Episode: How to Leverage a World-Class Assistant

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt, and this is Lead to Win, the weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. In this episode, we’re talking about something every leader needs to know: how to use your executive assistant effectively to make you more productive. Megan Hyatt Miller is on parental leave with her newly adopted daughter Naomi, but I’m joined today by Larry Wilson, as usual, and also a special guest: my own executive assistant, Jim Kelly. Hey, Jim. Hey, Larry.

Jim Kelly: Hey, Michael.

Michael: How are you guys doing?

Larry Wilson: Doing great.

Jim: Doing super.

Michael: Awesome. Good to have you both here.

Larry: Well, we’re on Lead to Win, so we’re winning today.

Michael: Exactly. I mean, what else do you need?

Larry: Right. Hey, Michael, you have a new book coming out.

Michael: I do.

Larry: Your World-Class Assistant: Hiring, Training, and Leveraging an Executive Assistant. That’s part of the reason why Jim is here today, but before we jump in, as always, a little background on the subject. We talk about leadership, and you write a book about an executive assistant. Where’s the connection here?

Michael: This is probably the most underutilized resource leaders make use of; that is, an executive assistant. I think a lot of leaders may have an assistant but are reluctant to use one or just don’t see the value of it, so I wrote this book, because I think it can change everything. This is designed to help you understand how to leverage this relationship.

I think for most leaders, they’re missing a major opportunity to increase their productivity because they’re trying to do it all themselves. They don’t know where they need to be focused and where they could use an executive assistant to leverage what they do, but done right, this is the most important hire you’ll ever make. So I want to show people how to get this right, and there’s a whole lot riding on it.

Larry: Jim, how about you?

Jim: Yeah, Larry. I’m excited about this book. For one, for being an EA, if you’re an executive assistant out there… I wish I had this book when I first became an EA. It’s that good. It would have saved me a whole lot of time and energy trying to figure out myself how to be an EA, and then if I was an executive… You need this book as well, because it’s going to save you time, it’s going to save you energy. I mean, time is really our most valuable asset. How nice would it be to get some time back in your life? You’re going to get that by this book, by hiring an EA and leveraging that EA.

Larry: Jim, how does it feel to know you’re actually the laboratory in which Michael develops new material?

Jim: Well, this is super exciting. I was telling Nick, our producer, that I have never been talked about as world-class anything, so this is really cool. “World-class assistant.” That seems really powerful and fun to hear that of myself. This is awesome. It’s time-tested. We do this with our EAs. Michael has been working with an EA for a lot of his career, the majority of his career.

Michael: Forty years.

Jim: Yeah, 40 years. These are time-tested principles we utilize with our team of EAs, so we’re here to help you guys.

Larry: You bring me to a question I want to ask you. This is a book really for leaders. It’s also a valuable book, we think, for EAs. I guess the question is this: Is this a career path you saw yourself in? Is being an EA something you ever thought you would do?

Jim: No. It wasn’t a career path I saw for myself. When I was in college, if you said, “Hey, 10 years from now you’re going to be Michael Hyatt’s executive assistant,” for one I would say, “Who the heck is Michael Hyatt?”

Michael: Do you think we’re on the honest planet here?

Jim: Secondly, no, I didn’t see that for myself. I went into sales right out of college, and then I became an admissions counselor at a university, and then I became an executive assistant. There was really no path to becoming an executive assistant, but when I look back, everything I’ve done in my career to this point has led me to this. That means organizing, planning, logistics, communication. I had that with all of my other career positions, and I think it’s a perfect fit for what I’m doing now.

Larry: So you like being an EA.

Jim: I do. I love it. I’m Michael’s right-hand man, and I take a lot of pride in that. When I first took the position, I set the goal of “I want Michael’s life to become so easy he’s going to look back and say, ‘Wow! Jim has freed me up to become the best husband I can be, the best father, the best grandfather, and the best boss I can be.’” That really has become my goal throughout my three and a half years at Michael Hyatt & Company. That’s just the north star I always go back to, that I want to free Michael up to do his most valuable work.

Michael: Do you see why I love this guy? He’s awesome.

