I’m very excited to share this conversation between Paige McPheely (CEO of Base – the first software for modern assistants) and Llewellyn Gravely (Lead Executive Assistant Business Partner to the Global Head of Uber for Business) from a recent webinar Base hosted called “How to Take Charge of Your Career and Make it Your Own.”

Llewellyn Gravely and Paige McPheely - Base Live Webinar Leader Assistant Bonus

There is no one-size-fits-all career path for executive assistants. Every assistant role is unique, impacted by the leader you support, your unique skill set, and the relationship you build together.

Every assistant role is unique, impacted by the leader you support, your unique skill set, and the relationship you build together.

What this means: the EA role is rife with opportunity. With no set path in place, assistants are in a unique position to disrupt the system and bring their own magic to their job description — and beyond.

In this conversation from a recent live webinar, Llewellyn Gravely, Lead EABP to the Global Head of Uber for Business, talks about turning passion for diversity and inclusion into becoming a change agent on a global scale for Uber — advising HR partners on talent searches, training hiring managers, and pushing changes organizationally to eliminate bias in the workplace.

Llewellyn will be sharing best tips and insights for how you can:

  • Find success without homogenizing yourself in a corporate setting
  • Blaze a new trail and take control of your career growth authentically
  • Have vulnerable conversations with your executive about your career

A special thanks to Paige and the team at Base for letting me share this amazing conversation with you on The Leader Assistant Podcast!

NOTE: You can watch the video replay of this webinar here.


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So visit ElkhornPeak.com ASAP to get your holiday wine packages ordered in time for the holidays.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For gift pack arrival BEFORE Christmas, orders must be received no later than December 11th (if you’re on the EAST COAST), and December 18th (if you’re on the WEST COAST).

Oh right, did I mention they sent me some wine and it was seriously delicious? 🙂

Reach out to the amazing team at Elkhorn Peak today for your personal and corporate gifting wine needs at elkhornpeak.com/leaderassistant and let them know you heard about them on The Leader Assistant Podcast!


To learn more about how you can join the now 200+ growth-minded Leader Assistants, check out our Leader Assistant Premium Membership for ongoing training, coaching, and community.

Leader Assistant Membership Circle Screenshot Welcome APR 2021


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Podcast Intro 0:03
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become competent game changing leader assistants.

Jeremy Burrows 0:10
Hey friends, it’s Jeremy Burrows host of The Leader Assistant Podcast. Before we jump into today’s bonus episode, I wanted to let you know about my friends at Elkhorn peak sellers. If you need to impress the board or your company’s clients, your favorite vendors, maybe the leadership team, maybe your admin team, maybe your families or your colleagues families, if you need to impress them this holiday season with a carefully and craftily packaged wine and hand written note gift pack. Checkout Elkhorn peak cellars they’re a family owned vineyard and winery on the south end of the Napa Valley. This dynamic father daughter duo of kin and Elise and their team can accommodate large or small orders for all of your holiday gifting needs this season. So visit ElkHornpeak.com/leaderAssistant ASAP to get your holiday wine packages ordered in time for the holidays. Now an important note for gift pack arrival before Christmas. orders must be received no later than December 11 If you’re on the East Coast, and they can’t be received later than December 18. If you’re on the west coast. So December 11 Is your deadline to get things in before Christmas. If you’re on the East Coast and if you’re on the West Coast. December 18 Is your deadline. Oh and did I mentioned they sent me some wine a while back and it was very very delicious. Definitely check out Elkhorn peak sellers at Elkhornpeak.com/leaderAssistant now to order a carefully packaged wine plus handwritten note gift pack from Elkhorn peak. Hey friends, welcome to episode 138. And today’s episode is a special bonus webinar replay. My friends at Base, a software for executive assistant offered the audio of this webinar so that I could share it with you all on the podcast. So I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/138 Leaderassistant.com/138. And thank you so much to bass for sharing this conversation, be sure to check out bass, the executive assistant software platform at bass hq.com. And now I will hand it off to Paige McFeely CEO of Base.

Paige McPheely 2:44
Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for joining today. We’re so excited to see all of you. Our baseline is really are such an important part of how I believe we are continuing to move our industry forward each and every day. So thank you to all of you for joining us on this journey. It’s very exciting for us. We’re going to be talking today about taking charge of your career. And so this is super, super important topic for me. Got to know the well in through LinkedIn actually seeing you speak on another events like oh my gosh, okay, we need to talk. So a little bit of backstory for me, I don’t know how many assistants I’ve talked to over the years who feel uncertain about where to take their careers, and how to get where they want to go. And a lot of us feel like we’re constantly alone on an island recreating the wheel over and over and over again. And like I was saying before all of our experiences are unique. So there’s no one right answer. But Llewellyn is someone who really seems to have figured out what their passion is, and then figured out how to integrate that into their work life so well, and you’ve got a super impressive work history, you’re now the lead EA for Uber for business, which means that you get to work with every region of Uber as I understand it, including your global team of EAs. And one of the things that I’m so impressed with about you is that you’ve never you’ve said this, I wrote down most of the quote, the power of an EA due to the proximity of who you work closely with, you can leverage that power to affect change within your organization. And that’s something that I’m really excited to share your journey with everything. So we’re going to we’re going to jump into the conversation. And while we’re doing that, we’re going to run a quick poll for everybody. So while the villains telling us their story, can you please all answer the question? Do you have a plan for your career and the prompts will be yes, no, somewhat. All right Llewellyn, can you take it away? Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got to be where you are now?

