Episode One:
Why pressure is a privilege
with Emily Housley, Executive Assistant to the CEO of Crisp

Episode description

In our very first episode of The EA Campus Podcast, I am absolutely delighted to talk with Emily Housley, Executive Assistant to the CEO of Crisp.

As a strategic Assistant, Emily Housley is the CEO’s partner in getting things done. In this episode of The EA Campus Podcast, she shares how she operates with a positive sense of urgency, a high level of proactiveness, and a solution-focused mindset to transform ideas into action.

Although Emily has been working in the role for only a few years she is an absolute powerhouse. She comes with tremendous knowledge and expertise working in a fast-paced environment for a growing start-up.

During our conversation, we discuss Emily’s extra steps to secure her role at Crisp and the unexpected outcome. Why pressure is a privilege and how she maintains high standards in her work. We talk about her morning routine and how that sets her up for success. She shares how she communicates with her Executive and prioritises his day so that they can work together successfully.

Show notes

Transcript

00:00

Nicky Christmas

Do you want to know what it takes to work as a high performing Executive Assistant? You'll find out when you listen to the EA campus podcast. Join me, Nicky Christmas, the founder of practically perfect PA and the EA campus, for a weekly interview with successful Assistants who all have first-hand experience and lessons to share on what it takes to excel in the role. Tune in, get inspired and learn how to create an Assistant career where you are valued, motivated and ready to face every challenge head-on. Whether you are an Assistant just starting your career or prepared to move to the next level, building a successful Assistant career just got a little easier with the EA Canvas podcast. Hi, everyone, and welcome to Episode One of the EA campus Podcast. I'm absolutely delighted that you are joining us for our very first podcast, and I'm so excited for our first guest. I'm joined today by an incredible Executive Assistant who has been in EA for just under three years, working with the founder and CEO of Crisp, the number one law firm growth company in America. Although Emily has been working in the role for just a few years, she's an absolute powerhouse and comes with a huge amount of knowledge and expertise working in a fast-paced environment for a growing startup. During our conversation, we discussed the extra step Emily took to secure her role at Crisp, and the unexpected outcome, how pressure is a privilege and how she maintains high standards in her work. We talk about her morning routine, and how that sets her up for success and how she communicates with her executive and is able to prioritise his day so that they are both working successfully together. I hope you enjoy our conversation. And I hope that you enjoy the EA campus podcast.

02:05

Nicky Christmas

Hi, Emily. Thank you so much for joining us on the EA campus podcast. It's an absolute pleasure to have you with us today.

02:13

Emily Housley

Oh, Nicky, the pleasure is all mine. It is an honour. Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this

02:18

Nicky Christmas

I want to dive into your career because I think it's something that is really inspirational for Assistants. I love that you have on your LinkedIn profile that you are a strategic Assistant. Absolutely music to my ears when I see that. So why don't you tell us a little bit about your career to date?

02:35

Emily Housley

Most definitely. So yes, the title in my email signature, and I guess what, you know, we put on our about US company pages strategic Assistant. And so that's something that I very much take to heart as opposed to, you know, an Executive Assistant or an administrative Assistant, I thinking I believe that thinking, you know, higher level, in terms of opening your horizons to all of the different sorts of aspects that your role can entail as an Assistant. There's a little bit more strategy there. And so, I guess that's kind of where the name of my role comes into play. But I actually have never been any one strategic Assistant before. My first job, I guess, Assistant role is actually here at Crisp. In the story of how I came to be Michael mobile are CEOs, it's just Assistant was I had actually applied for a sales job. So I graduated with a degree in marketing. I had bartended and served in restaurants for many years and love the idea that the amount of money that I made directly correlated with how happy I made people. Because over here in the US, we work for tips. And I wanted to actually kind of apply that idea into a setting where I wouldn't have to go home at 2am smelling like tequila. So I went back to school, got my degree and came across a job posting for Crisp for a business development representative. And I guess the overall unique value proposition of that particular role is to identify opportunities for new sales, and tee them up to the account executive who was actually closing the sales. So I applied for that position. And we have a very, very structured hiring process here at Crisp.

Of course, after when you apply, you don't simply submit your resume online. You call a number, you follow directions, and it helps to kind of weed out people that don't have attention to detail. We, you know, go through a test assessment, so basically, anyone can say that they're an expert in something on their resume. Still, actually being able to do it live in a quick turnaround, so as you know, 24 hours to submit a test assessment meant, I took a Colby assessment, which kind of measures your modus operandi, I guess the how you execute on projects, as well as a print assessment, which gauges your intrinsic motivators kind of the why behind what you do. I also took a Wonderlic, which is kind of a cognitive-based sort of IQ assessment. So again, lots of hoops to jump through. And as I got further and further into the process, I thought, wow, this is really cool, because what I loved about that is if you were not willing to work to get the job, then you probably aren't going to work to keep it. So I really appreciated all of the thought that they put into the hiring process. And as I eventually, you know, made my way up to the part where I was invited in for an interview, they said that the CEO of the company wanted to be a part of that. And I thought that was very strange because the position that I was applying for probably had, you know, two to three different layers of managers or directors, between, again, what I was applying for the actual CEO. So, you know, I took that as a sign to be a good thing. And I saw that he had written a book, so I read his book cover to cover in advance. And then, as I started to prepare for the interview, I realised all of these assessments that I had taken, they probably had that on file somewhere, they probably had a little folder with everything. But wouldn't it look really good if I brought all of that with me. And so the best $86 that I've ever spent was going to UPS or United Postal Service, a professional like sort of printing company, and having five coloured spiral-bound copies of the Emily Housley application packet, with a table of contents all ready to go. And so sure enough, after I got into the interview, at one point, Michael had asked me. Oh, yeah, what was your Colby score? Again, I said, I can tell you when I, you know, pulled my little application packet out. And

