Episode Three:
Renee Viens, Partner Executive Assistant at Underscore VC

Episode description

In the third episode of The EA Campus Podcast. We are delighted to be joined by Renee Viens, EA, as Partner Executive Assistant at Underscore VC. Renee lives in Boston, Massachusetts and has been an EA for over 20 years in various industries supporting all levels of the c-suite. 

In this wonderful discussion, we talk about Renee’s new role at Underscore VC and the recruitment process. We talk about her incredible network and ability to pull people together. We talk about her achievements in the role, events she has organised and her ability to perform calendar management Jenga on a frequent basis.

Show notes


Renee Viens, Nicky Christmas

Nicky Christmas 00:00
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 of tune-in, get inspired and learn how to create an assistive career where you are valued, motivated and ready to face every challenge head on whether you are an assistant just starting in your career, or prepare to move to the next level. Building a successful assistant career just got a little easier with the EA campus podcast. Hi, Rene. It's a pleasure to have you with us.

Renee Viens 01:40
Hi, Nicky. Thank you so much. This is my pleasure as well. And I was really flattered to be invited. So thank you again.

Nicky Christmas
I'm going to dive into the first question. This gives us a lovely oversight of your EA career. Why not tell us about your EA career?

Renee Viens
So I started my career as a large commercial insurance underwriter who underwrote for Lloyds of London. And this was when I lived in Nashville many years ago. And I started in the department where I did document processing. I worked with a graphic designer. And she and I were in one little corner of this big commercial floor with all these producers. And I had one of the first actual desktop computers when those were starting to become prevalent in the market. Everybody else in our office had dumb terminals. So I was one of the only people with an actual computer, and I did all the proposals for these insurance producers to send to their clients. So I did that for a couple of years. And then one of my friends who was one of the producers that worked there said, Oh, you know, there's this other group that they do a sub. Like they do extra underwriting for policies, they said they're looking for somebody to be an office manager. And we would love to see if you're interested in that. I said, Oh, yeah, that sounds exciting. And it was an opportunity for me to move up. I got to do a little more supportive role for many people. I kind of support the entire office, whatever these people needed. And I was very technically savvy. So I did a lot of their IT maintenance and wore many hats in the office manager type role, which was a lot of fun. And that kind of parlayed itself into, I did all the instals. When everyone got Dell computers, I installed them. And then I taught everyone how to use a computer, like how to use that and get off a dump terminal, which is fun. And they even sent me out to a couple of their other offices to help instal and train people, which was a great experience. From there, I went to another company that needed a marketing coordinator. They're like, Oh, we've got some insurance, people who do what they want to do events, and they need somebody to help them with their database and many other things. And they're like, oh, by the way, we need somebody who's technically savvy because you need to be the point of contact for our office. And I'm like, Oh yeah, I've got experience with that. So I could take that experience with me into this new marketing coordinator role. And we were a branch satellite office from the home office in Massachusetts. And so a few years down the road, they called me up, and they said, hey, you know, there's, there's a support role in our Massachusetts office, and we'd love to see if you'd be willing to move up here and, and work for some of our other people up here. So that's when I started cutting my teeth on being more of an assistant because I was a departmental assistant at this new office. And again, I did that for a few years and worked for it with many great people. And it just went on from there like I. The company had to downsize. And so I was laid off. And then I was looking for a new role. And I went to work for John Hancock, a great company with its well-known brand name. They sponsor the Olympics. So I worked supporting someone in the bond department there. And he was, he was a great manager and gave me a lot of opportunities to do a lot of events. And again, Manulife came in, bought out John Hancock, and there were some changes in the structure. So from there, I had worked at biotech, I'd worked at an energy company. And, you know, I've gone through some tech companies. And I've had a lot of exposure to a lot of different industries, and in an excellent period, and be able to see a lot of different management styles, learn a lot of things. And I think one of the other helpful things was being exposed to various size organisations and how they run. Because it just gives you insights on, like, what can we do better? How can we? How can we learn to modify our process so that it serves our group the best? So, wearing many hats throughout many organisations gives you broad exposure to many things you'll end up dealing with as you grow your career. And it

Nicky Christmas 06:39
it sounds like you've been able to expose yourself to the organisation at different points. So when technology came in, and you could be tech-savvy, you could go out and help the organisation move onto Dell laptops and into other technology. And then again, with events, it seems like you've kind of noticed those opportunities and how they'll be able to advance your career.

