Hollywood Executive Assistant

Hollywood Executive Assistant


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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56 Questions


Last Answer on August 23, 2020

Best Rated

How much can the best executive assistants earn in a year?

Asked by regan999 about 12 years ago

The salary of an EA depends on what city you work in, how big your company is, and a zillion other factors that come into play just like any other job. The entertainment industry is mostly in Los Angeles, but pockets do exist elsewhere in the nation so you will see a fluctuation. Like any other field, the more experience you have under your belt the more you will get paid. It's not uncommon for an EA who has been in the industry forever and who works for someone very, very, very high profile to make a comfortable living - as if they themselves were a regular lower-ranking executive or part of management. Keep in mind, these types of executive assistants are very, very few and far between. Will you get paid mid-six figures as an EA - no. Is the job sometimes well-paying enough that it attracts those who don't want to climb the corporate ladder while reaping some of the benefits as if they were - yes. All in all, there's a part of you that has to want this job bad enough and love it enough to excel in it. Otherwise, sometimes the job can be a little challenging that most people only pursue it to pay their dues or be a writer on the side. It is never their life goal to grow up to be an executive assistant. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Are Hollywood executives as nightmarish as depicted on TV and movies, or is that all blown out of proportion?

Asked by Myra about 12 years ago

I've been extremely lucky and have NOT worked for anyone difficult or nightmarish - high standards and extremely fast-paced or high-pressure environments, yes. Mean or horrible people - no. I've built my entire career in Hollywood so I know it's unheard of. Sadly, some are not so lucky. There is a lot of ego, money, and reputation at stake in Hollywood so some of what you see and hear is true. It may not be as outlandish and over-the-top as depicted, but there is some truth to it. Whether or not it's fair or right that people behave rudely is not really the point as being a jerk is not illegal. The takeaway is, if you can ace working for extremely nightmarish people, you'll have a job for life as most others would sooner quit for greener pastures. Keep in mind - Hollywood is about great storytelling and Entourage, Swimming with Sharks, and The Devil Wears Prada didn't become popular because absolutely nothing interesting happens.

I've worked a few EA jobs and even though every boss told me "I want to help you build your career", it's never really the case. Do you feel like most executives really just want career assistants?

Asked by Lizzie about 12 years ago

My experience has been a little different only because I've always enjoyed being an assistant and didn't care if I moved on to bigger or better things or just stayed put. There are those bosses that will promote you and help you out as much as possible. There are others who mean well, but never have enough time to mentor you. While you won't ever know until it's too late, try to find the boss that can already say they promoted their last couple of assistants after 2 years WHILE you are interviewing for the job. This is when you have the most leverage. If you are their #1 candidate, you have some power by how much they court you or negotiate with you. Tread carefully and speak humbly when you negotiate. Be clear that while you don't mind being an executive assistant, you will only commit to 2 years, but during those 2 years you need marked growth - a monthly lunch for mentoring, help finding a new job once the 2 years are up, an amazing reference letter, bigger and better projects, being able to go to meetings, events, or parties to network. Be specific on what you want or else there's no way to hold them to it. If you want a career change bad enough you'll find ways to do it without your boss' help - volunteering, doing your own projects on the side, taking a leadership role outside of work, but related to your career, reading on your own, taking classes in your spare time, meeting others in your same situation, etc... And understand, no one will care more about your career than you, so the power is within you.

What's the most generous unexpected perk or bonus you ever received from a boss?

