Hollywood Executive Assistant

Hollywood Executive Assistant

HEA

Los Angeles, CA

Female, 0

High-Level Assistant to Chairmen & CEOs of Fortune 100 Companies & Hollywood Executive Producers. Ask me anything! "Like" my answers, especially if you submitted the question so I know you read it! :D Thx!

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Last Answer on August 23, 2020

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Do most high-powered execs prefer to have female assistants?

Asked by joey joe over 8 years ago

I've actually never heard of executives having a preference. In all my years of doing this, I've worked with male and female executive assistants. For various reasons, there do seem to be more female assistants, but I'd say both are equally good at being an assistant. I think for most high-powered executives, they prefer someone who can do a great job. When they are that powerful and high-profile, the executives are generally wise enough to know that great talent comes in various forms. And to find the right person, they can't be held back by little things like gender, age, or someone who looks like a model. More than anything, experience and fitting into the corporate culture and getting along with your executive is the most important. Always be yourself when interviewing and be presentable. If you do your best on the interview, the rest is out of your hands. You did your part! Good job!

Do you think being an assistant is a necessary requirement to move up the ranks in executive hollywood, or is it paying dues just for paying dues' sake?

Asked by gregg over 8 years ago

Borclans asked a related question on 5/9/12 so you may want to see that one as well. The answer really depends on what kind of executive you want to be. While some do start out on the assistant track or in the mailroom, you have to be superb to make it thru the ranks. You can pay your dues by starting out as an assistant, but the surest way to your dream career is to do exactly what you want now, on your own dime and on your own time. The best ones create their own luck WHILE holding down a full time job. The most successful of the Hollywood elite - whether CEOs, Network Executives, Film Directors, or Executive Producers - carved their territory early on, made their mark while relatively young, and/or went rogue and truly did their own thing and started their own projects because that's what they do for fun. It is ingrained in them. And where they end up is really just a natural trajectory of where they began. If you ever read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers you'll see the concept of 10,000 hours reflected everywhere and Hollywood is no exception. 10,000 hours of precise, goal-oriented practice equals about ten years of working at one's craft whether it be business strategy and vision, visual and creative storytelling, or finding a great team of people to work with that compensate your weaknesses. You have to really really want it and breathe it and you can't imagine yourself doing anything else. You will die trying. You will be extremely committed to your career. You will not accept no for an answer. You will be constantly learning and growing within your craft and always feel thisclose to succeeding. That's when you know you are doing something right. Hollywood is filled with a million others wanting the same dream you have, it's filled with rejection and patience and people just as smart and creative as you. It's filled with people who are trust fund babies or who have great connections. Hollywood has no safe routes or guaranteed ladders to climb. It's true, a lot of agents start out in the mailroom. If you want to be an agent become great at meeting people and connecting groups of people to projects. Know how to network and be helpful. The best become partners in their own firm or the CEO. SOME studio executives or filmmakers have the assistant background. But the most successful studio executives went to great schools, had brilliant mentors, and amazing internships. They often come from a business/mergers background or in writing/publishing and probably got a graduate degree/MBA and joined a company on the lower rungs of management or mid-level of their craft right out of the gate. That all counts toward their 10,000 hours of preparation. Great filmmakers had buzz while in college, entered contests and garnered attention locally, perhaps even online. Again, they took the time to master their craft to satisfy their own curiosity and passion. The reality is, anyone with enough drive will just be happy CREATING along the way and the icing on the cake is the Oscar, becoming Chairmen/CEO, or signing a great deal. Many successful people come from humble beginnings and this is why the overnight success and being discovered is so coveted, unbelievable, YET believable. Whether you are 20, 30, or 40, if you start on your 10,000 hours today, you'll be further ahead than a great majority. Like Nike says, JUST DO IT.

What's your educational background? Do you feel overqualified to be an assistant?

