Time Management and Successful People

Read this great article: 14 time-management tricks from Richard Branson and other successful people: http://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2017/02/20/14-time-management-tricks-from-richard-branson-and-other-success/

Among the great ideas from these CEO's is Bill Smith's comment: "Hiring a fantastic executive assistant is crucial." Of course, one of the best time management tips that applies to all, no matter what business you are in, is having the right executive assistant. The right assistant will help you manage your time by pre-screening your emails, keeping you on schedule, accessing needed information for meetings and many other things. But most importantly, the right assistant will do all this with a minimum of dialogue and direction. An experienced EA will develop an intuitive sense of your priorities and work style, leveraging your time and capabilities to increase your success as an executive.

Staffing Firms: Haste Makes Waste

We had lunch with one of our best clients last week. We always knew we were good. But after the lunch we realized that in the world of recruiters we might actually be great. We had no idea about the common practices of some of the firms who actually have very high rankings on the web.

The client told us recruiters sent stacks of resumes. Many of the candidates they sent were no longer available or had no idea that they had been submitted for the particular job. This is called the “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” method. This method gives the client a lot more work to do. Instead of taking the time to vet the candidates and see where they are in their search, the recruiter is just sending out whoever looks like they might fit the bill and letting the client sort it out themselves.

We may be old school, but we meet our candidates, guide them in the interview process, and continually contact them to see where they are in their search. I sometimes feel like a stage mom. But none of our candidates are going to show up without a resume, improperly dressed or unprepared for an interview. And our clients will not get resumes of people who are unavailable or inappropriate.

I don’t mean to brag. I thought what we did was common practice. But I admit, after that lunch I did feel kind of proud.

New Year’s Resolutions for the Office

There is something about starting a New Year that gets a lot of people to start hauling out bags of no longer needed items and clothes and getting their homes in order. It’s a good time to reevaluate and start fresh at the office too.

Here are resolutions to revamp your office life:

Delegate. If you are doing too much you are doing the job of another person. So hand off some of the minutiae so you can think about the big picture. If there is no one to hand it to, hire an assistant. The right assistant can seamlessly and efficiently take things off your plate.

Network. Decide to find one event a month to attend. Bring business cards with you wherever you go (even the gym). Tell people what you do.

Bring lunch to work. It’s usually healthier and so economic. It makes one feel on top of things to have a packed lunch. If you get busy and are stuck at your desk, it’s there. No need to wait until you are beyond hungry and likely to just grab a slice of pizza. (Include some healthy snacks – nuts, fruit or veggies.)

Check it Off. If there is something that has been nagging at you that you have been meaning to do like redoing your website; posting on social media; getting new equipment – take the leap. They are investments that will pay you back.

Get Organized. Go Paperless! Go through your files and papers and get rid of whatever you don’t need, which is probably most of it as everything is probably on your network.

Dress smart. The right clothes can make you feel more efficient and better about your self. Add something fun and personal to your outfit. No need to be boring just because you are dressing for work. Add a splash of color to the basic black!

Believe in yourself. Nothing breeds success like confidence. If you need to sing this song into the mirror every day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeNi-8SNiRQ

Stay positive. Focus on the good things, not the setbacks.  This will keep morale up and keep things moving forward.

And – have a great year!

How to Write a Killer Job Description…

You finally have the approval to make a new hire.  Now, the challenge is to write a compelling job description with the goal of attracting top, qualified talent.

Start with a good title that will be picked up in key word searches by candidates. A good title will be informative and accurately express the level and function of the role in industry terms as opposed to internal language. Many candidates have Indeed alerts set up to get all postings for “Investment Analyst” for instance.

Next step, write a few sentences to describe the company and “sell” the opportunity. Be honest, but state what makes the company a great place to work. You are competing for top talent, so you want to stand out as a desirable place to work. A few sentences that say something good about your company and its culture is always well received.

Be Concise. Make every word count.  Long rambling job descriptions are sure to turn off a prospective candidate. Convey exactly what you need, who you want to do it and avoid the “fluff” like “team player”, “strong work ethic”,

Be Positive. Do not include what you don’t want as this will be interpreted as what went wrong with the last holder of the position.

Be Specific in your description of the job responsibilities, reporting lines and expectations. Also, be specific in your required qualifications in terms of years of experience, education, software skills. If you need an analyst with excellent modeling or valuation skill and someone who is an excel macro guru, then make sure you include that. If the successful candidate must have Salesforce or some other CRM experience, make sure to ask for that.

