I am more than your average Executive Assistant. I am an EA to a health-tech co-founder. A co-founder called Adam Yap.
I often get asked what a day in my life looks like. Well, to be honest, it looks a lot like a day in Adam Yaps’s life. Except for a little more female and with a few extra coffees.
As fast as I speak, Adam speaks faster. As fast as I think, Adam thinks faster.
I have worked as an EA at a senior level for over a decade. I have been casually strolling, occasionally jogging, towards learning, growing, expanding and improving in that capacity. Since I have worked for Adam I have been downright sprinting in an effort just to keep up. I am super lucky we are talking metaphorically here because physical activity isn’t exactly my strong point…
Working for the best, in no uncertain terms, helps you be the best.
We recently moved into a new office. I came in during the first week, sat down and started work. Three hours later someone asked if I liked the GIANT mural covering the ENTIRE back wall. No. Nope. I hadn’t even noticed. I think that’s probably the biggest difference working for a Startup Co-founder to the other Execs I have supported; the complete immersion in what we do. So much so that my surroundings become a blur and the time seems to just evaporate.
I walked into this role with Excel skills and I am now utilising newly learned SQL skills. Minimal skills admittedly but I like to brag regardless. I spent a few months playing “Operations Manager” in one of our business areas. I am currently trying to understand Product Management.
There are no limits to what you can learn and what you can do when you work for someone who has very few limits. It takes a special kind of person to have the drive, intelligence, agility and determination to do the “startup” thing, and to do it bloody well.
An EA is a problem solver. In a Startup there are a lot of problems. The difference is the solutions are what’s important and mistakes are not only expected but welcome. I work at a different speed now, at a reduced level of perfectionism (because you know, I used to be totally perfect). Concepts like MVP, Scrum, Agility that continue to be buzz words in the Startup world apply to so much more than engineering and product.
This blog for example… I was asked to do this last week. It was due today. I had all week to prepare. I had planned to spend several hours on it, attempting to be smart, funny and engaging but the time never materialised. So this is my MVP. My 30-minute answer. This is how we get things done.
For supporting Adam an expert nagging ability is also vital. I nag Adam to do things, I nag people who said they’d do something for Adam. I am fairly sure I have nagging down to a fine art. Tact is important, persistence is key.
People talk about a Salesforce MBA, they talk about ex-employees of Google being hired above all others and I may be getting WAY ahead of myself but I am nothing if optimistic; I really believe as a result of working for Adam, the rate at which I am learning, the new pace of working I am mastering; all of these things, mean I am more than your average Executive Assistant and I am only at the beginning of where I can go now.
Written by Sara Reid, EA to Adam Yap
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