Stephanie Slagle serves as the Executive Operations Director to the President at MountainSeed. She joined MountainSeed in 2012 and has held various positions within the growing organization before transitioning into her current role in 2017.
In this episode, Stephanie walks through a game-changing process she and her team use to lead productive and efficient meetings with the c-suite and leadership teams at her company. It’s called Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and you can find out more and download free tools at eosworldwide.com.
- EOS Level 10 (L10) Meeting Agenda download and includes a video walkthrough – https://www.eosworldwide.com/download-level10-agenda
- Maïa Cybelle Carpenter article – Elevate the Executive: Evolve the Executive Assistant
- What the Heck Is EOS? by Gino Wickman
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
- Melba Duncan’s article – The Case for Executive Assistants
Problems are like mushrooms: When it’s dark and rainy, they multiply. Under bright light, they diminish.
– Gino Wickman
CONNECT WITH STEPHANIE
Stephanie Slagle serves as the Executive Operations Director to the President at MountainSeed. She joined MountainSeed in 2012 and has held various positions within the growing organization before transitioning into her current role in 2017. Prior to joining MountainSeed, she spent 7 years in wireless retail. Stephanie has a passion for driving accountability through positivity and inclusion. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two children, and cat.
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Stephanie Slagle 0:00
Hi I’m Stephanie Slagle and today’s leadership quote comes from Gino Wickman. Problems are like mushrooms. When it’s dark and rainy, they multiply under bright light they diminish.
Podcast Intro 0:15
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants.
Jeremy Burrows 0:26
Hey friends, thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s episode 122, you can check out the show notes for links to connect with our guests today, as well as check out the resources mentioned in this episode. Just go to leaderassistant.com/122 That’s leaderassistant.com/122. Also, I wanted to invite you to join our premium membership subscription. We have tons of resources, tons of sessions recorded, where we talk about negotiation, we talked about leading executive assistant team, we talk about what it takes to be a chief of staff. We talk about burnout, leadership, all in a group setting with top executive assistants from all over the world. We have monthly group coaching training sessions, and then we record those and share them on our private online community. So leaderassistant.com/membership Check it out to join us we’d love to have you. And if you have any questions about it, feel free to ping me. Send me an email at Hello@leaderassistant.com That’s Hello@leaderassistant.com If you have any questions about our membership, all right, enjoy this episode and have a great day. Hey friends. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host Jeremy Burrows. And today I’m speaking with Stephanie Slagle. She’s the Executive Business Operations Director at Mountain seed, which is a commercial real estate services company in Atlanta, Georgia. Stephanie, how’s it going?
Stephanie Slagle 2:15
Hi, Jeremy, thank you so much for having me.
Jeremy Burrows 2:18
And are you from Georgia? Or are you just in Georgia at the moment?
Stephanie Slagle 2:26
I was born in Tampa, Florida, but I did pretty much grew up in Georgia and a place called Fayetteville which is south of Atlanta. And I now my husband and I and our two children and our cat. We live in Atlanta on the north, northwest side.
Jeremy Burrows 2:48
So are the peaches really that good?
Stephanie Slagle 2:53
Yes, I have to say they are
Jeremy Burrows 2:55
awesome. You know, peaches are one of those things. This is kind of the rant I’m gonna go on. But I love peaches. They’re like one of my favorite things in the world. But it’s so hard to like pick a good peach and get a good batch like you can you can get a bad peach so easily that it’s like, almost discourages me from buying peaches. But anyway. Yeah. All right, well, let’s jump in. So tell us a little bit about your role at Mountain seed.
Stephanie Slagle 3:28
So I support Nathan Brown, our president and yes, I do. I manage his email, calendar management. I sit in on all of his meetings, I help facilitate on the weekly leadership team meetings, the quarterly meetings and our two day annual strategic planning session. You know, I work on helping drive the meeting forward like drive the agenda, take notes, keep track of the to dues and the follow up items have recently helped onboard new leadership team members because they report directly to him. And so just being thoughtful about their onboarding and their we call it the 90 day get up to speed plan, and helping them understand kind of how we run our meetings and walk them through and explain the agenda and how we think about things. And, you know, we’re in the process of recruiting some EAS for other leadership team members, and so playing a part in the interview process and will help with their onboarding and training as well. And so, me and I really partner together on things we have a, I guess I would say an unusual or unique setup when we’re in In the office, we share an office, it’s sort of like a conference room, like a mini conference room. And we have four televisions on the wall that are the computer screen. So it’s kind of like a Mission Control Center. And, you know, we focus a lot on Team health, and organ organizational clarity. And we, we talk a lot about just how we can remove obstacles, you know, we talk, like, after meetings, kind of, like, Hey, I noticed this, or what do you think about this and kind of talk through things? Kind of a soundboard, if you will, and take off. I mean, for a while, for a couple years, I was helping run and put together the entire leadership team scorecard. And, you know, dividing that out amongst the teams, for their departmental meetings.
