“My career is about to go ape-shit”
This case study demonstrates one of the many different places our potential clients find themselves before they hire us. Gary was in the ideal place when he approached us – a place that many entrepreneurs and executives don’t get to, or can’t see.
What was ideal was that he looked out ahead at his career and saw a potential train wreck coming. He saw the success trajectory that was out ahead of him. That is the ideal time to be searching for a high caliber, Executive Assistant (EA). Most people come to us in the middle of the train wreck or when they are already overwhelmed, completely swamped and drowning (And that’s fine. We can jump in at those time as well.). Some people have been overwhelmed for so long that they think, “You don’t understand. This is just how my life is.” As if it could be no other way.
(Sidebar – True story: A couple years ago an attorney who was looking for an assistant shared with us that her car had broken down on the side of the road the prior week. She was so busy that she didn’t have time to deal with it and had been uber-ing to work all week. Wow.)
Over time we will write more right case studies to demonstrate the many different places that our clients are at when they first connect with us, and the many different places they hope to get to with the help of an Executive Assistant. No two clients are alike. While there are some commonalities in what has people finally reach out and consider hiring a remote executive assistant, and while there are some common things that most all Executive Assistants do, ultimately each partnership between an executive or a business owner and their assistant is unique and special.
For this, our first case study, we’re going to profile one of our favorite clients, Gary John Bishop, best-selling author of “UNFU*K Yourself”.
In October 2016 we reached out to Gary via LinkedIn to share about the services of our firm. He asked us a couple questions, and then asked that we follow up next quarter. In January of the following year we followed up and checked-in. A few months later we were on the phone discussing his needs and in the next month he started working with his virtual Executive Assistant, Tim.
Gary could see the explosion about to happen in his life. Not all of us can see the overwhelm or train wreck coming, but he could. He started doing the planning and critical thinking as he looked out ahead. This was brilliant. He was committed that he would be able to have the success that was coming his way, while not sacrificing what is sacred for him – time with his family.
The potential Train Wreck:
About 16 months ago he wrote the book. He was going to simply use it promote his coaching business. But Oops! The book went viral. 35,000 copies were sold! This is unheard of in the “self-published” Self Help book industry. Harper Collins was going to republish it, and it was on deck to also get republished in the United Kingdom. Again, unheard of!
Within a week three publishing offers came to him. The first one to contact him was Harper Collins. He quickly Googled the top 10 publishing agents and called the first six. One of them was on the phone with him in 15 minutes. Now his life was on a new trajectory.
He said to us, “I’m going to need someone more and more. In the short term I may need them to just manage my current clients. But then a lot more is going to be coming.”
Then he said something we hear frequently, “I’ve had people take things over in the past and it hasn’t gone the way I want.” He added, “It all as to be perfect! There has to be integrity and impeccability with everything! My career is about to go ape-shit.”
People are often unsure of exactly what they want their Executive Assistant to do. That is no issue for us. Through exploration conversations with us, you will discover what you can delegate and what would be the best things to start delegating in the beginning of your relationship with your Executive Assistant.
Gary rattled off what knew he wanted to delegate right off the bat, and what was important to him:
• I need someone I can swear with! (obviously)
• I don’t have much time to develop people
• They have to generate themselves
• I want to move all my clients to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
• I want someone to make that transition happen and make it smooth
We sent Gary the questionnaire that we send all prospects as part of our exploration process. When we got on the phone to discuss his answers during the Complementary Consultation Session, we ended up only discussing two of the questions and his answers. At that point we were clear what he needed from us.
After the consultation, here is what he saw that he would need from his EA:
• Deal with all client-related stuff, so he could write. And write, write, write.
• Deal with all calendar shuffling, which he hated
• Bring new clients through the onboarding process
• Keep an eye on the Accounts Payable and crosscheck what’s happening in Quick Books and PayPal
• Send reminders to clients who are late with payments
• Clear his calendar when needed
• Move all his clients to Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday
• Manage his schedule with interviews, radio shows, podcasts, etc.
• Check his inbox every day and by Friday at 5pm there must be NO emails in the inbox
• Get to the source of the issues he was having with Outlook
We wrapped up the consultation with him saying to our CEO, “Gina, I need someone to handle a whole host of BS so that I can honor these priorities! My top priority is to be the best husband and father. That is #1. My second priority is being an author and my third is being a coach. And oh, I also need someone who is un-offendable.”
Enter Tim Long, Part-Time Remote Executive Assistant for Gary John Bishop
Just for reference, Gary is Florida and Tim is in California. Tim supports two other east coast clients for Athena Executive Services and now enjoys an early morning lifestyle, that lets him spend more time with his son and family in the afternoon.
The kinds of projects and tasks that Tim did in the early stages for Gary included:
• FreshBooks management, then moving Gary’s bookkeeping to QuickBooks
• Investigating issues with an email account and working with Gary’s team to figure out what was malfunctioning
• Interview scheduling for Podcasts and TV interviews
• Client scheduling and setup: This included the specific items that needed to be covered with Gary’s new coaching clients prior to their first appointment. Tim ensured they got a welcome email regarding all the time and invoicing logistics, along with a questionnaire for them to fill out before their first call. Tim also organized and planned-out their coaching program 9 months out and ensured that their invoicing was managed.
Later they added to Tim’s plate:
• Facebook management
• Publishing media posts on Gary’s website to his followers
• Coordinating travel for conferences and speaking engagements
Originally, Gary, had Tim working 10 hours each week and after about four months, when they added social media and other more detailed projects, they added additional hours and Tim continued working 15 hours a week for Gary.
Clear and effective communication is critical in any relationships and throughout all the stages of a partnership. In the beginning, Gary and Tim spoke about once a week for about five to 15 minutes. That is much less than most effective partnerships usually require between an EA and an executive or entrepreneur. Having just this brief weekly touch-base was possible because Tim and Gary communicated also via email and text. This was also possible because Gary came to us already so highly trained in how to delegate work and how to ask for exactly what he needed or wanted.
Now, many months later into their partnership, they speak about once every two weeks or so, sometimes a little less. And those calls vary from three minutes to 35 minutes depending on what needs to get discussed.
“While my interactions with Gary are not many, one of the things I love most about working with him is how simple we work. Everything is quick and concise. There is no BS between us and it all flows smoothly. We curse, we laugh, and we get to work, I like that!”