Leave the salary information off.

Communication is the Key to Being an Effective Manager

When you are in a management position you have a lot to do. You have a lot of responsibility. One of them is to communicate effectively with the people under you. I’ve known managers who, when not in a meeting, leave their doors open and encourage people to drop in and chat. Others designate one morning or afternoon a week to walk around the office and check in with everyone. What you don’t want to be perceived as is The Wizard of Oz who rarely comes out from behind a closed door.

Communicating with your employees often builds trust. It also creates an atmosphere where opening up a dialogue feels natural and not a major event. It also gives you a chance to inspire and encourage them in their work, which will have a positive effect on the bottom line. Here is an article we like on engaging employees: https://hbr.org/2015/04/what-great-managers-do-to-engage-employees

Frequent communication also keeps a lid on the gossip/paranoia train that can occur in a company and erode morale. Employees often look for signs in their managers, and without direct communication your slightest bad mood can turn into a semaphore for oncoming disaster. Your efforts at communicating will create good will, inspire loyalty and employee engagement. Studies have shown that frequency of communication and especially clear communication of expectations leads to improved profitability and employee performance.  

So take a break from your paperwork, leave your office, and start talking.

 

'Tis the season! Holiday Gifts for Employees

Bonus or no bonus, a thoughtful gift for an employee can mean a lot.  There are now a lot of online sites gifts that will ship gifts directly to the recipient that are a lot of fun.

Try the World: https://goo.gl/edmGWU is great gift for a foodie who would enjoy trying ingredients from other countries.

Plated: https://goo.gl/tpkE6D is a great gift for a working person. They can come home and have all the perfectly prepared ingredients for making a gourmet meal.

And we all know dog owners love to have their pet acknowledged, so Bark Box would be a great gift for them: https://goo.gl/GsJHd3

As a child, I always looked forward to fruitcake from Collin Street Bakery: https://www.collinstreet.com. / Just seeing the festive tin felt like Christmas. I would keep them and fill them with Christmas cookies the following year. I also loved the crate of Florida grapefruits my father received (I’m a grapefruit fan!): http://www.dundeegroves.com/grapefruit

If you are in NYC, anything from Laduree, especially their macaroons, make a great gift. The packaging is beautiful. Their teas are great.

For the younger assistant, a Spotify gift card will be a hit: https://www.spotify.com/us/gift-card/

For the employee who never leaves their desk, the Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer is a good idea: https://goo.gl/SISyhG

There are also those perennial Harry and David gift baskets: https://goo.gl/SISyhG

- also available on Amazon.

Another great one is a gift certificate to a restaurant, ensuring . Ensures a fun night out for the employee. Or, theater tickets to a Broadway show.

A unique idea is an extra paid vacation day around the holidays so the employee can spend more time with their family.

Giving gifts is a lot of fun and so gratifying to the giver, so enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Should You Hire Yourself or Use a Recruiting Firm? (Penny Wise Pound Foolish)

Most Business Managers will go to great lengths to save costs, and one way to do so, is to avoid using staffing firms and paying fees by hiring their own administrative staff. Sounds easy, especially using the Internet; attracting talent to your website and posting your own ads on job boards like LInkedin or Monster. It is also easy for every Tom, Dick and Harry to press a button and send their resumes flying through cyberspace for jobs they are not remotely qualified for. So, prepare to be bombarded with volumes of unqualified resumes. Using a staffing firm will save you the most valuable asset you have: TIME. Have you ever sorted through 600 resumes in one day? MORE THAN LIKELY LESS than 1% WILLBE remotely relevant to the job description! A good staffing firm will read hundreds of resumes and perhaps schedule 20 interviews AND THEY WILL PRESENT LESS THAN HALF THAT NUMBER TO YOU.

This prescreening is one of the most valuable services provided, saving you an inordinate amount of time and headache. A good staffing firm will also be able to immediately identify a slate of prescreened candidates at their fingertips from their database - candidates who are beyond the reach of your ad or internal referrals. So if speed is important to you, you can start interviewing and hire more quickly. 

If you use the right staffing or search firm, your dedicated  team will present candidates who check all the boxes (temperament, presentation and skills). If your recruiter is sending you a huge amount of resumes they haven’t done the work for you. It’s up to them to narrow candidates down so you don’t’ have to interview masses of people. 