07:01

Emily Housley

so it turned into a wonderful conversation. And after, you know, maybe about an hour and 15 minutes of talking to him, the sales director was, you know, getting ready to escort me out. And Michael said, Hey, hang on just a second, I have an idea that I wanted to run by you. And I said, Okay. And he said, Emily, you'd be a great business development representative, obviously, like you do your homework, you have grit, you know, you're, you're fun to talk to. But I'm actually looking for a new Assistant. And I was wondering if you would be interested in pursuing that opportunity instead? And I thought to myself, Okay, well, I've never been an Assistant before you, you know, clearly have very, you know, high standards, it seems like this particular position would involve a lot more aspects, it would be a lot more pressure. But this would be an opportunity for me to make a greater impact and learn a lot more. And so I went for it. And I guess that was almost three years ago.

08:09

Nicky Christmas

Wow, you were absolutely born to be an Assistant. If you put together a pack and brought that into the interview, that must have just been, you know, ding, ding, ding jackpot. The CEO, he must have been so impressed.

08:23

Emily Housley

It's so funny because I actually asked him about this maybe a year later, you know, did because I saw him do something similar with another person that he had interviewed, where he was getting ready to interview them for a particular position that they had applied for. And after he looked at their, you know, their assessment and their profile, and everything about them, he thought, you know, they apply for this position, but I think they're really going to be much better and in that position, and I said, did you do that with me? And he said, of course. So even before I walked into the building, even before I ever met him, he had already looked at everything about me and was like, oh, no, that's my Assistant. And I guess, you know, the little application package just sealed the deal.

09:09

Nicky Christmas

Well, I definitely want to come back to the tests that you've done because something that we often talk about, for the EA campus and practically perfect PA, is being self-aware as an Assistant and putting yourself through those tests because they helped so much. So Well, absolutely come back to those because I'd really like to learn how they helped you develop really from day one as it as it turns out for you in your role. So and let us know a little bit more about the role that you have there at Crisp, but I know that there's a lot that you do. So please let us know a little bit more about what you do on it. You know, the fundamental aspects of the role.

09:46

Emily Housley

Most definitely. So fundamental is is the tricky word because I think any Assistant will agree that no two days are the same. But if I had to boil it down into, you know, one sentence, I act as the CEOs partner and get seeing stuff done. So I guess the main sort of aspects of my job if I could boil it down into, you know, a couple of quick bullets, would be calendar and inbox management. So, of course, it is not the highest and best use of the CEO’s time to manage their own calendar. And anyone who has scheduled a meeting knows how many back and forth there can be between getting something on the calendar but also ensuring that everything that is needed to have a successful meeting, whether it be an agenda or resources, reports, presentations, background information, for example, if my CEO is having a call with a client, who wants to know their programme utilisation, so I guess how, how many of the specific details of their agreement, you know, have we actually delivered to them versus what is still pending? Where are they located, what's their cell phone number, what's their email address, who's on their account, you know, everything that, you know, Michael could possibly want to know, before and during that particular call. So, calendar and inbox management, project management. So kind of being the professional follow-up paper, I guess, if and when anyone on the team or outside of Crisp will make a commitment to Michael on a particular action item or a deliverable, you can consider me as the person that's going to be following up and making sure that they actually follow through on that. And then also playing a role in sort of the the leadership team here at Crisp, which is kind of interesting, even though I don't have any direct reports. Most of the people that directly report to our CEO, our department team leads, and so being able to maintain working relationships with all of them. And then, if I happen to get involved in a particular project on their team, making sure that I'm connecting with them and working with them, as well. So my CEO, he's a visionary, he's very much like a sales and marketing CEO, he has an amazing brand. It is absolutely like obsessed with all things marketing. So I'll play a little bit more of an active role in working with that team as opposed to some of the other teams where he's a bit more hands-off, for instance, you know, operations production, but also making sure that I am connecting with our COO, as well as every other team lead, to all work together and make everything happen.

12:33

Nicky Christmas

It sounds an incredible role. And it seems like you've got a huge amount of responsibility. And when we talk about strategic Assistants, everything you've said that absolutely fits the bill you're doing, you know, you're managing your executive's expectations. You understand your understanding his objectives and the things he's passionate about, the things he wants to move forward in the business, and you're really connecting the dots there. It's, it's an incredible achievement. Considering this is the first role that you've had as an Assistant, you really are getting it.