Llewellyn Gravely 4:47
Sure. Hi, my name is Llewellyn. I work as a DBA for Uber for business and really love it. I literally love what I get to do every day and enjoy the team that I interact with, where I came from. I actually started in the healthcare industry, public healthcare industry working for a public institution. And that gave me a really great background in just generally like rules and regulations, because in public universities, there are so many their specific way you have to do every every single thing. And learning that really gives great structure. And I enjoyed my seven years in public health and healthcare also, because it’s really gave me a great respect and really fostered my passion for helping people. Now, how does that fit into why I’m working for Uber? Well, I’ve been with Uber for overall about three and a half years longer than that I started in 2017, was there for two years, ended up leaving Uber for a year when I moved in with my partner in Southern California, and moved to a cannabis technology company in Southern California, and then ended up being asked to come back to Uber, and at the end of 2018, and restarted with them in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March of last year, right before pandemic hit, and everything shut down. So my entire career or half of my career with Uber has been as a fully remote worker who does not go into an office on a regular basis. And I honestly have to say that I love it. It’s been really fun for me, I was the coolest thing was being asked to come back to Uber, I believe a lot in what Uber is doing. I really believe in the company’s mission, and especially what my team is doing. And really encourage anyone who’s interested in what Uber is doing to reach out and ask me, because this is not me, not a job thing. It’s just like, if you’re not sure what’s going on, let me tell you, because there’s some really cool stuff going on with my company. Yeah,

Paige McPheely 6:47
and just Uber being on kind of the in the venture world a little bit, too. It’s always the gold standard. And you can hear people say like, Oh, I was in the original pitch for Uber. So the way that Uber has really changed the world and the way we think about what I would say our outsourcing, realizing how we can get to where we need to go. And if you would have said 15 years ago, 20 years ago, everybody can have a personal driver. So yeah, completely revolutionary. Thank you for sharing that background. Real quickly, before I go to the next question, it looks like 64% of us have somewhat of a plan for our career. 22% of us do feel like we have a plan and 14% of us don’t feel like we have a plan. So the vast majority of us are in that notice somewhat category, which which I think is is aligning to other conversations that I’ve had as well. So thank you all for, for answering that poll. My next question for you, I really think that the beauty of the EA role is that it doesn’t necessarily mean one thing to everybody. It can be really, really diverse and really full of possible possibility. But that can also make defining what you do in your role a little bit challenging. So I’d love to hear any about any difficulties that you’ve faced trying to figure out. How do you fit within that kind of typical assistant framework and how you’ve made that work for you.

Llewellyn Gravely 8:18
That’s a something I talk about a lot. When I do mentoring. I’m a part of a EA Mentor Program at Uber. So I have multiple EAS who whom I mentor and it was largely turned into just 30 minutes to an hour every couple of weeks where we sit and talk about what’s going on in their world in their job and their personal life, how they are doing. It doesn’t really, you would think from a corporate mentoring perspective that there would be some specific agenda, or we would have goals that we’re trying to hit. And it really honestly just becomes that sounding board that back and forth that we desperately need with people that understand what we do day in and day out. The biggest difficulty I would say I have faced in my entire career at this point is that idea that all all this job function does is schedule meetings, that all this job function is good for is managing a calendar and making sure expenses get submitted on time and answering sometimes really inane questions that you would think run adults would know the answer to on their own or they could Google with a quick two minute Google search. And that is the mole that I have always aim to break out of, and even started doing that when I first joined Uber back in 2017. The hardest thing is kind of proving that worth because many times when companies hire in Administrative Professionals, do they secretaries or executive assistant are administrative assistants. They have this idea very specific box of what an EA is. And that’s why Uber the title that we uses executive assistant business partner, because we recognize there’s so much more that one of us attached to an executive can do, aside from manage that executives calendar. And that’s something that we aim to do day in and day out. Thankfully, we have a great support system within, within my company and within my team as far as the EA team at Uber and understanding and helping EAS to find those opportunities. But the first thing is you have to raise your hand. If you have an idea, if you have something you want to do, then raise your hand and say you want to do it. I know we’re going to talk about this more in a bit. But that really is kind of the the springboard is going to your executive really forming that close to the partnership that we all would like to have the people we support the teams we support and digging in where where you have a passion.

Paige McPheely 10:54
Yeah, absolutely. And I think for some of us figuring out what that passion is, is a bit of a journey. I know I’ve I’m continuing on that journey. And imagine I will forever but I think that this is what can really set any team member apart from their peers, despite their role is the ability to see how their unique passion once they figured out what that is and their skill set will add value to their organization organization, despite whatever that role might be, despite the balance that that role traditionally has. I think I think that that’s something it seems like anyway, that you’ve done pretty well. I want to quickly touch on something you mentioned before we went live about executive training. I’m a huge, huge, huge supporter of this. I know not all organizations are necessarily open to it. But regardless, how have you gone about broaching that topic? And can you maybe explain a little bit what we mean by executive coaching?