Renee Viens 07:04
Yeah, there are a lot of chances for people to jump into things they like to do. And I think that's one of the best things that an assistant can do is look for something they have an affinity for, and say and volunteer and say, Hey, I would love to help with this. Or please, you know, put me on this committee, let me be part of this. You know, this subgroup of people that want to plan this event, or whatever it is, look for those opportunities because they present themselves. There's always work to do. And if you find something that interests you, don't hesitate to raise your hand and say so.

Nicky Christmas 07:42
We'll come back to you. You've got lots of tips and advice for assistance. But just talk about your role, because I know things have changed. Why don't you tell us what you're doing now?

Renee Viens 07:56
So I am starting with a new role supporting some partners at a venture capital firm. And that's exciting because I'll get to work very closely with people who are brand new CEOs that are seed, they're like seed companies that are just, you know, getting off the ground and getting started. So being able to do that is, is wonderful, because you're helping them grow their organisation, you know, sharing best practices with them finding out, you know, what their, what their concerns are in growing their business. And it's just really exciting. I mean, there's just, there are so many amazing people who have ideas that you are like, wow, why didn't I think? So it's really exciting to be able to be in that space.

Nicky Christmas 08:48
Well, congratulations, it's always exciting to start a new role. I wonder if you could give us a bit of an insight into what the interview process was like because I just wonder if it's changed, really, since the pandemic, or if you've noticed anything that's been a bit different in the for the role that you've got now.

Renee Viens 09:06
So, I mean, it's just amazing that people how we've had to adopt this with Zoom, you know, adopt remote interviewing. It's been great because you can still get a sense of the person and meet them online. But I will say, you know, during this process, I appreciated a lot of the touch points that somebody who is really interested in you wants to have multiple interactions with you leading up to the role. And I think that's important because, you know, sometimes you can get somebody on a perfect day or get somebody on kind of an off day. So, I think we're all just trying to be human through this process of being remote and all these things. So giving the person an opportunity to say, hey, I would love to just reconnect with you and let's just not maybe talk about the role but let's just get to know each other. And I think that, again, the relationship piece of that is so important, especially when you're looking for a role. You want the right relationship with yourself, your executive, your partners, the people you're working with, and your team. So I think having that opportunity to just get in front of different people and get a feel for that. It just gives you a sense of the culture and the people, and you'll get much more out of it. Mainly, I think the pandemic has forced us into that. Right. Like, because you're not going physically somewhere. Having more touch points is helpful.

Nicky Christmas 10:38
Yeah, it's really interesting. I mean, it's helpful for assistance in the interview process, that the fact that we are now working remotely on the hole, that we have had to develop that more human aspects of interviewing because it's so important for assistants and executives to make sure that they connect on a human level so that the right relationships develop. And if you can do that from the interview process, that's incredible because it's not always been the case. Right? Right. Well, I know that your routines are probably about to change. But I'd like to understand what life is like for you outside of work. So why don't we start with what your morning routine looks like?

Renee Viens 11:20
My routine starts with getting up and getting my youngest one up, ready, and out of bed. Because being a mom, I mean, that's, that's one of the hardest things, and as many people know, and we you know, we've got our family to help and get ready. So getting my youngest step out of bed, making sure he has all his things, gets his breakfast, and has his things for the day. That's one of the biggest things, and I carpooled with another mom during the pandemic, actually, so we didn't want to do remote school anymore. So instead of being at a local school, we went to a private school where they had an actual physical school. So I carpool with another mom who has her daughter attending the same one. So I'm the drop-off mom, and she's the pickup mom. So it just, it's great, because we text a lot. And I think especially being an assistant. You figure out your network and how to leverage your community to help you with things. And so again, it's kind of forced us to adapt. And I've got my group of moms I work with to pick up, drop off and help with everything in between. So yeah, getting up, then getting back, and then jumping right into work once I drop off.