13:05

Emily Housley

Yes, I absolutely jumped feet first into the fire. And something that we say here, and I think the quote, is attributed to Billie Jean King, phenomenal tennis player like Grand Slam. And she said that pressure is a privilege. And so while many times it's very easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted and you know, kind of ticked off and you can externalise and have this sort of external locus of control, like why is this happening? To me, this isn't fair. This is so much. This is too much ensure that's one way to, you know, perceive it. However, when you can remove yourself, you know, sort of from that, that sort of mindset and think if I have the skills and capabilities to do these things to you know, solve these problems, to answer these questions to provide this type of value, then I feel that you are obligated to be able to do so,

14:01

Nicky Christmas

Emily that sounds amazing. I said what an amazing opportunity that you have to work with a true startup. And I really want to touch on more of the work that you do. But I also want to get a sense of what your day to day is like and your routine and know a little bit more about what you do at home and things like that. So I thought, why don't we start with the morning, and you let us know a little bit about what happens when you wake up and your routine before you start work?

14:29

Emily Housley

Most definitely. So I read a book a couple of years ago by Hal Elrod called Miracle Morning. It is a complete game-changer. And there is a particular practice that I've put into play. And he has the acronym savers. So silent meditation affirmations, visualisation, visualisation exercise, reading, and scribing, which is basically journaling but you know, it just didn't have the sort of the same catchiness. So silent meditation, I'll do, you know, like 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation, which sometimes I get, right and sometimes, you know, have lots of wandering thoughts, but just taking a minute to decompress, and just focus and clear my head, followed by affirmations. And so, rather than just saying, I am rich, I am successful. And then in an in an unknown, I am committed to x, I am committed to why because it's very different, you know, relaying and affirming your commitment to achieve something, rather than just opening up your hands and hoping that the universe will, you know, call it into you, you can open your hands up to the universe and say, something will come to you. Or you can control your own destiny and actually commit to the actions to make that happen. So, you know, key little asterix there on affirmations, visualisation, and so that's where I will actually kind of reference the calendar or you know, all of those little thoughts and things that I may need to do for the day, and start visualising what executing those things actually looks like preparing for, of course, the curveballs that are to come. So not being tied to a particular idea of how a day will go, but visualising how I am going to, you know, follow up on something, communicate something and execute on something, exercise. So I'll usually do, you know, it'd be 30 minutes of either like a high-intensity sort of interval training, little circuit workout, I also really like to ride the bikes, I have a stationary bike set up, in my basement reading. So usually, you're two to three chapters of something a day. I set a goal to read 50 books this year. So that is definitely an important part of my morning routine. And then scribing. So journaling, I use something called The Five Minute Journal. It is awesome. So if you're, you know, the type of person that doesn't necessarily have an hour a day to write a detailed log of everything that you're thinking and feeling, which can be very, you know, cathartic and therapeutic at times. But if you truly only have five minutes, that five-minute journal is great. You start off with, you know, three things that you're grateful for, three things that you're committing to. So sort of your top three priorities for the day. And then, at the end of the day, you can look back and reflect and say, Well, what well today, what were the big wins? And then, if I had to do this day over again, what would I change? So that's kind of my morning routine.

17:44

Nicky Christmas

That's incredible. And do you find that you stick to that most mornings? I would assume that's also what the book helps you do to make that constant routine?

17:53

Emily Housley

Yes, there are definitely. I'd be lying if I said I did it 100% of the time, every single day. However, I have found that those days where I, you know, want to catch that extra 45 minutes to an hour of sleep. And then I'll come in that morning, and I'm just not on my game. And so it's almost like a one to one direct correlation between when I'm most effective. And when I really, you know, knock it out of the park that day. Versus when I don't, it's more often than not, when I don't have that routine where I'm not bringing my best self into the office.

18:28

Nicky Christmas

Are you back in the office? Or what happened for you over the course of the of the pandemic? Were you working from home, and then you've gone back to the office? Are you doing an amalgamation of both?

18:39

Emily Housley

So when the pandemic first hit, we did all go remote. And then, because our office is so big that we have more than enough room to physically social distance, we came back in phases, and then we offered the team a rotating schedule. We're very fortunate in that, you know, over 90% of our team is here in the city, and you know, has a relatively close commute. I for a few days, you know, kind of tried to help my CEO remotely, and I know that for many Assistants, they're able to do so, you know, very effectively in sort of a virtual sort of role, the speed at which my CEO sorts too, like the way that he thinks and the way that he moves and the way that he changes, you know, the courts and decisions and it's very, very fast pace. And unfortunately, I just didn't find that I could be as effective not being with him. In fact, in our old office. We moved into this one last year, but previously my desk was in his office. And so it helped us really, really stay in sync because I, of course, could sort of keep a pulse on them being there physically. So I just work better. I feel more successful and more We're in the loop on things when I'm here in the office. But for other roles here at the company, we do have, you know, a rotating schedule. We travel a lot, of course, change that quite a bit in 2020. But things are starting to pick back up, and all has been all has been great here.