Llewellyn Gravely 11:46
Sure. So executive coaching is career coaching, like any other career coaching, and this is, this is the thing that I love, when I talk about this is you bring this up, and there’s this look on people’s faces of oh, I never thought about this. And yet, if you have a product manager, or a project manager or program manager, or a software engineer or a salesperson, an account manager, an account executive, they’re all getting career coaching, and how to do their job, from the people around them from their peers, from their managers. And what so many companies I feel miss is the opportunity to help executives understand how to work with an administrative professional, especially a trained one. It’s the I feel there’s a bit of a difference. Yeah, sometimes you will have brand new executives who are getting paired with an administrative assistant. And they’re both kind of learning the ropes from each other. And that can be a really beautiful pairing, where you have someone who really isn’t familiar with job family, and someone who’s getting their feet wet with their first VP, let’s say, and they’re kind of all learning together and figuring out the flow of their relationship professionally. But then you have other places where you have companies that are obviously looking for someone more senior to come in and support a VP, VP plus potentially an ELT member, a C suite individual that has never worked with an administrative professional, but they need someone who has experience. And if you have someone who has 567 years of experience coming into someone who’s never worked with that job function before, there’s going to be some conflict there. Because they’re not going to know what that person can do. They’re not going to know what to ask that person, there’s going to be that moment of what am I allowed to ask my EA to do for me and what’s supposed to go somewhere else. So executive education refers to something as simple as a slide deck, I’ve had that I’ve built slide decks for executives before that say, here is the basics, here are the basic things your EA will do for you, without you really having to ask, they’re going to manage your calendar, they’re going to make sure your corporate card expenses are done, they’re going to make sure your life is as simple as it possibly can be. And then the term of your job, or if it’s an EA slash pa style role, do some with some of the personal stuff to then here’s a couple more slides on these are additional things that if you’re if your EA has an interest in them, they can be really good at doing. And not only that, these are additional tasks or additional areas that I would recommend you encourage your EA to stretch into, because it’s only going to help them in their professional career growth. If I see so many resumes, when I recruit for positions where someone talks about over the last five jobs they’ve had over 10 years how great they are at calendar. And the back of my mind, I’m like, Well, yeah, you shouldn’t be at this point. We’ve been doing this for eight years in the floor. You should be really good, like at this point calendar should be in your sleep. Tell me what are the other things you did? What is the other benefit you brought to your team? What are the things you did for your executive that were above and beyond that core base? This floor level that we’re looking at as a core competency. So, so I just one of those things that I changes from company to company, it changes from executive to executive, it’s something that I would be happy to build out for anyone who would need it. Because I always tailor it to what I need. Yeah, but I tailored to the needs of the organization, because every company is different in how they deal with our position. But that’s what I mean by executive education is helping them. And that part of that comes down to the EAA as well, I’m going to be very, very straightforward about that. It’s on us to set appropriate boundaries and to get involved where we can and to find those value add areas. I hate buzzwords, I hate them a lot. But that is that’s one of the things that we have the ability to be change agents within our or executive teams within our direct teams within our companies. Within our the world, like we have a lot of power is in sometimes it’s just on us to use it.

Paige McPheely 16:03
Right? I think I often love the analogy. If if imagine where if we were to remove all of the admin functions within the world’s leading companies, they would simply crumble to the ground. And we don’t think of we, I know we do. But oftentimes, the world does not think of that role as that crucial. Yet, it really is. And we are supporting executives, but we are also directly contributing to the success of that organization, their mission, all the things that they’re hoping to achieve. And I think it can be hard in the day to day struggles, particularly when you’re working with an executive who doesn’t see that value. To feel that way. But it’s it’s definitely true. In my past role, with a staffing and executive assistant staffing company, I primarily worked with the executives that we would bring in as clients and countless, countless conversations saying, I don’t I don’t know how to work with an assistant. And can you help me do this? Not only do they not know what an assistant should do? So we have similar lists over like, here, kind of the basic tasks here some opportunities as well for them for you both to work through together. But then also, how do you measure that success. And I think a lot of times people move up in their career, and maybe they start managing people, but typically, those people are doing similar functional roles to them. So if you’ve got an engineer who’s managing other engineers, and Assistant might feel like this foreign alien coming in, and like I don’t know, I don’t know how to relate. So that executive training piece is so so important.

Llewellyn Gravely 17:36
The other thing that I always when I work with executives, and I’m sure you have experience with this, too, but it’s something that gets lost. I don’t know why is companies want to hire an EA and don’t have a standard job description for it. And every time they hire a new EA, they’re building a new job description from scratch, where you would never see them do that with other what would be considered core job functions. They’re gonna have tech companies out, say, for example, working for tech company going to have a standard software engineer, a standard product manager, a standard project manager, a standard program manager, a standard graphic, standard designer, product designer, or graphic designer, like they’re gonna have these this trove of standard job descriptions. And they don’t do that for the EA position many times. And that’s whenever I have executives reach out to me to say, I would like your help in finding a new EA to help come into my company and support me or support a new executive that we’re hiring a new executive VP type thing. I look at them and say, Send me your job description. And they say we don’t have one. And I say, that’s your first problem. Let’s build that together.

Paige McPheely 18:46
Right there. Yes, exactly. We do get asked for job descriptions constantly. And frequently, when we’re integrating within an organization integrating our software, we get into a lot of these conversations just by nature of what we’re doing. Because we’re we’re they’re helping to maximize the ROI of the assistant in whatever way that organization views it. And so sometimes that means we have to help define that for them. But sometimes it means we’re just showing helping to show the data over the additional output or time saved, whatever it might be. And so we love it when we can get access to those executives to to start down this conversation because I’d say like general rule of thumb, most organizations are what 10 To 20% understaffed of what their admin functions should be like the roles just don’t even exist. And so that’s kind of our our secret mission is to help these organizations realize, no, you like it’s money well spent. You need to be hiring more admins for more people, more people getting supporting. This is a whole separate conversation. But middle managers right now we’re getting squeezed so much and they need help so okay, I’ll get off my soapbox there. We’re gonna do another poll, and then we’re going to talk for a couple of minutes about creating In your own unique career path. So our poll this time is what is your biggest career goal right now? So everybody could weigh in. Alright, I

Llewellyn Gravely 20:08
see the responses answers.

Paige McPheely 20:10
Yeah, really, really good. All right. While these will give everybody a little bit of time, I’m still figuring out this poll feature, everybody. So thank you for bearing with me. We’ll give everybody some time to answer this. And I’m gonna kick it back to you with another question, then I’ll show the results in a little bit, creating your own career path. It often feels and it can get a little less with up and coming generations, but it’s particularly my parents generation and beyond, it feels like you know, you get a job, you keep it for 35 years, you retire. And here’s this defined career path of success that you need to follow. And so I don’t think that my parents or my in laws could tell you what I did at all. They I think they think I work a little I don’t know, but because it’s not this traditional career path. It’s very confusing to them. So I would also say that the EAA role, like many other roles doesn’t have this step by step by step progression. So how did you start to get comfortable with your your view of success and what how that fit your lifestyle, your needs, your passions, all of that.

