Erin Sizer has over 20 years of experience in the administrative field – mostly in small companies and startups across several industries. She’s worked in the biotech industry for the last five years.
In this episode, Erin talks about networking, being picky when job searching, and how she’s grown personally and professionally through her experience as a Leader Assistant Membership subscriber.
Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.
– Marie Curie
CONNECT WITH ERIN
Erin Sizer has over 20 years of experience in the administrative field – mostly in small companies and startups across several industries. She’s worked in the biotech industry for the last five years.
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Erin Sizer 0:00
Hi, my name is Erin Sizer, and today’s leadership quote is from Marie Curie. Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.
Podcast Intro 0:17
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistant
Jeremy Burrows 0:28
The Leader Assistant Podcast is brought to you by goodie if you send business gifts to employees, clients or sales prospects, goodie is a game changer. You can send one gift or hundreds at a time without ever worrying about shipping details. With goody your gift recipients provide all their shipping info. And they can even swap out your gift for another option if they prefer. It’s free to start gifting and you can get a $20 credit when you sign up. Oh, and if you mentioned you heard about goody from The Leader, Assistant Podcast, goody, we’ll add an extra $10 credit to your account. So go to leaderassistant.com/goody. That’s g o o d y to start gifting today. Again, that’s leaderassistant.com/goody. Hey, friends, thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host, Jeremy Burrows. And today I’m excited to be speaking with Erin Sizer. Erin How’s it going?
Erin Sizer 1:37
Good. How are you? Jeremy?
Jeremy Burrows 1:39
I am doing well. What part of the world are you in?
Erin Sizer 1:44
I live in Boston, Massachusetts.
Jeremy Burrows 1:47
Nice. And are you from that area?
Erin Sizer 1:50
I am although I so I was born here in Boston. And we lived here till I was in junior high. And then we moved to Ohio where my parents were from. And about 10 years ago, I came back here.
Jeremy Burrows 2:06
Awesome. So do you like the cold winter in Boston? Or do you prefer what season? What season? Do you like?
Erin Sizer 2:16
Well, fall is my favorite season. I am. I mean, I like winter, but I am not a fan of like, you know the wind show that says Oh, it feels like minus 10. So that’s what we’ve had recently. I’m not a big fan of that. But you know, if you live in the northeast, you’re gonna have winter,
Jeremy Burrows 2:32
right? Yeah, I think it was we had about six inches of snow here in Kansas City, Missouri today. And it feels like six degrees. I think so. Yeah, that’s stayed inside.
Erin Sizer 2:46
It’s so cool. Yeah, we got about 30 inches 30 or 32 inches a few weeks ago. Some of it is still hanging around.
Jeremy Burrows 2:53
Wow. Yeah, I thought six inches was a lot. Awesome. Well, thanks for being on the show. Let’s jump right in. Why don’t you tell us about your very first job, and then kind of go into how you became an assistant.
Erin Sizer 3:10
Okay, well, other than, so when I was in high school, we had a farm and we had some animals. So other than taking care of the animals as an unpaid, unpaid job for my parents. My very first paying job was at a drive in movie theater. And I loved it, it was great. So I was the ticket taker. And then when we got past a certain period, you know, in the movie, maybe like the first half an hour or something, then I would go back and help them the concession stand. But I really love that job. It was so fun, that people were so nice. And I learned a lot from that about you know, just being friendly with people. I’m I’m an introvert. And that doesn’t doesn’t always come easily to me. But I learned the importance of you know, good customer service, because I think every role has some customer service in it, whether it’s external customers, internal customers, or co workers. So that was my first paying job. That was awesome. And I really liked it. How I got to be an assistant was my first job out of college, I found a role as an office manager, slash receptionist, slash, you know, do anything and everything at a small ad agency. And I really enjoyed it. And it really sort of played to my strengths. I learned a lot I got to be involved in a lot of different aspects of the business and see how everything worked. And the executives I worked with really were very nice, were very helpful. Were me, you know, ready to have somebody sort of learn and grow and it was it was a great experience. I really enjoyed it. And from there I just kept I just kept sort of finding admin roles not because I thought, Oh, this is my career, I just always really liked them. So, and I like doing a lot of different things and being involved in a lot of different ways. And the jobs that I have found have let me do that. So now 20 Some years later, I guess it’s it’s my career.
Jeremy Burrows 5:25
Awesome. Well, I gotta I have to ask what type what type of animals were on the farm?
Erin Sizer 5:31
We had pigs, horses, cows. We had chickens for a while. Not my favorite. They really don’t smell very good. We had dogs and cats. So those will be animals. Yep.
Jeremy Burrows 5:47
Awesome. I have some friends that have a farm. They have in Illinois, and they have let’s see couple horses. bunch of chickens. Ducks on their pond. Oh, nice. And then they have a couple of cows. But we got the farm set for them. Oh, that’s years in a row. And when the kids were younger, and it was a blast to pretend that I was a country. Country.
Erin Sizer 6:16
gentleman farmer right. Yeah. You’re a gentleman farmer. Very nice.
Jeremy Burrows 6:21
Awesome. Well, so you’ve been an assistant for 20 years or so what’s let’s jump right into the fun stuff. What was the biggest mistake? You’ve made an Asus as an assistant? And what did you learn from the experience?
Erin Sizer 6:34
All right. Well, I’ve I’ve made numerous mistakes. However, the one that always sticks in my mind was from a few roles ago, and I was working at a small pharmaceutical drug discovery company. And I was working with the CFO, the chief scientific officer, and older guy, really nice, brilliant. But technology was not really his thing. And he really needed a new laptop, his laptop was just, it barely had any memory left, it ran very slowly, he couldn’t always rely on it to power up. And he and the CEO were going and doing what I call dog and pony shows to raise money. So they would go to New York City. And they would go around to several venture capital firms and do presentations. And I could tell he was he was stressed about thinking his laptop wasn’t going to be able to show his PowerPoint slides. And yet on the other hand, he was really resistant to getting a new laptop. And so we had a person who was helping us with it. And I took it upon myself because of course, I knew exactly what my CSO needed to tell the IT guy to just get him a new laptop, and just transfer all the files from his old one to his new one. Well, my CSO, he wasn’t very happy with me. And so we talked about it. And I realized that I had really kind of hurt his feelings, which was a terrible, which I felt terrible about, because he’s just very, very nice person. And I realized that I can’t always move the speed, I want to move at that I really needed to take into consideration his comfort level or lack of comfort with getting a new laptop. And so it just made me realize that, you know, even though I know he needed a new one, I needed to slow down a bit and find out more about why he was reluctant to get a new one and what the issues were, and then work on helping him within his comfort level. So that was, that was the biggest thing I learned. So we worked it all out and it was fine. But I felt really bad for for kind of pushing him faster than he wanted to be pushed.
Jeremy Burrows 8:55
Yeah, so I’ve kind of experienced that before where I’m like, I just want to get the tasks done. And consider the ramifications. So yeah, that’s a good, good lesson learned. Yes. So okay, so let’s see, do you have a hobby? Um,
Erin Sizer 9:14
I would say I mean, I don’t I’ve had various hobbies over the years, I’d say my latest ones are CrossFit and I don’t know that I would call that a hobby, but I really like it. Um, CrossFit, and I haven’t, I like to run and I used to run a lot of half marathons. I haven’t done that in a while. So I’m thinking of doing another one. I would say you know, those are those are pretty much my hobbies at the moment. Nice.
Jeremy Burrows 9:43
Running is definitely my one of my least favorite things for that so Alright, there’s a lot of assistance, listening and If you had the superpower of being able to snap your fingers, and instantly give all the assistance listening more of blank, what would that be?
Erin Sizer 10:14
Well, I think like many of your podcast guests, I would say confidence and, and I mean that sort of, you know, we can feel confident, but I think a lot of us don’t sort of feel it, in our, in the core of our being, and if if I could snap my fingers, I would give them all confidence that they just that just permeates their entire being and they just know it. So they know it intellectually, and they know it sort of physically in their body, it’s just part of them.
Jeremy Burrows 10:50
How have you grown your confidence or what has helped you be more confident?
Erin Sizer 10:58
Well, a big part of has been paying, being part of the leader, Assistant community, and, you know, having the monthly, you know, coaching calls that the group has with you and Al Hussein and members leading some of those and all the great topics and, and just being part of the community and all the great, all the great assistants around the world who are part of it and, you know, asking questions, helping each other, giving each other kudos and, you know, helping us see the forest for the trees. That that’s helped me, that’s helped me a lot. I mean, I, you know, when I was talking about, you know, feeling confident in your being, I mean, I’ve always thought of myself as a confident person, but I surely then feel like that a lot of the time. So I feel much more like it’s part of my being now than I did before. So, and leader assistant community is is a huge part of that, for me. That’s awesome.
