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Your future: Visualize It & Own It

Never apologize for who you are!

Our lives adapt to environments because our situations are subject to change. And the way we do business is currently taking shape as leaders respond to the unfolding worldly events. Bringing us to the realization that the nature of our work is where we get stuff done versus where we are physically. Your unconscious mind remains to be the fabric of your being and behaviors weave into daily tasks no matter where you carry out your job.

We are faced with unprecedented times that are forcing shifts in the economy resulting in people to reflect on what lies ahead, not only in our professional lives but personal lives are taking a hit too. The wave of change is amongst us and the readiness to prepare for the next steps is stretching the planning phase because we have to hit the ground running to catch up to the intense movements that are causing the paradigm shift. This may bring on fear and trigger emotions that are unsettling which compounds the mental capacity throwing our minds into overdrive.

In order to try to overcome the overwhelming circumstances, take a moment to reflect and look beyond the worldly events. Draw upon mechanisms you can put in place to enhance your career or finally follow your passion, then execute without pause–learn how companies are transforming and how you can too.

I’ve learned a lot from my on screen persona, most of all how liberating it is to no longer apologize for who you are. It’s never about overcoming self-doubt. But rather embracing that your unique perspective and skill set can make a valuable contribution to any situation.

Sarah Rafferty ~ Donna Paulsen on Suits ~ Source USA Network

Check-out, Decoding Disrupters, to discover a new path and learn how a fresh mindset can unleash a future you are destined to flourish in. Keep in mind, there’s only one road block to success–YOU! Be all you can be to level up, deliver on amazing ideas, create order out of chaos but most of all take care of YOU!

In closing, never apologize for who you are. Bring your full authentic self to everything you do, approach your job with confidence, learn from mistakes and always keep moving the needle forward. Lean in now, and you might be surprised that you will find the inner strength to break down the barriers that held you back from creating the ultimate future you are destined to lead.

Adopting a new way to work

The Workforce 2020 white paper introduced transforming to the future of work and the work design options organizations will offer to employees to reduce complexity. Who knew that March 2020 would pivot a number of organizations to advise their employees to work from home should their current role provide that flexibility to do so.

Leaders and people managers are experiencing first hand a virtual environment if they have not previously been demonstrating with their teams. This then brings organizations to think through options to maintain a cohesive team while navigating through unchartered environments while keeping the regular flow of business operational at the same time.

Depending on the size and scope of the team, these options may not be ideal but provoke the mind to think through adopting a new way to work virtually and remain connected.

  • Turn training into live online virtual classrooms with Crowdcast.
  • If the teams gathered for random happy hours but are limited to conversing in public at this time, the team can host an online virtual game with Kahoot.
  • Host a virtual coffee break in the morning or afternoon.
  • Keep teams up-to-date with video messages using Adobe Spark.
  • Need a new conference provider to offer video interaction, check out these options published by Snack Nation.

The McKinsey & Company article “The CIO’s moment: Leadership through the first wave of the coronavirus crisis” outlines the challenges leaders are facing while navigating through unprecedented times.

As employees shift their work behaviors, many of them are confronting what can seem like a dizzying array of tools with little experience of how to use them effectively. As one CIO confessed, “ensuring adoption of new tools and protocols has been the most frustrating part of the process so far.”

Executive assistants [EAs] can research and offer new ways to work to pivot teams in a direction they may discover to be useful as they find themselves working in a different environment. Whether it be at home or social distancing at work, there are methods that can ease and balance processes to still get things done.

EAs are adept at being resourceful due to the number of varied requests that come through on a given day. When disruptions surface, EAs can be leaned on to guide their executives during a time of unknown to ease the challenges in workplace environments. There are numerous virtual team resources available and here’s a couple of guides to get EAs started to think through alternate methods that can be adopted in the near term but also sustained as teams discover a new normal: Slack: The ultimate guide to remote teams and Microsoft teams: Staying productive while working remotely!


Optimize technology for global teams

Executive assistants can play a pivotal role in reshaping the way teams work

The workforce of the future is upon us and a pivotal time for executive assistants [EAs] to help redefine the way teams work. As more corporations are identifying themselves as technology companies, they are investing in the right tools and resources to motivate their workforce to disrupt the globally diverse tech world.

EAs are at the frontlines to help global teams thrive in the industry by seamlessly evolving with technology that is reshaping our personal and professional lives.

For instance, the workforce is disciplined to create presentations, print hard copies for meetings and firm up logistical needs. In today’s environment, if we applied ‘technology’ thinking behind this process, the possibility of what we always depended on can change. 

Where can the EA play a role in adapting to a new process to navigate through a new way to perform at the speed technology is emerging? The EA is in a position to assess the environment based on the current processes and determine which areas can be improved. As an example almost all teams have a scheduled meeting, some gathering as frequently as others depending on the size and scope of the team. But one thing that remains a common thread is the download of information. With the onset of various collaboration platforms, meeting software and functional standups, EAs can amplify the shift toward transforming the digital workforce thus introducing tools that could offer solutions to visible experience gaps.

There’s a number of productivity tools and resources globally adopted based on capabilities required to go digital, but here’s a short list to learn what could be of benefit to optimize and automate a process to elevate the team’s performance.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of tools but a start to thinking through the patterns in the office that could be revamped for greater impact not only for the employee but for the organization as a whole. For a comparison of products, visit Capterra to discover more resources.

With a lens to the global culture, EAs are not only specialized in overall office management, but can also help make a difference to reshape the way teams work and pave the way for businesses to adapt to the digital workforce that over 100 companies are striving for.