20:17

Nicky Christmas

This is a really hard question for Assistants. But if I had to get a sense of what an average day looks like for you, and I know every day is different. So I know it's a tough question. But give us a sense of how fast-paced it is there and some of the things that you do over the course of your day,

20:33

Emily Housley

Definitely. So I, if I don't do so the night before, then first thing in the morning is, I will slack. We use Slack, for all internal communications way better than email. By the way, if anyone listening to this does not have slack, please get slack. It will change your life. But I will slack Michael, what are your top three for today, and looking at his calendar and kind of thinking about where his head is at where we are on our targets, we have, you know, set targets for the week as well as for the month. And then where his time needs to be focused. All even propose it. Like it seems like your top three objectives, meaning if you get nothing else accomplished today except for these three things, it would be a win. So I will propose, hey, are these your top three objectives for the day? If yes, great. If not, what are they? And so using that feedback, I know, okay, I need to make more time for x. For example, my boss is working on writing a second book right now. So if one of his top three is to bring his A-game to a call with his editor, and I see that there's only 45 minutes scheduled for that meeting, I'm gonna go ahead and clear the following hour, maybe an hour and a half, anticipating that it may run long, or there may be things that he needs to do after that call too, you know, keep everything moving there. So, kind of correlating the amount of time that it takes to complete something with, of course, the actual achievement of it. So I'll you know, review his calendar, his inbox, of course, with email, making sure that he sees what he needs to see and doesn't see what he doesn't need to see. Looking ahead to, you know, sort of, I guess, the project management aspect of it. So all of the sorts of targets that he has set for a particular department, keeping all of those things running, and if something is off track jumping into, say, How can I help. I'm also very much involved with kind of the oversight of many of the things that are involved in his personal brand. So his, you know, own sort of social media page, he has vlogs, and blogs and bits and quote cards. And then he has his own podcast as well. So I will, you know, kind of do a very detailed research analysis on the guests that he may be interviewing, kind of pull in all have their different sort of, you know, pages, websites, bios, or watch interviews with them. If they've read a book, I will read that book and summarise it and draft questions, you know, to kind of help Michael set himself up for success when he actually, you know, completes that podcast interview. And then I'll also oversee the post-production of that episode, which of course, you know, very well sitting here, there's a difference between the conversation that we are recording live versus what eventually is edited and produced. So keeping all of that on track, as well.

23:32

Nicky Christmas

So many Assistants would love to be in a position where they can sort of guide their executive through their day and work on the things that the Assistant is suggesting. So I wondered how you got to that point where you have the festival, the confidence to suggest things to executives, and second of all, the business acumen to know that those are the things that they should be focused on.

23:55

Emily Housley

Definitely. So when I first started, you know, honestly, probably for a year, it really took me some time, and it's okay, of course, being new and asking, I think the dumbest question is the one that you don't ask. And so, a lot of times, we may feel like we need to hold ourselves back from asking for clarity or asking for confirmation on something because we don't want to look stupid. You know, of course, this particular person that we're supporting, whether it be the CEO, the CEO, you know, a director or someone of high influence in status, they have very high standards. So we don't want to look like we are below standard. However, I have found that when I do not ask those sorts of things, and you know, just try to stay out of the way or in the background or you know, maybe try to put something together in my mind and make an assumption, and we all know about assumptions, is all actually spend more time working on the wrong thing and doing it in The wrong way than I would if I had just, you know, checked my ego, asked, Hey, I don't know this, will you please tell me and then just moved on with my life. And so you know, depending on, you know, the personality style of you know, the executive or supporting. However like, depending on how they like to communicate and how they like to articulate things, some will be more naturally, you know, open to providing that feedback but asking for it on the front end. And then again, over time, as you start to develop sort of a relationship with this person, understanding what makes them tick, you know, what sorts of projects or departments or initiatives do they get really excited about, and do they love to spend their time in versus the ones that almost they dread that you know that you see this on the calendar. They know that they have to do it, but they don't want to do it, or they're constantly having to solve problems that they don't want to solve. So understanding where what energises them and excites them, and then what you know, kind of sucks the life out of them, then you can start to be able to structure their time and their calendar in a way that helps them spend more time in their unique ability.

26:19

Nicky Christmas

The example that you gave they're about suggesting things that they should focus on for the day, even if they're not the right things or they're not quite what your executive does need to do that day. You're probably giving them a few more ideas, a few more options that they might not necessarily have thought of. So it's just being that person that's helping them clarify and design their day. So exactly, as you said, they're focusing on the things that bring them energy, rather than, yes, as we know, there's so many things that don't.