Asked by chad about 12 years ago

Over the years, there have been a lot of unexpected perks or bonuses I have received from my boss. They have ranged from gifts, event tickets/access, to swag, and cash. These add up to amazing perks. However, the best "gifts" bosses have given me were the intangibles - their investment in my career, mentoring me, grooming me, a sincere thank you, showing heartfelt concern, and giving me insight to how they think and why, their time, effort, and energy. There are very few bosses who will give of THEMSELVES and those that do, do so because at the core of who they are, they are very good people with great integrity and character. They truly care about their staff as people, not just as colleagues. These are the bosses who walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. Moreover, their "gifts" weren't offered in exchange for a job well done, but more often were DAILY AND WEEKLY occurrences because that is HOW they manage people. Here are some examples. When I asked for a raise, I came in fully prepared and was open to a discussion instead of forcing an ultimatum. The next day, my boss commended me and said what I did was very brave and I did a great job and handled it very well. (Yes, I got my raise.) I've had bosses validate my stance/argument and stand up on my behalf even when it meant they were challenging THEIR boss' viewpoint who had all the power and final say. I've had bosses who said thank you every night before they left even though they always said thank you thru out the day. I've had bosses who would ask about my family, patiently show me a better solution without making me feel bad or inferior, who never raised their voice, and would personally send flowers with a message on Admin Assistant Day on how excited they were that I was on the team. They would pass along compliments that other executives would say about me and take the time to be kind during their busy schedules. Their investment in me as a person and colleague has been the best perk ever.

What's your personal policy if a boss asks you to lie on his behalf? Like lying to a spouse about his whereabouts? Do you do whatever the boss says, or do you make it understood from the beginnging that you won't do that kinda thing?

Asked by joeySJ about 12 years ago

Luckily and surprisingly, I have never been in this sort of situation. I've never even paused to think about it. To answer your question - I'm not good at lying and don't believe in leaving my conscience at home while at work. To keep up a lie like that would consume me too much. This scenario is something that each person would handle differently. One defense can be, people's personal lives are their own business so what they do outside of work as long as it doesn't interfere with their work life should be ignored. Other people would probably much rather find a new job immediately while not burning bridges or gossiping about it. This is something you should think about while interviewing for jobs. When I interview, I'm pretty clear about what I'm looking for. At the appropriate time - like when they ask you things you didn't like about your last job or what you absolutely refuse to do this is what I say: I love learning, being flexible, supporting my boss and being extremely loyal. I can work for someone who has high standards or is very picky. However, I draw the line at doing anything illegal or immoral. All of my previous bosses have been extremely down to earth, personable, and NOT the nightmare boss, so I'm looking to continue my lucky streak. To me, having the right boss is very important. I'm looking for the right job, not just any job, so I can do my absolute best each day.

Have you ever seen an assistant just lose it and walk out?

Asked by Hannah W about 12 years ago

I have not seen an assistant just lose it and walk out. However, I've heard enough stories. Some leave within a week or a couple of months and don't give the customary 2 weeks notice. They state that day is their last and come to find out they weren't the first nor the last to do so. Typically when an office/executive is that bad, it's a long string of assistants that quit and most are not surprised when it happens. If anything, they sometimes marvel at how long the assistant did manage to last. From what I've heard, the assistants did leave with class and their dignity intact. There's nothing worse than working for a horrible boss and throwing a tantrum just like the executive would on your last day. Why leave that as the lasting impression? If you're going to leave, be an adult about it and walk calmly with your head held high. Be the bigger person and don't gossip! When a situation is that bad, do everything in your power NOT to make it worse.

You mentioned being headhunted consistently by Fortune 500 companies. Even though I am an EA with over 15 years of experience at the C-level, it seems that all the recruiting agencies I have approached still require an applicant to come in for an appointment to take their basic employment testing, and then only seem to be able to offer lower-level administrative jobs. How do I find a higher-level headhunting firm, or get the word out there without one?