Jeremy Burrows 6:00
I appreciate you going through that, because it’s clear now, why your titles executive Operations Director, not just, you know, administrative assistant, or executive assistant even. Could you do so much more? And now, you know, I don’t want to spend too much time on titles in this episode. But I know that titles ultimately don’t matter. It matters. What what what you communicate to the team, on what your role is, and that you’re compensated fairly, and all that fun stuff. But I think it’s a fun. Yeah, it’s just, it’s just fun to talk to someone who has an executive operations director or title. So I appreciate you giving us a little bit of insight in that you mentioned, let’s kind of segue to teamhealth. And maybe culture, would you say that? I mean, from what you just said, sounds like you’re more of a culture carrier for the organization, how have you helped drive that forward, as far as teamhealth and organizational clarity.
Stephanie Slagle 7:07
So I think, a part of how we’ve gotten there, or folk, like why we focus there is, we, we’ve implemented a business operating system within the organization, and we use Eos, which is the Entrepreneurial Operating System. So it’s, it’s like a framework for, you know, like, setting the vision, like where we’re going 10 years, three years, one year down to quarterly. And we use the EOS meeting agenda. So, you know, we try not to have, you know, quote, unquote, death by meeting. So the leadership team meets once a week, then all of the leadership team members have an L 10, with their direct reports, and so on. And so trying to follow that, that through the meeting agenda, it helps communicate messaging upwards, and throughout the organization, through like cascading messages, and helps elevate ideas, or issues or opportunities from all across the organization. So like people on the front lines. And so, I think, you know, through Eos, it’s also, there’s, you know, a team health section at the quarterly meetings and at the annual meetings. And so that’s kind of prompted us to follow that path or dig deeper there. You know, we’ve read all of the leadership team and other leaders in our company, we like Patrick Lencioni, his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and, you know, kind of vulnerability based trust, and really trying to practice that. So we have open and honest communication and discussions. And I think we have a weekly all company call that happens after the leadership team each week. And there’s just a ton of transparency. You know, the, Carl, our CEO and co founder kind of communicates headlines out to the organization and just says like, Hey, this is where we’re going. This is what we talked about, this is what you know, we’re doing and so I just think everyone has a good sense of like, what’s going on and it’s not really like a black hole is so I love that environment. Because I feel like it allows everyone to have buy in and know how they relate to the organization and like And our goals like, how we’re gonna get there, they play a part like every single person plays a part that was kind of that was a lot.
Jeremy Burrows 10:08
So when So okay, so if I’m a new assistant that you’ve just hired in your company at the C suite level, and my executive has a leadership meeting, can you walk us quickly through? Like, what are the what’s what’s that framework look like? Is it really? Is it like a three step framework? Is it like, you know, what’s the agenda? What’s, what’s the action plan? What’s the, you know? Could you kind of give us a little bit more insight?
Stephanie Slagle 10:37
Yes, to the like, the EOS l 10. Meeting Agenda?
Jeremy Burrows 10:41
Yeah. Like how, like, practically speaking, how would those meetings look? Or what would you need to?
