The post that rankled
One of my commitments is to take the conversation on the value of assistants past our own industry bubble. I will be talking to CEOs, entrepreneurs, L&D, HR and executive leaderships teams at every turn about the power and growth acceleration potential in every assistant.
A few weeks ago Taylor Offer made a post that got under my skin a bit. You can read the post here.
I’m doing something I told myself I’d never do…
I’m hiring an Executive Assistant.
If anyone ever passed me over to their Executive Assistant I would roll my eyes. Even the title “Executive Assistant” bothers me. I don’t want someone to think of themselves as an “assistant”, it seems belittling. I’m calling the role “Productivity Partner”.
I always have had a hard time delegating tasks and my schedule and workflow is so sporadic that I worry it will be tough for a Productivity Partner to keep up.
Does anyone here have an Executive Assistant or is anyone here an Executive Assistant? I would love to hear more about the workflow.
Everyone else, do you also cringe when you hear someone mention their Executive Assistant or is that just me?Taylor Offer
So much to say
This post obviously caused a stir. As you can see in the screenshot it at least has over 962 reactions and 356 comments! You all know me by now. I couldn’t let this post just pass me by. I had a few issues to address here.
Maybe you should read Adam Hergenrother and Hallie Warner’s book The Founder and the Force Multiplier.
Thank you for posting this. I love that you want to be peers. Partners. Because all humans are peers.
If you are concerned about the transition then hire someone with experience. Hire gold. The right person will onboard you. And please don’t half ass it – give them access to your calendar and your email and have an open policy for them to be in all meetings with you. We are problem solvers. Confidants. Advisors. Strategists. Networkers. Behavioral experts.
Learning your habits, patterns, decision making and more takes time. I would say it can take a year for someone to really truly start to anticipate your needs. So they need your time in the beginning. It’s an investment. Don’t skip your stand ups and one to ones. Invest in them.
You need to find the right person you vibe with. If you’ve never hired an EA before and the first one you hire doesn’t quite match as you had hoped then please don’t write off assistants. It takes time to find one that clicks. And you get what you put in. Invest your time and trust and the partnership grows and thrives.
And for god sakes give them a training budget. Best money ever spent.Lauren Bradley
The response was overwhelming
I was just speaking from my heart. I wanted to help this man and help assistants but also let him know his post rankled a little bit. My comment resonated with our community in a way I didn’t expect. I didn’t think I was saying anything particularly noteworthy but I knew it was earnest and true in my core. I was shocked as my LinkedIn notifications kept dinging…for days!
I think this resonated because so many assistants have heard or felt the term, “just an assistant.” Or they have joined what they thought would be an amazing new job working for an impressive principal only to be underutilized and banished to their desk never to fully learn their principal’s habits, needs, and goals in order to become an effective strategic partner. It makes you feel impotent and cheated.
I was sad to see that Taylor didn’t interact with any of the comments. I don’t know if he is more about posting clickbait or if he really was looking for insights and was too busy to reply, despite his admission to using a LinkedIn message manager.
I love that there are amazing principals out there that do get it. People like Adam Hergenrother who knows the value of his strategic partner and Chief of Staff, Hallie Warner…who I mentioned in the beginning of my comment above.
Since posting this blog on LinkedIn, Taylor commented to clarify his point. I’m so glad that he did.
Hey Lauren Bradley!! Thanks so much for such a thoughtful and well written post!! I think a lot of things were micscomunnicated! I wasn’t rolling my eyes because I thought less of the EA, I roll my eyes at the title of Executive Assistant. I think the title is belittling, that’s why I call mine a Productivity Partner! The role is extremely important, I just didn’t like the name of the role!Taylor Offer
Check out this blog
I was even lucky enough to be quoted in the Founder and the Force Multiplier blog which is an absolute great read and I hope that you dive in and give it a gander.
OK ! Let’s talk real then.
The tremendous work done by our profession is only and fully recognized in the bubble of EAs/PAs/VAs network from different audiences: individuals, trainers, influencers, press and so on.
The reality is simply a human experience. We are all spiritual beings living a human condition. The sum of the majority’s perception of anything becomes the norm.
As admins, we all perfectly know this feeling of not being recognized because of our titles, or let’s call this unconscious received idea that this title has always had a negative connotation.
Why? The answer does not exist because there are as many reasons as there are individuals working with our profession. It’s subjective and linked to a personal profession journey. It’s a never ending topic.
The HOW is much more powerful then the why. How to change this erroneous perception on this title : EDUCATION & TRAINING.
How can we expect any change and any recognition if managers, C-levels, boards and the mighty of this world are not educated to empower us, to collaborate and work with admins.
If we are Gold, they are the rough Diamond which will be polished and sublimated by our support.
And finally the When !
Lauren, when do you start the online classes for all the Taylors in the world ?
Lauren Bradley - Founder
Yes! I feel that so much of the cheerleading and battle cries for assistants happen in the isolated bubble. But I think this article is a step towards us cracking the ceiling. I had several CEOs, business leaders and founders reach out to me regarding this post. It is helping me for this idea on how I can help our cause breakthrough.
I also have many of conversations on this with leadership when I give corporate training. When you explain the ROI of an assistant to them it’s fabulous. They cannot wait to get started and can’t believe they have overlooked such a vital resource right in front of them.
I agree it’s a never ending topic. I think when bigger companies make a change it helps us take a leap closer to a solution. We are problem solvers so we want to fix this problem. I like the moves Google has made, “At Google (Alphabet) and Google Ventures (GV), ‘Executive Assistants’ are now called ‘Executive Business Partners’ and ‘Administrative Assistants’ and ‘Executive Assistants’ are now called ‘Administrative Business Partners’.” (Source)