Asked by Orlando EA about 12 years ago

I do agree doing all those basic employment tests are a drag, but companies still feel it's safe to do it and a good way to weed out candidates.  You will see that aside from typing, Word, and Excel, some of the bigger companies will test you on logic, grammar, listening, putting together a budget, creativity, and more.  To find a higher-level firm, find one that specializes in either high net worth individuals or recruits C-Level executives.  However, it's much easier to get your name out their so they can find you versus you finding them.  Branding yourself well and maintaining your presence is the key.  How can you make yourself easily found?  Sign up with the major job hunting sites with your resume and profile, join social network sites geared towards work, and meet with every temp agency in town just to be safe.  Get as many recommendations on LinkedIn as you can and network with people and help them out.  It also means going on job interviews or meeting with any agency that calls you because they will often keep you in their database when the right job does come up.  And since the world is so small, all recruiters know other recruiters and try to help each other out.  Finding a job is very much a numbers game.  What is your unique selling point compared to all other EAs?  With only so many CEOs in town, there are only so many openings at any given time which is why you have to make yourself easily found online and thru word of mouth consistently. Another component to keep in mind is that are your 15 years of experience truly 15 years? If you've been doing the same job every year without any growth or increased responsibility, you really only have 2 years of experience that's been repeated 7 times. They also take into consideration which C-Level executive you assisted and at which company. Working for a CEO at a small business is not the same as working for the CEO of Disney or Pixar. Much like anyone can play baseball - are you playing in the high school league, the college league, amateurs, or are you playing for MLB? Yes, you are playing baseball, but are you a pro or in the little leagues? The amount of skill, pressure, stress, and problem solving differs at each of those levels. It wasn't until I worked for a huge, huge company that the rest of the companies started finding me. And once you're in, you're in. You have to take your career to the next level. How do you do that? Apply at a bigger company for a lower level executive, like a VP, SVP who will hopefully make the jump to President, etc. Don't be an assistant to a Director or Manager if at all possible. Or apply to be the 2nd or 3rd assistant to a CEO at a much bigger company even if you were the 1st assistant at a smaller company. In another answer, I reference 10,000 hours. The hardest part of excelling is getting to be the best and top notch. That will take a deliberate game plan and focus. Anyone can be good, but if you're asking these questions, it shows you have the drive to be great!

How much of your time is spent working on your boss's work stuff vs. his or her personal stuff? Regarding the latter, can he even legally ask you to do those things (pick up dry cleaning, get a babysitter for the kids, etc etc?)

Asked by mongo about 12 years ago

I would say that 85% of my duties have been business related and the other 15% personal. However, that 15% was also about 10% work-related to a degree. For example, my boss would be a board member of another company or some personal events would overlap with networking. I've never heard of it being illegal to ask for personal errands to be run although sometimes it might not make a lot of business sense. Keep in mind, there are some jobs where the role is designed to be mostly personal work even though you are the executive assistant and not the personal assistant. It's up to you to figure out how much of the role is what. You can ask in the interview in a nice way. Executives are so busy that to go to one person for everything really makes their life easier. The most high-profile executives will have a minimum of two executive assistants. It's rumored Lorne Michaels has four. Or there is a combination of having the EA, a personal assistant, a nanny, and a whole crew of people at their service from an estate manager, accountant to lawyer that you the EA will have to interface with. The newer and younger you are to the industry the more open you should be about doing SOME personal work. If you aren't, there is always someone else willing to do it, sometimes even for a lot less.

What's the one part of the job that drives you the most crazy? Trying to schedule meetings amongst senior execs whose calendars won't cooperate?

Asked by Vicky G. about 12 years ago

There are two things that drive me absolutely crazy that are the same answers from two different perspectives. Kevin Smith had a great story about this in his latest Q&A DVD about when he was working for Prince. Prince wanted llamas or some exotic animal at 2am and wanted his assistant to take care of it, but obviously at the hour nothing is open. I will go above and beyond the call of duty, but sometimes the answer will be no. When executives usually get what they want, and they should, it's hard to get them to accept that I can't control people/companies no matter how many times I try or brainstorm for a solution. It's like that part in The Devil Wears Prada when all the planes are grounded due to weather and she wonders if she can call the military so her boss can catch a flight. I can't force people, I can't change the weather and I can't [insert dilemma here]. In those rare instances, that shouldn't be a reflection upon me or my talent. It's just a fact of life that sometimes there is no fair or ideal solution. I would like to think that because I'm able to solve 99 of my boss' problems (and a _____ ain't one - - Jay-Z anyone? LOL), the one I can't solve totally throws them for a loop!

