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Being Indispensable

Being Indispensable is a podcast for Executive Assistants. It's about the mindset shift required to form a true partnership with your executive. Listen to interviews with indispensable executive assistants themselves, insights from executives and business leaders who share what they value in their indispensable assistants and join Liz as she explores the skills and leadership development required to build a true partnership with your executive.
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Nov 29, 2017

Fifty episodes is a momentous milestone in the world of podcasting. Most podcasts don't make it to double digits let alone a half century. This episode is a road rambling celebrating the special people that have made Being Indispensable something that has been worth continuing with. From my husband and daughters to the many Executive Assistants that have kindly expressed their appreciation for my efforts in bringing this podcast to the world.

25,000 plus episodes have been downloaded and I can't wait to bring many more episodes to you celebrating the contribution of Executive Assistants and continuing to advocate for greater recognition for those outstanding exponents of the profession that are amongst you.

Nov 15, 2017

Today's episode is a road rambling sharing some of the points I presented to an audience of Executive Assistants at a conference in Sydney run by Intrepid Minds. The topic was negotiating skills and strategies. 

It's common for people to think about negotiation as it applies to the job hunt process. Negotiating salary and benefits or alternatively negotiating salary increases or role changes with your employer. 

We also negotiate with co workers and peers about the distribution of tasks, due dates, deadlines, needing something from someone else so we can get something done…this takes communication skills and an ability to negotiate and engage in crucial conversations.

In this episode I share the thinking and research of Margaret Neale from Stanford University who encourages us to think about negotiation as a process and that the goal is not to get a deal, it's to get a good deal. 

  • Four steps to achieving a successful negotiation:
  1. Assess - is it worth it
  2. Prepare - know yourself, know the other person
  3. Ask - engage
  4. Package - start with the results/benefits you can deliver
  • Take a communal approach - works better for women

I also share some other tips including not thinking of negotiating as a one-discussion or one-conversation exercise. It may take multiple conversations to get a good deal or the best outcome and you need to stay in dialogue with the other party. 

The use of silence and leaving space for the other party to fill is something I've shared before and it's useful when negotiating to be aware of the power of silence.

Finally I discuss the concept of BATNA or your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. In other words what is your fall back position, your next best outcome?

Hope you enjoy the episode. Here's some further reading:

Nov 8, 2017

A key area for festering mistrust and misunderstanding between Executive Assistants and their manager is around expectations and perceptions. Failing to communicate on these topics leads to frustration on the part of both of you.

It may be hard for you to broach this subject and it may be equally hard for your boss to give you honest feedback but it is something both of you need to approach with a growth mindset.

To help you with this task, Liz has designed a downloadable guide which can be accessed at www.beingindispensable.com/knowmyboss

This initiative falls under the broader topic of 'Know Your Boss' which Liz will be exploring in further episodes. 

Oct 31, 2017

Hallie Warner is the Chief of Staff for Adam Hergenrother.  For the last seven years Hallie has been Adams right hand person. She epitomises the word linchpin and definitely fits the image of an indispensable assistant. 

Hallie has cultivated a true partnership with Adam and in this episode she shares what it has taken to reach this point and some of her learnings along the way. We discuss how she is currently looking for opportunities to stretch herself in order to develop and how she is pushing herself outside her comfort zone by speaking to me. Hallie says “The best way to grow, and the best way to learn is by teaching”.

Find out more about Hallie's Lead & Assist Webinar Series: bit.ly/AHTOLEAD

http://www.hergenrotherenterprises.com/about/hallie-warner/

Adam’s post referencing his relationship with Hallie:

https://herglife.com/2016/04/28/5-ways-to-create-a-strategic-partnership-with-your-executive-assistant/

Keller Williams referenced approach to hiring an EA:

http://activerain.com/blogsview/3394249/four-tips-for-hiring-a-world-class-executive-assistant

 

Hallie's Blog - www.leadandassist.com

Connect with Hallie:

LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/halliewarner

Facebook - www.facebook.com/hallieswarner

Instagram - @halliewarner

Oct 25, 2017

Today's podcast guest is Roxanne Calder, Managing Director of boutique office support recruitment firm EST10 based in Sydney, Australia. Roxanne has been a previous guest on Being Indispensable. Listen to Episode #22 to hear all about EST10 and Roxanne's passion for Office Support professionals.

