Rise Up

& Lead Well

How Leveraging An Assistant Will Change Your Life & Maximize Your Time

Chapter 1

Meeting: The Most Important Meeting Of Your Week

First, raise your right hand and repeat after me: I promise to make one-on-one meetings with my VA a priority.

Seriously – please make one-on-ones with your VA standing meetings, or block time every single week where you know you’re going to get facetime via Zoom, for example.

Because here’s the truth about these meetings: They aren’t just for you. They’re for your assistant. They need access to you and your time to help move things along. You are their leader. There is no auto-pilot button here.

So these meetings are critical to the success of a work-from-home engagement. As remote leaders, this is our time to ask questions, talk through priorities, get clarity where needed, and make sure that they’re moving the ball down the court – and that requires some recalibration.

Some things that were priorities last week may no longer be priorities for this week. And these conversations really help uncover that. You can also share feedback with one another during these calls because feedback often doesn’t translate well via email or a voicemail or text.

So having those conversations eyeball-to-eyeball is super productive, builds the relationship, and creates a real sense of honesty where you can share and receive feedback.

Make this time a priority for you and your VA and it will truly help your momentum, productivity and, ultimately, your shared success.

What This Looks Like In Application

Setting the week up is the single most important thing I do to have a successful week – so Melissa is my first meeting every week.

It looks a little something like this …
  • We have our one-on-one Monday morning at 9 a.m. on Zoom.
  • We meet for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • We make sure she understands what her priorities are for the week.
  • We confirm that she has what she needs to help me.
    • I take the opportunity to talk about what’s coming up for me.
    • I tell her some of the things with which I’ll need her help.
    • I tell her things she might not already know.
    • I answer any questions she has.
  • I take the opportunity to ask how I can support her.
    • What are the top 3-5 ‘Bigs’ she is working on this week?
    • How can I help her this week?
    • Any professional and/or personal development she is advancing in this week?
    • Is there anything I should just know about her week, like doctor’s appointments or having kids home from school?

And then, at the end of the week, Melissa sends me a recap of what’s been accomplished. That way, I have a really good idea of all that’s been done, what still needs to be done, if there are any questions, and if there are any hurdles to wrap up the end of our week.

She also sends real-time updates as things are completed or scheduled throughout the week so I see action and movement – and can mentally let go of those tasks.

Chapter 2

Inbox Management: Living In Your Email? Don’t.

Email management can be one of the most valuable ways a VA can support a client, but it is also one of the most challenging as everyone has a specific way they like to see, manage, and store the information they receive in their inbox.

It can also be one of the hardest things for clients to let go of – GUILTY! – and fully empower their VA to manage for them.

However, once the right systems are in place, you regain multiple hours in your workweek by having your VA manage your inbox. And let’s not even get started on the mental bandwidth that’s freed and the peace of mind you can both achieve when your inbox has been tamed.

A quick reminder: Your inbox is not …

  • a place to manage a project
  • a place to remember appointments
  • a place to leave decisions for later
  • a place for action

What your inbox is – or should be? It should be a place for communicating with your internal team or your external clients or vendors.

What This Looks Like In Application

I don’t know what I would do without my email. It’s what drives what I’m doing in my day.

So Melissa and I have our own system that works for us. That said, it should be noted that systems are only as good as the peace they provide the owner of the inbox so what works for me may not be the silver-bullet system that works for you.

It should also be noted in the interest of full transparency that we tried multiple iterations of inbox management – and fell off the wagon a few times – but kept it a high priority, knowing email can bury a leader.

So my advice is to take your time to find what best suits your needs.

For my inbox, we use a starring mechanism in the Gmail suite.

It looks a little something like this …
  • If I want her to reply to something on my behalf, I put a star on it and she will reply.
  • If she gets to an email before me, she will star it, which means I know she’s actually already replied on my behalf, including scheduling requests.
  • When she is unsure of how to respond on my behalf or there is information or insight needed from me, she will draft a response for me to review, edit as necessary, and send.
  • She removes spam.
  • She creates filters so that certain items go into folders for me to read later.
  • When I am out of the office, she is in there and replying to what she can.
  • When I am out of the office and something is urgent, she’ll text me because she knows I’m intentionally not going to look at an email.
  • We have a folder system, like a read folder and an action item folder.

I’ve learned that when I have a very full inbox, it causes me stress. So just knowing she’s handling it provides me mental relief.

And full disclosure: Whenever I spend too much time in my email, Melissa will – deservedly – smack my hand. Sure, it’s a figurative smack since she’s virtual, but she is empowered to call me out to get me out of my inbox.

Chapter 3

Communication: Unless Your VA Is Telepathic.

We’ve all been there: We say one thing, but the person we’re speaking to hears and interprets something else entirely.

And so we really have to be very conscious about how we’re communicating – and even more so when working remotely.

So communication – clear, explicit and thoughtful communication – is, at least for us, the foundation for, well, everything when working remotely. Because regardless of industry, job or even whether you work in a brick-and-mortar office or virtually, how we express our expectations and needs inevitably impacts and affects every outcome.

Both you and your VA will experience the same learning curve, albeit on opposite sides of the equation.

What This Looks Like In Application

Developing your preferences and being clear on what communication is used and when will help keep things clear.

For Melissa and I, whenever possible, we try to cater communication to our pre-established preferences for any given scenario. We love IM and chat but I know many leaders who don’t.

Pick your lanes and stay in them.

It looks a little something like this …
  • We communicate daily, whether on Zoom, phone, email, text, and IM.
  • It’s important for Melissa to be responsive because things move fast and often need to be accomplished quickly.
  • Communication is a two-way street – that many leaders miss – so I need to be responsive, too. If she’s shooting me a quick question, it’s a priority for me to answer her over anybody else because I don’t want to be a roadblock for her.

The idea of an assistant conjures up one of these feelings:

About The Book
  • Excitement “I’m ready to hand these things off!”
  • Dread “I’m afraid to let someone into my chaos.”
  • Fear “What do I even do with this person?”

I’ve encountered countless people with these feelings of dread and fear. Usually those responses are rooted in something else: uncertainty.

They simply don’t know what to do with an assistant. Managing an inbox and calendar don’t sound like enough work for someone, right? That’s only for CEOs of big companies, right?

Wrong.

An assistant is the secret weapon you need to level up your leadership in the new year. Someone should be in your corner managing the details so you stay focused on the priorities.

You know this, but it doesn’t eliminate the uncertainty.

My new book is an uncertainty destroyer. I’ve spent more than a decade at BELAY, a virtual assistant company. I’ve led them, trained them, and even worked as one early in my career. I’ve seen all sides and know the secrets for success.

Use this book to eliminate the uncertainty and get a clear plan for how to effectively use an assistant. This isn’t fluff, theory, or pure inspiration. It’s battle-tested tactics that work.