I work at a travel and event planning agency. We are a great resource for Executive Assistants (we have several that we work with currently) booking high level travel globally but I am having trouble reaching out to the right people. Any suggestions?

Asked by Travel almost 12 years ago

Believe it or not, while some EAs do hold tremendous power, because travel is a very expensive and uncomfortable aspect of business, many executives or companies are very specific on what is or isn't allowed and which airlines they will or won't fly. Unlike catering or gifts where the EA has a lot of decision-making power, travel is usually dictated by the powers that be. Most large companies have in house travel department or a pre-approved vendor and agency list. Smaller companies are so poor they use Expedia, Kayak, or Southwest Airlines. For event planning needs, the EA, admin assts, HR, and Facilties and Operations usually chip in and help. Large companies have depts dedicated solely to event planning and they only hire vendors for red carpet, lighting, catering, and furniture. You will have a bit more luck if you truly have a niche company with helicopter or private jet rentals since there is less competition. It's best to reach out to the EA, CEO, and the travel or vendor dept. What I can share with you is why and how I choose my vendors and which ones make a great impression. 1) Make my life easier. Business happens at an ungodly fast and slow rate. Decisions needed to be made 2 weeks ago and I'm scrambling for an answer, a decision, approval, and the money. There is also never just 1 plan, there are at least three or five. It's hard for vendors to make exceptions and to hang in there, but when they do, I love them. It's not uncommon for you to get a deposit, then the full amount at the event or even after the event. Or maybe you go the extra step. For example, maybe if I needed car service, but my boss needs his morning coffee, you'll have the drive get the coffee at Starbucks for us first before pick up and charge us for it so my boss doesn't have to go in and wait in line. Sure, you're a travel company, but helping out in little ways makes all the difference. 2) Personalize the experience. Realize anyone that uses your services is a connection to more business. Or anytime you are out and about a party, everyone there is a potential client. I once went to a new restaurant and got such impeccable service it was almost weird. The host greeted us by name and asked for everyone else's first names too. The GM of the place was summoned and shook hands with each individual. They took my coat and folded it neatly. They came to check on us a lot. The strange part is, I was not there for a business mtg at all, but they did that with all of their customers. And as an event planner and EA myself, I will remember that venue. It was obvious they wanted to give that "Cheers" feeling where everyone knows your name. You can offer to take out potential clients to lunch so you can give your sales pitch then or offer to come in for a mtg to their office. 3) Offer an introductory free samples or a great discount. A lot of the times when we don't choose a vendor it's for outer lying reasons like the vendor is too far, it's not the right theme, we have too many people or too few people. Price does matter too, but for us to even consider a vendor we usually want to find someone that serves our immediate needs. We also keep a list of vendors we always want to use or consider for the right party, event, or meeting. This is why you should give free samples or a great discount and keep in touch with clients at least once a year via a personal email. For a travel and event company, perhaps you can offer the highest priced service or menu at the 2nd highest pricing level instead. Or drop off an assortment of desserts that you would serve at a party that would feed 10 people so all the decision makers could try it. This will help you get your foot in the door and be on people's minds once the right event comes along. 4) Make your company searchable. 9 times out of 10, whenever I need to take care of task, the first thing I do is Google it, look for it on Yelp, or look on LinkedIn. Then I call and email every vendor. The first who gets back to me and who is the nicest, most timely, reliable, and reasonable will be my first choice. It's very shocking when I reach out to a company and NEVER hear back, even if I try again. Other times I will get a response 2 weeks later when my event is already over. Timing is everything. 5) Don't just seek out EAs. Travel and event planning is handled by admin assistants, dept assistants, coordinators, project managers, production assistants, producers, production coordinators, wives, estate managers, nannies, personal assistants, husbands, managers, directors, executive producers, and associate producers. At every company, there are probably a few people you could reach out to. Cast a wider net! "Like" my answers, especially if you submitted the question so I know you read it! :D My own blog can be found at musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/

Is it true that the executive assistant role in Hollywood is often the entry-level position that can lead to mid-level of senior positions at a company?