Jeremy Burrows 12:00
Definitely excited to dive into that a little bit more, but you mentioned kind of assistance all over the world. Networking is a big part of the community, obviously, and then can help with confidence, how have you? Or what are what tips do you have for networking with other assistants?
Erin Sizer 12:28
Well, I wouldn’t say I’m the best person to ask that question. I am not, I don’t think I’m very good at that. But being part of, you know, leader, Assistant community, there’s a local admin group that’s on Facebook here in Boston, that’s been helpful. I think just, you know, finding communities that speak to your interests, or you know, whether it’s personally or professionally and being part of those, I mean, so many of those are online now, especially, you know, because of the pandemic that just makes it easier you know, if you’re not feeling like oh, hey, I want to go and hang out with a bunch of people you can just do it virtually online and still get the benefit from it. So for me you know, I’m not one of those people who before the pandemic would have gone to like a big networking event and you know, passed my cards out I don’t have cards anyway. But I wouldn’t have done that and you know, tried to see how many people I could talk to that’s just not my thing. But I do like being part of communities of like minded people who are looking to support one another and help one another. And you know, for beef up their skills personally and professionally. For me that’s that’s super helpful.
Jeremy Burrows 13:54
Yeah, so we knew joined the community you know, you mentioned you’re an introvert I’m an introvert tonight. Yes. So when he joined like How How did you try and I don’t know be more yeah more, participate more and do more than just be a fly on the wall during our our coaching sessions and in the in the online circle community through the leader system, how did you kind of push yourself to put yourself out there?
Erin Sizer 14:34
I am not so much with the monthly coaching calls, although I have gotten better at that because there’s always people with really cool opinions and ideas and stuff like that. So I’m much more interested in listening on those. However, when you know when I log in every day and see what’s going on in the community, you know, if there if somebody is ask a question, and I have some experience with that, or I think I might have Have some kind of know if wisdom is the right word, but but some experience or some knowledge to share, I make sure that I comment or, you know, Give somebody a high five have posted that they had a really great day at work or something really awesome happened or, you know, comment on they’re really cute pets, I love the pet, the pet channel that we have on there, I love seeing people’s pets. So I push myself to comment. If I feel like I could be helpful, and that doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal. But for me it can be it can be a big deal, because you’ve put something out there and like, oh, it’s not gonna sound stupid. But then you have to realize no, of course, it’s not. Because people have asked for help. And they want to know what you think. And if I post something, I want to know what people think I want their help. So I’m never going to look at somebody’s comment, like, I wouldn’t look ever look at someone’s comment and think, oh, gosh, why did they say that? I’m like, That’s awesome. I’m so glad that they put that in there. That’s so helpful. So I have to try to, you know, be confident and apply the same rules to myself and not be, you know, not not downgrade my contribution. But that’s how I try to network and sort of get to know people and find out more about them through through, you know, commenting and posting in the community.
Jeremy Burrows 16:24
Yeah, that’s great. I mean, it’s, it’s tough, because, you know, a lot of us, we everyone’s in a different phase, and everyone’s at a different stage of their career. And some of some of our members, they join and they watch the replays. They don’t come to the live calls. They may not post in circle very much, or if ever, but I still hear from them. And they say, you know, this session was amazing. I’m so glad I watched replay, you know, so we try to be available for people who are like, Oh, I’m all in and I want to be on every live call and I want to talk bunch and I want to be like engaged and you know, versus you know, people they’re like, oh, just want to watch the replays for now and see how it goes. It’s nice to have a diverse subset of people. So
Erin Sizer 17:15
yeah, and I think that’s, that’s one of the that’s a great thing about the community is whatever your level of comfort is, with the interaction, there’s something for you. So yeah, it’s, it’s great. I, you know, I know, we had the book, the book club thing recently, and I was so sorry, I missed doing that live. But my gosh, the book was fantastic. And I really enjoyed reading it. And it was so so helpful to me. And I have not watched the replay yet, but I’m going to
Jeremy Burrows 17:47
Yeah, so what’s the resource that you would recommend to assistants?