26:46

Emily Housley

Exactly, and sometimes that, you know, like Michael, like his top three for the day, something on it may be something that he doesn't necessarily love, but it needs to happen, you know, a finance meeting each month, you know, how review with our CEO and our Director of Finance, you know, the incentives and the KPIs for each individual in our company, it has to happen as the CEO, he has to be the one to sign off on those. But we figured out a way to be able to make those meetings a lot more efficient and a lot more effective. So where he used to spend a half-day on it every month, now, he just spends an hour on it a day. But then another thing that I think has been really helpful is structuring almost an ideal week. So, you know, Assistants, of course, we wear many different hats. But more often than not, your executive wears a lot of different hats as well, you know, from being the sort of the face of the brand and maybe closing really big deals or clients to overseeing, you know, and being involved in some sort of aspect of the operations, to hiring and making sure that, you know, we're bringing in the right people, you know, all of those different functions. And rather than going from a, you know, client sales call to an internal leadership meeting, to a podcast interview, to, you know, sort of all of those different functions, they probably require different sorts of mindsets and almost a different sort of face or personality that they want to bring to that particular event. And so what Michael and I have done is we have structured his week so that he has what we call maintain activities, which are the internal sort of behind the scenes things that you got to do to keep the business going. And then we have growth days, which may be more focusing on his book, doing podcast interviews, creating blog content, thought leadership content, or connecting with existing clients or speaking with new clients. Because again, the sort of, you know, headset headspace that he's going to be in for those focus or grow activities are going to be very different than the Maintain activities. So structuring them in a way that helps him be able to put one sort of hat on and wear it for the whole day, instead of jumping back and forth, has proven to be very successful for us, is something.

29:15

Nicky Christmas

I mean, I know it's difficult sometimes if you're working for an executive who isn't necessarily the CEO, and the time isn't really their own to draft as they please. But it really helps when, exactly as you said, it's so hard not just to multitask. We all know that that's difficult. These days, we all know that. That's not something really we should be doing. But actually, to just swap your mindset, you know, you know, to change how you're thinking and feeling and having to react to people is so much harder than just moving between tasks. So I'm really encouraged for sure.

29:53

Emily Housley

Yeah, definitely. I think there was some, like science and or neuroscience research that Jay Papasan wrote about in the book called The One Thing, which is basically that multitasking is a lie. And while we'd love to believe that we can, you know, pop back and forth between browser windows or conversations, the energy that it takes to remove your focus from one thing and then go back and think about catching up on the other thing that you're working on, you end up being not we give ourselves way too much credit for how efficient we think that we can be.

30:27

Nicky Christmas

We do, we really do. I'd love to move on to a little bit of about around the role that you do. And I wonder if there's anything within it that's particularly challenging for you.

30:38

Emily Housley

So something that has been challenging for me is being able to be okay with people not liking me. And, you know, sometimes as you know, the Executive Assistant and being, you know, an ambassador to their, you know, Ambassador to them, of course, you know, we all are on the same team for our company. But sometimes, you have to protect your executive to the point where you may need to. I guess we use a phrase called take the L for them like they can't come to this meeting. So I need to let you know that, you know, in the back of his mind, he's saying, I just can't do that. This is more important. But being able to present an articulated in a way that doesn't make the person feel less than or shoved off to the side, or also following up and providing constructive criticism on something that I know is going to be below his standards. And I personally, you know, I guess my, my intrinsic motivators is I referenced earlier with the print, I'm a to eight, so to be needed and appreciated. And to be strong and self-reliant and to need it and appreciate it is very important to me. Whereas Michael is an eight, three, so an eight is to be strong and self-reliant, but also to succeed and achieve. So it is far more important to him to get results and to win than it is to be liked. And it's kind of the opposite for me. So something that's been very challenging that I think I have made a lot of improvement on is being okay with being the bad guy. And sort of representing myself as an extension of him, rather than just another person that works here. I guess if that makes sense.

32:36

Nicky Christmas

That's so interesting. And I can imagine that a lot of Assistants who are listening to this will be nodding furiously because I think a lot of us become Assistants because we like to please. We are people pleasers, and we like to feel needed. We like to feel like we're supporting somebody, and that's appreciated. But part of the role is exactly as you said. It's too it's to be the person that often lets other people down who, you know, who is protecting your executives time and energy, and having to have those difficult conversations with colleagues who you like that are often your friends that, yeah, that you they can't get the thing that they want. Yeah, so I know that that's, that is absolutely a challenge. Is there anything in particular that you did to help you move forward with that?

33:28

Emily Housley

So, of course, self-reflection is a great thing. But something that helped me a lot was, there's a phenomenal book by Cy Wakeman called No Ego. And it, you know, kind of talks about removing yourself and your emotions and your feelings for a particular situation and looking at things objectively, so thinking about what do I know to be true? You know, and rather than thinking, Well, I feel very upset, or she's really mad at me. Okay, well, but what do you know to be true? Do you have an explicit message that says, I am mad at you because you cancelled my meeting? No, what I know to be true is this meeting is not going to happen. And I'm not going to be able to get it back on the calendar. Okay, so what do I know to be true? How can I help? So rather than looking at things as problems and what's wrong, and what's failing and what's not right, and, you know, what was me? What can I do right now, to actually, you know, be a positive and productive force and a negative and somewhat of annoyance of a situation? And then you just do those things. And so removing your emotions from it being objective, and just keeping on.

