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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So you've worked for some pretty powerful people - without naming names do you think any of them weren't all that qualified, but just got lucky to get where they are?

Asked by RuizT about 11 years ago

Hi, Ruiz T - LOL What a great question! I can see why you would be inclined to ask it, however, everyone I worked for actually was very qualified and wasn’t lucky in the sense that they were “born into a Hollywood family." If anything, almost everyone I worked for had zero Hollywood background, per se, but succeeded either because they were very, very brilliant in well-rounded ways with people skills, knew other elements of Hollywood such a story/character arcs, or were driven and passionate about the business that they came in from the very bottom in an entry level role and worked their a**es off for decades to then run an entire company. With credentials such as that, one doesn’t “fail up” to become CEO or a major executive and run a Fortune 100 company.

In case you are curious, what I did learn from all my business reading is three fold.

1) Failing up is used as a tactic when a dept head doesn’t want to deal with someone so they promote them out of their own dept so the next higher up inherits the problem person. In this way, an unqualified executive does not fail up to become a CEO and run a company because they won’t be qualified enough and sooner or later the inheriting executive/dept head will realize what’s going on. So then the problem person either ends up never getting promoted past an invisible ceiling, gets passed around depts at the same company or competeing companies in the same industry, laid off, or they leave to pursue a different/sister field.

2) Most executives are hired for their smarts, but are let go for their hearts. This means they don’t know how to run a team, network, lack emotional intelligence, and/or make some sort of social or political misstep that is such a huge PR blunder, they can’t stay at the company. This emphasizes more and more that generally everyone is qualified/smart in a role, what matter is if people like you.

3) Hard work and sheer determination will get you a lot further if you want it bad enough and hang in there long enough. Enthusiasm, passion, wanting to learn/grow, being great to work for and being smart enough is a better asset than just being innately brilliant without people skills.  How you apply the aforementioned qualitiese and strengths will benefit your team, dept, and company is demonstrated through one's managerial, leadership, visionary, strategic, and financial skill set. I will leave you with this quote.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” -Calvin Coolidge

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 almost 12 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

Why do you like being an EA? I always have trouble with that question, I like entertainment and media because I like being around dynamic creative people but I don't "like" being an EA. I fell into it and happen to be good at it.

Asked by MaryRachelK about 11 years ago

Hi Mary Rachel,

 

This is a great question!  It does get asked in interviews a lot.  There does not need to be an overly inspiring and Oscar worthy tear jerking answer though if you do have an enlightening passionate answer it’s all the better.  For me, being good at it is an extension of my beliefs and values and I assume it may be for you too.  

 

For me, I love being an executive assistant because I like helping people.  This is apparent as I volunteer a lot as well.  Life is hard, it’s difficult, and we all need all the help we can get.  Time, energy, and being productive are extremely important to me.  These are intangibles that can’t be bought so once they are wasted, they are gone, forever.  If I can help my executive by lessening their stress, handling tasks for them, and helping them in whatever capacity they need, I feel as though I am making a difference to them, their family, and the business.  It is only for one person or a very small dept/family unit, but it’s really the little things that count.  What you do every day on a very small scale makes a much bigger impact in the long run versus big projects that you undertake with infrequent consistency.  So this small mission statement of my personal life also bleeds into my work life.  Every decision I make is weighed against what I believe and value.  Like the quote says, if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.  

 

At this site, someone else asked a similar question so you may want to read my response to that as well.  

 

What's your educational background? Do you feel overqualified to be an assistant? Asked by Judith on 05/14/2012


On my other site you can read this blog post:

http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2012/06/is-ea-role-right-for-you.html

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 11 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!

I'm starting my first EA job at a high profile entertainment company next week. What tips or advice do you have to make a good impressions your first day/week/month? What are the first things you have done at a new EA job?