Nicky Christmas 12:42
Yeah, you need that you need a group of moms, I think, everybody, I think everybody can attest to that, especially when you've got a son similar to me that sometimes struggled to get out of bed in the morning when you're you need to go go go.

Renee Viens 12:56
Yeah, yeah,

Nicky Christmas 12:57
I can completely relate.

Renee Viens 13:00
For sure. It's a challenge.

Nicky Christmas 13:01
Again, I know you're about to head into a new role. And I know this question is difficult for assistants at the best of times. But I'd like to understand what an average day looks like for you. So once you've done the school run and you're back at your desk, I'm assuming you're still working from home, but fill me in on what an average day looks like.

Renee Viens 13:21
So on an average day, I've got two screens. I've got two screens when I get into my zone and sit down. I used to work with three screens. But now I'm I've learned to manage with two. And I've got a dashboard across two screens that I've probably got close between 15 to 20 tabs. I look through my dashboard items, including my inbox and my executive's inbox. He has an alias mail inbox where sometimes he has other addresses that people could potentially use. So I check that for accidental emails that slip into that box, check LinkedIn, going through my task list for the day. And one of the things I will say is my executive and I work from a very structured calendar.
We have a structural frame for meetings, bookings, and things that need to happen. So we kind of go through the structure for the week and make sure thing fits where it belongs. But making sure that everything is still on and people are still coming to their meetings and those types of things. But I think one of the essential things is managing the stress level of executives, managing their days so that everything runs smoothly. And I call it calendar Jenga. I'm a Jenga master, and because I'm always trying to rearrange time blocks for people so that they can get through what they need to do without having to have a lot of stress and Because, especially at this level, when you're getting the C level, people need to change gears a lot. And you're looking for a way for them to be able to navigate that without being stressed out. So you need pockets of time for them to take a break, decompress, think about what they're going to say, or be prepared for another meeting. So I guess being a Jenga Master is what I would call it.

Nicky Christmas 15:27
I love that. I mean, it's so true. And I love the fact that you are very conscious of their stress levels, because I think for a lot of assistants, who want to kind of support their executive, sometimes they could be solely focused, solely focused on making sure that everything's in the diary, and nothing's overlapping, without giving too much thought to their stress levels, and their emotional kind of ebbs and flows throughout the day. So I think it's an amazing quality that you're also conscious of them not burning out or having the time to decompress. It's so important. Well, and

Renee Viens 16:00
I think most assistants I know of are very high, empathetic, very high EQ people. So I think that serves us very well as a community. But I think, too, it's standing in someone else's shoes and saying, Okay, if I was this person, and I knew that I had to hurry up and get off this call to go to something else that was equally important. And the visible or mental aspect, whichever you want to look at it, of that person walking into a room late, or looking dishevelled or disorganised or rushed, is not a good look for them either. So really using our empathy radar that, you know, if you want to call it that, thinking about that person's experience, and if you think about when you book meetings from that, that direction, and thinking, if I was rushing, or if I didn't have a bio break, like where I needed to eat or take a break? What would that be like for me if I was running into a meeting and looked stressed, and people didn't want to see that? And that's not productive. So I think it's really important to view it from that perspective. And that just helps us be better assistants.

Nicky Christmas 17:19
Yeah, it's reputation management effectively, isn't it? It's, it's thinking about the reputation of your executive as much as anything. I'd also like just to pop back to what you said there about the structure that you have in place around diary management. I think a lot of assistance would have picked up there and all. What does that structure look like? So I wonder if you could just give us an overview of how you have structured the calendar.

