7 Productivity Hacks I’ve Learned From Being a Personal Assistant to (C-Level) Executives

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In addition to founding and operating 3 successful brands, what most people don’t know is that I still have a nine to five (that I love btw). When I tell people this, they are always surprised. One of my friends asked, “When do you sleep?” Another friend commented, “I would’ve never known because you run your companies like a million dollar operation.”

Yes, I am proof that you can still be poppin’ with a nine to five.

And quite frankly, I still work in the corporate world because I want to, not because I have to. I do it because this is a chess move that will benefit me long-term. It’s about putting yourself in a position to win. Read my thoughts on Why Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Work a 9–5 (and shut up about it too) and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.It really bothers me when I meet people who complain about their jobs and aren’t willing to do anything to change their circumstance. Negative people are so annoying. Like bruh, miss me with the bullshit. In 2014, I was working as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of a financial institution. The industry wasn’t very fun for me and I knew I wanted out, so I created an exit strategy, saved nearly 10 grand as a cushion and gave in my resignation. I promised myself I would not jump back into the corporate work unless my next opportunity hit specific items on my ‘must-have’ checklist (I am all about the law of attraction) — which is different for everyone by the way. 9 months later, dream job. Sounds easy, but the journey came along with its challenges. The problem is that most people don’t have patience. Most people don’t know what they want.

You need to be decisive.

When you know what you want, the path becomes clearer and you won’t settle. I still work as an assistant (ain’t no shame in my game) because it’s the best position in any company. I work side by side with decision makers, hustlers and people who are the best at what they do. The industry I now work in is high-end retail and my boss is both a mentor and a sponsor.

It’s important that you know the difference. Let me break it down for you.

Mentors offer general advice and serve as a support to guide your steps. Sponsors advocate for you (both in and out of the office) when you need to be more visible. Sponsorship has a stronger relation to professional advancement than mentorship.

If you want to be successful, there are levels to this.

Anyway, back to my point. Regardless if you choose to stay at your nine to five or bounce like I did to pursue a great opportunity, the point is that you need to be grateful for every stage you enter. Don’t look at a nine-to-five as a jail sentence, widen your lens and see it as an opportunity for you to conduct research and data.

Yes, research and data.

If you have the desire to create something of your own- whether that may be to launch an idea, event, or to build a business or a brand, I can’t think of a better opportunity than to take in all the gems from your job. If you want to build a successful business, you need to see how one is run. Period. I’ve learned so much by watching and studying how the Human Resources, Finance, and Marketing departments run. Additionally, for the past 7 years, I have been working as an executive assistant and rubbing shoulders with industry leaders. One day I’m in the same room as Joe Mimran, a Canadian fashion designer, and entrepreneur who is best known for launching the Club Monaco and Joe Fresh brands. He is also one of the dragons on the Canadian reality television series Dragons’ Den. The next, I’m sharing space with Bill Gates and Justin Trudeau. Furthermore, on a daily basis, I learn a ton from my direct report.

Regardless of where I am at in my career, I never take an opportunity for granted. As I’ve observed these movers and shakers over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two I want to share with you. Here are 7 productivity hacks I’ve learned from assisting the best and brightest.

1. Learn to say no

I’ve been copied on zillions of confidential emails. I know many company secrets and have been in the room during the most private conversations. What I’ve observed is the power in having a firm opinion and not backing down if you think the situation calls for it. Learn to say no without explaining yourself. Follow your gut instinct and hit the reset button if you need to.
2. Do it your way

Sometimes doing things “the way it’s always been done” is the very reason why results remain the same. Don’t limit your possibilities.
3. Never accept a meeting without knowing the agenda

People will always try to book time in your calendar not knowing that highly productive people are very careful how they spend their time. Always inquire about the agenda and who will be attending the meeting because the truth is most meetings don’t need to happen. Limit meetings and keep them as short as possible.
4. Wake up early

I have been doing this for over a decade so I already know the benefits of waking up at 4 a.m. daily. My boss’ and I speak the same language and get most of the tasks on our to-do lists done before the rest of the office flops out of bed.

5. Be decisive.

Quick, sharp decisions.
6. Prioritize the most important tasks

In my world, everything is ‘urgent’ but I’ve learned to understand what needs my attention and what can wait. It’s critical to set timelines and objectives at the beginning of each day.
7. Delegate and trust your team

This one really hits home. The only reason I can run 3 companies is because I have 20 killer staff members who help run the ship while I am out on the ground learning and developing a game plan for us to grow. They pull all-nighters, they contribute brilliant ideas and I can trust when something needs to get done, it will get done. I learned this from working closely with C-level executives. Their focus is to grow the business and their staff is in place to maintain it.
This is only the start of a long list of hacks I have in my head. However, I hope I’ve inspired you to begin thinking about your own job and all the ways it is preparing you for the next phase of your life.

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