Larry: Yeah. Jim, are you available for any freelance work?

Michael: No.

Jim: I’m busy with Michael’s work, but it’s a good busy. It’s an awesome busy.

Larry: Well, this brings us to the meat of the show today, which is to talk about how this relationship works and how to leverage a world-class EA. We’re going to talk about three areas of operation. These are actually really broad areas that everybody in business is involved in. We’ll talk about how the EA relationship can help in these three areas of operation.

I want to point out, as we begin, we’re not going to cover nearly all that’s in the book or that there is about an EA relationship. There’s a lot of stuff you maybe will wonder about, and probably at some point we’ll just begin saying, “There’s a little bit more about this in the book.” One of the things we’re not going to talk a lot about today but I think we should start the conversation with… Would you briefly describe the communication rhythm between you two? Because that really underlies the whole relationship.

Jim: Michael and I meet every Monday. We were meeting in the mornings on Mondays, but Michael’s calendar got switched around a little bit. Now we’re meeting in the afternoons. We meet every Monday to discuss how his weekend was. We first start out our meetings with, “Hey, how was your weekend?” We start out with our wins for the past weekend, and then we go into the calendar for the next week. We look ahead on each item of the calendar, and if there’s an item on the calendar Michael doesn’t know about or it’s the first time he’s seeing it, I provide a little bit of context behind that. So we look ahead on the calendar.

Michael: That helps me, by the way, prepare for those meetings, if there’s anything I need or if I need Jim to run down some research or give me more information, which, frankly, is very rare, because he usually has it all at hand for that meeting.

Jim: So we talk about that, and then I usually try to batch a lot of my questions I’ve had from the previous week into that meeting. I don’t want Michael to be distracted throughout the workday with my questions, especially if they’re not urgent. So what I would do is I would put all of those questions into the agenda, and then I usually rapid-fire the questions to Michael. I say, “Hey, do you have a few minutes more for questions?” and I go one by one through the questions and knock out usually five to ten questions. We knock them all out in a few minutes, and it’s super helpful for me.

Michael: Just to be clear, this meeting is about a 30-minute meeting, so it’s not a long meeting. We’re in and out. We do it by video conference. We have an office, but Jim is typically working out of his home. I’m typically working out of my home office. We go into the office occasionally. Sometimes we meet face-to-face, but not usually.

Larry: To clarify, this is the start of every day or the start of the week?

Jim: Just the start of the week, on Mondays, and then we also have one other meeting we do, but it’s through Slack. It’s through an integration called Geekbot. It’s pretty much like a stand-up meeting. Geekbot will prompt us with three questions each day, and I answer the questions, and Michael answers the questions separately, and then the answers to those questions get posted in the shared Slack channel we have.

Those three questions are, “How are you feeling today?” “What’s your Big 3 for the day?” and “Is there anything blocking your progress?” By asking those three questions, we run the gamut of what’s going on in our lives as well as what we’re focusing on for that day. It has been really helpful for us.

Larry: I get the last two questions, “What are you trying to accomplish?” and “Is there anything blocking your progress?” because that gets at productivity. Michael, I assume you chose the questions. Why the first one, “How are you feeling?”

Michael: First of all, as an Enneagram Three, I’m not always aware of my feelings, and one of the things I’ve learned is how I’m feeling really does affect my productivity. Now, I don’t let my emotions drive the bus, but I think it’s just good to know. I want to know, for example, if Jim… I think it was last week he had a cold and was not functioning 100 percent.

I want to be aware of that, as his supervisor, and not load him up with stuff. The most important thing he can do is get some rest and get over it. Conversely, I want him to know exactly where I’m at. For example, yesterday, I think I let you know I was out at a late dinner after a very long day and I was getting a slow start so I wasn’t feeling up to full capacity like normal.

Larry: Let’s get into these three areas of operation in which an EA can really help you become more productive as an executive. The first one is managing communication. Now, let me clarify. We just talked about communication between the two of you. This is really about communication with other parties, either external parties or internal within the company. So, let’s talk about some of the ways that works in this relationship.

Michael: Why don’t we start with email, because I think that, for most leaders, takes up an enormous amount of time. I haven’t met many people who love it, but it has to be done. That’s one of the primary ways that people from outside our organization, particularly people outside Michael Hyatt & Company contact us.

It really begins with the fact that we have multiple inboxes. By that I mean I have a public account, and we don’t publicize this email address, but it’s the one I give out to everybody. With the exception of key staff members and my family, everybody else has what we refer to as my public account. That’s what’s on my business card, and again, if somebody asks me at a conference for my email address, that’s what I give to them.

Then I have a private email address that really is where Jim drags the public stuff into that address. Those are messages that require my response. So if they’re not in there, then I don’t respond. The reason I did this is back in the day, I would get 200 email messages a day, and I could spend literally all day responding to those emails that come in. As it is now, Jim may give me four or five a day, and that’s all I have to attend to. He handles everything else on my behalf.

Larry: Four or five a day.

Michael: Yeah. Does that sound like not very many?

Larry: It sounds like…

Michael: Nirvana?

Larry: I get more spam than that. Yeah, that sounds like not very many at all.

Michael: What it does is it allows me to stay focused on the places where I add the most value, because the truth is responding to email has to be done. Somebody needs to do it, but it’s not the highest and best use of me. Now, Jim, one of the questions I think people will have, because I get asked this all the time, and you’ve been asked this too, I know… When you respond on my behalf, do you respond as you or do you respond as me?

Jim: I always respond as myself. If you ask me to respond, I’ll say, “Hey, Michael asked me to respond on his behalf. This is Jim Kelly, Michael’s executive assistant,” and then I’ll go into the body of the text. I’m always responding as myself.

Michael: Do people ever get offended at that? Like, “Who does he think he is that he can’t respond to me himself?”

Jim: Not that I know of. No one has ever told me they’re offended. No, I don’t think so. I think people understand that, hey, email is probably not the best use of your time, and they’re getting the same response as if it was you responding. They’re getting the same answer.

Michael: And they’re getting it faster.

Jim: They’re getting it faster. Exactly.

Michael: If we can get back to them and close the loop, get them the information they need, they seem to be happy.

Larry: How many emails a day do you think you’re taking out of Michael’s inbox?

Jim: He doesn’t get as many as he used to. It sounded like you got like 200 back in the day. I would say he probably gets 40 to 50 a day now. I’m dwindling that down to about 5.

Michael: Part of those is that a lot of the messages I used to get when I was a solopreneur now go to customer service. We have another public, public email address. If you write to… I don’t mind giving that email address out, because I never see it. That goes to customer service, and then they escalate it. If it’s something like a speaking request, or whatever, that will come up to Jim and he’ll see it, but otherwise, customer service can handle that kind of thing. So that’s part of the reason. Plus, we also use some automated tools like SaneBox, and a lot of the replies that come in are calendar invitations, or whatever, that don’t require a lot of time.

Jim: Yeah, SaneBox and are two great resources to cut down on the emails.

Larry: What is

Jim: I set it up on my email as well as Michael’s. You could lump all of the subscriptions you have. So if you have subscriptions to Best Buy or Amazon, you’re usually getting maybe 10 of these a day. It’s like, “Oh man. Another one of these emails.” You just lump them all together in one email a day where you can see all of your subscriptions. It just makes it a lot easier than getting them throughout the day and becoming distracted with emails.

Michael: It also provides a single-user interface where you can unsubscribe from any email without having to try to find the unsubscribe link in that particular email.

Larry: That alone is worth signing up for.

Michael: Oh, it’s great.

Jim: I think it’s free too.

Michael: Yeah. The other thing that makes it easy for us to respond to emails and for you to do it efficiently is email templates. Do you want to talk about that?

Jim: Yeah. I love email templates. I was actually using a lot of them today. This morning I was calendar-proofing your calendar for next week, and as part of that process, I reach out to all of the people you have appointments with next week.

Larry: Let me just stop you right there. The whole calendar area is so vital, but we’re really not going to have time to cover that. Could you just define what calendar proofing is? There’s more about it in the book, but just so people know what that is.

Jim: I usually set aside focused time in my schedule, either Wednesday or Thursday, to look ahead in Michael’s calendar for the next week. It could be a little bit monotonous, but, man, when I don’t do it, I hurt myself, because I’m not checking all of the boxes. So I go through Michael’s calendar appointment by appointment just to make sure he has all of the details he needs, all of the confirmations with other people he’s going to be working with or meeting with. That’s pretty much the process, just looking ahead at the next week and making sure Michael has everything he needs before he gets into that week. So that’s calendar proofing.

Michael: It’s a huge waste of my time… If I show up at an appointment and the other party forgot it, I’m sitting there wasting my time. Because Jim proofs the calendar, then I have that, or I have the information I need. Like yesterday, I went on a podcast interview, and Jim puts the questions in the appointment, so I know the background on the host, what he wants to talk about. “Here are the questions,” whatever.

Larry: Well, that makes sense now why I typically get Slack messages from Jim on Wednesday saying, “Do you have the documents Michael will need to review for the meeting next week?” It’s effective.

Jim: Thank you.

Larry: We were talking about email templates. Let’s get back to that.

Jim: So, templates save me a ton of time. In general, I always say if you’re going to do it more than once, create a template out of it. Like I said, I reach out to all of these different people trying to confirm these appointments with you, so I have a template I use. I mainly use a combination of Spark and Gmail. I go into Gmail when I’m writing these templates, and it’s just click on canned responses. I have a canned response, “Meeting reminder,” and I set that out. I put that in an email, and then I change a few fields based on the person’s name or try to personalize it a little bit more.

Larry: So it’s not totally canned.

Jim: It’s not totally canned. I try to personalize it. So it’s not, “Hello, [Name], hope you’re doing well.” It’s “Hello, Bobby” or “Hello, Larry.” I try to personalize it, and then I change all of the descriptions based on what time Michael is meeting with them or where the location is. It just saves me so much time. So, canned responses, and then TextExpander. I’ve been using that a lot recently. You can use templates with the program TextExpander, and that has been super helpful and saved so much time.

Larry: Jim, here’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask every assistant everywhere. Do you answer Michael’s phone?

Jim: I do not answer Michael’s phone.

Larry: Really?

Jim: I don’t. But the cool thing is, and, Michael, do you want to talk about this? It’s really your idea about setting up two different phone numbers.

Michael: Yeah. This changed everything for me. I would let messages go to voicemail, and I’d get all of these calls, and 90 percent of them I didn’t want to talk to the other person. It was somebody reaching out to me. So I got this idea of using… In fact, I think Steve Anderson gave me this idea. I set up a public phone number using Google Voice. This is very parallel to the idea of email, a public number and a private number.

The cool thing about Google Voice is when you set up a number… It’s free, by the way. You set up a number with Google Voice. It can use your local area code. When somebody calls that number, first of all, you can let it ring on your device or not ring on your device. You can answer it like any other phone call. I don’t. It doesn’t even ring on my device. It goes straight to voicemail, but here’s the cool thing. By the way, this is true for text messages too. They get emailed to me.

So when somebody texts me on that public number, then I get the text in my inbox, or I should say Jim gets it in his inbox, and then it can be processed like any other email message. It doesn’t have to be synchronous communication. It’s suddenly asynchronous communication, so we do it on our time when it’s convenient to us. The same thing applies in the phone system as it does in the email. My family does have my real phone number. Key executives in my company and Jim have that number. Everybody else has the public phone number. They don’t know the difference.

The only difference is when they text me, they realize it’s not an iPhone, because it kind of shows up as an Android device. So I had one person say to me, “Hey, I’m confused. I thought you use an iPhone.” I just was straight up. I said, “Well, you’re actually going to a Google Voice number, because I don’t give out that number.”

Larry: Well, Michael, I do think the cat will be out of the bag now that we’re putting it on the podcast.

Michael: Good point.

Larry: Bottom line, how much time do you think Jim saves you in the area of communication with others?

Michael: Oh my gosh. Probably a couple hours a day.