Renee Viens 17:42
So we try to book we have my executive has one on one, the first couple of days of the week. And he has a direct one-on-one with each of his direct reports. And there's, you know, there's fewer than 10 of those. So that's not, that's not too bad. But then he's got big meetings. And generally, the big meetings happen in the mornings, not only because we have people that are in the UK. So we have to be conscious of time for them so that we're not booking meetings at an inconvenient time for them. But booking pockets of time. So you know, you want to block out, we try very, very hard not to have things over lunch so that the person can get a proper lunch and, and take a break and sit down. And nowadays, most people are working from home, and especially in the summer, you're with your family, right? So it's nice for the family to be able to have lunch. So thinking about that, you know, we leave the lunch block open, and we don't book lunch meetings normally. But I'm having those pockets of time, where, hey, you know, this is an open time where we could have a meeting. And we booked smaller meetings as kind of a cluster, like little like together so that you know, you've got 30-minute meetings. So yes, then you've got a 90-minute block that's booked, but then we've got to open block. And we try to leave those in case something comes up, or they have something that needs to be moved that's big. So just thinking about leaving those, those buckets and then also your executives should really have an opportunity for thinking time, just like undisturbed just time for them to consider things and think about their business or think about other things. So that's really important because especially working with a founder, they need that time to just kind of churn and go through the motions of what's important and have that, so we have at least one or two of those a week where it's like undisturbed, thinking time and

Nicky Christmas 19:45
thinking about thinking time and time to decompress. How do you go about doing that for yourself throughout the day? Do you take regular breaks, or how do you work your hours so that you have some time for yourself?

Renee Viens 19:57
Well, I like over lunch to go outside and sit. I have a nice view of my backyard. We're kind of in a wooded area. And I really like to go out, especially when it's nice to sit and just eat my lunch outside and listen to music, or read a book or listen to a podcast, try to do something like that. And then occasionally, when I'm not working on homework or something with my kids, I like to just have a good soak in the tub. And, and, and again, like, listen to some music, or, or just read a book, I just, I feel like I find, there are so many books that I want to read and trying to find little slices of time to read them. That's kind of. I just tried to read a little bit here and there and, and get out and, and take breaks outside or take a walk or something. We have a nice neighbourhood for walking. So

Nicky Christmas 20:48
it sounds lovely. And I completely understand this. There are too many books. And so many good books at the moment. It feels like I could spend all day doing that if I gave myself the opportunity. But you have to just fit it in when you can, don't you? Right? Well, I don't like to be negative. So we will answer this question. We'll move on. And I wondered if you could tell us what's the most challenging, challenging aspects of your day,

Renee Viens 21:17
I think I would have to say, some mornings, getting my child out of bed, honestly, just like the morning routine, just because I am such a structured person. And my child, I have an ADHD child who loses things and struggles with organisation and executive function, which I'm very good at. And he is not very good at it. And for all of my efforts to try to change that, it is a challenge. So I would say, you know, I guess the beginning of the day and the end of the day, because being a full-time mom and being a full-time executive assistant, which is, you know, a job, you know, you've got getting out of bed in the morning and getting off to school so that someone can work and then getting home, and then making dinner and then trying to get the homework done. And so that and you know, when your child is in sports and things like that, trying to get the homework done and balance all of those things. So I think just being a mom and doing this role is a challenge. But there's a lot of us who do it. And a lot of people do it with a lot of grace. So kudos to everybody who, you know, has that extra layer of complexity. And, again, you take your village, and you try to leverage your village to help you.

Nicky Christmas 22:42
Yeah, you have to; it's the only way, isn't it and also just to be able to kind of talk it through with people, and particularly with people who understand it and get it because you've given yourself effectively to so many people, aren't you? Yeah, that's what the role demands. When you're an assistant to your executive, you give them so much of yourself. And then as a mother, it's, you know, it's all-consuming. So I can, I can completely get that. No wonder you go and find the time to go and soak. It, you absolutely need it. It must have been challenging. It must have been challenging during the pandemic for you. Particularly with random homeschooling and things like that, I hope you were able to again, just to get some time to yourself to be able to breathe through it. I know it must have been tough.

