Anne-Marie Staples has over 20 years of administrative experience supporting business professionals from the director to CEO level. She models a work hard-play hard ethic as founder of the company classroom instruments band and ringer of the office cowbell because, as SNL taught us, who doesn’t need “more cowbell!”

Anne-Marie Staples Leader Assistant Podcast

In this episode, Anne-Marie shares some tips on cultivating company culture, growing your internal network, managing email, what executives should look for in an assistant, and more.


Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall.

– Brian Chesky, Founder & CEO, Airbnb


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Anne-Marie Staples Leader Assistant


An experienced administrative professional, Anne-Marie is passionate about workplace culture and building connections to not only make the office atmosphere more enjoyable, but to positively impact the success of the company.

With over 20 years of administrative experience supporting business professionals from the director to CEO level, Anne-Marie models a work hard-play hard ethic as founder of the company classroom instruments band and ringer of the office cowbell because, as SNL taught us, who doesn’t need “more cowbell!”


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Anne-Marie Staples 0:00
Hi, I’m Anne-Marie Staples. Today’s leadership quote comes from Brian Chesky, founder and CEO of Airbnb culture is 1000 things 1000 times it’s living the core values when you hire when you write an email when you are working on a project when you were walking in the hall.

Podcast Intro 0:22
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants.

Jeremy Burrows 0:34
Thank you so much for listening. Oh, I’m old. Hey, friends. Thanks for tuning in to Episode 103 of The Leader Assistant Podcast. I’m excited to feature one of our leader assistant members, Anne-Marie Staples, and I’m really looking forward to sharing our conversation, I know you’ll learn a lot. But if you’re curious about what I mean by leader assistant members, we have a monthly subscription, or you can actually subscribe annually to get a little bit of discount. We have monthly group coaching training sessions on a variety of topics relevant to our role as EAS, administrative business partners and chiefs of staff. And we have an online community forum where we have recorded sessions from prior coaching calls. And then also bonus video from events and training sessions and resources. All to help you be a leader assistant, get paid more. Get the respect you deserve. And get the support you need from top EAS around the world. So to check this out. And join us today. We’d love to have you. It’s going to be a great year. And we have lots of great topics coming up and great resources ready to share. So join us at And now let’s jump right into my conversation with Anne Marie. Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning into The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host, Jeremy Burrows. And today I’m excited to be speaking with Anne-Marie Staples. Anne-Marie is the EA to the founder and CEO of STP investment services. Anne-Marie how’s it going?

Anne-Marie Staples 2:38
Great. Thanks for having me, Jeremy.

Jeremy Burrows 2:40
Yeah, and what part of the world are you in?

Anne-Marie Staples 2:43
I live outside Philadelphia.

Jeremy Burrows 2:47
Awesome. So let’s jump right in and talk about your very first job, what was your very first job?

Anne-Marie Staples 2:55
My various first job was babysitting, but after that, I worked in retail. So I worked in retail starting in high school through through college, you know, summers, winter breaks, you know, vacations. And I did it all the way up until right before my first child was born. And then even after that, that’s, you know, on and off after I had my kids, you know, part time, but yeah, and that was that was a great opportunity to learn in an opportunity to learn about the importance of customer service, you know, greeting people by name listening to what they need. What else? You know, responding to what they need and, and building relationships.

Jeremy Burrows 3:58
Yeah. So when did you kind of shift into the EAA profession?

Anne-Marie Staples 4:05
I worked. My first assistant role was as it was, the role was called a program assistant and I worked at a large university in Philadelphia for 15 years part time while raising my children. So I reported to the director level administrator in the Greek affairs office, and I did a lot of events planning, another administrative work and I really enjoyed it. When my children were nearing college age themselves, I was available to work more so at that point, I started a personal assistant business on the side, and while I was still working at the university, and that was going well, I really enjoyed that. And I felt like I was good at it. So I had several cot clients and while I was building the per Personal Assistant business, one of my clients hired me to work for his company as an employee supporting a senior executive. And that’s how I became an executive assistant.

Jeremy Burrows 5:11
Nice. So you said you kind of started a personal assistant gig on the side what was tell us a little bit about that?

