Networking

Admins on the Rise Part III

Written by: Haley Garrison

Written by: Haley Garrison

TOPIC: Now You’re Working With Your EA…

When evaluating the pain points you’re running into as an Executive, what comes top of mind and how can your EA help to alleviate those pain points? 

“Time. The causal time. Conversation. If you free up time then you have face time to actually talk about the hard stuff (or not the hard stuff). When you’re changing context a lot or if I’m traveling a bunch, I need to be able to have a strategic conversation. It’s the softer stuff that adds context and helps me pick up on the other details. - Eric, Mapbox 

What does an EA need to do to gain your confidence to demonstrate they are capable of more? 

“At FRB, we have a lot of Executive Assistants who have evolved into Executive roles. We know somebody is ready because they’ve never checked out. If it’s not going well, tell your Executive what’s not going well. If there’s something you want to improve, talk about it. Have the courage to say, ‘this should change’ or ‘I’m not happy with this, here’s what we can do better.’ It’s okay to say that because it’s a partnership.” - Beth, First Republic Bank 

“Ask for specific things you want to do and have good reasons for them. Just saying, ‘hey I want more or hey I want to be more...’ it’s hard to know what to do with that sometimes. It’s a lot more compelling if there are specific tasks and evidence behind those and maybe some sort of framework for how they might work. Have a plan. Then we’ll know that you’re ready.” - Alex, Founders Fund

“One thing I’ve noticed with Admins and EAs in general is that they feel their value is tied to their proximity to the C-suite. They forget how powerful they can be depending on where they are in the hierarchy. Be ambitious. Be curious. Be courageous. No one is going to stop you if you’re effective. I know an EA is ready for something else when they’re super passionate and super thoughtful. … They are already fulfilled by what they are doing now, but they know they can evolve.” - Annie, Postmates 

“Working closely with other people and not just on the leadership team. When we started working on projects together and really quickly, I was able to actually start hopping out of projects and to be able to have that trust...now I’m actually able to delegate a bunch. The downside of that is you gotta make sure you create the right air cover.” - Eric, Mapbox

If an EA needs to challenge you or give you feedback on something, what is the best way for them to do that? 

“Directly.” - Alex, Founders Fund 

“Don’t throw tact out the window, but don’t throw personality out the window [either] because the relationship is built up on context. Actually, if you’re saying it with that kind of flavor, it will help me better understand what the problem is.” - Eric, Mapbox 

Eric, you recently made the comment that your EA (Paige) is “nothing short of transformative.” Can you qualify what behaviors, attributes and actions Paige exhibits that make her transformative? 

“Very quickly I felt how much more follow-through I had. It wasn’t just that I was able to do more, but more was getting done because of a higher degree of accountability. To be honest, this instantly brought a great sense of reward to my effectiveness. I’m just like, ‘awesome.’ Not only can I have a meeting, I can actually work with people who are accountable and get shit done. That starts having a flywheel effect. To be able to solve stuff that was gnarly for a while… I personally feel that I’m happy because I’m actually doing more. I’m doing more because we’re doing more together, and people like working on these projects better because we’re getting it done. Oh shit, we’ve just built momentum!” - Eric, Mapbox 

How do you know if you’ve outgrown your EA? On the flipside, what can your EA do to ensure he or she continues to grow and groom his/herself with you as you grow? 

“First part of the question: You know when you know. Second part of the question: By definition, of having to work together, you know where the person could go crush it.” - Eric, Mapbox 

“I know someone is going to grow with me when he/she continues to gain parallel context and continues to engage with his/her team. Having interface with your team is actually what’s going to keep you relevant. I know someone will grow with me when he/she is telling ME stuff that I didn’t even know about. I love that because it means someone else has their ear on the ground when I can’t. When you fill in my gaps, I’m going to keep you for as long as you continue to fill in the gaps.” – Annie, Postmates

Hope you enjoyed our recap – and we look forward to you enjoying our next event!

At Maven, we believe that meaningful, in-person connections are invaluable. If you haven’t yet had the chance to participate in one of our events, we encourage you to do so. By participating in this truly collaborative and candid forum, you’re able to quickly gain context and insight, build rapport, and access others you might not have the chance to do.

The proof of this was connecting one of our attendees that evening to her (now) new boss, Annie, at Postmates. When she arrived at our event, this attendee had a competing offer on the table, but after meeting Annie and hearing her perspectives on the EA role, she was able to confidently move forward with her choice to join Postmates. Talk about a meaningful connection!

See You Next Time!

Thank you again to all who participated and attended. We look forward to seeing you at our next Admins on the Rise 2019!

Admins on the Rise Part II

and here’s what we learned

Written by: Haley Garrison

Written by: Haley Garrison

TOPIC: You’re Interviewing Your Next Executive Assistant… 

More and more we hear our Clients talk about wanting a strategic EA. What does being a strategic partner mean to you? 