Renee Viens 23:28
I think I think looking at it. I've kind of described it this way. I always have pictures in my mind of how I describe things. And I explained it this way to people, and I'll say, you know, working during the pandemic when your children are at home and trying to balance all those things. It's like your whole life has been dumped into one fishbowl. And everything's in the same room, and you're just trying to deal with everything all at once. And again, like that's where I would my mother-in-law, thank God for my mother-in-law, because she would be like, I can come over and do homework for a couple of nights. And so, at least I could get a break. And you know, that was a good way to alleviate so lean, you know, lean on your network when you need it. Because I think so many of us think I'm Wonderwoman, I can do all this. I don't need to. I don't need to take a break. I don't need help. But we all do. And I think just admitting that and knowing your limitations and just seeing, Where I can delegate being a leader to is delegating. And so feeling comfortable and allowing yourself that permission to delegate? I think we just need to take that.

Nicky Christmas 24:36
Yeah, absolutely. And getting over the fact that you know that people might not be doing it the way that you do it and all of those things. It can be really despite the fact that our executives delegate to us. It can be so difficult sometimes for executive assistants to delegate you to know further on down the chain. I've been guilty of that in the past.

Renee Viens 24:56
Work definitely for sure.

Nicky Christmas 25:00
Well, let's move on to the most enjoyable part of your day. What are the things that bring you joy?

Renee Viens 25:06
So, I, I mean, love interacting with different members of my team. We have a really good admin team here. And I love interacting with all the different departments. And I guess one of the other things that I just love is being able to help. I mean, I think it's in our nature as assistants to help people. But I, I love just being able to coach people, kind of either directly or indirectly. I think some people don't even really realise it. Because they'll ask me for my advice, oh, well, how should I go about this, and especially when they're dealing with your executive, sometimes they don't know the right approach for your executives. So it's a way in which I can kind of manage them or help them manage, you know, you're kind of managing in a couple of directions, you're managing their expectations, but then you're also saying, you know, this is what you should do, you know, prepare this or send this email or reach out to them and explain what you're doing. So it's a way to kind of use, like, the coaching, I'm a coach, I do coaching for people. So using my coaching skills to kind of share that with people and give them advice and help them, and then they're like, Oh, that's great. Thank you, I really appreciate that. That's really helpful. So maybe helping people see a different way that they didn't see before.

Nicky Christmas 26:29
And what's that done for the for your career, I mean, that I can imagine it brings you a lot of pleasure, but as it, as it helps you build the network, or, you know, bring in skills that you wouldn't necessarily have used in other areas.

Renee Viens 26:43
Yeah, I kind of just realised. I guess I don't even know what it was. But many years ago, I joined an EA group. And they set me up with another person as a coach for me and me as a coach for someone else. So we kind of did peer coaching back and forth. And I realised I was really good at it. And, you know, just having that opportunity to really lead other assistants has that it like, again, it's just brought me a lot of joy. And, and it's great because people know this about me now. And so I've had even recruiters call me up on the phone and say, Hey, there's this person, she's having this problem with this wire, you know, XY or Z? Can you just talk with her? And I've made some of the dearest friends that I have now, just by helping other people and networking like that. So it's been a lot of fun to have somebody look at me like that and say, oh, yeah, she's really good at, you know, listening and helping people and helping people work through their problems. And it's kind of allowed me to do some other things, too, like, you know, speaking at events, or I've helped place many of my friends in their job because somebody would really reach out to me about a job. And I'd say it's not for me, but I know exactly who you need. And I've helped other people find jobs. So I've kind of played recruiter a little bit. And kind of, I don't know, dabbled in the speaking world a little bit. And just all these different little things that I never thought I would do. So it's definitely helped me broaden my network.

Nicky Christmas 28:19
Oh, that's fantastic. And absolutely, kudos to you for that. It's a real example of what leading in the role means, and how it and how helps other people but also help helps you too, so that's really great. Thanks for sharing that. It sounds like you've had a lot of highlights in your career. But are there any particular ones that you can share with us?

Renee Viens 28:41
So I can think of several. I'll just mention a few. In one of my longest-standing roles, where I was there for almost ten years, I was able to manage and work with a design firm and a construction firm to build out a whole workspace for us, a brand new workspace. And that was huge, that was like a huge experience for me. My boss trusted me. I mean, he sat in on all the meetings, and he helped me make decisions. But overall, he let me run the construction process to build out our new office. And I did that at his office and another one where we had a complete floor. So being able to just run that process and direct it was super fun. Another one was that we had a company that we were private. And we took it public. And we were able to go to the New York Stock Exchange and tour the stock exchange floor, and you know, we get up on the podium and ring the bell, and that was like nothing I've ever experienced. Just being there, being in that space, seeing all the things that were going on, was just totally amazing. And one of the most recent ones that I did was Feel great highlight for me was we had a nonprofit, and my executive was on the board of this nonprofit. And they want to do a fundraiser. And we came up with this idea to do a battle of the band's fundraiser, where we, there were a lot of local bands in Boston, the Eddie, all these different companies. And we invited them. And we had at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston, this one night like it was like a concert, it was so fun. We had judges, we had a lot of donors, we had the bands that played us, our company's band played, and we raised $50,000 for this charity. So it was really successful. Everybody had a great time, and everybody felt like a VIP. It was just super fun. And, and being able to be part of that was just, it was just amazing.

Nicky Christmas 30:49
Oh, that they were all incredible. I mean, ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange must have been such a surreal moment I can only imagine. Seen in so many films before.

Renee Viens 30:59
Truly, it's been an experience. And I feel like there are so many opportunities in so many places to look for, for these things, like I've said, and yeah, just just take a chance. And there are so many things that you're not going to know. But again, that's why if you network with people, you can always rely on your network and say, Hey, how did you do this? Or, you know, what was your experience? Or does anybody know about how to, and, and leverage that because there are so many people that are so willing to share their experience to help you kind of navigate those things, even if you don't know, so. Just trying to be a little fearless and attack things and just grab them with both hands.

Nicky Christmas 31:41
So there's lots of advice you've already given to our listeners during the course of this podcast. But I wonder if there are any additional tips you can give to assistants maybe who are just starting in the role or looking to build their confidence so that they can go and do some of the amazing things that you've done,

Renee Viens 31:55
one of the best things that I've heard from other people and that I've tried to employ myself is to be the CEO of you; you are the CEO of your job and your role. And you need to treat your job like that. And what I mean by that is, you know, a CEO has a board, and the board helps advise these people and, and give them advice and steer them correctly so that they make good decisions. And I would say build your board, have no less than I would say five, have five people that you could reach out to that you trust completely. And I can name off probably ten people right now that I could call immediately and say, Hey, this happened today. I need you to give me your advice. So build your board. Treat yourself like, you know, your career is paramount. And all the decisions that you make are going to shape your future. So if you think of it that way, and, and leverage those people for advice, and, and it's going to be reflexive. I mean, I have a friend that she's lovely. I met her. Oh, my goodness, it's got to be 15 years ago now, at least. And when she needs me, she calls me and vice versa. And we're on the text, and she'll be like, Hey, do you have a minutes chat, and I'll do the same thing, hey, this thing came up, and I need to talk to you. And just being able to have those relationships. It's so important. So make that for yourself. Because I know, looking back on one of my very first roles when was when I was in the C suite. And it was my very first C-suite position. I didn't know any. I didn't know anybody else that did this job. I didn't have any of those contacts. I didn't have any network yet. And I'm like, gosh, there's got to be other people out there that do this. There's gotta be other people that could, you know, we could talk to, but like, I didn't have that yet. So I felt very alone. And feeling alone in this job when you're maybe having a bad day or frustrated. That can be just in, and we all know that can just feel devastating. Because you're just like, Oh, I just had the worst day like, Who do I talk to? So build that for yourself? I promise you won't regret it.

Nicky Christmas 34:19
No, it's absolutely true. And I think you've hit the nail on the head there. It's hard to explain what you do on a day-to-day basis to people that don't understand the role is the best of times. Even the people you work with sometimes don't understand the role. So you need us. You need other assistants in your corner. You know, a whole group of people, but particularly those who understand what you do and what you give every day.