Asked by borclans about 12 years ago

An executive assistant role is a great spring board to get your feet wet in the industry. However, you also have to know where you want to end up and work your way backwards. Any smart assistant will know within a few years how much potential they have to climb the ladder at a company. The shorter the amount of time you are an executive assistant, the faster you will rise as they will realize your smarts and talents are wasted being an assistant. How you network, how you brand and sell yourself, and how amazing you are as an assistant all play a factor. Very often, the job description will say up front if they want a career executive assistant. Or they will say they want people to be in the training program or how previous assistants have gotten promoted after a couple of years if they were the right fit. If you are an outstanding worker they will come to you with bigger projects, a better title, and discussions about your future. This is how you'll know. There will always be an amount of paying your dues and the corporate ladder environment. Your best bet is to start at a smaller company where you can wear a lot of hats or a new company that is just starting out. Be willing to do anything and learn a lot of different skill sets and software programs so you are indispensable. If you want to be a director, producer, or writer, being an EA won't help very much - unless you start out as a writer's assistant, producer's assistant, or a PA, etc, which are totally different avenues and only one way to break into the industry. As with anything in life, know where you want to end up so you know how to get there. If you don't know, try everything and learn what you DON'T like so you can make better decisions.

As an assistant, are you expected to be accessible 24/7?

Asked by jimmy james about 12 years ago

Most often, EA jobs in Hollywood are 24/7. The reason is because production and executive's lives are non stop or they just work really insane and long hours. They also travel a lot all over the world. You will find the odd executive assistant role where your boss is lower level or is a really great family man so you will luck out. The best case scenario is they will tell you up front how long the hours are and/or expect to pay your dues the first few years of your career. 40-hour work weeks are rare, typically it's at least 45-50 hours. Anything above that up to 80-100hrs is not unusual. Being in Hollywood is not for the faint of heart, but it's also unlike any other industry!

Worst blow-up you ever witnessed from a boss?

Asked by JBT about 12 years ago

My war stories in this department are so boring it's almost pathetic. The worst blow-up I've ever witnessed is someone yelling and even that has only happened twice. To top it off, it wasn't even the same person. It was two different bosses and they were yelling at other people that I so happened to be present or they were so loud I could hear them from another room. This is how lucky I've been in my career. Now, other assistants, I'm sure they would have a tale or two...

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

Asked by joey joe about 12 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 about 12 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.

I recently saw a job posting for a large TV entertainment company seeking EA. I have never actually been an EA, but I have experience in costumer service, private aviation, etc. What is the best advice for someone looking to apply as a first-timer?

Asked by Kimee Bee almost 12 years ago

What a great question! For a first timer, here are some things I suggest you try. 1) Focus your resume on your skills/talents vs the job title/chronology. You want to highlight how similar your skill set is to what they are seeking. Whatever bullet points and items they list that you do well, lift those sentences verbatim from the job description and put them in your resume. 2) Temp while you look for a job so you can say you have executive or admin assistant experience and within entertainment. Call every single temping agency in town. Most major companies also have one on site already. 3) Ready my blog to make sure you want to work in entertainment and for an executive. There's nothing quite like it out there! 4) Try to network or search online for that job posting on other sites or thru other people. Sometimes you can figure out which company it is and tailor your cover letter and resume or find the HR or hiring manager's email address online. 5) Be prepared to take tests. Sometimes companies will give you tests on Word, Excel, Grammar, Listening, Logic, etc. There are about 10 different types of tests out there. 6) The largest obstacle you will face is the catch 22. You need experience to get the job, but you need the job to get the experience. Aim for entry level work where you only need 1-3 years of experience. 7) Get on LinkedIn and make sure you have an online presence that is professional. It will help you brand and sell yourself better and network! "Like" my answers, especially if you submitted the question so I know you read it! :D This is my blog: musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/

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


Asked by Grace over 11 years ago

Of course! :)

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

Asked by Judith about 12 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 about 12 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.. almost 12 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

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 11 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

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:


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:



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

Hi K, this isn't a question - I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all your time and effort that you spend writing your blog and also answering questions here :) it's SO insightful to what it's like to become an EA in the future!