In this episode we discuss the annual Salary Guide produced by EST10 and talk about the 2017/18 guide which has just been released. It contains some excellent insights into the 'state of play' in the office support market here in Sydney and also includes fabulous insights from Roxanne with respect to the talent shortage that currently prevails and how employers need to go beyond their preconceived requirements. It's all about seeing unicorns instead of rhinos.

Click here to download your copy of the EST10 2017/18 Salary Guide.

Click here to contact EST10 in Sydney to request a hardcopy of the 2017/18 Salary Guide or discuss other topics.

Oct 17, 2017

We all know the benefits for team and personal morale of giving positive feedback. The weird thing is that when we are on the receiving end we can often be guilt of reading it, feeling momentarily happy and validated and then moving on and never looking at it again.

In this episode, Liz shares why it makes such good sense to create a filing system or a repository for positive feedback you receive, whatever form it comes in.

Because Liz is an Evernote tragic, this is her platform of choice for filing such feedback. In Episode 45 she shares how she does it and why. A clue is in Episode 44 where her ongoing struggle with the dreaded imposter syndrome is discussed.

 

Sep 19, 2017

Liz opens up about how anxiety and confidence issues have got in the way of her bringing regular episodes out. 

This is an issue Liz has fought on an ongoing basis, in Episode 8 she discussed feeling like an imposter.

 

Aug 29, 2017

This week is Part 2 of my two-part Road Rambling. It's a wrap-up of what was an excellent EA Leadership Summit 2017 run by The Growth Faculty. In the episode I share my thoughts on why our bosses need to see that we're human (in my opinion) and how it doesn't help us to appear infallible and how Libby Moore's presentation demonstrated why no one ever got promoted for being the best at Excel or Powerpoint!!

Email me to say hello or let me know topics you would like me to cover in future episodes.

liz@beingindispensable.com or connect with me on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn of course.

Aug 16, 2017

This week is Part 1 of my two-part Road Rambling. It's a wrap-up of what was an excellent EA Leadership Summit 2017 run by The Growth Faculty as well as an overview of the content I will be sharing on the 30th August 2017 when I present 2 X 45 minute sessions at the Office Professionals Workshop in Adelaide. This event is being run by Catherine Middleton (that would be the other Catherine Middleton, not the Duchess of Cambridge) of Office Dynamics Adelaide fame.

Tickets are still available and I would love love love to see you there if you are a 'Radelaide' Executive Assistant or Office Professional.

http://officedynamicsadelaide.com.au/office-professionals-workshop-program/

In next weeks episode I will share some of my key takeaways from the EA Leadership Summit 2017.

Email me to say hello or let me know topics you would like me to cover in future episodes.

liz@beingindispensable.com or connect with me on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn of course.

 

Jul 27, 2017

In this episode Liz explains her recent podcasting hiatus and shares the reasons why her break has been so fulfilling. Liz is also looking forward to attending the EA Leadership Summit in her capacity as a member of the Advisory Panel and presenting at the Office Professionals Workshop in Adelaide on the topic of knowing yourself, knowing your boss and knowing your job. 

EA Leadership Summit - Sydney, Wednesday 9th August tickets still available here

Office Professionals Workshop - Adelaide, Wed 30th August, tickets available here

Jun 6, 2017

Episode #40 of Being Indispensable shines a light on two Executive Assistants (or Administrative Assistants as they are known in the USA) who work at Nvidia in Santa Clara, California.

The company description on Wikipedia summarises them as follows:

Nvidia Corporation is an American technology company based in Santa Clara, California. It designs graphics processing units for the gaming and professional markets, as well as system on a chip units for the mobile computing and automotive market.

In simple language, they have designed a really fast chip that until recently was well know amongst gamers because of it's speed. With the increasing requirement for faster processing in enterprise computing as well as the wave of Artificial Intelligence that is building, they are gaining interest and attention for the potential the chips have in these areas. In the same way as we used to think of "Intel Inside" for personal computing, it's now becoming "Nvidia Inside" in the enterprise space.

Carla Dutra and Cid Dias are two of many Administrative Assistants at Nvidia. They kindly agreed to speak to me during their lunch hour and in the interviews they share how they came to Nvidia, who they support and some of the reality of their day to day role. 

The gold in these conversations is that Carla and Cid epitomise the concept of the EA or AA as brand ambassador. Their genuine enthusiasm for their role and the organisation, their warmth and generosity made a wonderful impression on me and this typifies how they show up in their roles. This is one of the values that Executive Assistants bring to their organisation. They are often the first impression of the company and the interaction they have with people has the power to make or break a person's perception of their company. All credit goes to these two ladies for the way they conduct themselves and for demonstrating this essential trait of indispensable assistants. 