Other benefits to using a staffing firm include, scheduling (which can be time consuming as well), testing of skill sets, checking references and negotiating an offer. 

A good recruiter enjoys the process and will make the process enjoyable for you. So before you decide to hire on your own and have your inbox clogged with hundreds of resumes, call a recruiter (hopefully us!) and know you are in good hands.

 

 

 

 

Working with a Personal Assistant

In times past having a personal assistant was reserved for the rich and famous. Nowadays having a personal assistant is much more common and often occurs in households where both spouses are working long hours at demanding jobs. For example, if you are an attorney charging $600 an hour, your time is too valuable to be spent doing chores. Outsourcing them to an assistant makes sense.

And the amount of things a personal assistant can do is wide: grocery shopping; bill paying; correspondence; email; errands; picking up children from school; keeping the family calendar; event planning; buying gifts;  sending holiday cards; scheduling and supervising home repairs and deliveries; travel planning; processing expense reports, and many other things.

In my years of placing assistants with clients, many clients have voiced concern over asking an individual with a degree from a good school to go to the shoemaker for them. Personal assistants actually love what they do. These individuals like the varied nature of the work and they find satisfaction in checking things off their daily to-do list. So it doesn’t matter if they are creating complicated travel itineraries, doing research or picking up those shoes. To an experienced assistant it is all part of the job. I’ve interviewed a lot of personal assistants and the majority of them genuinely enjoy making their principal’s lives easier. They get satisfaction from it. Many work with the same client for years and become part of the family.

If you have a job with long hours, having an assistant will improve the quality of your life. The time you do have off can be spent doing things other than catching up on chores. And leading an organized life day in and day out can be life changing. I know an assistant who is such a great organizer that her client’s bathroom looks like one in the Ritz Carlton. Coming home to everything in its place and labeled frees one up to function better in life and in business.

Turn Around That Bad Day

For most of us a good day means a day without any problems or hiccups. Checking things off your list. Remembering to do what you were supposed to remember to do. Having your superiors like your ideas, and happy, positive interactions with coworkers and clients.

But from time to time we all will make a mistake.  Or have a problem with a client. These events, big or small, can seriously rattle your confidence, and sometimes cause you to panic and snowball through the day into bigger disasters.  It doesn’t matter if you are a C-Level Executive or a C-Level Executive Assistant, we all have those days. If you feel like you’re on a downward spiral, you may start adding to the problem by getting frantic, which will set you up to make bad decisions. Losing your confidence can ruin your entire day.

And I’m sure most of your co-workers are very nice, but in some offices, fear and lack of confidence is like blood to the circling sharks.

Here are three easy ways to come back from a setback, and regain your confidence.

Take a walk.  Think of your workspace as a relationship; sometimes, you just need some space. Go somewhere that will lift your mood. For some reason, I love to wander around Grand Central Station. It’s a beautiful place with lots to look at. I can buy a fancy chocolate and watch people rush to their trains. Don’t feel guilty about taking a little time out. On a nice day, a walk outside is great.  A study found that increased temperature had a positive effect on mood, so stand by a window and catch some sunlight if you absolutely can’t leave the office. 

Phone a friend.  We all have that friend that no matter what is going on, they always manage to put a positive spin on things.  Sometimes it’s difficult to remove yourself from a situation, but a friend will help you put things in perspective. Or make you laugh.

Strike a pose.  As Harvard Business professor Amy Cuddy says, “Fake it until you become it.” Cuddy, whose TED talk is among one of the most viewed on the site, says, “Standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.” So next time you’re feeling unconfident, take a cue from Cuddy, and strike a pose! 

How to Maximize your Productivity as a Business Leader?

The answer is simple but not always so obvious. Dedicate yourself to the essential tasks that require YOUR time as a leader and are critical to driving your business strategy forward, and DELEGATE everything else. Don’t get bogged down in the administrative weeds of running the office. Successful business leaders know that having the right assistant can boost productivity exponentially. Delegate the administration. Even if you prefer to answer your own emails and make your own travel plans, the right assistant can manage projects, troubleshoot, organize follow ups with clients and employees, schedule meetings, put together presentations, troubleshoot technical problems and act as your de facto sergeant at arms. You can determine if you want an assistant who is a generalist or one who has special skills: social media, CRM systems, presentations to investors, project management, travel, languages - almost any skill you need to help leverage your productivity!