Llewellyn Gravely 21:16
So it’s scary. That’s the first thing I’m gonna say is that it’s horribly scary. And I’m looking at I’m watching the chat as it comes through. And I love seeing the comments that are coming in there. Yeah, when I’m so Susan, let’s get coffee. to circle back to your earlier comment. One of my favorite things is when people post that meme on social media, badly describe your job. And I say I’m an adult babies haven’t built babysitter. As an AE, I, I remind, I remind adults how to perform the most basic life skills a day in and day out. That’s really what it is. But it’s scary, because one of the things that I have to remember is that we all have to remember because many EAS you’ll find many people in the administrative professional job family have been doing this for 1020 30 years, many of them are our executive assistants now that would have started as a secretary somewhere, or that would have started as an administrative assistant and kind of work their way up. And the companies that have that clear ability and progression for the administrative job functions are few and far between now, especially when so many of the executive assistant positions are with tech companies or with startups are with the or with like fortune 500 companies in the financial sector. But you don’t really have those job those like kind of entry level jobs that we used to have 15 years ago. So understanding that is the first thing, that executive assistant is not what it used to be, which goes into what we’re going to talk about in just a minute, the whole building your own career, figuring out what it is not only that you are good at outside of the core functions of what an EA does. But what makes you excited, because ultimately, the freeing moment, the aha moment for me, was I need to be happy about going to work, I need to want to open my laptop, I need to want to get up, get dressed and get out of the door and get on public transit, I need to want to go and be in that environment. And the moment that I no longer have a clear, honest desire within myself to go and do this. That’s where the problem is. And that’s where you have to think, is it that something has changed? In the company in the work environment? Is it I have started to outgrow what it is I’ve been doing for the past one to three years. In the fast paced work environment right now i staff, anybody with staffing agencies are concerned, they’ll tell you the idea that someone’s going to stay in one role in the singular role with a singular job title with no progression for five years is stupid, that that’s not how the how work works. These days, you’re going to have someone who is going to get bored with their job after a year and needs something new, someone who’s going to want something additional, as far as to interact with their team or their company in a different way or a new way after two years. Someone who’s going to want a title change and it came months. So understanding that is key to understanding what you can ask for and realizing that you’re in the driver’s seat of your career. You get to ask for things we don’t Have to be reactive, we can look at what is going on around us, we more so than almost any other job function within a company have the pulse, we understand what’s going on. And we have to be willing to, just like anybody else would understand that we have ambition to. And that’s not a bad thing. And our ambition is not intrinsically tried to be tied to the executive we support. And that was the moment for me a few years ago, it was I, if I see an industry, that’s exciting, if someone reaches out to me, and they’re from a company that’s doing something that I think is really cool, there is nothing wrong with me talking to them. I’m not. I’m not betraying my executive, by looking out for my career, right? And life over to them. Exactly. And the other side of that is understanding what you can and can’t do financially. And I talked to EAS about this all the time. That you have to, you have to know what you can do financially, you have to do your research, just like any other job seeker does to understand the market research of what what the job is worth in your market, but in that industry, but also what you are willing to take. And you we as yeas don’t need to ever be in that mindset of I have to take something because, oh, that’s a higher paying job. Oh, that’s a better, more visible role. That’s I mean, if those are important to you, it’s awesome. I know in when I’m looking at whenever recruiters reach out to me, compensation is like number three out of my top five. I’m not looking at that’s not the first thing I’m looking at, because I know what my budget will allow me to do with my life and my lifestyle. And

Paige McPheely 26:54
you can command Yeah, right.

Llewellyn Gravely 26:57
That’s kind of what came I came back around. Sorry about that. I know this is

Paige McPheely 27:01
a little excited are loving this as well, too. I completely agree with all of this. And this is not a perfect analogy. But I often envision a bit of a spectrum where on one side, we’ve got more of you could say traditional or maybe old school executives where they think an assistant is there to serve them and their role, not necessarily the organization and I kind of picture madmen era, the girls that melted the office with the typewriter. Thankfully, I think society has moved away from that and in a good way. But it’s it’s still there. On the other side of the spectrum, I see a lot of organizations today that are really starting to look at their assistance as apprenticeships as well, you get so you can get so much access to the other departments of the organization, you can see so many things, you understand the power dynamics, you know, what strings, the pole. And if you’re in an organization that is willing to let you lean into that, I’ve seen some really amazing career paths develop out of that. And I think that’s, that’s pretty exciting to me. And I think we’re moving in that direction.

Llewellyn Gravely 28:07
I think that’s where it comes down to. And my role is leading a Uber for business and supporting, supporting an individual who reports directly to the C suite of a company, I take that very seriously, I, I have a lot of clout, because of who I support. And I’m going to use that for the benefit of all the other EAS within my company, because that’s what I want to do. Yes,

Paige McPheely 28:35
I love that. I would love it, if you could share a little bit more about the specifics of amazing work that you’re doing, particularly around helping to eliminate bias within Uber, which I know they were under some hot water a handful of years ago, but it sounds like they’re taking it very seriously and making some really, really smart, human centered moves. And so I’d love to hear a little bit about that journey and what kind of courage it took and what steps you took to make that a reality.