Asked by Emma over 10 years ago

Emma - Wow!  It is so nice to get a thank you email!  You're the best.  It's a lot to juggle and writing takes hours so it is nice to know I am appreciated as a volunteer to this site and blogging.  I wish helping EAs was something I could devote more energy to, so I really appreciate everyone's patience and understanding while I work a demanding FT job and thrive in my personal life too.  Though I may not be posting every week like I was earlier in the year, know I am always generating ideas and miss having time with all my readers.  Getting comments like this or to my previous entries makes me happy that there is an archive for everyone to discover.  Until my next entry, all my best!

What qualifications / skills should I require on a job description for a GREAT executive assistant for my small food consulting company?

Asked by MLMCI almost 11 years ago


Sorry I have been behind in answering questions. I do realize you also asked another question, which I haven’t forgotten.

I think this is a great question, so I hope my answer is helpful to you. I have never worked at a food consulting company, per se, but I did waitress for a couple of years, I am a foodie, I work with food vendors a lot, and I strongly believe in customer service being vital in ANY role regardless of job title or company. I’ll answer you question in severals ways just to be thorough. So here are 3 tips:

1) List qualifications, skills, value, principles, a list of daily tasks, and other related info.

Paint a great picture of your ideal EA and your company’s mission statement using your personality and core values. Keep in mind,if you want the assistant to stay forever or not get promoted, write CAREER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT. Or if you want to promote them mention, the right assistant will be promoted after 2-3 years. Some useful key words you can use are: great problem solver, able to think a few steps ahead, attention to detail and ability to see the bigger picture, multitasker, great with logistics, smart, proactive, personable, friendly, empathetic, sympathetic, foodie, appreciates good food, collaborate, partnership, manage, point person, workflow, and knowledge of x, y, z software programs, gatekeeper, face of our company, first and last point of contact, whatever it takes attitude, green, hungry, great listener, customer service oriented, etc… Then write a list specific list of daily, weekly tasks, or a % breakdown of what the role entails. It can be 50% daily calendar management, travel, phones, and coordinating client meetings, 25% expense reports, accounting, and misc special projects, 15% vendor and client management, 10% personal executive assistant duties such as picking up lunch, tasting samples, etc. To get you started...

Small Food Consulting Company is looking for a stellar Executive Assistant to join our team! If you love food, partnering with clients and executives, and being “the face” of our company, please continue reading. We are seeking an Executive Assistant with X - X years of experience. We also want someone who is __________, _________, and __________.

2) Personal referrals are good bet.

When people get an interview through someone they have a connection with, the sense of obligation, to be really hard working, and to do well is much more heightened because they don’t want to let anyone down or look bad. Even though you don’t know them directly or too well, some close degree of separation is better than no connection. This is not to say a total stranger can’t be good, but most AMAZING employees already have jobs and have no shortages of headhunters trying to recruit them away. So, to find a great EA, find someone young, new to the industry, or looking to switch fields - they will be greener, hungrier, and hopefully more passionate than anyone just looking for any job.

3) I answered a similar question on my blog and wrote 10 TIPS so please look at this answer too! It is much more in depth and helpful.


What should I pay a GREAT executive assistant? Live in AR, relatively large city and run a consulting group.

Asked by MLMCI almost 11 years ago



This graph should be pretty helpful. There are other sites that are also good to consult like glassdoors. I’m more curious how big your company is and how much revenue your company generates. This matters because it translates to how busy, stressful, how much experience you need them to have, and if you need a specialized Executive Assistant. Top EAs that work for a famous CEO (think Google, Fortune 100 companies) make as much as low level executives in middle management and have titles like Chief of Staff sometimes.

