Dawnee Frey is a Senior Executive Assistant with nearly 20 years of experience in the field. Having held positions in construction, legal, healthcare, tech, and biopharma, she is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various clients.
In this episode, Dawnee and I talk about navigating goal setting when it can sometimes be tough to see the assistant role as directly impacting the bottom line. We also talk about how career growth doesn’t have to mean managing people.
Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.
– Tom Peters
CONNECT WITH DAWNEE
Dawnee Frey is a Senior Executive Assistant with nearly 20 years of experience in the field. Having held positions in construction, legal, healthcare, tech, and biopharma she is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various clients. Dawnee is a certified Scrum Master and Product owner who enjoys using Agile project management methodologies in her daily work. She enjoys meeting and collaborating with other EA’s to challenge each other to grow and think outside the box.
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Dawnee Frey 0:00
Hi, my name is Dawnee Frey and today’s leadership quote comes from Tom Peters. Leaders don’t create followers they create more leaders
Podcast Intro 0:15
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants
Jeremy Burrows 0:30
The Leader Assistant Podcast is brought to you by goody. If you’re starting to think about holiday gifts for your team like I am, goody is a game changer. They have amazing gifts that people will really love including brands that give back to charitable causes. As a longtime executive assistant, I’ve always been nervous about holiday gifting season. But thankfully, goody’s platform lets you send one gift or hundreds at the same time without ever worrying about shipping details. Can I get an amen? 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 will add an extra $10 credit to your account. Go to leaderassistant.com/goody to start gifting today. Hey friends, welcome to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host, Jeremy Burrows. And today is episode 195. You can check out the show notes for this episode at leaderassistant.com/195 Leaderassistant.com/195. And today I am excited to be speaking with Dawnee Frey. Dawnee is a senior executive assistant at blink health. Dawnee thank you so much for being on the show.
Dawnee Frey 2:01
Thank you for having me.
Jeremy Burrows 2:03
So I pinged a bunch of people are actually just kind of broadly posted on LinkedIn and said, Hey, does anybody want to be on the podcast. And much to my surprise and delight, there were very, quite a few assistants who reached out and said, Hey, I’d love to be on the show. And you are one of them done a and we’ve known each other for a while you joined our leader assistant, Zoom chats on a fairly regular basis. And you’ve had a few job situations that you’re wrestling with. And I loved how you would show up to those calls and just ready to kind of put it out there and seek help from the community. And much like you put yourself out there and to be on the show today. Takes takes guts and courage to do that. So props to you for doing that and being a leader and leading yourself in that way. But before we dive into your professional journey, tell us a little bit about yourself. What city do you live in? Do you have any hobbies? Do you have cats or turtles or kids or all the above?
Dawnee Frey 3:16
I live in the Seattle area. So we just started our rainy season. I have a 14 year old son and I have two bonus children, a three year old and a seven year old. And I have three American Bully dogs.
Jeremy Burrows 3:38
Nice nice. What are the dog’s names?
Dawnee Frey 3:42
Spike Hazel and Rxi.
Jeremy Burrows 3:45
Nice. Nice. Sounds like you have a lot of fun then around the house.
Dawnee Frey 3:51
Yeah, are my hobbies are my kids and my dogs? Always busy?
Jeremy Burrows 3:58
Yeah, fair enough. Fair enough. Well, so tell us a little bit about your career. How did you you know, where did kind of you get kicked off in, you know, just your career journey and the administrative support world and assistant world?
Dawnee Frey 4:16
Yeah, um, while I was attending community college for my associate’s degree, I was working multiple jobs. And one of them was at a bathroom remodel company. And I would call leads and set up appointments with the salespeople. And within months that morphed into a office manager role. So I started running the office. And that kind of started my career and I was actually laid off in the 2008 recession and found myself working at Group Health which has been a hired by Kaiser. And I worked there on and off for about 10 years. Which, yeah, and a couple years ago, Kaiser did a mass layoff. I think it was like 119 of us laid off at the beginning of COVID. And I kind of spent a year diving into your podcasts, Maggie Jacobs book, The elevated EA and yearbook and really decided I was just gonna die there in and really elevate my career from just, you know, administrative assistant work to an EA, and I landed my first EA role supporting the entire C suite, a CEO, a president, the CTO, VP of Marketing and VP of sales. So yeah, and so that was really great role and taught me a lot, but burnout was real. So I ended up finding myself at blink health, where I support the CTO and the VP of growth, and I’m just learning time so it’s, it’s been a really courageous couple years, but it’s been my favorite.