Stephanie Slagle 10:50
Gotcha. Okay. Well, we always, you know, big, first thing I would say is like, we always start the meeting on time and ended on time. So being really mindful of, you know, not being late and not going over because it’s, you know, 90 minutes of the leaders in the organization 90 minutes of their time. And so you want to be efficient. And so, you start every meeting with a segue. So it’s like a check in and me like, how I do it, you know, we get into the meeting, everyone’s there. And then we say, Okay, let’s get started. We’ll start with segway, you know, Jeremy, can you go first, and the Segway consists of two parts. So what’s one, good news personal and good news work related, that happened over the past week, since you meet every week. And everyone goes around, and just shares that and so that helps like on a weekly basis, you know, build the team, like, get to know each other. And, you know, what they’re excited about, and what they’re doing, you know, outside of work. And it’s just a good way to kind of like, get everyone into the mindset to like, be ready for the rest of the meeting. And then we review scorecard. So every department will, during their LTN has a scorecard. And so it’s just like, my, I’d say, like, three to three to five metrics, per per department. So per leadership team member, and we kind of just run through that each leadership team member runs through their section of the scorecard. And, you know, it’s very, it’s kind of a simple setup of like, metric is it, you know, red or green, like metric goal, and then like, what it was for that week, and then we turn it red or green, if we’re meeting or not meeting the goal. And so each leadership, team member just like reports on like, hey, like, you know, everything was on the green this week, we’re doing great, or, Hey, we didn’t meet this goal this week, this turn time metric, or, you know, this revenue goal, for whatever reason, and just kind of gives quick headlines or explanation of some detail behind the metrics. And then we have a rock review section. And rocks are, it’s an EOS term, but it essentially means 90 Day priority, or like a 90 day project. And so we set those at the quarterly meetings. And it’s the three to five most important things that we need to get done as an organization. So you know, we’ll read the rock, or I will read the rock and say, okay, you know, Nathan, here’s the rock, is it on track or off track. And so every 90 day priority, or rock is assigned to one member of the leadership team, meaning that one person is going to be accountable at the meeting, not that that person has to complete that item alone. You know, it’s just someone who’s going to help manage it over the quarter and report if it’s on or off track. And so we’ll read through those. And if anything’s off track, we add it to what we call the issues and opportunities list. And so that’s just a running list of things that we want to talk about during the meeting. So if it’s off track, we got to talk about it because we said at the beginning of the quarter, this is one of the most important things we got to get done. So you know, what can we do to get it back on track. And then we have a To Do List section where were we run through the two dues we set at the prior meeting. And so to dues when we set them typically have a one week deadline like we want to or completion time And so I’ll read through the items that we set, and ask the person who’s assigned to that to do if it was done or not done. And if anything was not done, we’ll just add it to that issues and opportunities list. So we can talk about it, you know, maybe there’s a roadblock or something we need to work through. So that can get done. And then we have a headlines section. And so this is a, what I love about this meeting structure is the headlines, we go around, you know, one at a time, like we did during the chicken, each member of the meeting reports on headlines that happened over the last week. So anything that you want to highlight to your team, that happened, anything, you want to call out anything you’re working on, or any, you know, call out any wins, you know, or celebrate something. And then it’s also the opportunity to say, hey, I want to add this to the issues and opportunities list, I want to talk about this, here’s a quick snippet of what I mean. And we do that. So that way, when we get to the next section, which is identify, discuss and solve, we EOS calls it IDs, that portion of the meeting, we everyone knows what’s up on the board, they have an idea of what it is. So we can prioritize and rank what we want to talk about. So after everyone goes around, you know, everyone has had the opportunity to speak to weigh in and get things up on the board that they want to talk about, then we’ll have each member kind of pick one thing, like the one thing they want to talk about the most. And so we will move it to our home, we call it the on deck column, and then we begin talking through it. So I, we run everything on Trello we just manage everything on Trello. You know, it’s helpful when we’re in the office, but really helpful when we’re remote. Because we all have a board that we can look at together. And so I’m you know, writing things during, you know, writing things up on the board, noting, like any anything that I hear that might be something that should be talked about an issue or opportunity, and then just kind of organizing the board, and kind of driving everyone through through the discussion. And you know, of course, making sure that we’re going to end on time and get through all sections of the meeting. And so we have about, you know, anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes of discussion on those issues and opportunities. And as we talk about each item, there are usually two dues that come out of it, which is how we solve, like what our solve is for that item. And, you know, we assign it to one person. And at the end, I’ll recap all of the two dues that we set. And that’s really important. Before we all leave the meeting to make sure like, Okay, is everyone good? With the two dues you were assigned? Do you think you can get it done in a week? You know, kind of it’s just a good check and making sure that we captured it correctly. And specifically. So when we come back next week, it’s not. Oh, what did I mean by that? Is it actually done, I don’t know. And then we always end the meeting by having a rate the meeting session, or section, excuse me. And that’s also really important. And we go around and give everyone a chance to give the meeting a score. And so Eos, you know, says you start at a 10 It’s kind of like Olympic scoring started at 10. And then if you rate anything lower, just explain your deductions. And so that really helps. Me and Nathan are the person also running the meeting, like I helped facilitate, but of course, Nathan’s the leader, and so he’s also doing a little bit, it just helps us get better. So, you know, sometimes we might read it low, because you might take off a point because it’s like, hey, you know, we kind of went we kind of got to a solve, but then we kind of went around again. And it was just we you know, when we started talking about it, we weren’t really clear on the issue. And so then we’re like, okay, next meeting, we’re going to make sure that you know we focus on that and and it’s also great because it’s it’s not that everyone’s rating, Nathan or me but we’re all holding each other accountable. Like we’re rating ourselves and how we did together because if something’s off track or you don’t don’t understand or something’s not clear, then, you know, somebody will speak up. And so it’s just, it took a little while I think to get used to, you know, in the beginning, but now, I think we’re also used to it, it’s clear. It’s consistent across the organization, which is really helpful. And that’s, that’s, that’s it.