Anne-Marie Staples 5:19
Okay, so I my clients range from so I didn’t work for one specific person, it was I had various clients that used me, you know, each using me a little bit. So they ranged from business people to senior citizens, some of the senior citizens, I would be hired by their children generally, to help them, you know, maybe I would go with them to a doctor’s appointment, and listen, you know, kind of take notes, and then help explain to the, you know, their adult children who are caring for them, you know, what the situation was or what needed to happen or help them pick up prescriptions, that kind of thing. And then I just did various things for for business people, sometimes it was personal work for them. Sometimes it was projects or short term projects at their business, it just varied.

Jeremy Burrows 6:15
Nice. So it’s kind of a good, good experience for most random EHRs, which most of us most EHRs have a lot of random in them.

Anne-Marie Staples 6:26
Right? Yes.

Jeremy Burrows 6:28
So I was actually looking at your bio, and I don’t think I sent you this question. But you mentioned something about founder of the company classroom instruments band.

Anne-Marie Staples 6:40
So I find it work is very important. And so Oh, I love the I love Jimmy Fallon’s classroom instrument band. And we have some talented musicians at work. And I would just be a wannabe musician, no talent here. But so I so I got some people together and suggested this would be a fun thing to do. And we have a blast with it. I mean, we haven’t we’ve been doing it maybe a year or so. So we, yeah, we, we pick a song, and then we change the lyrics to be relate to the company. And we’ve performed at a couple company events. And it just it just makes people laugh. And it’s a lot of fun.

Jeremy Burrows 7:27
Awesome. So it’s kind of a good company culture thing. Which segues into my next question, what are some ways that you have done or that you’ve seen EAS do or the EAS listening can do to kind of build and strengthen their company’s culture.

Anne-Marie Staples 7:46
I would say one important way for an EA to build the company’s culture is through Role Model Management. And by that I mean leading by example, the EA role has a lot of influence on the culture of the company and a response, you know, I feel a responsibility to lead by example, one of the things that makes it unique in this role is that it has a lot of visibility, and a platform to model the core values that the company has has established. I chose I chose the leadership quote by Brian Chesky. Because it communicates the message of how important it is to live the core values in everything you do. So modeling the core values is not complicated. But the real challenge is in making it intentional, and it has to be consistent. So in that quote, he says culture is 1000 things 1000 times. So it’s how you write an email. It is how you greet someone in the hallway. It’s how you treat people at every level of the organization. It is you know how involved you are in activities that make a difference to the enjoyment of the team. Again, it’s not difficult, but it’s has to be intentional and consistent. You know, you can send 49 thoughtful professional emails. And if you dash off one that sounds snippy or abrupt. That’s the one the person is going to remember. Another one is building strong relationships at work. I mean, what comes to mind when I think about this is the cheers theme song. You want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. Like it’s really important for the EA to develop that strong network within the company. And in my experience, great opportunities to connect, present themselves through group work through committees. So I would encourage EAS to take advantage of these forums to get to know employees with whom they might not ordinarily interact. For example, if your company has committees for planning things like charitable service projects, special events, professional development among a host of other things. These are great opportunities to both develop your leadership and also to get to know people from, you know, a wide network in your organization. And another thing is employees often self select activities and committees to join based on what they enjoy. So that gives me insight into their interests. So then if something comes along in the future, I know a little bit about them. So, you know, the stronger and more widespread the EAS connections, the more ability she or he has to influence.

Jeremy Burrows 10:41
That’s great, great tips. What would you say? Is the first thing like let’s say you’re interviewing for an EA? Or maybe you’re going to look at a different company? What’s kind of something that you would ask or look for when you’re trying to assess the culture of a company? Because a lot of times, it’s hard to really know what the culture of a company is, they could say one thing, but they may not actually act that way. Have you found any kind of insight on how to really see if a company’s culture is a good fit for you? Is a good question.

Anne-Marie Staples 11:23
Probably, the degree to which people are relaxed, are not afraid to speak freely, that would be kind of a would be a red flag if people were very guarded and how they spoke.

Jeremy Burrows 11:42
So what was maybe one of the craziest things to ever happen to you as an assistant.