Asked by Judith over 8 years ago

I have a BA from a state university where I majored in Broadcasting. Believe it or not, some assistant jobs actually prefer you have an Ivy League degree even if they ask for a career assistant or to promote them up the chain. As to whether I feel overqualified for what I do... It might help to give a little background. When I was a teenager, I was already working part time jobs on-air or had clients who were 30-50 years older with very advanced degrees. Before I graduated college, I also did a lot of internships alongside well-respected people in the industry or at well-known companies. When I entered the workforce, my resume was already pretty lengthy so I didn't have to start from the very bottom. Over the years, I've been steadily promoted in regular intervals and given more responsibility so my career actually hasn't stagnated. Within a few years, I was being headhunted consistently by Fortune companies ranked in the top 50 since I had started my career working at Fortune-ranked companies. At times, it's not that I felt overqualified, but assistant/admin work to a degree is the same skill set utilized repeatedly without creativity injected. At the heart of it, you are organizing someone's day and business life. (Most other jobs revolve around a product or an idea in marketing, advertising, software, or what have you, that is constantly changing.) The daily grind can get quite repetitive with no end in sight at times. On the very worst day when boredom would set in from so much repetition, I wondered if I was actually killing brain cells and getting dumber. For an assistant who isn't rising in the ranks, or anyone who does have a degree, I think the perception is being an assistant is too beneath them. Why go to college if you will just be an assistant? The stigma of being an assistant coupled with the role being largely undervalued and under appreciated adds to that thought. I think anyone should have a degree if you can afford it without going into too much debt over it. Regardless of what you major in, if you can say you have a degree from a 4-year university it says a lot about your character. You can juggle studying, you can follow thru on a goal, you most likely work part time while having a social life, it means you're committed and invested in yourself. People can also show these qualities in other ways without going to school like starting a small business, etc. A BA will only improve your chances of finding work because the standard for getting a BA is the same everywhere. Everyone knows what is required to get one and how long 4 years is. This is why anyone who works at Trader Joe's must have a degree, it demonstrates a higher set of skills, thinking, and attitude. Studies have stated that the assistant is the most powerful person in the office because they are the gatekeeper and run the office. Because it can be a very behind-the-scenes role with "minor" duties that seem easy or unimpressive, it's often misunderstood that anyone can just come in to do the job. Finding the right assistant, that's outstanding, and one who is happy to be there is really really hard to find. There are only so many personality types or people that will thrive in this sort of environment. The very detailed, little tasks that assistants manage don't seem like much because 80% of the work is preparation, 10% of the work is while the event is happening, and 10% of the work occurs afterward. Most people only see 10% of what you do, until you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You're running an executive's life, you're saving him time, effort, money, energy, stress, and you're keeping him sane. He trusts you with his life and reputation. You're a mini-me, a clone, and help him run a multi-million or billion dollar dept or company. Without you he would be lost. The best attitude to have while being in an assistant role is to realize you are among some of the best and brightest minds of your company. It's an inside look on how decisions are made, companies are run, and how to sharpen your soft skills. I love my career which is why I've been doing it for so long.

Is it part of your job to sometimes take the blame for things that your boss messes up (like unreturned phone calls, missed meetings, stuff like that).

Asked by missy over 8 years ago

I've never really had a boss that was messing up so bad I had to cover for them. Part of it is because I wouldn't let it get that bad. Believe it or not, the assistant manages the boss - his time, his schedule, his to do list, and about 90% of his life. Even before too much time had passed, I'd reach out to someone and say we haven't forgotten about them. On the off chance my boss did mess up, when someone is so high-ranking, they are truly that busy and it's not that they forgot, they just didn't have the chance to address it yet. It's a good rule to never throw your boss under the bus. If they make a horrible mistake, apologize profusely, ask that person to always go thru you to reach your boss, and say something like: Wow! I'm really surprised he didn't take care of it! It's so unlike him and I'm not quite sure what happened. I will definitely look into it and I will get back to you by the end of the day/week.

From where can i send the all important make or break "Gift" Say Chocolate covered espresso beans (1/2 Decaf!) I view the 4th asst as the 1st, The studio head far above of course.. help?

Asked by I'm dancing as fast as I can.. about 8 years ago

How about from here? http://nuts.com/chocolatessweets/chocolate-covered-espresso-beans/decaf.html http://nuts.com/search?q=Chocolate+Covered+Espresso+Beans

What have you been asked to do by a boss that you thought was the biggest overreach? Like something that just wasn't an appropriate ask given your job description.

Asked by Barb about 8 years ago

I can't really think of anything outlandish that was asked of me as I had pretty reasonable bosses. Keep in mind one's job description is also "no task is too big or too small." I also have a different attitude than most people toward "menial tasks." My view is whenever I am assigned less than interesting tasks, it just means my brain gets a break and I am getting WAY OVERPAID for the task I am doing, which is great! :) Here are a wide variety of duties I had to do over the years that fell under the small percentage of personal assisting or odd tasks related to my role. -Xerox offspring's college application -Book spa appoint for spouse -Remind spouse of appointment & call back in 15 min when they were to leave the house -1x/week go grocery shopping & launder a set of towels for executive kitchen & bathroom -Cut off 500 tags from stuffed animals that were gifts -Research hotels and storage places for family vacation or family move -Get $300 in cash at the bank in certain denominations -Stuff thousands of envelopes for invitations -Drive a few blocks to get frozen yogurt -Drive my boss to the auto mechanic

I have a great working relationship with my boss, but am starting to look for a more Senior level role. As much I want to be honest, I'm not sure if I should tell him that I'm looking. What's the correct approach?

Asked by Allie over 7 years ago

Hi Allie, Great question! And sorry it took me longer than normal to respond. Here are 10 things to consider as you conduct your job hunt. A great working relationship is not the same as a great personal relationship/friendship. 1) There is a big difference between having a great working relationship and also having a great personal relationship or friendship with your boss. If your boss has the time, energy, and is okay with you moving on to another job, department, or leaving them and are happy to refer you and help you in every way they can, you have a a great personal rapport with your boss. If not, it may be best to play it safe, especially since you have doubts. Reduce risk as much as possible. What you don't want to happen is your boss or HR find out and they replace you immediately because you were going to leave anyway. They most often will want business to move along on their terms at their pace because you do work for them. To conduct a job hunt confidentially, only tell those people you MUST (the recruiters you are interviewing with, etc). The more you tell your co-workers the more likely it will get out. When you look for a job, also tell people you are looking confidentially because you are still employed so they can't call your current company. Make sure the reason you state is something neutral, but understandable - seeking a more senior role is a great answer. Plan ahead how you will juggle job hunting and your current schedule. 2) Keep in mind, if you work work for someone high level and are basically chained to your desk, you have to find a way to interview while keeping up your workload at your current job. This may mean interviewing before work, during lunch, after work, or on the weekends. Keep in mind how long it takes to commute or how you will find a quiet, private place to do phone interviews. Realize it may take more than 2-5 interviews to get the job with one company alone. Start to finish, I had one job that took 15 meetings spread out over 3 months. Some weeks between commuting, phone interviews, in person interviews, and planning/searching/scheduling/researching everything, I was spending a good 25 hours or more just on my job hunt. Give proper notice. 3) Let them control the end date if better. I have no idea what rank your boss is, but if he is pretty high up there or will take great offense you are leaving, the best thing may be to tell them you are looking and will work with them to hire and train the new person at their pace. During this time, you do NOT job hunt but do your prep work of sprucing up your resume, LinkedIn, putting your resume online, networking, and notifying people you can interview starting after a specific date. This will give your boss and company peace of mind that you won't leave them high and dry. It also gives them a chance to write you a reference letter, prep your department, etc. It's like a planned, mutual, friendly break up. If they hire someone within the company, it may only take a month or less. If they hire an external person, it will take a little longer, maybe 3 months. You can tell them you are looking and you will stay as long as they need you to train the replacement and say if that's one month or three months it's fine. This way a vague timeline is thrown out there by you as loose parameters. The other option is to go interview and tell the new company during your negotiation, you want to to give more than the standard 2 week notice. Maybe say 4 weeks or 6 weeks if you think it will make parting ways easier on your boss. The point is to not burn bridges, but to leave with a fair and reasonable time line to all involved. If you think 2 weeks is fair because your boss is cool and the timing of your leave isn't at the worst time of the year then 2 weeks is fine too. In the past, there was no way I could work for a CEO of a Fortune 100 company and look for a job, so I would quit and devote FT to a job hunt. This also meant having a savings account to use as my income. This is an extreme example though. Explore all possible options 4) You can try asking your boss for a promotion/better projects, a transfer to another dept, or to create a new job for you. If this doesn't look realistic, then yes, your best bet is to go to another company. The point is to examine all your options, create a dialogue if appropriate, or give your boss/company a fair chance to work with you only if you think this is the right thing for you and that they will be welcoming of it. A lot of this is based on how well you know your boss, the company's situation, and how likely this all is. If this is not the best idea, when you do start your job hunt, keep these things in mind. 5) List your resume confidentially on resume sites. While this is not be the best way to find a job, it does work so you have nothing to lose. List your resume on all the sites, but make sure that your contact information is not shown or your identity can’t be guessed by the job titles/companies listed. 6) Whenever anyone reaches out to you about a job, respond right away and tell them to keep you on file/in mind. This lets them know that you are timely, courteous, and like to/want to always hear from them even if you are happily employed. 7) Be active on LinkedIn. Be open to always connecting, constantly update your profile, and ask for recommendations throughout the year. This helps because if you never use your LI profile and you suddenly do, it looks suspicious. 8) Always network, meet new people, and helps others. It’s known that the best time to look for a job is when you don't need it. It’s good to foster relationships, learn new things, and volunteer because you’ll learn that you people will be thinking about you for jobs and seeking you out. Your job hunt will not be something that you have to “do” because it will be a by-product from maintaining relationships and giving back in general. 9) Job hunt with strategy, an end goal, and mid term goals. If you already know where you want your life to be in 10 years it’s much easier to figure out where you need to be at year 3, 5, and 7. You can have loose goals on how to get there and what you need to learn or do to achieve that. If you don’t know, go out and do a lot of things to learn what you don’t like. 10) Read my other blogs posts on job hunting and what to expect or plan for. http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2012/07/7-ways-your-finances-matter-when-job.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2011/07/realities-of-job-hunting-as-high-level.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2012/09/answering-reader-mail-taking-your.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2011/07/10-tests-administered-during-job.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-linkedin-can-help-your-career-how-i.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2010/10/answering-reader-mail-confidential-job.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2010/08/answering-reader-mail-what-do-employers.html And if you have more questions, feel free to ask again! :) Happy job hunting!