October 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
I remember a time when I would just laugh at this idea I am about to propose. If you had told me to try to get calm in the midst of a workday you might as well asked me to dance naked on top of my desk. (Yeah, I know, scary thought). With all that was constantly coming at me, I never felt I could divert my attention for two seconds.
But the truth is an act as simple as turning towards the sun for 3-4 seconds and actually feeling it on your face is enough to derail the “crazy train” of thought.
But you know, when you do and get used to doing so, it really helps stop the frenzy and get you centered to do a better job when you walk back into the chaos. Hey, and if you’re really feeling adventurous, go ahead and click on this link to enjoy a full two whole minutes!
October 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
The personal assistant’s job while challenging and rewarding at times also puts you first on the firing line. Too often we do 1,000 things right only to be crushed for that 1 thing that goes wrong. I know I am my own worst prosecutor.
One little coping mechanism I have for when things go horribly wrong and I am beating myself up is my point of view cam. I picture myself in my home dealing with whatever problem, tragedy or issue that I think is beyond me. In my mind, I pan out to the bigger surrounding of my home (similar to Google’s “birds eye view”) of my neighborhood, then the city, state, continent, from the moon, from our solar system, and beyond. And myself, which has now become an infinitesimal dot, makes me realize it’s not that bad in the grand overall scheme of things. I have also learned that whatever issue that is bothering me right now will not be 1 year from now. It puts things in perspective for me. I do my best to get the lesson in the experience and then I do an even better job of telling myself to “gettova it!”
October 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
Let’s face it, being a personal assistant is not for the weak of heart or the thin-skinned or the meek. With some employers you may need to appear the calm, quiet, efficient, working machine but in reality you must be in full control and three steps ahead of every situation no matter how quickly curve balls are being hurled at you. And as humans we will and do make mistakes. It’s how you handle them that will determine if you keep your job or not.
My best advice to any assistant is although you can switch gears in a nano-second and focus on the latest task at hand, you must be as consistent as possible with your procedures and systems. This will save you restless nights wondering if you remembered to do something or not.
For example, at one client’s home we didn’t have enough parking spaces and would routinely move cars around. If you needed to move a car, you would find the keys on a rack by the door and return it there immediately after. One of the employees woke up one night realizing she did not put our employer’s Porsche keys back on the hook. Of course, this was the car her employer was going to drive the following morning to his appointment in Santa Monica, a beautiful drive from his Malibu home. We all knew how he loved to take this car, top down, on beachside drives. Can you blame him?
Had the employee just followed the procedure of hanging the keys on the rack, she could’ve rested easy. But she deviated from procedure because as she pulled into the garage she was called outside to discuss a problem with the gardener and easily got distracted and put the keys in her pocket so she could write down a note. If you are distracted and are given other priorities at the moment, jot down a note “keys” so that there is a reminder to finish your task. Then before you leave to go home, check over your notes. If you wake up worrying if you did something or not, you can rest assured you did it because there is a procedure in place and you are confident you would’ve followed it.
This brings me, in a rather roundabout manner, to my most important system as a personal assistant…NEVER be without pen and paper. I keep a journal like book with me at all times. I date it on the front of when I start a new book and when I finish with that book I write down the end date. Everything I am asked to do, or things I know I need to do, go into that book, dated and crossed off when the task is complete. I write it all down, even if I am taking the most cryptic of notes. (They will make sense to you later when you can add all the details of the topic discussed.) Never ever be without a pen and paper! Oh, and did I mention, never be without pen and paper?
I have systems for everything and will discuss them in later blogs. But whatever your systems are, they are useless unless you adhere to them.
So while some would argue that there are worst things than driving down Pacific Coast Highway with the sprawling blue ocean on one side and the majestic hills on the other, most will agree that the experience loses something when jolted from sleep and your warm bed to rush out and deliver keys 15 miles away at five a.m.—ask my friend.
October 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
In the book, “Fame Junkies, the Hidden Truth Behind America’s Favorite Addiction,” author Tom Halper and other academics interviewed 650 teenagers from Rochester, NY about our celebrity culture.
He writes, “Forget being President of Harvard – Make me a Celebrity Personal Assistant… Another question asked: “When you grow up, which of the following jobs would you most like to have?” There were five options to chose from and, among girls, the results were as follows: 9.5% chose “the chief of a major company like General Motors”; 9.8% chose “a Navy Seal”; 13.6% chose “a United States Senator”; 23.7% chose “the president of a great university like Harvard or Yale”; and 43.4% chose “the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star.” ”
Well knock me over with a whisper. Clearly the job has been far over glamorized! With jet-setting and enjoying all the benefits of this wonderful life, many forget the purpose for a personal assistant to be along on these “outings,” is to work behind the scenes.
Time for a reality check to see if you’ve got what it takes. Here are the my top 5 must-haves:
1) Thick Skin—And I mean space shuttle reinforced carbon fibrous refractory composite tile ceramics outer coating…If you get caught up in thinking if something was intended to be a mind game, it was. Move on.
2) Flexibility—Just know whatever the plan is, it’s going to change, more times than you can imagine.
3) Intelligence—If you think like Houdini, this job is for you.
4) Resourcefulness—Just know the answer is NEVER “No, that can’t be done.” Immediate fail.
5) Student Mentality—Make it your job to be confident but willing to learn. If you think you’ve mastered it, life will show you yet another way. Use it and commit it to your arsenal.
Now this is not to make you think it isn’t doable, it is just not for the aspiring actor or scriptwriter who thinks their boss is Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid willing to tutor you along your path to personal stardom. The real movers and shakers in this world expect you to be one too. In fact, the personal assistant that’s got what it takes enjoys a good challenge and isn’t scared of failure because they know how to re-group quickly. And they definitely do not have time for the limelight.
The top PA will always be professional, resourceful, intelligent, can think on their feet and doesn’t get dizzy because things are always moving, shaking and spinning. It’s your job to keep them in a controlled spin.
October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
Hi Fellow Information Seekers! I am glad you have found me. This is my inaugural blog and it’s a little like learning to ride a bike, hopefully it will improve with time. I have been a personal assistant for well over, uh, um, 20-something years. In this time I have worked with many in the entertainment industry: Producers, Directors, A-list actors, company presidents, millionaires and billionaires.
During this time I have been a part time, full time, salaried employee, freelancer, and the last 5 years a business owner. I have been consulting and training as well as virtually assisting. So it came to me after all these years that I may have a little something to share with the next generation and naturally, this is the next step. There is a small niche in personal assisting for celebrity assistants, or high end assisting and that’s my area of expertise. While I won’t focus on the celebrities and their personal lives, I will focus on the special circumstances working for the one percent require. I couldn’t find anything on the web like this so I hope to be a resource for many people.
So, sit down, enjoy the read, and please send me questions or share stories of your own. I would love to hear from you too. I have lots to share and soon I’ll be riding along with no hands!