Anne-Marie Staples 11:48
One crazy experience happened about a year ago, our company hosted a conference, which included a fun dinner event in the evening. And at the end of the day, went back to my hotel room to relax before I headed to greet the guests at the evening venue. So I decided to take a bubble bath, which I never take the time to do. But I thought I’d take advantage of having this hotel room to myself and I take a bubble bath. So during my relaxing bubble bath, my cell phone rang. So you can see I wasn’t completely unplugged, because I had my phone on the ledge of the tub. And the phone rings and the manager of the venue for the evening party had called to tell me that the power had gone out in the whole block where the restaurant was. And although the power may come back at any time, like most power outages, you know, the precise time was hard to hard to predict who knows if it would come back on in time or not. So they said we can move the party to another restaurant in their Consortium. So while it might have been okay, the plan for venue was a really unique speakeasy style, cool cocktail lounge with two bowling lanes, Vintage Decor upscale food, it was a really special fun place and moving to a new location at the 11th hour just wasn’t gonna be the same. So it was so disappointed. Needless to say, my relaxing bubble bath was over. And I had to fly into action and reach out to our employees to assist in making sure all the guests you know, knew of the new location. Luckily, the gods were on our side and the power came back on in the block and the Event Manager let me know we were you know, good to go for the original location. So you know, to reach back to our team communicated the original plan was back in place, and everything went off successfully. Phew. So, you know, be flexible things happen that are out of your control, do the best you can if you have to go to option B. And hopefully you can laugh about it when it’s over.

Jeremy Burrows 14:07
And always keep your phone with you when you’re taking a bubble bath. Right, right,

Anne-Marie Staples 14:11
right, exactly.

Jeremy Burrows 14:14
Man, you know, it’s like, you finally try to take care of yourself. And then, you know, everything falls apart. So what should executives look for in an assistant?

Anne-Marie Staples 14:29
I would say, let’s see, I love to share Melba Duncan’s article in Harvard Business Review. And by now it’s probably you know, eight or nine years old. But you know, the article the case for executive assistants that she wrote. It’s really it’s really helpful to understand the role and the value of an assistant. So I mean, executives need assistance who can represent them? Well, they need to be good with people. They need to be intelligent. Forward Thinking good listeners, good writing skills and articulate speaking skills are important as assistants are frequently communicating the direction of the executive to other employees and commuting externally as well. So a good assistant pays attention to what’s going on in the business and is able to voice their opinion and ideas where appropriate. And Assistants should also be confident enough to disagree. I don’t think any executive wants an assistant who, you know, just yeses them and agrees with everything they say.

Jeremy Burrows 15:37
Good. So what’s your best tip for managing constant interruptions?

Anne-Marie Staples 15:44
That that is a hard one. But my tip would be to occasionally, in my situation, occasionally working from home helps to get away from the phone and the traffic by the desk. It might be for the whole day, and I don’t do it very often. But every once in a while, it’s nice to work from home. You know, we’re just, it’s just may mean getting some things done first thing in the morning before I get in the car, and just arrive at work a little bit later. So there are definitely tasks like writing and planning that require chi and quiet. And, you know, I’m fortunate that my company is flexible, that remote work. It’s awesome.

Jeremy Burrows 16:30
So if you could snap your fingers and instantly give all assistance more of something, what would it be?

Anne-Marie Staples 16:39
It’s funny, my response is seems to be the universal response that you get from most of your your interview subjects, which is confidence. I would say, don’t be afraid to share an observation, propose a solution, share your ideas. Assistants often have a hand in so many aspects of the business that they may well have a better perspective of the bigger picture and be able to offer helpful insights than other people in the organizational chart who were just focused on very specific areas of the business.

Jeremy Burrows 17:14
Yeah, confidence is definitely the top answer to that question.

Anne-Marie Staples 17:19
I listened to probably most or all of your podcasts and i Yes, that that for sure. It was was not a unique one. But it I think it’s well,

Jeremy Burrows 17:29
I think it’s telling, you know, that’s, that’s what a lot of assistants lack and that’s what we need. Absolutely. So what’s one book or resource that you would recommend to assistants?

Anne-Marie Staples 17:44
My advice would be that it’s not necessarily one book or resource but that continuously learning and growth is critical to staying relevant, and positioning yourself to add value. I read Harvard Business Review, I read books on growth, scaling the business leadership, emotional intelligence, grit. So authors like Adam Grant Sheryl Sandberg, Amy Cuddy, Angela Duckworth Brene Brown, Jack Welch. I’ve read books by Mel Melba, Melba Duncan and Bonnie Lowe crane Minh specific to the administrative profession. I like I listen to a lot of podcasts. So your podcast Jeremy’s really helpful as a cover so many relevant topics to administrative professionals to help them grow. And I like these casual self deprecating style that many of your guests have meaning they’re confident enough, you know, they’re confident enough to share their struggles in both a vulnerable but usually late way where they’re laughing about their past gaffe and how they have come out the other side, usually better for the experience, and not having, you know, derail their careers, even though it may have felt catastrophic at the time.