Llewellyn Gravely 29:05
Surely. So that comes back to the idea of understanding what your passions are, what you’re what you’re excited about what what gets you excited to do the work. We all know that. I mean, I would I would assume that most of us do not get up and turn on the computer every day because we’re excited about jumping into a calendar and moving around new things. If that is what gets you excited more power to you. I actually have a very sick joy and playing calendar Tetris that when I can get the calendar worked out just right. I get a personal sense of accomplishment. 100% you play that Tetris and it’s like, Oh, I did it. I made this all work. All those stupid meetings that I couldn’t fit. They fit yay for me. But that’s not like the reason I wake up in the day. I my personal passion is around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. That is it It’s so important to me because the more diverse that our teams are that our companies are, the more diverse that they come from different backgrounds, socioeconomic backgrounds, from different cultural backgrounds, religious backgrounds. People have varying abilities, people across the gender and sexuality spectrum, the more diverse our thought is, the better the company is. And this is I can send anybody who’s interested, you can find it on Google, Google academic, there are peer reviewed studies that look at the workplace and look at diversity in the workplace. And the more diverse the team is, the better the company that means outcomes. It is verifiable. It’s there. When you homogenize everyone on the team, you homogenize the thought patterns, and suddenly there’s no innovation. So there you go. To diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is my passion is something that I’ve wanted to work in a lot. And when I left Uber in 2018, for the technology, cannabis technology startup in Southern California, and our tech company in Southern California, they weren’t a startup anymore. i One of the first things I started instituting in the short year that I was there were LGBT LGBTQIA plus employee resource groups, I helped them build up a women’s employee resource group. And I also worked directly with on a super on a on a consulting basis with the VIP se members of the company who wanted to get a VIP se employee resource group as well. I took that one very much like, I will talk to you about what it looks like to kind of build an erg charter in general. But I need to make sure I take a step back from that one because I’m not VIP OC I need to make sure that what the work they do is authentic. And I wanted to make very clear that like I will help you get this built up and get the ministry piece of it done. But the wall will be building based on your experience. And that was one of the things that got me got me recognized and noticed by Hoover and brought back did. I’ve been involved with the pride ERG at Uber. For right, I was the co chair of the Bay Area pride ERG when I lived in San Francisco from 2018 to 2019. And that was amazing. I am on a couple of committees now that I’m back at Uber with the pride ERG internally and worked very diligently to bring more yeas and because we’re you know, open these things. ERGs in general are open to not just people that have in the group but also allies of the affinity group people forget that. We always want our allies to come and join and have fun with us as well. And as a non binary gender queer individual, Aye. Aye mean I go to work wearing skirts and makeup I go to work wearing high heels and that always kind of was was like the out there of this is I’m not the same as every other person because you know to do the, the nonbinary individual with the beard and wearing the platform’s and with a sequined top on and a face full of makeup, right kind of sticks out in the office, especially since I’m already six feet tall. So in most fields, I’m six three plus.

Paige McPheely 33:11
Fantastic. So I do feel like as well, our role our industry can be traditionally pretty homogenous as well. So I’m just hoping that you’re wearing high heels right now. Personally, I can’t tell

Llewellyn Gravely 33:27
I’m no I’m at home, I tend not to wear them because as everyone knows, heels are not the most comfortable shoes.

Paige McPheely 33:33
Yeah, they’re gonna Yeah, yeah. Neither am I. So thank you for sharing all of that I love. I love that journey. And I also loved that that was such an important part of you getting back on hooter Ubers radar, I think that shows that even when it can feel scary to to be our true authentic self. What company that I think we tend to enjoy to work at more than others. It’s when they’re looking to expand their culture versus match it with their hires, how can you bring in people who are going to help us see this world as a big place instead of this little this bubble that we’ve created. And it’s very easy to hire people who look like you and sound like you and think like you and it takes it takes intention and work. So I love the work that you’re doing. That’s

Llewellyn Gravely 34:19
why I love working for my executive is one of the things that it’s been great in as we’ve worked to fill people leader, hiring people, leader positions, people who are going to manage teams. I help I work directly with our recruiting teams on her behalf. And I’m the person who looks at the list I of course, I’m the person scheduling the interviews because the recruiting coordinators reach out to me to get time on my executives calendar. And I’m the person that sees the people they’re sending and looks at the profiles and I say well, where are the women identifying individuals? Where are the POCs individuals? Where are the people who didn’t graduate? From top technology institutions, where are the people who are coming from lower socio economic backgrounds that are not people who would have access to Ivy League education, ideally, business education are gonna get their MBA from Harvard or Yale? Like, where are those people? And I ask those questions, I’m empowered to ask those questions because she asks them the same questions. And if I’m hitting it off at the pass, also, because I have such a passion for diversity and inclusion, that just helps the whole process work a lot more smoothly. And that is one of the things were talking the executive education portion comes in allowing executives to understand that they can empower the EAS to actually speak on their behalf and represent them. The EA, I have met a few EAS who take that a step too far. But the vast majority of EAs are not going to do that. They’re going to understand what their executive desires are, what the team’s needs are, what the pulse of the organization is, and executives who can allow their EAS to use their passions and move the organization forward. Again, hate buzzwords, but they’re gonna move the needle, you’re going to find that they are getting less emails, they’re getting less pings, they’re getting so much of this rhythm, a role that can bog down and executives life, they’re not just talking to see it. Yeah,

Paige McPheely 36:27
yeah, I absolutely agree. And I think, working with my assistant, I know her passion, I know her skills, and it’s such a relief and a gift to be able to lean on her for those things and let her have ownership. And the trust that can then go both ways is is really valuable. But it takes open conversations and very clear expectation setting and figuring out how are we going to communicate certain bits of information, particularly in a remote setting, I don’t know how much of the audience’s is either fully remote or hybrid. But there are other challenges that pop up with that. And so if you don’t have that trust in that dynamic to just be able to speak openly, then I think it can feel extra scary. Thank you for a couple more questions for you. And then we’re gonna kick it over to the open q&a. I see we’ve got a couple here, piling in already. Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about how your journeys evolved in your particular story. As we’ve seen from the comments, there are folks in any number of situations here. So let’s get into some tangible steps that I know are not going to be one size fits all. But how can how can people begin carving out their own career path? Do you have a long term plan? How did you start to think about this past? How much of it was on the fly in real time?