C-Suite Assistants has served the corporate and family office market for over 15 years in administrative match making.  If you would like to hire experienced, tested and personally screened assistants, please contact us at 212-867-4678 or info@csuiteassistants.net. Carol or Suzanne Coleman, Managing Partners, will be happy to arrange a personal consultation to help you define and find the assistant(s) you need!

Leave White Collar for the Artisan Life?

A recent article in the New York Times was devoted to people who left the white-collar world and became craftsmen. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/04/fashion/mens-style/how-to-quit-your-office-job-physical-labor.html?rref=collection%2Fsec

It immediately reminded me of sweet Konstantin in Anna Karenina who resigned his post in government because it seemed pointless.  One scene in the book has always stuck in my mind: the one where he works in the fields with his workers and gets into a Zen state from the concentration and repetitive action of cutting wheat in the fields. 

The Times article features a Software Salesman who becomes a Landscaper, a Lawyer who gives up law to become a Furniture Maker, a Network Planner turned Bakery Owner and a Graphic Designer who is now a Stonemason.  Pretty radical changes.

But maybe there is something we can learn from Konstantin and his contemporary counterparts-the joy of making things. In business, the results of our labors are not as immediate and as satisfying as actually making something with our hands. And the stressors of business can be relentless.

If not ready to jump from office to manual labor, but perhaps adding a bit of it to our lives might be helpful. My outlet is making jewelry. My mind empties as I string the stones and I get great satisfaction out of seeing the finished product. Same with baking. It’s creating an actual thing you can look at. And eat. Gardening is therapeutic. Unfortunately I live in Brooklyn, but I have taken over the two small patches of fenced-in dirt flanking the entrance to my building and I prune and dig on the weekends.

Since a lot of us don’t have a work area there are great spaces that do and they come with tools: https://www.nexttopmakers.com/blog/6-wonderful-friendly-maker-spaces-new-york-city

So before you toss your white collar and leave the office, add some manual labor to your life. It might be just what you need.

Lighthouse or Blackhole?

I read a great article in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago by David Brooks: The Epidemic of Worryhttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/25/opinion/the-epidemic-of-worry.html?_r=0

It got me thinking about the effect of worry and complaining in the workplace. Both can spread like a virus and both are counterproductive.

My favorite quote from the article: “Worry alters the atmosphere of the mind. It shrinks your awareness of the present and your ability to enjoy what’s around you right now. It cycles possible bad futures around in your head and forces you to live in dreadful future scenarios, 90 percent of which will never come true.” (From: David Brooks, The New York Times.)

It’s true that most of what people worry about hasn’t happened or never happens. Or in the simple words of Harper Lee: “It's not time to worry yet” from To Kill a Mockingbird.

A friend of mine worked for a manager who complained constantly. The manager finally wore himself out and resigned. The work still got done and will continue to get done. The job was in television production, so the nature of it is last minute changes and constant pressure. If working in a field with those requirements, accept it, roll with it, and have a sense of humor. Otherwise, you are going to drive yourself and the people around you nuts. And the funny thing is, if you just act positive, you will feel that way. If you are managing assistants, you will make them better workers. If you are an assistant, you will inspire confidence.

The best bosses I’ve ever had were calm, self-assured and generally positive. And I’m sure their superiors admired these qualities and came to the conclusion they could think straight under pressure because they weren’t nervous Nellies. When I’ve supervised others, I’ve always striven to be calm and positive because I know myself that a superior’s negativity gives me brain freeze.

In his book “Worrying”, http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/worrying-9781441143600/

Francis O’Gorman notes how quickly the good kind of anxiety can slide into the dark kind. Worry, like drama, is all about the self. As O’Gorman puts it, the worrier is the opposite of a lighthouse: “He doesn’t give out energy for the benefit of others. He absorbs energy at others’ cost.”

One thing you want your employees to have is energy for their work. You don’t want them expending energy on worry. So be a lighthouse today and see the positive in things and people around you. It won’t only make you feel better, it might actually be profitable.

