Prior to my first day of resumption as Personal Assistant, I had googled the internet for information, resources, and tips on how to handle my first day. This is because it would also be my very first physical Assistant role, official because I had been a Virtual Assistant for a while and while that was in its own a rewarding job, being a physical assistant held its own appeal and brought a new level of rewards.
One of the resources I went through was the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” which starred some of my favourite actors; Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci amongst others. The story in this movie is about Andy, a young journalist who ends up becoming an assistant to one of New York’s biggest magazine editors, Miranda Priestly. Miranda’s reputation of being ruthless and cynical precedes her and Andy, not familiar working with such a person had to learn quickly how to manage her boss for her own peace of mind.
Why did I choose this movie? My new role as Assistant was to a UHNI (Ultra High Net Worth Individual) whose reputation as being hard and ruthless was well known.
The day of resumption arrived, and I was at work early, to be late on the first day is never a good impression to leave. I did what was meant to be an orientation from the head of Human Resources who gave me a brief rundown of operations and what was expected of me. Meeting my new boss was a bit nerve-wracking, I knew the true meaning of being dropped in the deep end as my new boss started reeling out tasks, I was not remotely familiar with right away. It felt like he forgot I was new. It is important to mention that my predecessor had left the company and I was not given a handover note.
My first task was to create an affirmation booklet. To say I knew where to start from was an understatement, I had zero idea where to begin but thankfully I was given topics as a guide. My boss was in series of meetings which lasted into the night so accessibility to him to get feedback on my progress with the booklet was a bit challenging.
At this point I had learnt three lessons and given myself an assignment. The lessons I learnt were:
- Don’t beat yourself too hard. I consider myself somewhat of a perfectionist and hated to be told I did it the wrong way. I learnt to accept my mistakes and most importantly, learn not to make them. Bosses like mine hate hearing apologies too often. The truth is, you will make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, even the boss.
- It is not how fast you are in finishing a task but how well you finish it. And while doing a task assigned to you, ask the relevant questions, and never assume. One of my indirect bosses would always say “to ASSUME is to make an ‘ASS of U and ME’
- Multitasking. This is a very key skill, perhaps the most important for an assistant to have. Your boss will, most of the time, forget they had given you a task, your job is to do them all, sometimes, at the same time.
The assignment I gave myself was to learn the techniques of mind reading. Mind reading is part of an exercise I term KYB – Know Your Boss. The only way to succeed at this job is to KYB. Know everything they like, not like, their thought process.
From the minute I started, I was meant to know everything, where everything was, who everyone was. I was scared in the beginning especially when my boss will call out a name and tell me to call them. I was quick to learn that the person I was meant to call, I indeed had their number in the official phone I was given (I silently sent blessings to my predecessor), and I went a step further to find out more about this person and how important they are to my boss.
As an assistant, you are perhaps the most influential person in your organisation, you will be relied heavily upon by your boss to get the job done in the manner they like, therefore you need to learn the art of mind reading, it takes time but it oh so worth it at the end of the day.