Llewellyn Gravely 37:48
So I’m that I’m going to dovetail that because I can bring that in? And answer your Suzanne’s question as well. When I was initially hired in 2017, Uber was just starting to develop what would be considered executive assistant career track with clear competencies and job ladder with leveling and titles and to look at what promotions would look like, and it was still in its very early stages. That helps a lot when it comes to career planning is if the company you work for has clear career pathing for an executive assistant, we all know that most companies do not have that unless they’re large companies, especially for those individuals who are the first executive assistant or who are the only executive assistant who is kind of replacing the EA to a founder who has moved on or similar situations. So the first thing again, is to understand what you want to do. That’s the first thing I had to do is kind of 100% on what do I want to do? And then how do I move that forward in a way that feels authentic to me? So the one of the things to think about is where do you want? I mean, it’s one of those questions we get in interviews all the time. But where do you want to be in five years? Do you want to continue being straight career executive assistant who is going to partner with an executive for the rest of your career as you move forward? And that’s managing executives calendar, managing an executives, life, their expenses, managing the team, like is that what you want to do and if that’s how you want to do then your your things to work on that point are going to be executive communication, and looking at how well you can write because you’re you will have to draft comms and speak for your executive Nazir executive at times and how well you are able to to multidisciplinary really interface with various teams of individuals who do not think the same. So that’s going to be where you’re looking at there. Are you someone who wants to potentially go on a chief of staff career path and If that’s the case, then you’re gonna probably want to invest in some very, very hard as far as the hardened real business knowledge, can you? Can you put together a headcount plan? Can you take a annual budget and work with the finance business partner work with your accountant to make that make sense? And look at long term financial planning? Are you able to do those types of things? Where do you build dashboards? Would you build pivot tables and spreadsheets? Really well? Are you an Excel master who can take data and make it look pretty and put out beautiful tables so that everyone can see the line going up into the right? Like it that’s, that’s chief of staff is the way you want to go? That’s going to be some of the stuff you want to look at. And so understanding what you want your career path to be similar to anybody else in another in another job function as software engineers, I keep bringing them up because I work for a tech company, software engineers have to decide that they want to be eventually be a principal, or do they want to be engineering manager? Because those are two different career paths you’ll pick it? And what skills you need? Off you go? The thing that’s been the biggest boon to me. And understanding that has been number one my time is it executive assistant understanding and working with different personalities and different people is so important to everything. So one of the things that one of my superpowers is, being the one I wanted my superpower is, is being the person in the room who has never met a stranger, I can talk to anyone is a superpower, it is a superpower for me and I can talk to anyone generally get them to open up to me and tell me all of their secrets in a short amount of time. And it’s the men, then I understand we get to common ground and understand each other, and much more quickly. And so that’s been the thing for me. And I know, I love working with people that I know that I want every role that I have to include working with people, I don’t want to sit at a desk behind a computer answering emails all day long. I want to interact with the team. And so I step up and I, I run meetings, I take notes, I take minutes, I track action items on the one that follows up on them on the one that manages all of the large team meetings, I’m the one that helps to that largely coordinates are all hands agendas. I’m the one that picks topics, 14 meetings and interfaces with the people who are going to present and help them with their presentation. So it’s one of those things. That’s what I do, because that’s what I like to do. And being an EA makes that very easy. What do you like to do?

Paige McPheely 42:29
Sure. Yes, I like yes to all of that. I see one question, come in here in the chat, confirming you support one individual.

Llewellyn Gravely 42:40
No, I actually currently support three support of the head of Uber for business, I support her head of strategy and planning. And I’m currently supporting our head of our regional general manager for sales in Latin America, I’d actually just hired the backfill for that position. So when she starts in a couple of weeks, I’m super excited to have our new yeas based out of Sao Paulo and our South Paulo office in Brazil. But that’s one of the things I talked about supporting global organization. I’m working directly with teams and Mexico and Brazil all the time, because I’m supporting the regional general manager who oversees sales for for business in that region. I interface with people, interface for people, with people in India, and in Europe all the time. The the essentially chief of staff to our head of strategy and planning is currently based in Australia. And my own executive was based in Australia, on the Gold Coast for the first four months that I supported her. So it can change that allow is for so much living on the East Coast and dealing with we would we’d have a few hours of overlap when she was finishing her evening when I would wake up on the East Coast. And then a couple hours of overlap later on when she would wake up the next morning and I was finishing up my workday. It was fun.

Paige McPheely 44:05
Yeah, yeah. And adventure. Certainly. Okay, I’m going to share the results of this poll. Right, here we go. So it seems like we’ve got a little bit of a mix. They’re very confident and a little confident, but I’m glad to not see too much. Not at all. So thank you everybody for sharing that. That’s that’s very interesting to see and exciting, too. So a couple of things that you were saying in your most recent response there about figuring out what you like to do and then doing it. You strike me as someone who does not have a hard time being assertive. I know that that can be hard for some of us. And I tend to believe that this is not a great thing but asking for forgiveness instead of permission. It’s a good thing like There’s very little that you can actually break within a roll. And for everybody on my team and they all know this and everybody that I work with, I’d rather see the effort and not get it completely spot on, then no effort and just waiting for permission. So talk to us a little bit about that. Any advice or tips that you have for, for either getting up that courage or actually doing it to raise your hand, ask questions, make your suggestions, or simply just taking over some of the things some of the various opportunities that you might see.