Erin Sizer 17:52
Well, I would recommend the leader assistant community for sure. And actually, I have a new colleague who just joined we have an office in Germany, and I’m going to let him know about the NFL and he’s a guy which is amazing. So I’m gonna let him know about the community. Yeah, I would say leader assistant community you know, any of the awesome books out there like your book. The first book I think I read was this by Jim Jones, the CEOs secret weapon. Maggie’s book is really great. I’m trying to think any other ones I’ve read. Those are my top three I think for you know, if you want to read and take notes and and learn that way, but certainly for daily interaction. The leader assistant community is amazing. And you know, like I said, there’s people all over the world. And every people are in different industries, they work with, you know, their companies are small, their companies are big, they work in a department, they have a bunch of other, you know, assistants they work with, or they’re the only one. So there’s a real diversity of experience across the across the community, which is really great.
Jeremy Burrows 19:06
Yeah, so for those listening, we have a leader, Assistant, global community online, and you can find out more at leader asst.com/community. But then there’s so we have like a job market space. We have an Ask, ask for help space, we do weekly zoom chats on Wednesdays. But then we also have kind of the next level, if you will, where we have a premium paid membership where we do group coaching sessions, once a month, and then we have discounts to our online or in person events. A lot of our online events are included in the membership or heavily discounted, and then we have discounts on some of the online courses available. We’re actually planning on moving up Couple of the courses that we do have discounts to we’re planning on just merging them into the membership completely here in the near future, but the paid premium membership, Erin has been a part of for a while now. One of the one of the original members, I believe, if I’m not mistaken, Aaron, but the exciting thing about it is, like Aaron said, we try to put the resources out there so that they’re more on demand so that you can kind of soak them in as time permits in with your schedule. But then we also have the live, live commenting on the forum, platform called circle that we use. But then we have the monthly zoom coaching calls, where we all kind of hop on a Saturday morning, sometimes and we are going to do some in the weekday evenings as well. But anyway, how that’s so that’s just to give people listening context, that’s what we’re talking about. When we say the leader assistant community, and premium membership, the membership, you can find out more information about that at leader asst.com/membership. How Aaron How has being a member helped to grow personally and professionally?
Erin Sizer 21:30
Well, it’s, it’s helped a lot, um, in the bedroom, a wreck has been, you know, just bolstering my confidence and, you know, again, just really sort of knowing it intellectually, and, and, you know, just as part of my being now, which is really amazing, I’ve always sort of struck, I’ve always struggled with confidence and feeling like I was doing enough and so that that’s helped me a lot. You know, it’s been, it’s been great to be able to share my knowledge and experience with other assistants and Pete, you know, other assistants around the world looking for help, or whatever, you know, just have a question and want to know what somebody else may have done. That’s, I, you know, it’s nice to help people and I think that’s why I like being an assistant to I see it as is helping, helping my executive helping my co workers helping, you know, people in my company, and professionally. It’s given me a lot of data sort of, from from the other side of things, you know, sort of, like insider data is what I think of it. As, you know, you and Al Hussein have a lot of industry knowledge that I’m sure we could probably find somewhere. But gosh, it would be really hard to dig it up. And it’s nice to have your perspectives on how things sort of look from the other side, and especially Al Hussein being in HR. So that that has been really, that really helped me a lot, especially in the middle of last year when I decided I needed to. It was time for me to find a new role as much as I really enjoyed where I was working at the time. And the people I worked with our company had been acquired twice. And my role went from quite large to very small. And it it I tried to wait it out and see if it was going to get better. And about 15 months later I decided no, no, it wasn’t going to get better. And it was it was a really difficult decision. But you know, armed with all I had learned from you know, the monthly coaching calls and the other workshops I had been part of and you know, one on one coaching calls with you. I felt really confident in what I was looking for in a new role because I didn’t want it to just be another job. I wanted it to be something really special. So I was really specific about I was extremely picky. So I contacted recruiter I had worked with before. And I gave him the criteria of what I was looking for the industry. I liked biotech a lot. Boston is a great place for biotech, hundreds of them here. So I wanted to stay in biotech. I had a base salary in mind that I wanted. I wanted some equity, and I wanted to work with a either a CEO or a CFO chief scientific officer because I’ve worked with I’ve supported both of them before and I really like working with those kind of individuals and I felt really confident about, you know, the base salary. And the other stuff. I was like were because of the information. I had gotten, you know, through my time, as part of the paid membership, I mean, really, I mean, I could probably be a paid member for the next 100 years and never, you know, never, never go over the amount that that I was able to raise my base salary from, from my previous role to my current role. I probably never spend that amount of money in 100 years. And being a paid member. So I think, you know, I like data. And having that data really made me feel confident that this was what I wanted, I could get it, you know, I’m in Boston, it’s a it’s a big biotech market. Yes, we do get paid more here than you know, if I was looking for this, and let’s say Cincinnati. And so the recruiter was like, Well, I don’t have anything like that right now. I was like, That’s okay. I’ll wait. And I and I, but I, I felt really comfortable saying that, because I knew something would eventually come up. And it did. And it took a couple months, and there were some fits and starts, but my current role is really, it’s great. And I really like it. And it’s, it’s been better than I expected. And I expected it to be really, really good. So it’s been really good. But I don’t I know, I know, I would not have taken that path, I probably would have looked for another role. But it wouldn’t have taken the path of being so picky. Without the knowledge I had. From from being part of the leader system paid membership. Awesome.