Larry: A couple hours a day. Jim, how long does it take you to save Michael that time?

Jim: I would say about five hours a week. Probably an hour a day I’m handling his communication.

Larry: So you see the difference. That’s real leverage.

Michael: It’s real leverage for two reasons. First, Jim is better at it. These activities are in my Drudgery Zone. We’ve talked about the Freedom Compass before. These activities are in Jim’s… I don’t know if you’d say they’re in your Desire Zone, but you’re certainly better at it, you’re faster at it. And as it turns out, Jim makes less than I do, so, from a leadership perspective, that’s a better investment for me.

Larry: Let’s move to the second area of operations in which an EA can really help you become more productive, and that’s information management. There are so many things we could talk about here. Let’s dive in with one, maybe two. I want to talk about expense management.

Michael: Just shoot me.

Larry: Is that in your Drudgery Zone, Michael?

Michael: Oh my gosh! I don’t know what is south of the Drudgery Zone, but it’s like the “hate zone.” The most I can do is remember to keep the receipt, if I’m out at a restaurant or something, and write the name of the person I had that meal with. Beyond that, it’s totally up to Jim, but Jim can go back to my calendar. Jim understands our expense tracking software. I don’t even know what we use now. I don’t care. I don’t even want to know. Jim handles all that. He keeps us squared up with the IRS and our accounting department and keeps me out of trouble.

Larry: How does that work on your end?

Jim: It’s good. I wouldn’t consider it in my Desire Zone either, but I think it’s more in my Desire Zone than Michael’s, so I’m happy to do it, because, again, it takes this off his plate so he can focus on what only he can do. The good thing in terms of the process is Michael gets a ton of his subscriptions and stuff mainly through his email, so I go through his email, which I have access to, and I can pull all of his receipts from there.

Then if there are any physical receipts, he’ll give them to Gail’s personal assistant, Susan, who works from the house most of the time, and she’ll take a picture of it and then send it to me digitally and I’ll load that physical receipt. So that’s the process we use. It’s, again, just trying to take stuff off Michael’s plate so he doesn’t have to deal with it.

Larry: Now, a lot of this information we all have to keep track of is personal. We’ve already talked about personal expenses that crop up from time to time. That involves personal credit cards. I’m sure there are other personal documents. Michael, do you give Jim access to…well, what level of access into personal documents about your life?

Michael: Well, I would say he has access to most stuff. He has my personal credit card. He makes purchases on my behalf. He’ll make personal purchases on my behalf, too, for things like to remember my mom’s birthday or my parents’ anniversary, that type of thing. There are some things he doesn’t have access to. For example, things I count on my financial adviser to maintain. Anything related to my bigger financial picture I let the office of my financial adviser maintain all of those documents. I don’t maintain them. Jim doesn’t maintain them. That all happens or resides there.

Now, there are some things I do on my own, like Evernote. For example, if I’m doing research on the web and I find a document I think I might use as research for the basis of an article or something, I’ll just save that to Evernote, but anything that’s going to require a file being saved that I didn’t create, that’s going to be Jim’s domain.

Larry: You’ve already touched on it in terms of expenses, but let’s go to the bottom line here on this domain or area of operations, which is information management. In terms of mental load, can you maybe quantify or give us an idea of how much stress, tension, anxiety, and all that Jim takes off you by managing information?

Michael: Well, I’m not sure I could quantify it, but I will say it frees me up to stay focused on the main thing. Anytime I get distracted by something like that, it can be frustrating. It can send me down a rabbit hole. It can keep me from completing something else. Again, it’s just not a good use of my time. We know that when I’m focused on a handful of things, that’s when it moves the company forward, that’s when it moves me forward, and that’s the best use of my time. All this other stuff is, again, just a distraction.

Larry: Well, we’ve all had that situation where tracking down a receipt, for example… You think it’s going to take you two seconds, and it winds up being a 15-minute diversion. A good EA will take all of that off your hands.

Michael: Totally.