Jeremy Burrows 20:25
That’s amazing. So you also have to kind of train assistants. And when you onboard, and hire assistants, you probably have to train them through this process. So do you kind of let them come in and sit in and watch you do it for a few times? And then? Or is it pretty much? Is this the top level leadership meetings that you are essentially running? Like, who runs them? When when you’re on vacation? Do you train other people to help?
Stephanie Slagle 20:56
That’s a great question. So in the my leadership team meeting and the meetings, I run, like the one on one meetings he has with each to like leadership team member about their department, if I’m not there, Nathan runs it.
Jeremy Burrows 21:13
I mean, it doesn’t go as well, right?
Stephanie Slagle 21:15
Well, you don’t have to ask him. But, you know, like, our CFO is currently running all of her own meetings. So like, and she is over it, and accounting and people operations, which kind of includes Office Management. And so she’s got, you know, like four or five meetings, you know, with sections of her department that she leads. And so, yes, the plan is when she hires her EA, that, um, we’ll spend a lot of time together, kind of just talking through, you know, our framework and learning about us and learning about the agenda and like, what to listen for, and, you know, what each what you do at each section, and with, like, I’m doing that right now, with our, for our CMO, she has someone that’s helping her run their board. And so there’s a little bit of like, I sit in on their meetings, and show her how to do it. And then after a couple of meetings, we’re gonna flip flop, and I’m gonna let her run it. And then, you know, coach her through it. But I think what’s great too, is that every single new employee that comes into mountain seed, we provide them with this book called, What the heck is EOS?
Jeremy Burrows 22:47
I was just gonna ask you, is there a resource that we can point people to? If they’re curious about this method?
Stephanie Slagle 22:54
Yes, yes. Definitely check out what the heck is EOS? You know, it’s by Gino Wickman. He’s got several other books. And there is an EOS website that has some free resources, I believe. And I’m, I’ll have to double check. But I believe the website is EOS worldwide.com. And I know that mountain seed found it. I did not help in finding this or was a part of the first meeting, I don’t believe but they have facilitators, and we had a facilitator come in and help with the first, you know, getting getting our, they call it the vision traction organizer. And it is like a two page document that says where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Essentially, it has the 10 year target, the three year and the one year goals. The quarterly quarterly goals are rocks and our purpose and our marketing strategy. And you can find that on their website. But we have found it extremely helpful. And as we’ve rolled it out, you know, and pushed it down throughout the organization. I feel like it’s, I feel like it’s definitely elevated the meetings and kind of built. It’s just kind of a team hell, like,
Jeremy Burrows 24:22
it sounds. It sounds like it’s a very helpful framework to keep everybody on the same page in not waste time. And those leadership meetings are expensive. You’ve got the entire leadership team and you know, you’ve take their salaries and divided them up and calculate an hourly rate. And then you multiply it by how many, you know, people are in the meeting. That’s an expensive meeting. So I think that’s, that’s great. Thank you so much for walking us through that. I know it’s it can be a lot to those listening, thinking, wow, there’s no way my team’s gonna buy into this but but I’ll definitely post those links in the show notes. so people can dig into that a little bit more.
Stephanie Slagle 25:04
Can I say one thing? I, you know, Nathan says this a lot with, you know, as we add people to the organization, and they’re like, What is EOS? And why do we follow ELS? I think one important thing there was there’s a story he tells, I think it’s about Chick fil A, where they were. Because you know, there’s he says there’s a ton of other business operating systems out there, I don’t know all the different ones. But I think the most important thing for an organization is to just pick one, and then stick to it, and not kind of try something out and then switch and try something else out or start something but then not roll it out throughout the whole organization and bring everybody with you. And so, you know, some of the stuff or you know, when people hear it at first, some of it might sound like common sense, or how does that gonna work. But if you just stick to it, and you follow the process, we found that it definitely works. And it’s been super helpful. And so I just wanted to throw that in there.
Jeremy Burrows 26:16
No, that’s I think that’s really smart. Because a lot of I’ve been a part of a lot of teams, they’re like, every year, it’s like, oh, there’s this new book that came out, and there’s this new framework we’re going to try. And it’s just like you spend all your time trying to learn these frameworks instead of just getting work done. So.
