As you all know by now, I am not only a travel slave, but I am a personal / executive assistant and project manager to VIP’s and big shots. Do I like this line of career, yes I do as I am a natural helper and love organizing. My passion in real estate and events make my job fun and I combine it with travels now that I mainly work for myself. I have drawn up a couple of skills and tips of become a fulfilled assistant and maybe this will enlighten a couple of people to what it actually takes to get the job done. I do get the on, but what exactly do you do? I know reply, you know the things you hate doing and you seem to get blocked on, well a good assistant will come along and make you see further that your nose and deal with the problem for you. Sounds good? Yeah thought so!!!
First of all, you need to be a naturally organized person, I mean your brain better have draws where you store everything, that you open and close one at a time. If you happen to open them all at the same time, it might get a little messy and you will start talking gibberish, believe me it has happened to me, and you physically feel like your brain is on overdrive and your neurons are sparkling like a electric wires sparking. Get the image? And then poof all of a sudden, your brain is switched off and rebooting. It usually takes experience for the brain to reboot fast, but yes it can be very embarrassing and come across as very unprofessional.
Here is an extract of questions I would ask the person that comes to me wanting to pick my brain on being an assistant, this can be executive, personal or for projects, is this:
Why are you aspiring to be an assistant?
Now this can be very funny and entertaining one, from I do not want the full work load in being the boss, to I want to replace the boss one day, to I cannot find anything else right now or I like helping people, something that does not come up often. For me this is the case, I find it rewarding knowing I am using my knowledge and skills to help somebody in there every day life or grow their business.
Being an assistant with a purpose is very important and be carful at wanting to be the assistant that wants to replace the boss, the boss usually did the same so they are aware of this game, and will make your life miserable.
Then the next is, what do you think are the main bullet points to be organized?
I usually come across blank faces, then again it is maybe because they are so experienced, they do it naturally, well I would hope so.
- Be a detail freak
- Make elaborate to do lists
- Daily reports (even if you have done one task that day for your client, take note)
- Keep a phone log
- Keep an address diary
- Keep all, I mean, all business cards, make a photo and store
- Remember names (I was so bad at this, but I would describe the whereabouts I met the person, ask to take a photo of them for my phone address book and describe what they do – That is for another entire post)
- After meeting, always follow up with an email or a text message thanking them for their time.
- Flag important emails
- Reply within 48hs maximum and if you do not have the answers just let them know you are working on it.
Of course, there are many, many, more but these are for me the basics.
The funniest and most crucial is: how do you count on dealing with your employer?
Here again, I get a lot of comments but the crucial one I stick to is: learn to not judge. Take them at face value. You have not been employed to judge your boss, you are there to utilize your skills and brain to make their life easier. They have come so far without you, and will continue living their lives after you leave, so there is no point having an opinion on the way they choose to live their lives.
I am adamant, if you are able to not judge and give your opinion in a kind and gentle way, based on the fact that they are intelligent enough to accept your opinion, in the latter case, never give your opinion of never asked, then you will overcome any types of stress. Then again, we go back to my opening paragraph, never open all the draws at the same time, ok 2 max at a time but be prepared to experience palpitations.
There are ways to beat the stress, realign your soul and body.
I would recommend for any type of assistant or person that can come across pressure at work, to take up meditation and boxing. Yes, a little bit at pole opposite but I found it to be a good balance. Beat the crap out of Bob the mannequin and meditate on what you found rewarding by beating him up!
But unfortunately, no matter the amount of sports and meditation you do, if a boss shows aggression or passive aggressive attitude on a regular basis, then you have to put up with it because you have to or move on, as this can be very detrimental to your health (see article posted 21/02/2019 for tips). I found a new-found love in Reiki and hypnosis, after watching an interesting documentary on mind over body but this will be for another chapter 😉
Questions are welcome, if I get enough of them, I will reply in another article!!!
Stay strong and keep moving forward.