Meet Max! my virtual executive assistant

A rising star, all things administrative performer, with the capability to understand verbal requests, research a complex travel plan, distinguish calendar patterns and solve logistical challenges. Meet Max, my virtual executive assistant!

Max, let’s look at what we need to prioritize for this week. We have a town hall that needs to be coordinated with A/V support, breakout rooms and catering. Max can you find a large conference room that will hold 100 employees for the full day and five break-out rooms between 2:00 – 5:00 pm for the brainstorming sessions? And I’ll take care of the A/V and catering. Got it Max? Yes, BP [business partner].

Okay, moving on to next week, we have BB [big boss] who needs to get to London by the start of the business day on Wednesday, then Paris by 5:00 pm on Friday for the roundtable dinner at 7:00 pm. Max, can you coordinate the flights and hotels and I will get started on the meetings in Paris? Yes, BP.

Max is a virtual executive assistant of the future envisioned for the executive’s office and the workplace. While there will be limitations of what AI can support, why not start to foresee areas that technology can be optimized and start to think of AI capabilities to maximize the depth of its benefits.

Recognizing and adopting AI can enhance an EAs ability to focus on the big picture strategic plan for their executive that AI can’t do. And focussing on the future to effectively evaluate the changes that can be made to evolve technology is not only a win win for EAs but the organization as well.

Reports and findings reveal that AI can increase productivity and efficiency–automating many of the task EAs perform on a daily basis. This begs the question, how? AI will minimize time wasted on finding documents, researching topics, booking lunch reservations and more. Thus enabling the EA to have the time to devote to the proficiency of the office in areas that human capabilities are required.

Bracing for the changes to come and visualizing Max, will prepare EAs for the redesign of the role. The added benefit of this realization and learning more about AI, can help in being part of the redesign and creating the new EA job profile.

The office support position evolved from secretary to executive assistant over decades and will continue to be an integral part of business operations with renewed standards of excellence. Start today and map out the areas that can be automated vs the aspects of the job that require humans to perform. By taking charge of the change and being part of innovation will help to identify how to leverage the power of AI to broaden and enhance what an all-star EA can do.

Bridging the Gap

When Sunday night arrived, the brain started to shift from laundry, meal plan and fitness schedule to Joe, Mary and Bob–the town hall for Joe, international journey for Mary and Bob’s board presentation. It is clear there’s no shut off or power button for the brain so the Monday morning tasks that await are already stirring through the to do list.

Morning breaks in after sleepless hours because after a quick email glance Sunday night, the eyes flexed wide-open to the TripIt notification–“flight canceled”. Trying to diffuse the brain from processing the new found information is like trying to relax on a turbulent flight.

A tall black coffee and morning podcast channeled to the “I can do this” pep talk, gets Sally through the front door and off the elevator to her desk–ultimately diving into the day that awaits. Sally doesn’t have time to manage the start of Joe’s town hall and rebook Mary’s travel plan at the same time so she calls in the troops–the vast group of enabled peers to come to her aid. While Jill gets Joe saddled up with his town hall presentation and A/V in-check, Sally can focus on getting Mary to her conference in London.


The never ending acts of kindness that the executive assistant [EA] performs on any given day are countless and often times referred to across the organization as magic. The top notch EA comes with an arsenal of skills to tap into depending on the call to action–the commitment to learning and acquiring new skills is far from magic. It is determination and hard work!

The EA role has evolved over the years along with the business as technology leaps us forward into the future of work. According to research, EAs are assigned not only to two but three to four executives. This prompts the question of the importance of quality vs. quantity? The seasoned EA is more than capable to support multiple executives but limits the ability to dive deeper into the bigger world of the executive–undervaluing the true worth.

For instance, managing multiple calendars is limited to focussing on attendees and logistics. Time does not allow for the opportunity to peel back the request to determine the validity or an alternate course of action. When you look at the number of hours executives are spending in meetings with a back-to-back calendar, this begs the question, can this change? Yes!

Most meetings are scheduled without a purpose–giving little to the prep for the discussion to meet the end result of the intent. But how do we change? Tap into the EAs ability and recognize that the completion of calls to action are the result of skillset–not a sprinkle of fairy dust that makes it all happen. The EA can help to improve the daily schedule by allocating time to the right meetings and length of time spent in each.

When organizations understand the role an EA can play in making a difference in an executive’s overall schedule and building a partnership, then the emphasis shifts from quantity to quality. Thus, bridging the gap in acknowledging the EAs ability to take decisive action is hard work, not magic.

Learn how AI and the #futureofwork will shift the role of an EA

With the onset of automation and AI, there’s no dodging the fact that the routine tasks in the office [and elsewhere] will shift the way we work. Technology is even experimenting with grocery shopping–for example, Ocado is an experiment with robots for grocery picking and packing and Amazon is revolutionizing the warehouse process using AI.

If the supply chain can be automated, then why not the office too? Well the #futureofwork will demonstrate how machines will carry out tasks that humans did for centuries resulting in a number of jobs to change and productivity for some jobs to increase. For Executive Assistants [EAs] to be early adopters and start learning how to embrace the #futureofwork, it is imperative to learn how to incorporate the latest technology into their current role to add higher value to the support tasks. Don’t let the fear of the unknown hinder the ability to rise above but rather figure out how AI can manage travel bookings so you can focus on solving gaps that could never be attended to before. Here’s a couple of articles to add to your resource bank that will help equip for the evolving support role:

Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages [Source: McKinsey]

Chatbots for Work [Source: Capacity]

Get started today and rewrite the EA role for the future!


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