Jeremy Burrows 6:33
Great, well, tell us like what your favorite part about being an assistant is.
Dawnee Frey 6:41
Um, I kind of equate being an assistant as my natural mothering abilities, I’m making sure my executives, okay, and taking care of and predicting needs, and it’s just really feeds my need to nurture people and take care of people and bridge, I think I really enjoy bridging that gap between staff and the executives like really becoming that person who makes the executives more feel more personable and available. So I really enjoy that part.
Jeremy Burrows 7:25
Yeah, it’s awesome to try to connect the dots and support. And yeah, like the nurture part that you mentioned, just because it’s very, this assistants that I talk with, and myself included, as I’m currently still an assistant. But we, you know, we we get up in the morning, and we just really get excited about helping other people. Which is definitely a unique trait for sure.
Dawnee Frey 8:01
It is, it’s the amount of compassion that assistants have for their executive just knows no bounds. So it’s, it’s a pretty awesome job.
Jeremy Burrows 8:12
Yeah. Well, on the flip side, you mentioned burnout a little bit, I know you had your hands full and your last role, what’s maybe one of the most challenging parts or your least favorite part about your assistant career.
Dawnee Frey 8:31
Growth is painful. So I think as you’re growing, especially my role grew very quickly, you’re gonna make mistakes, things are going to take longer to figure out because you’re figuring them out for the first time. And and that can be painful and exhausting while you’re trying to, to learn and really, like come into your new role. And that that can take a toll on you. And I I also think I’m one of those people that really internalize my mistakes and instantly I’m like, you can never do that again, we gotta fix this. So I think I can be hard on myself and you know, supporting five execs in a, you know, takes a lot of time to get to know each one and find out their needs and it was just very mentally taxing. So I think the initial growth into the role is probably my least favorite but once you find your jam, then it’s game on.
Jeremy Burrows 9:48
Yeah, everything changes. So
Dawnee Frey 9:50
yeah, you you can start once you know your spec and their needs, you can really start finding your niche and and How to really help them meet their goals. And that’s exciting when you start seeing, you know, your exec become successful because of the things you put in place.
Jeremy Burrows 10:12
Yeah. Well, speaking of goals, how do you navigate goal setting when you’re not really and we as assistants? It’s hard to see ourselves as a revenue generating role or, you know, a bottom line. Impact role? How do we how do you navigate goal setting? And how do you tie it back to tie what we do back to the overall goals of the organization?
Dawnee Frey 10:47
Yeah, um, I try to align my executive strategic goals or KPIs. With my own. I think I talked about Maggie Jacob says in her book, your goal is to help your executive get to their next level. I think the way I tried to approach it is redirecting conversations with my exec and finding out their vision, their plans, their values, and trying to get their attention so we can align, so I can do my job better. And I’ve just learned through you that my best asset is managing their time. So I set my goals basically, the best way I can put it is, I need to make time for them to do their job successfully. So I’m having a time doing time studies on their calendar, I absolutely loved your Zapier. Calendar audit. Yeah, it was amazing. It was the game changer for me. Because I could then show my executive, you know, this is how you’re allocating your time. This is where we need to adjust and shift if this is the goal, you need to hit this quarter. So that’s really how I started setting my goals was, you know if I can give my exec the time that we planned, and make sure he has a dedicated time to do his work to reach the goals, then we’re both successful. Yes, sir. So I tried to really kind of roll up my goals into each of my execs. So I knew if they had time, then we were going to reach our goals. And that’s that’s really kind of well, I’ll say that’s my professional goal setting personal goals.
