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!