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Gina Cotner Speaking

Gina Cotner is the CEO of Athena Executive Services, a firm dedicated to helping busy business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives achieve work-life balance. With over 15 years of remote work experience, she has mastered the art of living from her calendar and coaches others on time management.

Gina and her team of remote, part-time executive assistants free up their clients’ time to do what they do best. As many clients have found, the right executive assistant can be a true partner to help get the “have-to’s” off your plate, so you can focus on the “want-to’s”.

An avid pickleball player, Gina was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and splits her time between Seattle and the central coast of California.

Podcast Guest

Looking for a podcast guest who is insightful, knowledgeable, and always engaging? Gina is available to discuss topics such as virtual vs. on-site assistants, time management, leadership development, and more.

  • Freeing yourself up for the work that matters
  • Time management and the pain of overbooking
  • Setting boundaries with an assistant
  • The dos and don’ts of delegating work
  • Why the name “Athena”
  • How is fitting 36 hour day into a 24 hour day going for you
  • What to delegate
  • How to train your EA to think like you
  • Athena Origin Story
  • Virtual Admin vs Executive Assistant
  • Releasing grip on projects and the consequences
  • Capturing processes and giving away creating the systems
  • What and how to delegate
  • Is it time for you to hire a virtual executive assistant for your interior design firm?

  • What does a virtual executive assistant even do?

  • Where do we find one?

  • The value of delegating tasks to free up your time

  • How to let go of the tasks that aren’t the best use of your time

  • The importance of finding the right VA for you

  • Being a virtual and on-site assistant
  • How to get clients if you’re a VA
  • How to set yourself apart as a high-performing EA.
  • The perseverance of an entrepreneur

  • Getting out of your own way and investing time

  • The power of one more

  • The difference between virtual executive assistant and virtual assistant

  • The importance of being accountable to your employees

  • The importance of taking care of your health

  • Unveil the magic of virtual Executive Assistants (EAs) who empower busy entrepreneurs and executives with the ultimate gift: time

  • Explore how your virtual assistant could be right next door or on the other side of the world, ready to transform your business operations

  • Learn how to tailor your search to align with your unique needs and preferences

  • Embrace the paradigm shift of focusing on your core strengths while delegating the rest to your virtual assistant

  • Differences between virtual assistants and executive assistants

  • Challenges and benefits of working with virtual assistants from different cultures

  • Why consider the compensation of assistants

  • Importance of delegating tasks that align with one’s expertise and passion

  • Maximizing the effectiveness of executive assistants.

  • Is it time for you to hire a virtual executive assistant for your interior design firm?

  • What does a virtual executive assistant even do, and where do we find one?

  • Finding your virtual assistant soulmate

  • Reshaping the way you look at your business by encouraging you to “be the surgeon”

  • Focusing on your areas of expertise and passing on the rest to your virtual assistant. 

  • The Power of Virtual Partnership

  • Unique Approach to Executive Support

  • Executive Assistants vs. Virtual Assistants

  • Lessons in Business Leadership

  • Letting go of clients who are not fully utilizing services

  • Biggest challenges facing executive assistants
  • What is a virtual executive assistant
  • The difference between virtual assistant and executive assistant
  • Allowing yourself to do what you are best at 

  • Outsourcing and the investment it takes

  • Letting other people do what they love to do

  • Recognizing the difference between a virtual assistant and an executive assistant

  • Understanding what’s options are out there for outsourcing and what they offer

  • Choosing what to outsource

  • Documenting standard procedures

  • Coaching people early and often

  • Having reasonable expectations for outsourcing

  • Being accountable to people you outsource to

  • IBM to planning to open a martini lounge to becoming an entrepreneur
  • The inception of Athena Executive Services and its growth
  • Strategies for dealing with disappointment 
  • The benefits of community and networking in business development


Gina was a featured speaker at the BASE Empower Summit for Assistants.

In these two clips, Gina shares with a large audience of assistants two of the eight characteristics that we say makes for a High Caliber EA.

Base is an online platform that helps assistants future-proof their role by tying clear ROI to their workflow.  

Signature Presentation:

I’m going to live a balanced life, as soon as I find the time

Key Elements/ Points:


  1. Money can be made. Time cannot. If you waste $1000 in Vegas you can earn it back. If you had a day recently where you were overwhelmed and took on too much, and it left you tired and cranky, not being great with your kids, and gave you a headache, you don’t get that day back. There is no “do-over” on that day.
  2. Unlike Money we are all given the same amount of time in a day: 24 hours. Yet, we relate to time like we have more than we really do, leaving us trying to fit a 36 hour day into a 24 hour day.
  3. Is having a peaceful and sane schedule that serves you, selfish? No. Why? We will explore and get present to the benefits to you and those around you, when you choose to live a balanced life.


Delegation: Do you Want Control Or Do you Want Time?

Key Elements/ Points:


  1. Why delegate when you can do it better and faster, and don’t have to spend time explaining it to someone?
  2. Giving up control (eek!)
  3. Costs to poor delegation + How to delegate badly
  4. How to delegate well + The bonus for your company if you take this on

What People are Saying

“Thank you again for your presentation on Time at the WBO luncheon. I shared with a very accomplished group of business women about the concept of how we look at money and time – finite or infinite. As I profess that it’s not brain surgery but it’s a simple concept with a deep message. They ALL loved it. You have an important message to share.”

Annette Bond

“Hi Gina. I just wanted to reach out and tell you how much I enjoyed your presentation to WBO on Thursday. I had some amazing takeaways that I began implementing immediately…beginning with blocking out time on my calendar for ME and following-through on making that a priority in honor of myself. 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration!”

Kristen Lomax

“Thanks Gina. Presentation was A+ and I’ll be spreading the word about you and Athena.”

Stacia Hofmann

“It was so great hearing your talk and meeting you yesterday! I also coach business owners how to have balance in their work and you taught me some new things and perspectives! I was sharing on Facebook how after your talk, I went and sat on my porch in the afternoon instead of rushing in to do work. I’ve NEVER done that before, so THANK YOU! It’s very inspiring to see someone who was an executive assistant, now have her own business and doing public speaking as well!! I may want to interview you at some point for an article for my career coaching clients. You are a great speaker and you gave great insights to everyone in the room. I will definitely be happy to refer business to you!”

Jennifer Kim


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