. This comment caught my eye. “Threats fire up the immune system. ‘Threats’ are all sorts of stuff. Viruses, bacteria, a bully, a difficult boss, your thoughts and repressed emotions. Thoughts and emotions are processed in the brain the same way as a physical threat. Anxiety also fires up the immune system.” So, please take a break and calm your nervous system.

Another clue to successful multitasking is to have a priority list. It will help you to meet your objectives. Sometimes, the most
important task may require the highest amount of concentration and time for completion. Knowing this, you can quickly knock off a bunch of lesser items that don’t require a lot of time or
concentration, and then get down to uninterrupted time with your key projects. With those lesser items completed, you’ve probably satisfied some of your stakeholders, and you won’t be anxious about all those other things you have left to do, while you are trying to
focus on the complex, big-ticket items.

It’s true, science has shown you lose time when you multitask. Time is lost as your brain switches back and forth between tasks. (Studies say as much as 40% in some cases). But you can learn to make up for those precious lost seconds by quickly regaining your focus. The ability to focus and not give way to needless distractions is a skill
assistants must develop, especially during these times where smart phones and social media platforms are purposely designed to
distract us by keeping us addicted to checking them constantly.

This is not a joke. Some brave souls in the technology arena are
finally speaking up about the way devices are programmed in order to addict us. We need to be vigilant about this so our devices don’t rule our lives in a negative way, destroying our ability to focus and putting us into overwhelm and overload.

EAs may wish to view the 60 Minutes piece on “Brain Hacking” where former Google product manager, Tristan Harris (also in the Netflix film “The Social Dilemma”) discusses how Silicon Valley
exploits neuroscience to keep us addicted to technology.
Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker says Facebook is designed to exploit human vulnerability, by creating things like the “like” button, which give users “a little dopamine hit” so they continue to upload content. These revelations are an eye opener and should give pause to every assistant to examine if they are using technology, or if
technology is using them. I repeatedly say to assistants that
technology is a tool to help you get better at what you do. It can’t be a substitute for the human skills the job requires. In this case the skill is focus which technology is inadequate for, because it
constantly distracts your focus and robs you of time. However, don’t overlook that technology may provide a solution if you are able to automate some of those repetitive tasks that slow your productivity.

Multitasking, even as we understand it scientifically today, will
continue to be an essential component in the arsenal of exceptional executive assistants. It’s not feasible for assistants to stop
multitasking, so get really good at it. Develop your ability to switch back and forth rapidly between tasks and quickly regain your focus. The benefits of learning to focus go far beyond multitasking. It
dramatically increases your productivity and the quality of your work. The partnership of focus with multitasking is a paramount skill for time-pressured assistants. Once you master this combined skill, you won’t resent interruptions because your remarkable ability to focus will help you to quickly get back on target again. And this
ability is why I say, despite the science, many executive assistants have multitasking down to a fine art.


©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: 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:

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: