The latest tool or fancy software can increase your productivity, but if you really want to accomplish more, consider hiring an executive assistant.
Ethan Bull and his wife Stephanie worked as executive assistants for large corporations before founding ProAssisting. Their New York-based company provides high-level executives, entrepreneurs and consultants remote support.
The company’s clients include the CEO of an international medical device manufacturer, a former CFO of a Fortune 100 financial services company who now sits on several boards and CNBC Fast Money trader on the desk Karen Finerman.
Prior to founding ProAssisting,, Ethan managed a team of eight executive assistants in a corporation. Typically, an assistant within a large company supports up to three executives.
Ethan explained what happens when new executives get an assistant for the first time. “When someone moves from being an account director and they get their vice president stripes, that is when they gain access to an executive assistant,” said Bull. “Some executives … are very type A, and they want to make sure everything is done the way they have done it, and it’s hard to let go of those things.”
“Other types of executives are type B, very creative and kind of all over the place and are longing for someone to come in and tell them what to do.”
A new entrepreneur on a tight budget can hire a remote assistant outside of Europe or the United States for several dollars an hour. Although they’re budget-friendly, an assistant operating at the lower end of the price range is unlikely to have C-suite experience, and the quality of work varies.
On the other hand, an entrepreneur or executive with a larger budget can hire a more experienced assistant for a set monthly fee. “You’re getting an assistant that has C-suite level experience or project management experience or chief of staff experience,” said Bull.
He and his team typically consult with a potential client to see if they’re a suitable fit before progressing. Working with a virtual executive assistant versus an in-house one changes the relationship from boss and employee to client and service provider. Either way, a good assistant helps an executive reprioritize their workload.
“The executive should not be handling the twenty dollars an hour, fifty dollars an hour or a hundred dollars an hour tasks. They should really be focusing on the thousand-, five thousand- and ten thousand-dollars an hour tasks,” Bull said.
Examples of low-value activities include arranging travel, coordinating meetings, reviewing pitches and presentations and internet research. “We work best with our executives when we are handling all of the things that they don’t need to handle,” said Bull.
Bull’s teams collaborate with clients over the phone, email and video conferencing. To build trust between the parties, they connect over a virtual private network or VPN, carry insurance and use biometric security.
“It’s really about convincing the executive that we have the skills to handle all the smaller tasks that they don’t need to bother with,” said Bull.
The ProAssistant team even takes care of personal tasks like rescheduling a doctor’s appointment or hiring a contractor for home improvements. Ultimately, an excellent executive assistant helps an executive become more strategic about how they operate and even communicate.
“We’re not going to be able to get your coffee. We’re not going to be able to get your dry cleaning. We’re not going to be knocking on your door getting you to the next meeting,” Bull said.
“The more that [executives] can let go of scheduling logistics … and let us take the lead on that … that frees up the most time. They look at their calendar and [know] their assistant has put it that way for a number of different reasons,” said Bull.
Productive and successful entrepreneurs and executives know their time is finite, and they can spend it wisely only with the help of others.
“[These executives] just continually include us on all of their email communications in terms of setting up meetings and interacting with all the different people that are in their lives,” Bull said.