Asked by Carly over 11 years ago

Carly - Congrats on the new job! I've answered similar questions in the past here and on my blog as well. The below is the link to my blog. For Dec 2012 and January 2013, I wrote a couple of posts you that you will find helpful. For older posts you can Google the ones titled: 10 tips to be a better executive assistant (parts 1-4), making a splash without changing everything, 5 random things helpful at your job if you don't have a chance to look at all the posts by next week. http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com

My CEO is one of the nicest people but has the WORST A.D.D I have ever witnessed. I have a very hard time getting her attention or getting her to answer something that is critical. Are there some tips you can give me to get her to pay attention?

Asked by bdawn about 11 years ago

Dear bdawn,

I do admit it’s very challenging to work with a boss who is busy, but who then also has ADD isn’t helpful. I answered a similar question on my blog so I provided that link below, but here are 7 tips for you. I am not sure how helpful my answers will be, but here’s a try.

1) Get her attention first.

Getting her attention first is very tricky. I feel for you. Whenever you need her, assure her you have no problem waiting for her to finish typing that email, texting that person, or whatever it is she is doing. Once she stops and looks at you, tell her how long you need her for. You can do this by saying, something along the lines of:

I know you are swamped. I just need to ask you one question and I will be out of your hair. OR

I need 2 minutes of your time and then you can go back to your project/to your next mtg/go to lunch.

Then ask her whatever you need to or have her sign whatever you need etc and keep your promise and leave. If you do this between meetings you can actually get a lot done. Alternately, do the walk and talk to her next meeting. Or ask her to call you from the car for 5 min etc.

2) With bosses who have ADD it’s best to stick to one topic or question at a time.

This is pretty self explanatory. Do not ask 3 related questions at once. Ask the first question, let her answer it, then ask the second, let her answer, then the third. For example:

John would like to have lunch with you. Do you want to do it Wed or Thursday?

Let’s assume she says Wed. You can reply, if you choose Wed you only get 1 hour with him, but if you pick Thursday you have 90 min with him.

Then ask her where she wants to go. Do not say all at once: John would like to have lunch with you this week. If you go Wed you have less time, if you go Thursday you have more time? Where do you want to eat - Spago, Capo, or The Daily Grill?

That’s just too much information and it may make her go off tangent even more. Bite size information, one step at a time.

3) Try to figure out her communication style and most productive hours.

Some executives love talking/the phone, other love emails/writing, and others love texts, etc. Figure out what works best for your boss and mirror them. Some bosses are more visual vs auditory. If your boss is more visual, print out a calendar so they can see their day when you ask them a question. If your boss is more aural, maybe read them the email in question instead of showing them the email. Sometimes it helps to have a folder just for your boss to answer stuff that is quick an easy - they can do a bunch of signatures at once, once a day whenever they feel like it. There can be a folder of invites in it with “yes no or maybe” check mark boxes so they can go thru that too.

Also keep in mind if your boss is a morning or afternoon worker. Then ask them all the hard or annoying stuff then. Or bring them some coffee or tea when they need it most to help them perk up or an afternoon snack. Do what you can to help them stay alert and focused.

4) Always be ready.

For a boss who has ADD you never know what they might ask of you. So always be ready with a notebook and pen. Also always have a list of questions you need them to answer whenever she beckons for you. Have all the accompanying emails or paperwork too. If you try to make her wait while you run back to your desk, she might lose interest and delve into something else. So if you find your boss being chatty and thinking out loud, if any of your questions are relevant, you can just look down at your notebook and ask her the question you needed answered.

5) Give only 3 choices.

Whenever you boss has to make a decision only offer 3 options when possible. The more options you give, the worse it is to make a decision. Too much information/too many choices doesn’t help. So give an inexpensive, normal cost, and expensive option. Or give one that is nearby, a little far, and really far, etc.

6) Give your boss a lot of heads up and deadlines.

If you need an answer from your boss, give her warnings to think about something. You can say something like:

The event is on July 10th. By June 30th we must RSVP so please think about it.

Then when June 15th comes, say: In about 2 weeks, we need to RSVP so just keep that in mind.

Then on June 25th say: We MUST RSVP by June 30th so I MUST have an answer by June 29th.