The Work/Life/Sleep Balance

With the end of Daylight Savings Time approaching, I conducted a survey of my Facebook Friends to ask what they plan to do with the extra hour. The majority of them answered: “Sleep!” So I either have a lot of boring friends (which I doubt!) or this is a prevailing trend in our society. In the business world, people are lauded for working long hours and multi-tasking. But does this mean they are accomplishing more? I’m not sure. I know from my own many years of experience (don’t ask!) that maintaining a balance has made me more effective. I used to check emails before I got out of bed and then continue checking and replying after I got home from work until bedtime. I took pride in this. Then a friend told me she didn’t check emails for 90 minutes after waking up. This sounded like Nirvana, so I tried it. I now eat my breakfast while reading a book with the dog sitting by my side. It’s peaceful. We take a walk and I still haven’t checked emails. I have a quiet morning. I can relax. I’m happy. When I get to work I check my emails. My new habits have made me a better, sharper thinker and a happy camper. I’m not drained. If there is an upsetting issue that needs to be dealt with, I’m not losing sleep because I read it before bed. Or stressing before I even get to work.

Of course, if you get to the office very early this strategy may not work for you. But try one that does. Perhaps a stroll at lunch time without your cell phone. I once went to Riverside Park with a friend and forgot to bring my phone. I was amazed how different I felt. I was not tempted to surreptitiously look at my email while we were chatting and looking at the river. I felt like one of those cows in the viral videos that show them jumping around after being let out of the barn after a long winter. Even little breaks from the grid can mean a lot.

 

It’s great to be a hard worker. But to be a really good worker, you need a balance. Good food, exercise, and most of all, a good night’s sleep. I just ordered the book by Ariana Huffington, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.

https://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Revolution-Transforming-Your-Night/dp/1101904003/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477931163&sr=8-1&keywords=sleep+revolution+arianna+huffington

 

“Sleep, she writes, is one of humanity's great unifiers, binding us to each other, to our ancestors, to our past, and to the future. Yet we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis of sleep deprivation, with devastating effects on our health, our happiness, our job performance, and our relationships. Only by renewing our relationship with sleep, she writes, can we take control of our lives, live more fully, and be more engaged with ourselves and with the world and more able to meet the inevitable challenges we all face.”

 

Someone once told me, “If you are doing too much, you are doing the job of another person.” Interesting. So If you plan to use that extra hour by sleeping, you may want to consider making a change by hiring an assistant. If you have a small business, it may seem like a big step, but the benefit of an assistant may result in the expansion of your business. Or, if you are running a family and a large home, hiring a personal assistant can make a big difference in the quality your life. (Women don’t have to do it all!) Or, if you have a humble life like mine, send out your laundry! Or spread out your chores so you’re not spending the entire weekend doing them. I try to do one thing a day so I can enjoy my weekend. So I can relax and get some all important sleep time!

Happy Halloween! Tips for dressing for interviews. No costumes please!

 

I’ve been interviewing candidates and sending them to clients for years. I’m always pulling for them, and am disappointed when something superficial like a wardrobe miscalculation derails things.

 

I had a candidate I loved who was being considered by a client looking for a full-time personal assistant. The candidate had a great resume. She had worked for celebrities and high net worth individuals. And she was great to talk to. I sent her to the client and the feedback I got was that she kept her coat on throughout the interview. I was disappointed. But keeping your coat on makes it look like you want to run out of there as soon as possible. It seems a bit petty, but the general impression can outweigh the particulars in an interview. When I’ve gone to interviews or business meeting with clients, I take my coat off in the elevator so I look like I belong there the second I walk in.

 

The most important thing is to wear clothing you feel comfortable and confident in. Nothing too tight or ill fitting as your discomfort in your clothes will translate to a lack of confidence in the interview. Think business, not party, when dressing for an interview. But you don’t have to be completely somber. I was once leaving for an interview and I had on a black suit with a black shell and black shoes. I looked in the mirror and decided I looked funereal. I changed into a red mandarin-collar blouse to wear under the jacket and it perked me up. For women, small accessories are probably best.

 

Perfume is risky. I once sent a candidate to a client who was hiring an executive assistant and they complained that the conference room was reeking for hours. Some people are sensitive to scents, so best to skip them for interviews. I actually had a client who was hiring a personal assistant who requested that her assistant not use fabric softener, as she was averse to the smell.

 

It is important to be yourself in an interview. But if you look in the mirror and realize someone could look at your outfit and ask if it is Halloween or business, you’re on the wrong track. There are great jobs out there! Put your best foot forward and get one!!