Llewellyn Gravely 45:28
Absolutely. So the phrase that are used when discussing this with other EAS is nothing that we do is going to kill anyone, no one’s going to die, no one’s going to die because the meeting is scheduled and correctly, no one’s going to die because someone got left off leaving or someone was added, or you added the wrong email address like that. No one’s gonna dies, right? Exactly, everything, everything is fully fixable. Everything can be changed. And lots of times. So one of the skills that I encourage all pas to learn is how to fix things in the background without anybody knowing. Like some some, some executives are like, I want an invitation email invitation for every meeting I’m on and I try to break that out of them as quickly as possible, like you don’t want you really don’t actually, let me take care of it. Let me just let me handle it. And if you have a problem, let me know. Let’s talk about it. But nothing you do is going, no one’s going to die and nothing’s gonna break, you’re fine. That’s number one. And if you if you really can internalize that, that way of thinking, suddenly, it all becomes easy, because you realize that you are doing your job. And I want to stress that you are the subject matter expert, in the same way that you take your car to a mechanic, that you take your pet to a veterinarian, that you go and see your doctor, when you have a medical issue. You as the EA are the efficiency expert, you are the calendar expert. You are all of you are the expert in how to make your executives life. Easier. Own that, right, believe it understand it, right, get comfortable with it. Many of us have been in board meetings, many of us have been in executive level meetings. And we all of course, have been in the team meetings for our executives and teams that we support. And we’ve all seen the subject matter expert in the room, raise their hand and answer a question when something is brought up. And they do it with no fear, no trepidation, and a fair amount of ego. Because ultimately, if you’re the subject matter expert, when you say something that is within your wheelhouse, you have to say it with confidence and ego and understand that this is you are the person that knows this. So you need to own that, believe it know it. And once you do once you’re no longer scared to be the EAA. Off you go, like legitimately, the sky’s the limit, and you will find the newfound confidence that you will be feeling when you own the power that you have as an EA is going to be so freeing. Yes,

Paige McPheely 48:08
you just give me chills with that. Off you go. So I love that imagery. I think that with other subject matter experts that you’re talking about, yes, they know their stuff. But I think what really helps us to trust them and believe them is their confidence. No one’s expecting them to be infallible, and to not make mistakes, we all make mistakes. I often say this is not a life or death business for slightly different reason. Not necessarily through the lens of mistakes that that we all get to be human to we get to have a life we get to like nothing is so urgent that we need to be hurting ourselves physically, mentally, any of these things, just for the sake of this job. And I bet we could have a whole nother session on how you balance all of that supporting three individuals right now and all these other things that you have going on. But we’ve got a bunch of questions piling up. And I want to make sure we get through to them. So I’m going to kind of combine the last question I have with you. And take from some of the other Q and A’s that we see. I see in the chat and hear a lot of people are saying either they’re not feeling seen or supported and their role, there may be feeling vulnerable about having career conversations with their executive with their organization. Talk to us a little bit when you find yourself in a tricky situation where you don’t feel valued, you don’t feel supported. How do you go about that? And shoot, I may have lost the question. Oh, no, it was from an anonymous person. If you’ve kind of reached the top, someone shared, that they support the president and the CEO and HR has shared you don’t have anywhere else to go. How do you how do you go about that?

Llewellyn Gravely 49:46
So I’ll answer the question first and then loop it back around and a more broader sense. Similar to a CEO when you begin I’m the CTO of a company. In that context, that is pinnacle, that is a terminal position. There are many terminal positions across a variety of job functions throughout, in many companies, that is not specific to the EA job family, we just tend to find them a lot faster. Because a lot of companies don’t really think very, aren’t very forward thinking when it comes to either job progression. So we reach that we reach that cliff much sooner than many other job functions. But if you are supporting President, CEO of a company, that is a terminal position that is in our job family as a long term terminal position. Many of the people, many of my mentors, who become colleagues have gotten to that level. And the career change has been when the CEO when the founder, or president has left that company to go and found a new company or go and has taken a CEO position at another company. And many times, not always, but many times that relationship is one that continues. And so they will bring their administrative person with them because they have years of experience and trust professional trust built up in there. So to the person who has what do you where do you go, you have choices, you are in a little, you’re in a long term terminal position, understanding that is number one, your choices at that point, our career shift, or company shift. So career shift can happen internally, that doesn’t mean that you have to leave your current company. Many times that career shift can move you into a chief of staff to CEO position. Or you can change job families and go into more of a project management or program management background or wrap those into it’s more so about finding new things you want to do within the company to help the team to help the company find ways you can plug in that will that were your core duties of supporting your executive are still there, but you are able to kind of branch out and expand a bit more if the level of support that your co founder needs doesn’t take up 110% of the effort that you have to give every week. So that’s number one. So you’re either going to be in that job and stay with that person, which can be a long fulfilling, amazing thing to do lots of job security as long as they’re there. Or you make a change. Yeah, and there’s not because there isn’t there isn’t a promotion from senior executive assistant to the CEO founder. That really isn’t, there will be I mean, of course, it may be I would hope that if your company is being nice if there would be an annual performance review process where you would get about a read, we get maybe a bonus if that’s part of your company, or at least we get a compensation change adjusted for inflation and cost of living and yada yada, yada all that fun stuff. But you’re not going to have a step up, if that makes sense. Aside from moving on.