Renee Viens 34:42
Yep. Yeah, mentorship is so important. And so I guess, you know if you could find another word for it, call it. Find a mentor. Pick somebody that you aspire to reach out to on LinkedIn. Don't be afraid to connect to people and The worst that someone can say is like, no, I'm sorry, I don't have time, you know. So take a chance, reach out to somebody that you admire, like pick a company that you admire somebody in your space, or you know, whatever it is that you're interested in, find somebody that's doing that role at the company that you think is great, or that you follow on LinkedIn, and reach out to them and, you know, take a chance.

Nicky Christmas 35:23
So what do you think that you would be doing if you weren't an assistant?

Renee Viens 35:27
Oh, my goodness. Well, I would love to be a yoga and pilates instructor. I think that's what I need more of in my life. But I don't know. I've always thought it would be really fun to work in the real estate business, where people help people downsize. I'm, like, such a resource person. And I love finding good homes for things. And I think it'd be really fun to help people who are changing a position in their life to, like, downsize their house or help them transition to, like, a simpler life. I love Marie Kondo. And I don't know if you've ever watched her show, but I love her series on Netflix. So I think being an organisational nerd is super fun for me. And I love organising things. So I think that'd be really a cool, a cool.

Nicky Christmas 36:24
I couldn't agree with you more. I spend half of my day saying everything has a home to my children and my other half everything has a home, Governor put that thing back in its home.

Renee Viens 36:35
Right, then you'll know where it is.

Nicky Christmas 36:38
It seems so simple. And yet people do not live like this. That would be an amazing job. I think I'd have to come and work with you if you did.

Renee Viens 36:47
That will be fun. I will. I think that would be awesome.

Nicky Christmas 36:49
What do you think about the years that you've been working as an assistant? Are there certain things that you're really grateful for the career that your career has given you,

Renee Viens 36:58
I'd have to say that relationships are the most important thing that I'm grateful for. Because every place I've ever worked, I have an I'll just say it, how I say it. I've taken good people with me. Even before the advent of Facebook, I have been friends with people that I worked with 20 years ago, I have maintained those and it's kind of one of those things where you just have this good connection with people. And that's what, like, if I can take something with me from all the jobs that I've been, I can name off people that I'm still in touch with, that I consider my friends that were it was more than just work. It was like, you know, people that you really connected with, and that's, that's the most important thing for me that I'm so grateful for is relationships because people and I know this about me that know me pretty well. I know somebody who does everything. If you need a nurse, if you need an acupuncture person, if you need a babysitter, if you need somebody who does jewellery, like I know somebody who does everything, and somebody will say, Oh, I wish I could find I'm like I have a person for that. And so I think that's just part of my I'm, I consider myself a natural networker and that connector. And I kind of that's kind of how I phrase it to people, that somebody, I'll think of somebody that should know this other person. And I'll be like, Oh, I'm going to make this connection, because this person is going to be really excited, and this person is going to be really excited. So you're making a win-win connection. And that gets me excited. So I love that aspect of helping people teach, maybe teaching them how to network or build those relationships by tying people together. And I and that just is so much fun.

Nicky Christmas 38:53
That's an amazing answer. And it's incredible because so many people leave a job, and you never see the people that you work with again. So it's lovely that you've built those relationships, and as you said, you've maintained them over time. That's an incredible skill to have. I think if you weren't an assistant, you could also probably be a matchmaker,

Renee Viens 39:13
but I do. I do feel like I have that gift somehow, I don't know what it is, but it's like I just have a radar for it. It's fun. It's really enjoyable.

Nicky Christmas 39:26
If there was one thing that you know could have known when you first started in the role that you know now, what would that be?

