Shelli Wassall is an Executive Assistant with over 20 years of experience, and currently partners with two Sr. Vice Presidents in the telecommunications construction industry.
In this episode, Shelli shares insight from her 20 years of experience in the administrative professional world and discusses supporting two executives with different personalities (who have never had an assistant). Shelli also chats about the importance of a healthy culture within an organization, and more.
When you stop learning, you stop growing.
– Kenneth H. Blanchard
CONNECT WITH SHELLI
Shelli Wassall is an Executive Assistant with over 20 years of experience. Shelli currently partners with two Sr. Vice Presidents in the telecommunications construction industry at ADB Companies in Pacific, MO.
While Shelli’s role as an EA in a rapidly growing company keeps her busy, it also offers several opportunities for her to follow her passion around helping others. Shelli is a mentor to several EAs within her business as well as EAs across the United States. Shelli is an active committee member for the Health and Wellness cultural pillar at her organization where she takes part in bringing events and challenges to team members to support their mental, physical, and all-around well-being. Shelli expands her passion for bringing healthy opportunities outside of her organization by teaching a free cardio kickboxing class in her community twice a week.
Shelli has been happily married for 24 years and together her husband and her have two daughters, one grandchild, and another one due in 2023.
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Jeremy Burrows 0:00
200 episodes. Wow, I cannot believe this is episode 200 of The Leader Assistant Podcast. But it is. And it’s very exciting. I’m very encouraged that you all are still listening. Thank you so much for your support over the last few years, and the last 200 episodes. Here’s to 200 more. I have a lot of fun interviews coming up. 2023 is going to be a great year. And yeah, if you want to be on the show, shoot me an email at email@example.com. We’d love to have you share your story on the podcast. And yeah, just thanks for being on the show. Sharing the show reviewing the show all the things it’s been a wild ride and I’m excited for the next 200 episodes. And I hope you enjoy this episode 200 You can check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/200. And I’ll stop talking and let you enjoy it
Podcast Intro 1:02
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants
Shelli Wassall 1:14
I am Shelli Wassall. Today’s leadership quote comes from Kenneth H. Blanchard. When you stop learning you stop growing.
Jeremy Burrows 1:23
The Leader Assistant Podcast is exclusively brought to you by Goody which provides effortless gifting for all occasions. If you’re tired of sending tacky impersonal business gifts, then you should definitely check out goody my friends at goody offer a collection of hundreds of curated brands like Levain bakery, Thera body, milk bar, and Ember mugs. With goodie, if your recipient doesn’t like your gift, they can swap it out for one they do like you can find perfect gifts for any occasion. Whether it’s work anniversaries, birthdays, new hire onboarding or company swag. It’s free to start gifting and you get a $20 credit when you sign up. Also, be sure to mention The Leader Assistant Podcast when signing up and goody will add an extra $10 credit to your account. So go to leaderassistant.com/goody to disrupt the inefficiencies in your team’s gifting strategy. Again, that’s a leaderassistant.com/goody Hey friends, thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host Jeremy Burrows and today I’m speaking with Shelli Wassall. And Shelli is an executive assistant with over 20 years of experience. And she currently partners with two senior vice presidents in the telecommunications construction industry at a D B companies. Shelli? How’s it going?
Shelli Wassall 2:52
Yeah, how are you today?
Jeremy Burrows 2:54
I’m hanging in there been a little little bit of a crazy day did some painting this morning doing some podcasts still got paint on my fingernails. So been all over the place today. But what part of the country are you in?
Shelli Wassall 3:08
I am in Pacific, Missouri, which is just a hair west of St. Louis County in Missouri.