Paige McPheely 53:02
Right, right. I think I would imagine this, if we have some, we’re not going to get to all of these questions. I’m trying to kind of blend them. But I would imagine that there’s certainly some room for compensation increases, especially as you work to show to really detail out the ROI of you use specifically to your organization. And are you helping the ad revenue by doing certain actions? Are you helping them manage the board? What key things are you doing to help this company achieve its actual goals? And that is fodder for you to argue for Teitelbaum for a compensation increase all of these things. So we’ve had a couple questions about how you have these compensation questions. And then I see another question in the chat here from Suzanne, about juggling the the very, very, very urgent requests have multiple executives and setting that expectation. And those are two very different questions, but they seem very aligned to me over setting proper expectations for you your role, how you’re going to communicate what you will be able to achieve as one human being supporting multiple individuals. So can you talk to us a little bit about that? Surely.

Llewellyn Gravely 54:12
So navigating compensation conference conversations is always really weird. But understand, this is the other thing to understand, again, not a life or death thing. Going through executive and talking about your current compensation level should be something you feel comfortable doing. Other team members to exactly you’re not the only one. Number one, you’re not the only one doing it. Number two, that is a normal conversation for a manager subordinate relationship to have on a regular basis. But annually, I would say depending on how your company handles compensation changes, it could be annually or twice a year, at least every six months. I think I’m talking about what this is. But that shouldn’t be something if you don’t feel as though if you feel like the work you’re doing now the other side of that is when you come to them and say If I’m doing all these extra things and think I deserve more money, that is a fair conversation to have, make sure you show your receipts, show your work, have it there. I always encourage every EAA to keep a to keep a journal. You even if your company doesn’t require you to have written goals, you should have written goals. Keep a Google document a spreadsheet, what your goals are for it. We’re talking goals for the next month, the next three months, six months a year, three years. goals, goals, goals, goals, goals,

Paige McPheely 55:31
that cheer everybody 100 times, yes.

Llewellyn Gravely 55:33
Goals, make sure you have goals, even if you’re not required to. And that is something that you should be talking about with your executive, whenever you have meetings, because that’s one of the things I always find I have to coach people on is how often do we get your executive? Oh, well, we meet every Monday to go over the calendar, and we spend 30 minutes going through their calendar. And then off we go. And I say that’s your first problem you’re spending. Now some some executives need that Monday morning, let’s look at the week, where’s the other time you’re finding throughout every every week, every two weeks, at the minimum, I say 30 minutes to talk about you and your career and what you need from them to move your career forward. And if you’re not having regular career discussions, with your executive, getting regular feedback, real time feedback from them, making sure that you do have the best relationship possible. That’s something you need to start doing. Because if you start having those regular conversations about your work product, your work product, not your executives, calendar, but what you are doing, then you’re already setting yourself up at a disadvantage, because you’re not fostering an environment where you can talk about things like compensation,

Paige McPheely 56:41
right? Yeah. And it’s worth noting that not everybody is in a, in a role in an organization that it’s going to go super smoothly. But that’s another data point for you. Because you’re worth you’re worth a lot you what you’re doing for the organization is worthy. And once you figure out what is that value, what do you feel like you deserve for your work, maybe you’re not going to get it from your existing organization, but you likely can command it elsewhere. I can also tell you that your job market right now is hopping is hot, hot, hot. Yeah, it’s like there is demand out there for EAS. And so I’m telling you this a little bit before we went live, but we’re collecting EAA horror stories this month. And some of the stories we we are getting are outrageous. And so I don’t know if any of these individuals are still in that same organization. But there’s some wild things out there. And there are a lot of people who are not willing and likely ever going to treat the kids with the respect that they deserve. So just you’re you’re hearing it from us, you are valued and you are worthy. And so put your feelers out there, take a baby step, try to have a little bit of a conversation and then have that grow. From there. It’s it’s going to be a journey that will go on for a long, long time. I want to end with one quick question that I hear how would you sum up what you do? As an EA? We probably don’t even have enough time, one or two minutes to answer that question. But if you had to give like, you know, a real quick thing, what would you say?

Llewellyn Gravely 58:17
I support my executive but that’s like so nebulous, let’s say, Yeah, your pitch. I mean, question

Paige McPheely 58:23
here is like in a concise way that demonstrates my impact, which I love that addition. So how do you do that? So

Llewellyn Gravely 58:30
yeah, so when I have, I can talk to this in the context of this is something that comes up in interviews. So if you’re interviewing for EA positions, one of the things you have to learn how to do is sell yourself. That’s the number one you you have to be you have to be your own best salesperson. So when I talk about this, I, I feel very strongly that the executive assistant executive executive does the business partner, administrative assistant various different types different iterations of the job function. We are here to partner with executives. I’m not here to manage someone’s calendar as far as making sure their meetings are in place. That’s one of the things that I do. But that’s not a core reason for being in the job. At its simplest form, I partner. I don’t call it thought partnering because that gets into weird other places. But I partner with an executive, I interact with the team, I make sure that I understand the run of the business, the flow of what’s going on, and stay plugged in to everything that my executive touches within the context of the business and their role within the business. That’s what I do. I am the person who works every day to make my executives life within the business as simple as possible.

Paige McPheely 59:51
Yes. So my answer to this is a really great assistant points their executive like an arrow. You can remove all the other stuff and help them put them directly at their focus. And that is powerful in my opinion. Honestly a big big thank you to everybody who joined us. Huge, huge thank you to Wallen. Wonderful as expected. The comments are fantastic and I missed about half of them because they are moving so fast. If you have any other questions for the Whelan or for us, please let us know you know how to reach us if you’ve registered. And thank you all for spending an hour of your day with us today. We appreciate it. Thank you. Thanks, everyone.

Jeremy Burrows 1:00:33
Thanks so much for listening. Check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/138. And don’t forget to check out our sponsor for this episode. Elkhorn peak sellers. Elkhornpeak.com/leaderassistant

Unknown Speaker 1:00:59
please loom you on Apple podcast. Goburrows.com


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