Larry: Let’s talk about a third area, and this will be the last area we’ll cover in this podcast. The third area of operations in which an EA can help you be more productive: personal assistance. Now, I put this here on our agenda today for us to talk about because we talk about it some in the book. Michael, I think there are going to be people, maybe some EAs, who will come back with the question, “Hey, I was hired to work at the company. I’m not going to manage your dry cleaning for you.” What would be your answer to those folks?

Michael: Well, first of all, it’s a legitimate question. I’ve had this question. I had somebody object on social media just recently to this question, and they were very aggressive in it. Here’s how I look at it. First, my executive assistant’s job is to make me more productive. Sometimes that means, like we talked about, managing email, managing my phone, managing files, but in reality, it’s anything that frees me up for a higher-leverage work.

At Michael Hyatt & Company, we don’t make any distinction between work and personal tasks because life is a seamless whole. It all flows together. But there are some common-sense limits to this. I don’t ask Jim to come over and mow my lawn on Saturday. I have other people who do that. I don’t ask him to wash my clothes or prepare dinner. Frankly, I have other people who do that too. So there are some common-sense limits on it.

I don’t treat him like a personal servant. I don’t ask him in the middle of the day, “Hey, I know it’s like 10 miles out of your way, but would you mind swinging by Starbucks and picking me up some coffee, because I don’t want to run into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee?” We treat each other with courtesy and respect, but Jim has a servant’s heart, and he’s looking for ways to take things off my plate to keep me focused and, again, help me keep the main thing the main thing. Does that make sense?

Larry: It does to me. It’s good that we brought that up, because in the past I’ve always heard that as kind of a hard boundary.

Michael: I’ll tell you, in the corporate world it was definitely a hard boundary, because it would be called, like when I was working for a public company, “misappropriation of corporate resources.” So if I’m using corporate resources, if I ask Jim… I’ve never asked Jim this, but I do ask Kyle who works here at the house. He picks up my dry cleaning. He picks it up on the way in. He doesn’t live too far away from the dry cleaner.

Is it a good use of my time for me to take 20 minutes to go to the dry cleaner and come back? No. I can pay somebody… That’s part of what he agreed to do. Not Jim, by the way, but another person we have working for us. That’s what he does. But I can tell you where I’ve seen it abused. I have a friend who used to work for a very high-profile public figure, and she didn’t know she was getting in for this, but he would literally call her at 2:00 in the morning with an idea or an assignment or a request, and she never knew.

He seemed to be completely un-self-aware that he was imposing upon her. There seemed to be no boundaries in terms of what he would ask her to do. She finally just said, “I had to leave that job. I believed in the guy, I believed in what he was doing, but the problem was I didn’t have a life. I had to put some boundaries on it.” Jim, you can speak honestly about this, but I think I do a good job of respecting Jim’s boundaries.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Michael: I hardly ever call him or text him after 5:00 at night or on the weekends. Occasionally, if I’m on the road and my travel falls through or I have to rebook a flight… I don’t know how to do that, so I’ll text Jim, and he’s always very accommodating, but that’s rare.

Jim: Michael does an amazing job with not texting me outside of normal working hours. I was just recently on paternity leave for the birth of our son, and during those six weeks of paternity leave, Michael was so gracious. He wasn’t texting me throughout those six weeks and saying, “Hey, what is this appointment?” He would message my backup, the person who was filling in for me during those six weeks.

It was toward the end of my paternity leave that I texted him something. I think the release of your book came out. So I texted him like, “Congratulations,” and then Michael texted me, and it was the first time I had talked to him in like five weeks. He said, “Thank you so much for your text message. I’ve been wanting to text you, but I just wanted to respect your boundary of having this time with your family.” That just speaks to Michael and his character and the way he sets up that boundary in that relationship between him and I.

Larry: Okay. So, this will be new territory for some people. These are going to be tasks they’re used to doing for themselves and think probably they should, but an EA could really help. Why don’t you name some of those. What are you doing for Michael that would fall into that personal assistance category?