34:51

Nicky Christmas

Yeah, I think that's so helpful. Thank you for sharing that because I think that's a challenge for a lot of Assistants. So I know so many of you. You listening will be able to relate to that for sure, the opposite of what's the most enjoyable part of your day.

35:08

Emily Housley

So the most enjoyable part of my day is probably being on the other side of this microphone. And being, I guess, sort of the executive producer of our company's podcast. And so, I do not have an audio engineering background. I do not have a production background by any means. But after, you know, maybe the first 2015 or 20 episodes of our show, I started to get a little bit more involved. And the way that it started was really, you know, when Michael would want to schedule a recording or when a member of the marketing team said, Hey, we want to get this person on the show, for my goal to talk to being able to find the time for that to happen, of course, is one of the most important things. So blocking out time in advance for him to, you know, review the dossier on this particular guest. Finalise the questions, of course, conduct the actual conversation, as well as recording the voiceover for the scripts that we use in post-production, reviewing the edits, reviewing the assets, and then eventually launching it and so making time for that was one thing. And then I thought, well, how can I help even more, and so then it came to researching these guests and drafting the questions. And then it came to, you know, someone's saying, I can't get a hold of this person, I really, I know, Michael really wants to get them on the show. So I would take it over and come up with a creative way to get their attention and eventually make it happen. And then it was, you know, the Edit review. So I guess Michael didn't have time to listen to a particular first cut. So I picked it up. And I said, here are the things that I think we need to, you know, change between the first and the second edit. And then it keeps like, great, you know, I don't want to do this anymore. Here, you can do this for me. And so it just kind of grew and grew to the point where I really sort of, well, I do not do everything. I oversee a lot of those things. And so I guess my favourite part about my day is seeing every single day, we have clients or law firm owners from, you know, around the country that will send messages, you know, to Michael, or reach out to our team and say, I love your show, it is so well produced, how do you get this guest on the show, this was so amazing, you know, I listened to this episode six times and, and things like that. So seeing the impact that it makes. And being a part of something that is just so world-class is probably my favourite aspect of my job.

37:39

Nicky Christmas

That's fantastic because it's not a traditional part of the role is something that you've seen and really gone for it, knowing that you would enjoy it and the slow process of learning more. I mean, podcasting is obviously such a huge thing. And as we're finding it finding out this being the first podcast that we've done, there are so many intricate parts to it and very technical. So it's Oh, absolutely, yeah, the fact that you've developed new skills while in a, in a demanding role in itself is really wonderful. And I think for a lot of Assistants, it will be wow. I can do that if there are other aspects of the business that I can get involved in. You know, there's hope there for learning so many other skills, most definitely.

38:20

Emily Housley

And so I think something that differentiates sort of a regular sort of contributor versus someone who you know makes an impact at a higher level is being able to see a particular job or role or function that's needed to be done, even if it's not something that you necessarily love or your resume exactly aligns with, but doing the job that's needed to be done, and doing it really well. And then, of course, if you don't know how to do it, well, you figure it out, you ask for help you invest in, you know, sort of the training and development of those skill sets to be able to get it done. Because more often than not, the things that you love and your particular passions aren't going to be 100% aligned with the needs of an organisation. And so, being able to step in and show up and show out where it creates the most value and impact for the company or for your executive is going to be more important than, you know, what just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And of course, there are going to be times where those things do align, you know where what you're passionate about, what you love, are, you know, completely in sync with the particular bullet on your job description—but being able to bring the same level of energy and excitement and enthusiasm and level of detail-oriented to things that you don't like to do. I think that's what really differentiates a game-changing it to a game-changing Assistant versus, you know, someone that just shows up to work.

39:53

Nicky Christmas

I love that showing up for the things that you don't enjoy doing. I love that that's bringing value every day because I think the things that most people don't enjoy doing the things that probably get left behind. So if assistance can show up on those things, then you're absolutely winning.

40:10

Emily Housley

Oh, of course, I mean, who I can't think of a time where I've just been like jumping out of my seat to analyse an expense report, you know, but like, if I can just chalk myself into it psych myself up. And, you know, just go at it with the same level of excitement and eagerness, even if I'm lying to myself doing it, but still doing it in a way that, you know, shows how dedicated I am to his overall success, I think, then eventually that sort of mindset, and approach and perception will start to take effect into pretty much everything else too.

40:47

Nicky Christmas

Well, as I said, it sounds like there are so many things that you've achieved in your time there at Crisp. I wonder what's been your career highlights so far?

