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Episode 51 — Jan Jones — The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

"I tell executives and I tell assistants — anything and everything of a business nature involves your assistant. They need to be able to see what's happening. If they don't know what's coming in your email and they don't know what's going on, they're not going to be able to assist you. They have to be in the loop. You have to be communicating with them constantly." - Jan Jones

Jan Jones: Master Executive Assistant

Jan Jones is the author of the internationally-acclaimed book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness.” She is President of Jan Jones Worldwide, a bespoke speakers bureau that sends leading business experts and celebrities to speak at events around the world. Jan is a former executive assistant to world-renowned business/life strategist Tony Robbins. She spent 10 years as exclusive representative for business guru Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth Revisited.”

In this interview, Jan shares with us the traits of a great executive assistant and gives us an insight into what the dynamics of a CEO-assistant relationship looks like. She explains that the relationship between the executive and assistant should be viewed as a partnership — “We are in this together.” Jan says that when it comes to saving their executive’s time, an assistant will step in to take on tasks that may not routinely be a part of the assistant’s job description. The assistant’s focus is always on creating more hours in their executive’s day in order to expand their productivity. 

Minutiae is Destroying Your Productivity

Checking emails, scheduling meetings, chasing up managers about progress, finding the documents you need...these are things many executives deal with daily, but they should not. Jan explains that the role of the assistant is to “give back time” to their executive, so the executive can focus on the high-value activities that create the most impact for the business. 

Setting Expectations

We discuss how finding the right assistant can be daunting, particularly if you are hiring an assistant for the first time. But by laying out your expectations as a CEO (and their expectations as an assistant), you can find someone who is the right fit and who will complement your working habits to help you increase your productivity and effectiveness. 

Key takeaways:

  • The role of the executive assistant is to make sure the executive is making the very best use of their time. The assistant works to handle any and all minutiae that gets in the way of the executive’s productivity. 
  • Anticipation is key. Your assistant must be able to think and plan ahead so you are always on top of your commitments and priorities. They make sure you are “well ahead of the game.”
  • A resourceful assistant is a major asset to an executive because they will always find a way to get things done.
  • Give your assistant access. Your assistant cannot serve you effectively if they don’t have access to your emails, correspondence, and other information that is relevant for them to do their job. 
  • The best assistants do everything possible to add value to their executive. Be respectful of your assistant. Treat your assistant as a fellow professional. 

Links and Resources