The most popular question on this column is about salary and this is the answer I wrote:


How much can the best executive assistants earn in a year?

Asked by regan999 on 05/10/2012


The salary of an EA depends on what city you work in, how big your company is, and a zillion other factors that come into play just like any other job. The entertainment industry is mostly in Los Angeles, but pockets do exist elsewhere in the nation so you will see a fluctuation. Like any other field, the more experience you have under your belt the more you will get paid. It's not uncommon for an EA who has been in the industry forever and who works for someone very, very, very high profile to make a comfortable living - as if they themselves were a regular lower-ranking executive or part of management. Keep in mind, these types of executive assistants are very, very few and far between. Will you get paid mid-six figures as an EA - no. Is the job sometimes well-paying enough that it attracts those who don't want to climb the corporate ladder while reaping some of the benefits as if they were - yes. All in all, there's a part of you that has to want this job bad enough and love it enough to excel in it. Otherwise, sometimes the job can be a little challenging that most people only pursue it to pay their dues or be a writer on the side. It is never their life goal to grow up to be an executive assistant. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Do you have to be an encyclopedia of names, films, tv shows, in order to be an assistant? I feel like there is so much content and sometimes when people drop names if. you don't know them does that hurt your ability to be an assistant?

Asked by Jerry about 4 years ago

Hi, Jerry!  Thank you so much for this great question.  Sorry it took me so long to respond.  While you do not have to know every single name and greenlit project, you'd want to have your pulse on the industry and adjacent ones like music, social media stars, Broadway, and really just pop culture.  I once met with an iconic producer and asked them their favorite shows and they admitted they didn't actually watch a lot of TV, but did have a favorite or two, so I felt much better.  There is just too much content for anyone to know everything.  The one thing I do caution about is, if you work in entertainment and leave for a completely unrelated industry for too long and want to come back, some people might be hesitant to interview you for being out of the game too long.  They wonder if you've been keeping up.  It's why I always felt hesitant about pivoting in my career unless I was absolutely sure.  I've written about that on my other blog, Musings of a High-Level Executive Assistant.  If you're just starting out, it's a different story because they won't need to ask why you left in the first place.  The best thing you can do is follow what's popular, see what's trending on social media, have your favorite shows you can talk about, and read the trades (Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, but also follow other breaking news and entertainment sites like TMZ, Perez Hilton, and a handful more).  Treat everyone with kindness because it's the right thing to do and because this industry is TINY.  The good news is, you are probably already doing much of this because it's a natural interest of yours anyway.  I hope you are staying safe and well during COVID!    

I just started a new position as the EA to a CEO. What tips to you have to management a very busy calendar?

Asked by dmarshall64 about 10 years ago


I love your blogs & really appreciate all of your input! I have been a senior EA for 20+ years. Support a C-Level, but struggle when directs of directs on down come to me for things. We are lacking 'group admins'. Need encouragement in this area.

Asked by Rachel S. - Alias :) almost 11 years ago


My boss has requested for me to manage his mailbox which I am not sure how to do it and would appreciate some advice. I am also concern as he is not responsive on emails. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your help.

Best regards,

Asked by Amber over 7 years ago


I am currently being considered for a "Sr. Asst to Mgmt", supporting a Pres/CEO at a large well known Financial company. I was told I was the top candidate. What are some questions I might ask the Pres/CEO himself when I interview with him?

Asked by Marabelle over 10 years ago


Can you tell us about a notable problem you've experienced trying to get something done, or a conflict of some sort that you solved? It's really interesting to know in detail about some of your experiences. Thanks for this column/your blog. Very insp

Asked by Jessica over 9 years ago


Hi there...