40:54

Emily Housley

Oh, my career highlight. Gosh, we've done such amazing things. I would have to say my biggest career highlight is being a part of our massive in person, virtual art, Mozart, our massive in-person conference. And so, of course, in 2020, we did have to take a little pause on that. But we, you know, brought it back the game-changer Summit. And so I would describe it as almost Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within meets Salesforce Dreamforce. So it is like a huge, massive undertaking. We have like 2500 Law Firm owners from around the country there. And we brought in speakers from all walks of life. So we've had Tim Grover, who wrote the book winning and relentless. He was the performance coach to Michael Jordan. We had sai Wakeman, whose book no ego I was talking about earlier. She is phenomenal. We've brought in Malcolm Gladwell, I mean people from all sorts of walks of life and all of the details and decisions and tiny little things that add up over the course of a year and a half of planning for something like this, seeing it all, you know, come to fruition for those two days. It is just the most invigorating and inspiring thing that I've ever been a part of. And if you're listening to this and thinking how can you actually have, you know, a conference that sounds for lawyers, go to crisp summit.com. You will see what I'm talking about. It is amazing. And in fact, we're going even bigger this year. For the first time ever, we have rented out the Mercedes Benz football stadium because we have outgrown every other hotel venue in Atlanta. So I think our next big challenge is figuring out how we're going to fill a football stadium.

42:59

Nicky Christmas

Tell us what happens when you leave the office. What kind of things do you do when you get home in the evening?

43:05

Emily Housley

Yeah, so I love to put all of my cast iron to use. I have a kitchen full of liquor, say cookware that I have accumulated. Over the years, I actually used to work for a small, little Atlanta based retailer called The Cook's Warehouse, which is kind of like William Sonoma or Sorolla top, like high-end cookware, but a small business, and we, you know, would sell a lot of those particular products. And we had sort of spiff programmes where after you sell a certain amount of product, you would get a certain amount of brand credit. So I built up this ridiculous amount of cookware. And I love putting it to use with my husband, who is absolutely, without a doubt, like the light of my life. He is. I mean, he puts me to shame as far as what a hardworking and motivated person looks like. He is a retired professional cyclist. And now he's, you know, an academic researcher. So he's doing a postdoctoral research fellow at Georgia Tech. So while we, you know, live very different lives as far as the professions that we have, something that we have in common is cooking and spending time together. So I like to decompress. I'll put my phone upstairs, you know, leave my computer upstairs. And, you know, we'll try to spend at least one uninterrupted hour together. And just to decompress, and I guess I also like to spend time outside, of course when it's not raining and thunder storming like it is right now. Here in Atlanta. We have phenomenal weather. And I live very close to lots of phenomenal parks, and museums and lots of fun stuff to do. But really just being present and taking the time to give myself permission to unplug from work, even if it's just for an hour or an afternoon on the weekend, to enjoy time with the people that I love the most,

45:12

Nicky Christmas

We've got so many different types of Assistants listening to the podcast, but I wonder if there's one piece of advice that you could give to Assistants who are listening today that will help them build their careers,

45:23

Emily Housley

one piece of advice that I would give to an Assistant is to understand that just because you like something one way doesn't necessarily mean that the person that you're supporting your executive, whoever that may be, we'll also like it that way. So, just because my love language is words of affirmation, I love getting compliments. I love, you know, getting showered with really wonderful feedback doesn't necessarily mean that my boss, you know, again, we talked about him being strong and self-reliant, succeeding and achieving, that doesn't necessarily mean that a compliment, or you know, praise or a glowing sort of endorsement or review is going to affect him the same way. And so taking the time to get to know the executive that you're supporting, as a person, and what motivates them, what sort of communication tools, you know, that they like, behaviours and practices that they appreciate, don't just assume that the things that you like, are going to be the same, because more often than not, they're very, very different.

46:30

Nicky Christmas

And to go back on what we were touching on earlier around self-awareness, it seems to me from everything that you've said, it's been very helpful to for yourself to have gone through a lot of self-assessment tests and understand more about your personality and your needs and wants, and communication styles. And it seems like your executive has done exactly the same thing as well so that you both get to understand each other. So I wonder how helpful that has been for you in developing your relationship? And if you think other Assistants should go about doing as many tests as you've done?

47:04

Emily Housley

Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I think you know the, the greatest investment that you can make is in yourself. And so the more that you are able to provide, you know, clear and objective sort of definitions on things, I think will help your executive, you know, adhere to and understand them. So, rather than just saying, you know, hey, I'm a really emotional person, you know, okay, well, like, what does that even mean? And so when you can take these assessments like, you know, the Myers Briggs assessment, you know, I talked about the Colby ko LBE, or print pure I n t. And having, you know, sort of an objective measure of who you are, how you do what you do, why you do what you do, you know, what motivates you, the way that you execute, the way that you like to receive information, the way that you, you know, how you handle and tolerate risk. Because having that definition, and having that clarity, will help your executive be able to, you know, understand the way in which you're going to go about and do something, for instance, you know, anyone can sort of do a task at hand. Still, the way that they're going to do it naturally is going to be very different for someone who is more of an operator versus someone who's more of a salesperson, you know, sort of those skills. And the way that you naturally act and respond to something should be in line with the expectations. So, for example, for the Colby, it's four numbers, it's your factfinder, you know, how much information you'd like to receive when presented your follow-through, so how you like to, you know, systematise, and execute your Quickstart. So how comfortable you are with handling risk, and then your implementer, which is more about seeing and building, like physical structures. So if I have a very low factfinder, you know, I don't like need to ask a lot of questions. I don't need a lot of information. And the role that I am in is for, you know, a researcher, then yes, I can ask all of those questions. I can, you know, find all of that information, I can be a researcher, but I am not naturally equipped to do that. It's almost like, if you're right-handed, trying to write your name with your left hand. Yes, you can do it, but it doesn't feel right. It's not natural. It's not pretty. So what, and this is something that Michael had considered when he looked at my Colby and hiring me, is that, you know, my assessment scores were aligned with the ideal profile for someone in this role. So I like a lot of information I, you know, think in second and third-order consequences. I can, you know, handle a fair amount of risk and move a little bit quickly. So those first three numbers were really, really important. So the more that you could have, you know, sort of the He, you know, specific and defined assessments that are able to answer questions that you may, you know, be asking yourself for a long time to help you understand, okay, is this just something that I can do and I need to learn more about or this is something that is completely outside of my skill set, and I'm not a fit.