Jim: One thing I do that people sometimes are shocked that I do is I schedule all of Michael’s date nights. When I’m doing that calendar-proofing process, that’s usually when I’m booking the following week’s date night. Michael and Gail usually go to a set few restaurants. So I make the reservation. I post date night questions for them to help with conversation throughout the night. When it’s Gail’s birthday, I look ahead of the calendar and order her flowers. She knows all of this, by the way.

Michael: She knows all of this.

Jim: So this is not a secret. I order her flowers. I try to make an extra special dinner reservation for them. That’s sometimes a little bit shocking for people.

Michael: He’ll buy the birthday card.

Jim: I buy the birthday card. I try to find a really nice one that speaks to Michael and Gail’s love for each other. Sometimes that’s difficult, because I’m like, “Oh, is this too mushy?” or “Is this too not mushy?”

Michael: To be fair, I do write the personal note. Obviously, Jim can’t do that for me. But Gail knows all this, and I don’t lose any credit. She doesn’t care. She just loves that it’s getting done.

Jim: So that’s one thing. But to Michael’s point, personal life and work life are interrelated. I know when I have a tough day at work it often spills into my family life. If I have a tough time at home, it often spills into work life. They’re interrelated so much that you don’t really want to split them up. I want Michael to, as we often say, win at work and also succeed at life. I feel like my job is to help in both aspects of that.

Larry: That tip alone, if you have an EA and it’s permissible in your context to leverage them in that way, that’s going to save, I don’t know, countless marriages right there. A lot of executives are going to be very happy, and their spouses are going to be incredibly happy.

Michael: We do this with all relationships. He makes sure my girls (I have five daughters) are all recognized on their birthdays, that my mom gets flowers on her birthday, that my dad gets something on his birthday, that there are anniversaries, all that kind of stuff, which, honestly, I’m not consistent with. That’s the problem. I might do it one year, and then I forget, but it happens like clockwork, and it makes me look like a hero. That’s a huge value to me. One of my daughters said just recently… I took her to lunch, and she said, “Dad, this means the world to me.”

Jim: Aw, that’s awesome.

Michael: Honestly, it’s like I had the intention for years to do that, but I didn’t implement the intention. I think sometimes, as leaders, we think, “Oh, I had the intention. That was enough.” But nobody knows our intentions. They only can measure it by our actions. Jim brings my intentions to life.

Larry: We’ve heard a lot of information in this podcast, including the names of a lot of tools. Just a reminder, we’re going to put all of those in the show notes, and you can check them out at Let’s just review these areas of operation. If you’re not leveraging your executive assistant in these ways, you could be getting more bang for your buck. Those are communication, information management, and personal assistance. There’s more on all of those in Michael’s latest book Your World-Class Assistant: Hiring, Training, and Leveraging an Executive Assistant, and there will be a link in the show notes for that as well. Michael, Jim, any final thoughts?

Jim: I would say go out and buy the book. I know I’m a little biased, but go out and buy this book, Your World-Class Assistant. This book is your one-stop shop for everything related to having an executive assistant or being an executive assistant. If you are an executive with an assistant, you need this book; if you are an executive who has ever thought about having an assistant, you need this book; and if you are an executive assistant, you need this book. It’s just going to save you… I go back to what I said in the beginning of the interview. Our most important asset is our time, and by buying this book, you will be getting back time in your life. And isn’t that what we all want?

Michael: It’s hard for me to add to that, but I would say there was a period in my career when I left the corporate world (this was way back in the 80s, the first time I started a company) where I kind of arrogantly said, “I don’t need an executive assistant. I can do it myself.” I was a fool, because what that did was it kept me from doing the things that mattered most. That business, interestingly, failed. I don’t think it was all due to the fact that I didn’t have a world-class assistant or an assistant, but I do think it contributed to it, because I wasn’t focused on keeping the main thing the main thing. If I had done that, I would have gotten traction faster, and I would have had bigger results.

Larry: Well, as always, good advice and practical solutions. So thank you, Michael, thank you, Jim, for being here.

Jim: Thanks, Larry.

Michael: Thank you, Larry. And guys, thank you for joining us. I hope you’ll join us next week when we’ll solve the number-one problem people have in using an EA: how to find one. Until then, lead to win.