For more information on the Executive Assistant as ambassador read this post from Office Dynamics website.

Carla and Cid are both on LinkedIn.

 

 

May 30, 2017

One thing I find really unfortunate about the realm of Executive Assistant forums is the way there seems to be a tacit acceptance that it's okay to judge each other. As someone who has come to focus on this profession having experienced the world of Selling professionals and Marketing professionals it's something I find quite curious. I've noticed that it seems normal for experts in the profession to jump on their soap box and tell EA's how they should and shouldn't behave. 

In this weeks minisode, I ruminate on why it's important to consider that we can never really know what is going on for other people and how being kind should be the first response, no matter how hard that might be at times.

 

May 23, 2017

Staying calm under pressure is an important skill for Indispensable assistants to focus on. In Episode 38 Liz shares what it means to be unflappable, why it matters and three techniques to focus on that will help you project an aura of calm when in reality you might be feeling anything but. 

Appearing to be unflappable requires us to control our primitive responses to stress and be less reactive. Having these three techniques in your kit bag will empower you to have control over your body language, your voice and your own internal responses to stressful situations.

Links to research & articles discussed in the episode:

7 Ways Leaders Maintain Their Composure In Difficult Times

Use Neuroscience To Remain Calm Under Pressure

Controlling Your Body Language In Stressful Situations

https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-to-handle-stress-in-the-moment

Listen to Art of Charm episode to get more tips on how to control your voice

The head/heart/gut approach

The Focused Leader - HBR Article

Being Indispensable Episode 5 - Amy Cuddy research

Being Indispensable Episode 14 - Practising mindfulness 

I'd love to hear your feedback on these techniques and how you stay calm under pressure. Email your feedback to liz@beingindispensable.com or connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn of course.

 

May 16, 2017

Episode 37 is the final episode in my miniseries devoted to helping you get your C-suite leader on the social media bandwagon. In this episode I discuss the elephant in the room - the fact that becoming your executives social media manager involves taking on additional workload which no doubt is the last thing you need as an Executive Assistant.

This fact hasn't escaped me and I'm loathe to be the cause of my listeners having something else to stress about. That being said, helping your executive get more engaged on LinkedIn is something that makes sense for a number of reasons (as I've discussed in Episode #34). In this final episode I attempt to help you get a handle on the benefits for you personally...because much as I love to help you position yourself as proactive and strategic (and of course be seen as an essential element in your bosses life), the reality is that there's got to be some sort of WIFM factor for you. 

Hope you enjoy this final episode. Next week I promise not to even utter the words "LinkedIn" or "Social".

Please visit www.beingindispensable.com/episodes to find the link to the spreadsheet template discussed in the episode.

Email your feedback to liz@beingindispensable.com or connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn of course.

May 9, 2017

Part 3 of my series on how to help your C-Suite leader engage in social media, specifically LinkedIn. In this episode I outline a 5 step process of monitoring and observing the engagement of a targeted number of individuals and companies on LinkedIn. This data will inform the future planning for tactical engagement on LinkedIn. 

By tracking these identified individuals and companies over a finite period of time, Executive Assistants will be building their own knowledge of the world their manager operates in as well as collecting information that will be invaluable in helping progress the conversation around how the executive can and should be actively engaging on LinkedIn.

This is classic 'red box' activity for Executive Assistants. It's all about thinking strategically and being proactive in support of your C-Suite leader.

Please visit www.beingindispensable.com/episodes to find the link to the spreadsheet template discussed in the episode.

Email your feedback to liz@beingindispensable.com or connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn of course.

 

May 2, 2017

Part 2 in my ongoing series on Helping Your Executive Get Social - being strategic and proactive in managing your business leaders social media engagement. 

Apr 25, 2017

Episode 34 of Being Indispensable is the first of two episodes that focus on the way engaging in social media can be a great way of demonstrating how proactive, strategic and indispensable they can be. In the first episode Liz explains the benefits that Executives can gain if they harness the power of social media. The idea for these two episodes came from a post on LinkedIn written by Liz.

People now spend more time using social media than they do watching television and social media engagement is a top priority for most organisations today. Getting your Executive to understand why they need to make social media engagement a priority is something that is top of mind for indispensable assistants.

In Episode 34 it’s all about the WHY. Episode 35 will discuss the HOW with advice and practical tips to help put in place systems and processes that will enable Executives to start moving towards regular and consistent social media engagement.

