5 Things I Wish I Had Done Earlier When I Started as a Personal Assistant

March 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

  1. I wish I didn’t think I had to have all the answers.
    Matt Groening

    Matt Groening-Simpson’s creator

    It’s okay to say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out,” and do – fast.

  1. I wish I didn’t take people at face value because sometimes they have agendas that may not include you, or they may use you to make themselves look better. Listen to their words, but watch their actions. It’s good to know the people you are working for. Yes, your employer may be a liar but they will soon know they can’t BS you. You’ve got to work together.
  1. I wish I had taken over work sooner. Sitting back and waiting to be invited for an employer to delegate a task makes us both frustrated. Just jump in and tackle what needs to be done. Even if I overstepped the boundaries, my enthusiasm was usually understood and appreciated.
  1. I wish I had requested help earlier for a second assistant or runner. I cannot and did not need to do it all. It is not a sign of weakness to need help. Sometimes the workload has grown exponentially. Working overtime and weekends is not the answer.
  1. I wish I didn’t think I always had to pretend that my employer or their significant other told me something they didn’t. Reiterate the conversation you remember having and politely correct them. Soon the offender will understand you either have a very good memory or take very good notes. Often it’s a tactic they use with others but again, they will learn it doesn’t work with you and you cannot be the scapegoat.

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Big Monster Behaving Badly

March 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

Gaga by Genest

Gaga by Genest

Okay, so there is not a personal assistant out there who has not been left with their mouth hanging open because their employer said something so outrageous to them that they cannot even respond. Even the most Teflon coated of PA’s has had these moments.

Why do people say the most outlandish things and expect their assistants not to bat an eye? Because you are in their home and in their world. They are comfortable. They are being themselves and able to let their guard down; because everyone says things without a filter; because you signed up to be there and be their confidant and right hand; and if they have to watch every word that comes out of their mouth, like they do when they are in front of the paparazzi, that’s not the refuge of “home.”

However, and this is huge, YOU always have the choice how you respond, take abuse or not. So many assistants take abuse and become silently and deliberately passive-aggressive. Don’t go there. Do both of you a favor and quit first. Start looking for another job when the kitchen gets too hot. Life is too short and if you’re good, there are other jobs for you. Contrary to popular belief, they will not ruin you. Move on.

This blog was inspired by Lady Gaga’s recent verbal vomit spewed on her assistant in a deposition. She forgot she wasn’t at home and more importantly, forgot her assistant was not traveling and working 24 hr. days voluntarily. Even worst, maybe she didn’t forget and believes her own hype? Day in and day out, performers are especially revered and some forget they are just like their assistants: living-breathing-human-being. Celebrities have chosen a field where they are worshiped for a job well done, but they are no better than any one of us, agreed?

Now anyone who has been a celebrity assistant knows the tabloid writers consider it their duty to write stories of complete and utter fantasy to sell rags and those I don’t comment on. But this was from court documents, so it allows me to illustrate the extreme dysfunction of this relationship that was not only blurring the lines but in a complete fog! These two, Gaga and her assistant, are both responsible. If you’re partying with your employer and not there to look out for them or manage the party, but are wearing their clothes and drinking until the wee hours, sharing their bed, you’ve gotten very confused. You can’t have it both ways. If you’re taking a paycheck, do the job. If you’re their friend, don’t take the paycheck. Which is it?

What a lot of people don’t understand is that some celebrities don’t have time for friendships or don’t trust the ones they have. The assistant may become one of the few people they can trust. And that’s a good thing and you both must respect this situation. But they can get confused too. Are you their friend or expect to be paid for every minute you are with them? Get is straight from the beginning. Negotiate travel arrangements. Do you get paid for being away from your family? Absolutely. If your employer needs you there 24/7 you will be in the private jet, staying in the high-end hotel, drinking $10 bottled water from your hotel mini bar and ordering $30 hamburgers on the room service menu because you are there for their convenience. They don’t have McDonald’s at the Four Seasons. But remember to say thanks when you’re employer does something special, if they give you expensive gifts, or invite you (when you’re not working) to an opening or party.

Don’t misunderstand me, you’re entitled to be human and care about those you are working with and should, but don’t get caught up in the lifestyle. It’s their life, not yours. Create your perfect life. Enjoy your family. Don’t get caught up in breathing that rarefied air or you may believe your own hype.


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