Renee Viens 39:33
I guess how far-reaching your connections can be. Can I just share this? The world is very small. And I will tell people that I met many years ago, like there was this EA conference that I went to. I met some of the most incredible, and I'll just say, rock stars of the Admin world. And I can't say name them all because there are so many of them. However, the connections that I have made there that kind of blossomed into other connections actually have connected to me are connected to my most recent role, like people that I, when I started this new role, there was somebody from my past that I had met, that I had a wonderful connection with. And she was part of my process. And she knew somebody else because I tried to help her play someone else in a role. It's just a very small world. So I guess you realise how far-reaching every connection that you make can be as an assistant because you never know when you might need something. Or you might bump into someone again. So I think realising the power of your network goes a long way. And trying to always think about in the back of your mind, like, how small the world actually is,

Nicky Christmas 41:05
especially in the assistant industry of that, you wouldn't believe it. Obviously, there are millions of us doing this job, but you wouldn't believe who knows who and how it's all connected. I think exactly. As you said, there's always an assistant because we are so helpful. There is always an assistant out there that knows each other that kind of comes back to you that sort of eight degrees of separation thing. Yeah, very prevalent in the system industry.

Renee Viens 41:27
For sure.

Nicky Christmas 41:30
Well, a couple of questions before we wrap up. We always try and encourage assistants to use different techniques and tools. So I wondered if there were any that you could recommend that you find useful.

Renee Viens 41:40
So I will say I have a complete list because I follow a lot of people in the industry. I know a lot of these people personally. I've been to their seminars and their conferences and all these types of things. I will say two of the best things that I have found are not only, So Sue France is one of my all-time she wrote the Bible as the executive assistant. And if people have not read that book, it's the definitive EA handbook. And there's a definitive EPA handbook. But Sue France, I met her it's got again like 15 years ago. Her books are amazing. She goes through all these things, like navigating office politics, personalities, and body language. Like how to feel more confident, just the whole plethora of how to enact in be in your job. I love her books, and I highly recommend her. Lucy Brazier is one of my favourite people. Lucy's got executive secretary. She's got LinkedIn. She's on Facebook. She's on the web. You can find her everywhere. She can find her everywhere. Bonnie Low Kramen is an amazing person, she's done a lot of things, and she's got a stellar career that you can follow. And she does conferences. I guess it depends. Guess one of the things I would say is what people are looking for, like there are all different brands and types of EAA resource resources. So I guess, maybe depending on where people are in their career, what they're actually looking for, you know, because some people are a little bit more, they're looking for a little bit more or a little more advanced. And so there are all these different things that you can find out there. But I will say, too, there are some communities, even on Facebook that are wonderful. I've found some executive assistant communities on Facebook, where people share so much their deepest, darkest secrets, their meltdowns and their highlights and their new jobs. And that's kind of fun because that's another place where I've found a lot of advice for people and I share a lot of advice. So things that are accessible, they're all over the place. Jeremy burrows wrote a book recently. He's got a great book. He's got podcasts out there. And, and like your stuff Nicky, you've got, you've got an amazing platform on your website, you've got so much resource. So I think there's something for everyone. And, you know, if somebody would like a little bit more complete list, I would be happy to share that. And I would be I will like to also share. I would be happy to send you my calendar structure piece if that's helpful. If anybody is interested in that. I'll be happy to

Nicky Christmas 44:34
Share that. Oh, that's amazing. Thank you. Well, we'll make sure we put all of those references on our show notes so that everybody can connect with all of the EAA advocates that you mentioned. And also, you know, if we can put your LinkedIn profile on there as well, or we can put those details on there. So that you never get inundated with requests.

That sounds great. When I

Nicky Christmas 44:59
that's all We have, but I just have to say thank you so much for sharing everything that you do. I think we're gonna have to call this podcast, the networking connecting podcasts because I think you're just such a huge advocate for networking in the assistant role and everything that that can bring. So, for now, thank you so much for your time.

Renee Viens 45:18
Thanks, Nicky. This was so much fun, and it's truly my pleasure. And again, thank you for the invitation to be part of this. It was great fun.

Nicky Christmas 45:28
Thank you so much for listening to the EAA campus podcast. We would love for you to take a minute to subscribe to The EA Campus Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. If you could also write us a review, we would appreciate that. We're a young new podcast, so the reviews are super important, and we'd love to hear from you, our listeners, if you want to check out the show notes. You can do that by going over to the EAA campus.com forward slash podcast, forward slash EP three Ron Avians and take a look at everything we've 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 love to

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