I wanted to share how the Effective Assistant cast helped me. First off, the info in the cast was exactly what I needed! I had had several ideas rolling around regarding what I wanted my next assistant to take care of for me and this cast put an action plan with it.

I have been without an assistant for about 2 months and have been looking for a new one since she took a different job (within the company on our content acquisition team). I was looking for someone who displayed very aggresive initiative and finally found her. I hired her on a Friday and we decided to have her start on the next Wednesday. In the meantime, I asked her to listen to the entire assistant cast, read Good to Great and Getting Things Done. By Wednesday she had completed each of those tasks and we began to review the things I needed her to take over. The first few days were filled with training and orientation as I began teaching her what we did as a company and what I did as an executive. Over the weekend she listened to the cast again.

On Monday she came in and the first thing she said was 'I had an epiphany this weekend, after listening to the cast and thinking about it, I realized that when it comes to priorities, email, scheduling and networking you are not supposed to manage me, which I had been waiting for, I am supposed to manage you'.

Now, that's not in the cast verbatim, it's definately implied - but once she realized that's what it meant she took a whole new approach to her job. Over the next two days she proceeded to fill up my mostly empty schedule, began replying to several emails and initiating even more, began identifying my weaknesses to me and how she could strengthen them and started pointing out things I was doing that were not within the four priorities I had given her.

I believe the key for her was her realization from the cast, coupled with me emphatically telling her that she needn't worry about messing up - that we would just deal with it if she did and she wouldn't be in trouble. Those two things gave her the confidence and freedom to take over all of my administrative tasks.

Without the cast we may have eventually gotten where we are now, but I told her the cast was an exact roadmap to how I wanted her to perform her job and the cast has provided her with the confidence to jump right in. Thanks so much you guys! By creating such an awesome tool for her, I believe you have eliminated weeks of stress and frustration for both of us! You have my endless gratitude! :)

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


What a great post! Thanks for the kind words.

You're using our work exactly the way we want - by DOING.

While we did not say what your new admin said, she's dead right, and we wanted everyone to infer it. It is my opinion that those who have admins are almost always guilty of under-delegating, and spending time on the wrong things. The admin can help - if given the guidance you gave - by asserting him or herself and "taking" stuff from the boss.

What you actually want is a feeling of "gosh - what do I do now??"... because that means she's handling the details, and you're SUPPOSED to crawl up the value chain. She's supposed to handle all the alligators you used to (firefighting feels good), so you can think about, be creative about, be effective about.... draining the swamp.

GREAT post sir.


LancerDeuce's picture

When I began my current position four months ago, the first in which I rated an assistant, I searched both the net and Amazon in hopes of finding resources to help me learn to work effectively with my new admin. Finding none, I've hobbled along since then making poor use of her time - and recognizing it - but unable to come up with a better solution.

Your three podcasts on the subject have made it very clear what I need to do next to better work with her, and thus help her work with me. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

I just purchased a new iPod this weekend, which led me to the iTunes store, at which I discovered your podcast. This hour and a half topic alone has made the cost of the iPod worthwhile. Thanks for all you do!

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Glad we're providing value.

It's a privilege to serve you.


danstratton's picture

... and no doubt, Steve Jobs thanks you too. :D

tplummer's picture

I have to agree that these podcasts on assistants were some of the most valuable to me. Not just for the assistant but helping me understand delegation better. Basically, anything that I need to do that is a "waste" of my time goes to my admin if non-technical and to my engineers if technical. What a revalation! When I can get a new admin (my current is currently trying to get into the IT field) I will definitely use this in my search to determine the right skills and abilities during the interviews. Thank you very much!


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


Glad the casts are helping! It's a privilege every time.


mbirch's picture

I have loved being an Assistant for almost 20 years and have been with my SVP for the last 14. She has taken me through 2 VP posts and her current SVP post (next level is our Executive VPs). Each move had her insisting on my position being secured with her as one of the conditions of her accepting the position.Then when secured she would ask me if I wanted to join her.

We have an open and honest relationship and she expects me to tell her things that she doesn't always see. She can be intimidating to many but relies on me to make sure she comes across in the best possible light. I am 100% part of her team, Always! My goal is and has always been to make sure she looks good when she walks into any boardroom and is prepared for anything that may come up during those meetings.

I am her eyes and ears in the trenches without been seen as the "snitch" as it is known that the best interest of the team is my primary goal. I love my career and my profession and only very recently even considered leaving this post. She has been hugely supportive in my pursuit of expanding opportunities in an IT Service Delivery position (although I would still be indirectly reporting to her).

When you treat your Professional Assistant as your partner, give him/her the ability to help you be better and follow Business Economics 101 (NO Executive of any level should be doing Expense Claims EVER) I guarantee it will elevate your performance to a level you didn't realize was there!

Thanks for the much appreciated pat on the back and Thanks for giving a new supervisors like me the right foundations to start building a successful managerial career.



johngmac's picture

I remember listening to this post when I was a director in a small/medium enterprise and thinking "goodness, I would love an executive asstistant". Well over the years I have had a small % for travel booking etc. But now I have over 60% of an admin assistant in a role that is evolving into one with a full European scope. I immediatly thought, right I have the chance to do this right. Just listened to the cast again (why is it not on the App BTW?) and downloaded the notes.

Now its digestion and planning. I am working towards a full day in first week September where we will do the 'first day'. I will also be preparing Sarah with the cast, GTD and the Effective Exec.

I am quite excited. I have this wonderful opportunity in a company I love and a sector I love; but it will require a large step up in effectiveness to be successful. I see this move as a major step. Interestingly I will not be fixed office based (mainly Glasgow, London, Manchester, Hamburg,  Paris with a bit of home office thrown in) and Sarah is Manchester based. But I am already scheduling in F2F time slots over the next few weeks to work up to the 'first day'. So I will have to see how the distance issue needs adjustment in methods.

As always any tips extremely welcome from those with this sort of experience. I will post how I get on later in September.

Have a great week.


cynaus's picture
Training Badge

I'm still waiting for an admin/ assistant in our team. Currently working on it despite already presenting a business case... and when we're successful I'll be ready to ensure the ROI ;)