Articles mentioned in today’s episode:

https://www.fastcompany.com/3056970/yes-even-ceos-need-to-use-social-media-and-do-it-well

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/13/the-surprising-reason-why-ceos-should-be-social-media-savvy.html

https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/10-ways-to-participate-in-social-media-strategy-as-ceo.html

 

Connect with Liz on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook

Apr 18, 2017

2017 is a quarter complete and it's time to get an update on how Liz is tracking with her 'Words of 2017' as well as a Health & Wellness update. This part can be summarised as 'I'm Not Burying My Head In The Sand, I'm  Just Running The Other Way'.

Liz shares the sneaky ways the urge to flee continues to make itself known & how she is channeling her inner Emu. 

For a solo episode it's ended up being just over 30 minutes which only proves that Liz can truly talk about herself with no trouble at all!

Apr 9, 2017

Creating a strategic partnership with your C-Suite Executive is a topic of much discussion amongst Executive Assistants and educators in the profession. What is required to achieve this is something Liz discussed in a recent LinkedIn post. In this solo episode she shares the feedback she has received on the post and expands on the topic discussing how vital it is for the partnership to be a win/win situation for Executive Assistant and Executive.

PS If you know a friend who would enjoy the podcast I'd love it if you could tell them about it!

LinkedIn Post "The Executive Assistant As Strategic Partner" can be found here

HBR Article "What Executive Assistants Know About Managing Up", Melba Duncan discusses the Strategic Partnership can be found here

Mana defined can be found here

LinkedIn Post "The Game Has Changed. Have YOU" by Phoenix Normand can be found here 

 

Apr 2, 2017

Coming to you from a park bench in downtown Palo Alto, California. More a garden ramble than a road ramble, Liz explains the purpose of her trip to the USA and how it's been a trip she's been looking forward to making ever since finishing Breast Cancer treatment. Enjoy a giggle as she recounts how in the pursuit of an interview with an indispensable assistant she goes from outwardly cool, calm and collected to a hot and sweaty mess.

Check out photos of Palo Alto on the Being Indispensable Facebook Page or on Instagram (@beingindispensable).

Make sure to Subscribe to Being Indispensable so you don't miss out on future episodes!

Mar 20, 2017

In Part 2 of my interview with Sue McComasky we discuss her role as National President of the Australian Institute of Office Professionals (AIOP) and why she is so passionate about what the mission of the organisation. AIOP is an organisation run by volunteers and it seeks to provide:

  • Professional Development opportunities for members
  • Networking opportunities for members
  • Access to an online network of like-minded professionals
  • Enhancement of the profession and the ability to use postnominals

AIOP is the only national professional body for office professionals in Australia and has been in existence officially since 1963 but it's roots were formed in the 1950's when 12 secretaries sat for and passed what was then known as the Commonwealth Secretarial Examination. As the only organisation for Executive Assistants that is run by members, for members it has the best interests of members at it's heart and is ably led by Sue and her committee.

You can find more info on AIOP and membership information on their website 

 

Mar 20, 2017

Sue McComasky is an indispensable Executive Assistant who is passionate about her role and the Business Leaders she supports. The intention of Being Indispensable has always involved providing a platform for Executive Assistants to be given the recognition for the amazing contribution they make to their respective organisations.

In Part 1 (Episode #29) of our interview, Sue talks about her role and her relationships with the CEO’s she has supported. Sue speaks with such humility but she is clearly highly valued as an Executive Assistant and she is a great ambassador for her organisation, GHD Australia.

 

In Part 2 (Episode #30) of our interview we discuss Sue’s role as National President of the Australian Institute of Office Professionals (AIOP) which is over 50 years old and is the only membership group in Australia which exists simply to support and educate office professionals. AIOP is a not-for-profit association that channels all money raised back into providing networking and education opportunities for members. AIOP recently underwent a complete rebrand and as a volunteer-run organisation it was a delight to be able to give Sue the opportunity to discuss the vision, mission and goals of AIOP and why it is a membership that Executive Assistants will benefit from.

Sue can be reached via AIOP and her LinkedIn profile is here

Mar 13, 2017

This week's solo episode is all about passion. Indispensable Executive Assistants demonstrate passion. They are passionate about their role, about their organisation and about the executive they support. It sets them apart from mediocre EA’s and it’s something that may require a mindset shift.