50:19

Nicky Christmas

Having that awareness is so important. And then the other piece of that is being able to build a relationship together, so that it kind of fits in with a few things you've said there, you're not necessarily when you understand your executive, to the level that you do, you're not going to get upset about certain things, because you know, that that's their personality style, that's the way that they like to communicate, you're not going to take anything, necessarily, personally, when they're not giving you the information you need. Because that's not their style, I think it makes it much easier to build that partnership that you need to have to be so successful in the role.

50:54

Emily Housley

Absolutely. And so that, that's not to say that it's not okay to ask them, you know, for, you know, ways in which they can communicate with you for you to be able to, you know, be your best self. But again, it, it's not exactly a 5050 split, you know, your role as an Assistant is to, you know, help them be their best selves. So, if you're gonna give them a mile, it's okay to ask for an inch. And this is something that I really, really appreciate and like love about my boss is that you know, if I'm, he sees that I am changing the way that I, you know, communicate that I follow up in a way that, you know, best supports his communication style. But he's also taken the time to, you know, ask me how I like to be praised and how I like to receive constructive feedback. Because I think anyone in any professional setting needs both. But the way in which they are communicated and articulated is very important so that it resonates with the receiver of that piece of communication.

51:59

Nicky Christmas

It feels to me like you really think about the work that you do, and you put a lot of effort into being better. As an Assistant, I wonder if there's anything that you're particularly grateful for that the Assistant role has given you?

52:16

Emily Housley

I'm so glad you say that because one of our core values here at crisp is better than yesterday. So that just means the world to me, thank you, first and foremost, as far as the ways that I sort of tried to continue to level up, I think, you know, like I said, the greatest investment that you can make is in yourself. So by reading, you know, constantly, a couple of my favourite books that I think this audience may be particularly interested in are the CEOs secret weapon, by Jan Jones. We actually had her on an episode of the podcast. She used to be Tony Robbins, Executive Assistant. She is amazing. And there's also a great book by Michael Hyatt called your world-class Assistant. And I think there's a really great course called The attention to detail course its attention to detail.com. And so helping to sort of understand the way in which that we can be more focused and meticulous. Because, you know, businesses go out of business based on, you know, paper cuts, not sledge hammers if you've heard that expression. And so, you know, those, those little, you know, sort of miss details can add up over time. And so, training my brain to become more detail-oriented and focused has really helped a lot, also just kind of continuing to redefine what is possible. So it may sound a bit intense, but I think it's if you've had your best day ever that becomes the new minimum standard. And I get I know that it can come across as a bit like overwhelming, and that's not to say that you won't have bad days too. But by finding ways to do things and accomplish things that you'd never seen yourself doing it. It's very motivating to keep continuing on and find new things and more things and even things that may be outside of your comfort zone.

54:21

Nicky Christmas

It just goes to show how much you can bring to the Assistant role and create the role yourself. Define it bring different skills and competencies to the role, and I think you're an absolute embodiment of the possibilities that the role can bring. I so appreciate everything that you've given to our audience today and sharing so completely. I thank you so much for that.

54:50

Emily Housley

Oh, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. This was such a treat.

54:55

Nicky Christmas

All of the books that you've suggested, we will absolutely make sure we put those in the show notes because I can imagine everyone's about to go on to Amazon. Go and buy them all. But for now, Emily, thank you so much. It was an absolute joy speaking with you today.

Thank you so much for listening to the EA campus podcast. We would love for you to take a minute to subscribe to the campus podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. If you could give us a review, we would so appreciate that too. If you want to check out the show notes, you can do that by going over to the https://www.theeacampus.com/podcast/ep1-emily-housley and take a look at everything we discussed. You can also find all the links to the resources, articles and tech that we mentioned during the show. If you want to join the conversation inside the EA campus community, you will also find all of the information on the EA Campus website. The community continues to grow, and we have an amazing group of Assistants sharing their careers. We have ongoing events and training from members, and we would all love to see more ambitious and career-driven Assistants join. Thanks for your time, and I hope you tune in again to the next episode of the EA campus podcast.

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2022-06-10T12:17:58+00:00
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