I stumbled across your blog and am finding your tips very useful... thanks so much for sharing :) Are you able to provide some examples of where you had to "think outside the square/box" in your previous or current role? Thanks, Di

Asked by Di from Oz over 9 years ago


I "worked" as a "Private PA" for my (now)ex-partner for 4 yrs. I did EVERYTHING. (VHNWI, CEO, travel, staff, etc) I'd love to do this professionally, but I doubt my ability. How do I get my skills & my head round to being confident/looking for work?

Asked by Lorraine over 5 years ago


You never gave a clear answer as to how much the best EA can earn in a year. Could you at least give a general range of what an entertainment industry EA can make. What is a typical starting salary?

Asked by sascha over 10 years ago


I am really passionate about being an executive assistant but I do not know if I should go to college for my business degree or go to vocational school for the training.

Asked by Melinda over 9 years ago


I support a team of executives and luckily I can say they are all WONDERFUL. I want to come up with new ideas or things to suggest to help them become better at what they do, and show that I do care and love what I do. How do you go out of the box?

Asked by MarieM about 6 years ago


You want to send a flower arrangement or other gift to a Hollywood executive with a letter...how do you make sure note gets there what would you send from what vendor

Asked by Robbie Goldstein over 9 years ago


Hi Kiyomi,
So I've worked with a real estate group at a banking firm going on 5 years. I've been through it all with them and back and this Christmas, they forgot to give me a gift. ? What gives? Is that a sign that I am not loved anymore?

Asked by NYC EA over 9 years ago


I answer email straight from the executive's inbox. How can I indicate it is me, the EA, sending the message? Is there etiquette for this? Do I just put my initials under his name or sign my name and "on behalf of" his name? Thanks!

Asked by MBC over 8 years ago


I have been scared to ask but I hear a lot of Q and Infowars conspiracy theories about pedos in Hollywood how true or false is this?

Asked by Thelma almost 4 years ago


I got my bachelor's in biology and currently work in healthcare. I was thinking about a possible career change and have always been fascinated by the entertainment industry. Are there good job opportunities for someone in my position?

Asked by kim about 11 years ago


Your site in tremendously insightful. I was wondering if you had any tips on managing calendars, meeting and generally keeping track of meeting/calendar?

Thank you,

Asked by Laura over 8 years ago


Hello! So I'm wanting to change careers to being executive assistant. I am tired of doing sales/mktg. Is the best way to do this by getting an admin position, then getting certified as a MOS expert? Will that set me apart from the rest?

Asked by Candice over 9 years ago


How can I get an EA to learn more about the industry, and work my way up? I don't have experience as an EA, but have 7-year background in administration - managing projects & staff of 20+ volunteers that require a lot of coordination, schedules. Thnx

Asked by eastwestshine almost 10 years ago


I am interviewing as an EA for a DA and I wanted to know what type of questions I should ask during my interview that will allow me to know this person better? Currently, I'm a manager, so what type of personal characteristics should I have as an EA?

Asked by socialroman@yahoo.com almost 8 years ago


I just got a job as the on-set assistant for a very important executive producer and I have a 1 month trial period. Can you give me some advice on how to be the best in this job? What are the most important things for executive producers?

Asked by Utopia almost 9 years ago


So I've been at my current EA for about three months and I had a pretty bad review after being told they were unsatisfied. Never been an EA before always the boss and now I feel stupid and insecure. I got put on 4 wks probation & have my f/u next wk

Asked by Tiffany almost 10 years ago


Do you have tips on goal setting for EAs (used in performance reviews)?

Asked by Anne P. about 9 years ago


Hi Hea,

I've been an Administrative Assistant for over 5 years now. I just recently applied to an EA position for a CFO; he's older and is very old school. Can you give me some tips on interviewing with the CFO?! I'm very nervous, help!

Asked by xd about 11 years ago


I live in Atlanta and it has been booming lately as companies and entertainment industry stars relocate here. I've been an AA for several years now (law firm & non-profit). How do I network to learn about EA or higher paying AA jobs?

Asked by Dianne M. almost 11 years ago