“Being a strategic partner means filling in the gaps your Executive didn’t even know existed. It means looking at the organization at large and having the courage to speak up in a profession where you’re supposed to be invisible... but that’s the old world! When you do something, how does it help change the bigger picture? Are you creating static solutions or are you operating for scale? That’s what a strategic partner is to me.” - Annie, Postmates 

Being strategic means exhibiting “proactive versus reactive behavior. Are you just doing what’s asked of you? Are you just thinking transactionally and checking boxes off your list, or are you thinking ahead and being proactive? For instance, what does my Executive’s whole week look like? What does their month look like? Who do they need to be checking in with? It’s about owning your role and having the managerial courage to make decisions on your own.” - Beth, First Republic Bank 

Taking a different spin on the question, Alex Silverman of Founders Fund made the important observation that “some [EA] roles are strategic, some are not. Not every administrative role we have at Founders Fund is necessarily strategic.” She went on to say that whether a role is strategic or not in no way negates the value that person brings to the table. Being “strategic” is not the only barometer for measuring value in a support relationship. 

You’re interviewing your next EA. What’s most important to you? 

“I want to see the raw, authentic and unrehearsed YOU.” - Alex, Founders Fund 

“Writing. Granted, hiring a former journalist [to be my EA] was the ultimate cheat.” - Eric, Mapbox 

TOPIC: You’ve Hired Your EA. Now What?

What’s impressive to you about how an EA onboards and gets up to speed in a relationship? 

Knowing how to “navigate or manage something yourself, and then when to ask for help (and who to ask for help from). This is a situational awareness type of skill... high EQ. Being able to decipher what you can execute right off the bat and what you need more information for.” - Alex, Founders Fund 

“I don’t analyze by 30-day, 60-day or 90-day... I actually don’t care about that at all. I care about how a new EA engages with their immediate team. It’s important that before you reach out to me, you have the courage and initiative to get some context outside of me. Ask a co-worker to grab a cup of coffee and get the download for how things run and how they can be better. This sideways context is HUGE. When I see someone take the initiative to learn from their team as opposed to sitting back and waiting for me to give them context... my heart sings!” - Annie, Postmates 

What are the daily practices that you and your EA have established that allow for a successful partnership? 

“If you get specific enough, it’s impossible to not be aligned. One of our tricks is Dropbox Paper. You look at it and it’s like, what do I owe you, what do I owe other people? If I’m going to push one thing at any point during the day, it’s this paper. The cool part is, you can edit it all. I can highlight it, ask questions, delete stuff throughout the day. It’s a constant context piece we can pull up which radically reduces my need to ping others throughout the day because I know what I need to do [….] it’s all right there. It allows me to change context so much faster and that allows me to stack a lot. It also allows me to contribute – it really is a two-way conversation. Dropbox Paper is magical for many reasons.” - Eric, Mapbox

“Never discount the power of a collaborative document. I created a dashboard that serves as a foundation for everyone coming in. It gives them context and resources immediately at a glance. I created this because at the time, I was solo, and I was afraid that if I got hit by a bus the entire leadership team would fail because they were leaning on me and I’m a single point of failure. [It] gives someone the ability to gain the context.” - Annie, Postmates 

More questions and answers to come tomorrow!

Admins on the Rise

Behind the Velvet Rope: Demystifying the Executives You Support

Written by: Jessica Vann & Haley Garrison

Ever wondered what the person sitting across from you in an interview was really thinking, or wished you could demystify your new boss? Or maybe you’ve wrestled with how you can best stand out during the onboarding and initial periods of your new job?  

It was in a quest to get these and other critical questions answered for our admin followership during Maven’s latest Admins on the Rise event, hosted at the iconic Hotel Zetta in downtown San Francisco! In case you missed it, here’s a virtual recap of what was a massively entertaining and informative evening. 

Those who bravely battled the apocalyptic fire skies and 221 air quality index on November 15th were generously rewarded by the witty and insightful commentary of our incredible panelists: 

  • Eric Gundersen: CEO of Mapbox 

  • Annie Wu: Executive Operations at Postmates 

  • Alex Silverman: Director of Operations at Founders Fund 

  • Beth Vasquez: Director of Talent Acquisition at First Republic Bank 

These esteemed business leaders and executives shared their perspectives on everything from how to stand out in an interview to what can distinguish you during the onboarding process, and as you solidify your new relationship, to how to stay relevant over the longer term.  

As always, our goal with this event was to create a candid, vibrant and rigorous dialogue that can both inspire and aid you as you navigate your own career trajectory.

Stay tuned over the next few days to see what we learned!

In the meantime, if you have a topic in mind you’d love to hear about at our next event, send your ideas to mavenrecruitinggroup@gmail.com. Our intention is to implement the topics YOU want to hear and learn about. After all, our Admins on the Rise events are for YOU, so tell us what you want to see, Admins. :)