Stephanie Slagle 26:31
Right. Right. And it allows the whole company to have a shared language. And, you know, when we talk internally, about things like, it’s, it’s just easier then switching and being like, oh, rocks, quarterly goals, another term, you know,
Jeremy Burrows 26:52
API OKR. Yeah. Yes. Awesome. Well, to wrap things up, this is this is a lot of good, good information. Very helpful. Thanks, again, for going through that. What made you decide to seek out a coach, and really for your own career and personal professional development?
Stephanie Slagle 27:19
That’s a great question. So Nathan, and our entire leadership team, have leadership coaches, and maybe a year ago, we they, you know, I sitting in on the meetings and, you know, help it you know, I know, he’s going through coaching and kind of the stuff they’re working on, and the whole leadership teams kind of focusing on? Well, we are growing really quickly. And it’s true, we are growing really fast. You know, we’ve just recently added two new leadership team members. And so when we think we may have, we’ve hired, we’ve hired a lot of people recently. And so it’s great. And they all started thinking, like, gosh, what, how do I level up my skills to make sure that like, I, I know, everything I need to do in three years, or like, I have the skills to be able to continue doing my role in three years, five years, 10 years, as we continue to grow and grow and grow. And I started thinking about that in from the perspective of like, oh, my gosh, I love my job. I enjoy working with Nathan, I tell him all the time, I’m like, I want to retire from from Mountain seed Lego always want to work with you. And so, you know, I just started having conversations with him, like, hey, what do you think I need to, like, focus on or like, what are you going to focus on? So I understand, like, your new skills and what what’s going to be happening, and we just, you know, had those, like open discussions, and he had introduced me to Melba Duncan’s article in the Harvard Business Review. And then yes, and that was great. And, you know, I’m so thankful that Nathan and the organization see the value and leadership coaches and the value in support roles. And, you know, making sure executives and other leaders in the organization have the support, they need to do their job well. And then we kind of went on a hunt, like I was Googling so much trying to find anything I could and I came across Maya Seidel carpenters article in medium, and I can send you the link it’s about elevating the executive and or, Yes, elevating the executive. assistant. Oh my gosh, I’m getting that wrong, but
Jeremy Burrows 29:57
I will you can send me the link and I’ll put it Yes. I’ll send it.
Stephanie Slagle 30:01
But it was a great article. And, you know, we, you’d like, I wanted to find a coach that could like, as this, these roles are evolving and the responsibilities are changing, you know, trying to find someone who under stood that, and I just happened to email her and she responded and we were so excited. And we had a call with her. And, you know, she said, I think I just reached out and said, Hey, I would love to just chat and ask you a couple of questions. And she was so kind and gracious. And I talked to her, and then Nathan and I had a call with her. And she offered coaching. And it’s been a tremendous help. And I think one thing that’s, you know, for anyone out there, like, you’ve got to drive your own career development, like you’re, it’s, it’s not going to work if you don’t want it, like if you don’t believe or like want to go through coaching or, you know, it’s, you got to want it and seek it out. And I like that’s, I just want to do everything I can to make sure that I can still contribute and be valuable and help support Nathan in the organization as we get bigger. You know, that’s really what it all stemmed from.
Jeremy Burrows 31:30
Yeah. So does your company pay for the coaching? Yes, awesome. Yes. That’s great. Well, hopefully that’s encouraging to those listening. Now, I’m not saying that, personally, paying for coaching is not worth it. But I do think that it’s better for you to ask her your company to pay for it first. So as part of your professional development, so that’s awesome. Well, Stephanie, thank you so much for taking time out of your day. You know, with your cat and your two kids, I’m sure they keep you busy. Especially the cat. But yeah, just good luck with you. And at Mountain seed. Sounds like a great company to work for a great executive to work for. Is there any way that listeners can reach out and say hi, and connect with you?
Stephanie Slagle 32:22
Yes, on my LinkedIn page, that would be great.
Jeremy Burrows 32:28
Awesome. Well, I’ll put those in the show notes. And people can reach out and connect. And yeah, well, I look forward to staying connected with you on the leader, Assistant, circle community. And yeah, thanks again for your time.
Stephanie Slagle 32:44
Thank you so much for having me, Jeremy. And thank you so much for writing your book, and creating a community in a space where we can network and you know, share resources. I’ve found it extremely helpful. And I’ll definitely be referring everyone I know how to.
Jeremy Burrows 33:02
Awesome, thank you. I appreciate it. All right, have a good one. Bye bye. Thanks again for listening. And Thank you Stephanie. For a great interview, check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/122 and join our free global community on circle at leaderassistant.com/community Talk to you next time.
Unknown Speaker 33:34
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