Jeremy Burrows 19:04
Yeah, yeah, it’s been, it’s been fun to, to chat with AES and executives from all over and just having them share their wins and losses. So

Anne-Marie Staples 19:17
Adam Grant has a podcast that I really like I don’t know if you’ve listened to that before called work life that he does in conjunction with Ted, the TED talk people, and his tagline is how to make work not suck. And he goes into well run companies to find out what’s different about their culture, how they operate, what makes them so successful. And then he he interviews, you know, interesting people to find out their experiences their observations on tough subjects, like dealing with the jerk in the office facing rejection, operating in a high powered atmosphere as an introvert. I mean, you know, it’s really it’s really a good a well done production.

Jeremy Burrows 19:59
Yeah. I’ve listened to a few episodes, I like it a lot. Okay, so do you have any tips on networking with other assistants?

Anne-Marie Staples 20:08
When I started my current role, it was located in a town where I had previously spent very little time and it was only a half hour from my home. But I really had no network, existing network in this town where my new job was. And I was very aware of this. And I worked really intentionally to quickly build my network in the area. So I found you know, so I would say find out what’s going on in your area and make time to attend some in person events. For example, I attended a local Chamber of Commerce dinner for women, I connected with an assistant who worked a couple blocks away, and I invited her to lunch. This podcast has helped me broaden my network of other assistants in LinkedIn. And I also follow one of the EA forums on Facebook, which is, which provides a lot of helpful tips. But it’s also just really valuable knowing that if I got stuck in something, you know, I could pose the issue or the problem or what I needed to the group and get some really helpful feedback and information. Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 21:19
So what makes an assistant a leader,

Anne-Marie Staples 21:23
I watched recently a Simon Sinek video, where he spoke about leadership being other focused, he stressed the point that leadership really has nothing to do with authority or rank in an organization. It requires courage to say and do what you think is the right thing and be willing to sacrifice time and energy for your own gain and instead share it with others. So I would say assistants are natural leaders, because so much of what we do is about others. Jack Welch, in his book winning that he wrote with his wife, Susie had the same message, which is when you become a leader, success is all about growing others. So assistants are growing others all the time by teaching, modeling supporting

Jeremy Burrows 22:12
like that. Growing others, it’s good. That’s like a interesting way to to say like support or serve or like kind of describes the EAA roll. Right. Yeah, it’s good. So, let’s, let’s do one more question. So what’s your number one tip for managing an email inbox?

Anne-Marie Staples 22:42
It? Well, I would, I would say it’s something I struggle with finding enough time to keep up with the inbox. But my recommendation would be setting up rules so that things like routine newsletters, automated responses go into a subject specific folder, and it helps weed out a lot of the non critical email. And then I just flag the emails that require my executives attention. So another idea is to create an email rule that sends emails with the word unsubscribe into a specific folder. That’s helpful because a lot of things that have unsubscribe in the body of the email are sales solicitations that are frequently unwanted. So you know if you can put those into a folder and then scan them all at once, and then you know, unsubscribe, if you truly don’t want to be subscribed to them, you know, and delete, you know, delete what’s not relevant.

Jeremy Burrows 23:48
That’s interesting. That’s a good tip. I love Love me some filters. Awesome. Well, Emery, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to share a little bit about your career as an EA. And is there any thing that we can do to support what you’re up to? or can people find you online anywhere?

Anne-Marie Staples 24:08
I am on LinkedIn at Anne-Marie-Staples so I would love to hear from EAS out there.

Jeremy Burrows 24:18
Well, we’ll share that in the show notes so people can find you and good luck to you and we’ll talk to you soon.

Anne-Marie Staples 24:24
Thanks Jeremy.

Jeremy Burrows 24:26
Thanks again, Amory for a great conversation. You can check out the show notes at And also don’t forget to check out our membership Have a great one.

Speaker 4 24:49
Please loom you on Apple podcasts.


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