Jeremy Burrows 13:07
Right, right. Well, and for those listening, there’s a calendar audit tool that I use with Google Calendar, and Zapier and you can check out there’s a free video course I put together with the templates on how I use that, and that’s what Don is referring to, but you can go to track dot assistance guide.com and you can sign up for that free video course walkthrough. And I walked through how exactly I do the calendar audit for my executive, again using Google Calendar and Zapier, but that’s track dot assistants guide.com. Check that out. All right, well done a What about career growth? You know, you I ask when I have people on the show, I asked them what topics would you like to discuss and one of those use mentioned, I like how you said it’s career growth as a lattice versus a ladder, and how being an individual contributor should hold the same value as a people manager. So talk about the difference between what you meant by a lattice versus a ladder.
Dawnee Frey 14:23
Yeah, I think a lot of people think growth within the organization means that you know, you wouldn’t need a title change and to start managing people versus a lattice where you can grow within your role or laterally and still have compensation and and still find areas of you know, you like working in I don’t necessarily want a title change because I love my position so much, but I still want to grow within my role. So I think you know where career ladders can feel like you’re waiting for somebody to, like, dictate how far you can go. But I think we can explore nonlinear opportunities of growth, like, I support a CTO. So I became a certified scrum master and product owner. So I would understand how projects move along, you know, in the tech, tech space, and that’s helped me a lot in my career. And it also tied in with project management, which, all yeas no those projects come. So it’s grown. I’ve grown within my role, and got certified in things that may not necessarily what I do, but has helped me and I think, you know, high performing employees have high output passion. And we can be individual contributors without becoming people managers. And I just think it’s really important that, you know, to express that, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my execs ask, would you ever want to be a manager or a supervisor, and it honest, it doesn’t appeal to me, I really like being, you know, a high performing individual contributor. But I think there’s definitely ways we can explore to grow our roles within you know, I know, I, I listened to a podcast where an EAA became certified in editing documents. And that’s, that’s a skill set that we all use. And I think there’s just different ways we can be valued as individual contributors versus, you know, people managers and still grow and be successful within our roles.
Jeremy Burrows 17:14
Yeah, I resonate with that a lot. I’ve been asked in the past, by prior roles, like, hey, you know, you could be a director of operations someday. And I’m like, Yeah, put up with I don’t know, if I want to do that. There’s nothing wrong with it. You know, some people are like, oh, you know, you’re not pushing yourself enough, or whatever. It’s like, No, I can grow, like you said, you can grow laterally, you can grow in your individual contributor role. And you see that a lot in specialist roles, like, even software engineers, and software developers, you see that where you’ve got this really great software engineer, and you promote them to manage a team. And then they really struggle because they’re like, I just really enjoy developing in coding. I don’t really enjoy the people part. And so I’ve seen that a lot where it’s like, you promote someone you think, Oh, they’re there. They’re our best engineers. So let’s make a Manager Well, it doesn’t go well. And you essentially, you have to put him back in a non managerial position, so that they can thrive with what they enjoy and what they’re good at. And that individual contributor role role. So yeah, well said. Well done a what, what’s maybe one thing that you mentioned, you got into the podcast, you got into the books and really finding your the resources and finding yourself throughout that journey? What’s one thing that you would encourage assistants listening with? So if there’s one thing you think, Okay, what’s one takeaway, or take home? tidbit from this episode that you want those listening to take away? What would that be?
Dawnee Frey 19:07
Invest in yourself. I think for years, I just thought, you know, it was up to me and my manager to figure out my career path. But I started really realizing like, I’m the only one looking out for me, I have to invest in myself and I started buying the books, and going to the seminars and, you know, paying for the webinars, and it’s it’s propelled my career in the last two years, in ways I never thought and I just I know it always feels like Oh, it’s so expensive, but it’s, it’s your entire career and it’s in worth you’re worth investing in. You’re totally worth it. Oh, yeah,
Jeremy Burrows 20:02
well said, Well, what’s, you know, where’s a good place for folks to find you if they want to say hi.
Dawnee Frey 20:10
LinkedIn is the best way. Just search Dawnee N, as in Nancy Frey, and I’d be happy to connect with anybody.
Jeremy Burrows 20:24
Great. Well, I’ll definitely put that link in the show notes at leaderassistant.com/195 Leaderassistant.com/195 Dawnee, Thank you so much for being on the show. They’re really appreciated. You shared a little bit of your story and your insight and yeah, taking that courageous step of reaching out and saying, hey, I’ll be on the show. So appreciate it.
Dawnee Frey 20:50
Podcast Outro 21:02
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