One of the ways that you can demonstrate passion is being able to passionately articulate your business leaders’ raison d’etre, their reason for being. This is effectively an ‘elevator pitch’, something that entrepreneurs and salespeople are well known for having. It’s a way of demonstrating that you are operating in that managerial mindset that Adam Fidler talks about.

One way of doing this is to use a modified version of Daniel Priestley's SOCIAL PITCH:

“Name, Same, Claim to fame, Goal to Game”

NAME - You and your position, name and your company name

SAME - What are you the same as, industry category (what would I google if I was trying to find you)

CLAIM TO FAME - something that makes your boss interesting to work for.  It’s talking to why they are an interesting person to work for and demonstrating that

GOAL TO GAME - What's the short to goal that your boss is currently pursuing, what the big picture objective that they are working towards. 

Can you put words around the GOAL TO GAME section? If not, you need to take steps to actually understand what you executive’s reason for being is. Another opportunity to initiate a conversation with them, to show them that you are a red box thinker and that you are thinking in that managerial mindset.

 Should be able to get this out in around 30 seconds.

Will need to practice it, fine tune it.

Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley

Mar 6, 2017

In Part 2 of my interview Liz shares some initial results from her Survey of C-Suite Executives where she has been investigating how elements of Adam's EA Manifesto resonate with executives and their experience working with EA's. The results to do date reinforce that assistant's currently are not generally viewed as behaving strategically and operating with the 'managerial mindset' that Adam encourages. However, the results of the survey clearly show that executives want their EA's to demonstrate leadership traits. 

Adam also shares a simple mindset hack to remind EA's to think as a manager and he also discusses how it is up to EA's to help their boss see them in a different light, as more 'Red Box' than 'Black box'.

Links to Connect with Adam and read about his thinking around the EA role:

PA Life Interview

Connect with Adam Fidler on LinkedIn

Adam Fidler Academy website

Adam Fidler’s “What I am” EA manifesto

A clip of Sophie Ellis-Bextor “Murder On The Dancefloor” is also included in this episode because it's fun and as discussed Liz loves Adam's dance floor metaphor for encouraging EA's to get out of the weeds!

Feb 27, 2017

In my interview with Adam we discuss his belief that Executive Assistants must take charge of their professional destiny because if they fail to do so, they risk others stepping in to influence it that do not understand the role and the true value that Executive Assistants can offer organisations and individual leaders.

The overarching theme of Adam’s work is about encouraging and enabling EA’s to align their behaviours with what is expected of a mid level manager and the sorts of EQ skills that are focused on in leadership development. He has a higher vision for the role which he articulates in his EA manifesto but rather than this vision being some sort of airy fairy, non-specific ideal he advocates for it being based on a proven foundation of skills development.

 

I’m already calling out that I’m going to have Adam back on the podcast for us to debate the word ‘indispensable’ as you will hear that he’s not a fan of it. I actually think he and I are in agreement and that it’s about not striving for something you can never achieve, because as we’ve discussed, we’re all dispensable. Anyway…

 

Top takeaways from interview with Adam

 

  1. Credibility is achieved through getting the job done, being professional and being qualified - therefore EA’s need to choose high calibre events to attend that will reflect well on them and be seen as an effective use of their time.

  2. Focus on what you need to do to be seen as more ‘managerial’, more professional in your role. That means looking closely at what activities and tasks you are spending your time on and look at identifying how you can develop into more red box activities.

  3. Aligned with this is spending time in ‘boss mode’ as opposed to ‘pa mode’. Thinking proactively, using initiative, having a growth mindset and asking less for permission and more for confirmation or correction. Boss Mode is about understanding your leaders’ objectives and priorities as well as the organisations and thinking strategically about how you can advance those without being given explicit instruction.

  4. This is where Adam’s metaphor of moving up from the dancefloor is so powerful… I love this metaphor, I keep humming Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s song “Murder on the Dancefloor” (link to Youtube clip in the Shownotes for those of you that don’t know it)

  5. Finally Adam acknowledges that there will always be a place for black box activities, he says these are the bread and butter tasks of EA’s but the reality is that no one ever got promoted for being great with Excel or Powerpoint. You may need to help your boss see your value in doing ‘red box’ activities but once they’ve experienced the benefits they will be converts. Saving your boss time makes you a huge asset but it requires you to act and work independently.

 

 

PA Life Interview

Connect with Adam Fidler on LinkedIn

Adam Fidler Academy website

Sophie Ellis-Bextor “Murder On The Dancefloor”

Adam Fidler’s “What I am” EA manifesto

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