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 you have experience or ideas for encouragement and continued motivation for upper level management? Our valuable leaders don't appear on the outside to need this but I think we all need rejuvination.

Asked by Lori over 7 years ago

Lori - What a great question and it’s very thoughtful of you to look out for the well being of your executives and staff. I couldn't tell if you were an assistant yourself trying to motivate your boss or generally wondering about company perks and benefits. If I didn't answer your question specifically enough, please let me know! The below ideas can be enjoyed by all staff and have been utilized at many of the offices I’ve worked in. The giver can be the CEO or anyone in the company. The below perks or extras address mind, body, and soul and can be paid for by the company or by the employee to make their life easier by the company offering a service onsite. Some ideas are free, cost effective, and some are very, very generous. -Do whatever you can to make the executive's life easier even if it's not part of your job, especially during times of high stress and long hours -Compliment an employee and be specific on why they are a good employee, a favorite boss, the hardest working assistant, or smartest intern, etc -Asking for advice from a peer or someone younger or below you in the hierarchy on their opinion or something they are an expert in will make them feel valuable - maybe it's a about social media, technology, or something related to office culture -Offer to stay late when your normally wouldn't or stay in for lunch to help out more -Acknowledging an executive’s long hours and working weekends with a heartfelt thank you or even just saying, "You must be so tired! Let me go get your lunch, what do you want?" -Treating an employee to lunch and mentoring -CEOs or executives going out to pick up and buy the assistants’ or department’s lunch -Remembering little details of an employee - favorite beverage/dish/restaurant, how they like their coffee prepared, what’s going on with their family and asking about their children or their holiday -A public board highlighting sales #s, milestones hit, or any gesture of excellence by staff, when someone said something funny, or showcasing everyone's pets -On site massage therapists -On site car wash services -On site dry cleaning -On site food truck -On site coffee cart -On site yoga classes -DVD or book library to check out items for free -Company swag -On site doctor -On site haircut -On site manicurist -Box suites to your city’s basketball, hockey, or any sports teams -Tickets to concerts, Disneyland, spa, hotel, airfare, or invite-only events -Very very delicious catered lunches for office meetings -Donut or bagel days -A plethora of cereals, milk, snack, quick foods, and fruit -Allowing staff to go home early or come in late -Half days before a 3-day weekend -Fridays off during the summer -Offices closed from Xmas Eve to January 2nd -Wrap parties and seasonal parties (summer, winter, etc) -Internal craigslist type forum to sell items, find a roommate, etc -Anonymous suggestion box -CEOs would do quarterly breakfasts with employees chosen at random for a group of 10 -A company award with crystal “trophy” with a special dinner at an executive’s home -Gifts for all admin assistants on that holiday -Employee gifts during the holiday season or when a project wraps -Cash award for anyone nominated for a job well done -Spirit Day and raffle prizes -Volunteer as a company -Writing a LinkedIn recommendation or endorsing someone on LinkedIn -Art class, language class, or guest speaker brown bag lunch series -Employee organized and paid field trips to socialize with colleagues on the weekends -A hallway or lobby area to showcase employee art, photography, etc. -Employee discounts to local businesses and the performing arts -Executive retreat or seminar based on Jim Loehr’s The Power of Full Engagement or The Power of Story -A team of volunteers to promote a fun culture at the office with a nominal budget allocated by the company for game nights, Halloween costume contest prizes, talent shows, etc. -On site pool table, ping pong, aquarium, nap lounge, basketball court, gym, etc -$500 “free money” to all employees to go toward whatever hobby or interest they have whether it's sewing class, marathon fees, or a magazine subscription, whatever you are passionate about is game

Hi Kiyomi, Do you mind sharing this opening with your network? It's for an EA to a celebrity CEO in SF.
Thanks!

http://www.findcelebrityjobs.com/jobs

Asked by Grace over 7 years ago

Of course! :)

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 over 7 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

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 7 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 over 7 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 7 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

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 7 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