Jeremy Burrows 26:55
Yeah, I mean, I know you’re you really liked the people you worked with. And you were really having a hard time making that decision. And
Erin Sizer 27:04
it was so difficult, was so difficult. I’m not sorry, I did it. But it was really it was really Yeah. And you listening to me? sort of work it all out. Over a couple calls was very, very helpful. Yeah, I’m not sorry. And I’m still in touch with them. You know, I still get together with them. But it was it was a really difficult decision. It was.
Jeremy Burrows 27:27
Well, I’m glad that it worked out. And that you’ve got more engaging, exciting opportunity, but also a lot more pay, because you deserve it. And you’re definitely worth the higher salary. And I’m just glad that you landed somewhere that Yeah,
Erin Sizer 27:46
yeah, it’s yeah, it’s amazing on all fronts. It’s it’s just, it’s fantastic. It’s a great place to work with a lot of great coworkers, my executives, amazing. The other executives that I interact with are great. It’s, it’s really, it’s phenomenal.
Jeremy Burrows 28:02
Awesome. So would you have seen or could you have seen yourself being interviewed on a podcast for assistance? For you became a member?
Erin Sizer 28:16
No. No, because I would have thought What is it that I have to talk about that would be of interest to anybody? So no, that definitely not? No?
Jeremy Burrows 28:28
Well, we are glad that you’ve grown in your confidence and put yourself out there in more ways than just being on the podcast. But I’m definitely thankful for you taking time out of your day to chat with us. I’m going to ask the final question, which is what makes an assistant a leader?
Erin Sizer 28:51
I would say just, you know, being that being that person for your executive, or your department, or whoever you support, that they know has their back that they can trust implicitly, you make it look like it’s all magic, but it’s, you know, you’re you’re leaving them time to focus on what they need to focus on, you know, so for my executive, I want him to have time to focus on the science. We’re a drug discovery company, and that’s his passion. He’s just, he’s a physician scientist, and he’s, he’s amazing. And I want him to have time to focus on that, to not think, Oh, I have to get on the you know, I need to talk to this person and I need to schedule this meeting and I can do all that. And I think that’s that’s how we as assistants or leaders, you know, we’re managing conflicting and multiple priorities and demands on our our, you know, executives time and leaving them free to focus on what they need to focus on. Makes us makes us leave hitters.
Jeremy Burrows 30:02
Well said, Erin, well said, Thank you so much for sharing again. If people want to reach out to you, what’s the best way to do that to say hi Connect?
Erin Sizer 30:11
LinkedIn is the best way to do that. I’m not really much on other social media. LinkedIn is the best way and feel free to connect. I always love to connect and and meet new people.
Jeremy Burrows 30:24
Awesome. Well, I’ll put your LinkedIn URL in the show notes. Which speaking of if you’re listening, and you want to check out the show notes. Reach out to reach out to Erin and say, hi, you can find the show notes and leaderassistant.com/155 That’s leaderassistant.com/155. And yeah, thanks again, Erin, for being on the show. We definitely look forward to seeing you at our members only sessions coming up and in the community. As always, if you’re listening and you want to join the community and find out all about what Erin is talking about, and what’s helped her and her professional and personal growth over the last year or two, leaderassistant.com/community to join the free version. Or if you’re ready to jump in and get all of the group coaching and discounts and replays of over I think we’re like 25 or 30 video sessions recorded in the membership right now and it’s continuing to grow. Go to leaderassistant.com/membership to subscribe to the membership. So thanks again, Erin, and we’ll see you soon.
Erin Sizer 31:42
Thanks so much for having me Jeremy. It’s been a pleasure.
Jeremy Burrows 31:45
Thanks for listening and thanks again to Erin for a great conversation check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/155 And we hope you join our premium leader assistant membership at leaderassistant.com/membership.
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