Then on June 28th say: Tomorrow is the last day to decide so I will remind you tomorrow.

Then on June 29th say: They need your answer by 6pm today, so I will ask you at 3pm.

Then you keep reminding them until 6pm and tell them it’s urgent.

7) Last resort.

If and only if you are very close with your boss and pretty much do everything for them AND you know they take medications for their ADD or etc. you can help remind them to take their medication if you know they won’t take any offense to it. I did have a boss that we would remind them by putting out a glass of water. That was their hint/reminder. Nothing had to be said. The glass of water at the same time every day was the reminder. If you need it to, you can put a post it note that says something like:

It’s 930am. :) Here is your glass of water as requested.

Read this blog post too for more info:

http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2012/06/answering-reader-mail-your-indecisive.html

 

I hope my answers were of help.  Always feel free to ask more questions.  Whatever you do, do not lose your cool.  And if you have to ask her 5 different times in a day, every time you ask her, ask as if it's the first time you've ever asked her in your tone of voice, your facial expression, and how curious you are for the answer.  :)  

What is the best career path advice or source for career path advice/strategy to go from EA at a top private equity firm to EA with devevlopment potential with a production company?

Asked by Angela Marie over 11 years ago

Hi Angela Marie, What a great question! It’s great you are already an EA from a reputable company. The next step is to jump industries and focus on the creative. If you’ve worked for the top dog at the equity firm and have a lot of experience, it’s usually understood that you are so talented you can work in any industry. Since you have already worked at a well known company, you are half way there. Don’t rule out temping for studios or thru agencies that cater solely to the creative industries, accepting contract work, or volunteering while you have your current job to get different experience, exposure, and to meet new people with regard to film, tv, Hollywood, entertainment, or even other industries quasi-related to storytelling and character arcs - commercials, music videos, video gaming. Google for the UTA list and sign up for all email lists and job boards for the entertainment industry, network with people you know, send your resume and cover letter snail mail to every company you want to work at to the attn of the recruiting department, and establish an online presence so headhunters find you via LinkedIn and job sites. You want to be in their database and searchable thru their list address/contacts book. I’ve heard of people even interning. And believe it or not, Craigslist has a lot of jobs for the creative industries because it’s cheap to post there and look for staff. The hurdles to overcome are to get experience within Hollywood/entertainment as a foot in the door and/or hope to go right into the development/writing/producing side. You’re most likely going to get a lot of interviews for the business side of the entertainment industry as you try to switch fields - CFO’s EA at a major entertainment company, production/film companies that are just starting out and need funding, or internet start ups. The flip side is to try to get a job directly as a writer’s assistant, at a talent agency as an EA/script reader, or be an assistant to a creative executive (Executive Producer, Producer, etc) or the story department. You want to establish relationships outside of the finance world because fitting into a different culture of the media/arts is important. Finance can be perceived as very stuffy, black and white, and sequential and non-chaotic. It’s all about numbers which are pretty clear cut. Much of any business, but especially Hollywood, is working with people whose company you enjoy so your soft skills and personality will be a big factor in hiring. Be passionate about tv or film beyond having a favorite show. Most people in the business are obsessed with their chosen field and their knowledge and breadth of information spans knowing more than just current, popular stuff. Afterall, thousands of people want to be in the industry, but those that do make it, eat, live, and breathe their art - sometimes even unpaid because they forego their usual pay rate or collect their paycheck only if the project is successful. You have most likely established yourself as a solid, experienced EA, but you should also be open to doing a little personal assistant work, wearing a lot of hats, and being open to learning about everything. It’s up to you to find the opportunities, create your own luck, be humble/hungry, play the numbers game to your favor, and just try, try, try. Be strategic about your transition and job hunt and plan it well, even financially... I hope I’ve answered your question and if not, write me another follow up question. Here is more information on my blog that might be useful to you. http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2011/07/realities-of-job-hunting-as-high-level.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2011/07/10-tests-administered-during-job.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2012/07/7-ways-your-finances-matter-when-job.html http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-thank-you-card-launched-my-career.html