Jeremy Burrows 3:16
Nice. Yes. I know where Pacific is having lived in St. Louis for 16 years or so. So great to have a another Missouri assistant on the show. So why don’t we talk about your personal side for a minute. You know, Do you have pets, kids hobbies? Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Shelli Wassall 3:37
Yes, I have a wonderful husband. We’ve been married for 24 years. We have a daughter that just turned 23 And she has a one year old little boy and she has another little boy on the way and 2023 and then we have a 13 Almost 14 year old daughter. She’s a very busy, competitive cheer athlete. So we travel all over the place. We’re actually heading to Kansas City next month for competition, and I do have two dogs. I have an English Mastiff, which is a very big dog. And then I have a little Jack Russell Terrier. So we kind of have, you know the opposites. And for hobbies, I teach a free cardio kickboxing class. And I also like to do stuff on my Cricut. So I like to make vinyl art and T shirts and that kind of stuff.
Jeremy Burrows 4:34
Wow. So, kickboxing, is that right?
Shelli Wassall 4:37
Yes, but it’s cardio so I don’t beat anybody up. It’s all it’s all punching and kicking the air to music.
Jeremy Burrows 4:44
But you could beat somebody up if you had to. Only if
Shelli Wassall 4:47
I turn on the radio Yes. Beat you up to an eight count.
Jeremy Burrows 4:53
Nice. How did you get into that?
Shelli Wassall 4:56
So I we lived a Pacific many years ago. Oh, and there, if you familiar with Eureka is just up the road, there was a class that was being offered. And I thought I would check it out. My oldest was four years old, I think at the time, and I, you know that, hey, be great to go get some exercise. So I started taking a class there. And fast forward, I had a head on collision. And I broke my right femur. So I have a metal rod and my right femur. And, you know, I was I was very down thinking, you know, I’m not gonna be active anymore, and I fail to do the things that I can do anymore. And, you know, a lot of sweat, blood, tears, prayer, everything, you know, went into my recovery, it took probably about five months. And we were also hit pretty hard financially because of the accident. And I just couldn’t justify, you know, paying for classes because I needed to feed my family. And my husband’s like, well, you’re really good at this. Why don’t you consider teaching it? And I was like, Oh, nobody will come to my classes, like, sure they will. So we talked with our church at the time. And the pastor was like, Yeah, I think that’d be a great ministry. So that’s why, partly why I do it for free, because I started in the church, but I also felt like, Hey, I couldn’t afford it anymore. And it was something I loved. And I never wanted anybody to feel like, I want to do this, but I can’t afford it. So I’m not going to do it. So fast forward. 15 years later, I now teach it in our local school district lets me use one of the school buildings twice a week to teach it. So that’s just an outreach, something that I enjoy doing. But I also feel other people should have the opportunity and not feel like they can’t do it because of money.
Jeremy Burrows 6:47
Wow, that’s awesome. It’s stuff. Well, let’s, let’s switch gears and talk about your career as an assistant. How did you end up in the administrative professional career path?
Shelli Wassall 7:02
Well, when I was younger, I actually started, you know, probably like most people did, I had my first restaurant job. And then I moved into retail. I sold shoes for many years that’s started a very bad addiction of mine, I probably have over 260 pair of shoes. I’m not kidding. Yeah, I’m the shoe queen in my town, I guess. But I took took several receptionist positions, my mom had always told me growing up, if you if you know how to type, you could probably find a job just about anywhere. So I took that to heart and I took a couple typing classes, you know, throughout middle school in high school, took a job as a receptionist, at a was it was a pharmaceutical company like they they returned pharmaceuticals for pharmacies, like the expired drugs like they would go to travel the country. So I took a job like that. And I liked the office to atmosphere. So I just kept taking receptionist positions. But every time I took a position i I never wanted to make a lateral move. I always wanted to move up. So I just would talk to the other admins in the office and ask them, you know, Can Can I help you with this? Can you show me how to do that? So I’m really dating myself, I learned Lotus 123 And Annie Pro that was before Word and Excel. And I just like, you know, I just kept taking jobs that that led up to that, well, I ended up an electrical contractor in law, I won’t say the year. And I took a job as a project assistant. And again, I just kept saying, Hey, can I help with this? Can I help with that I just wanted to learn and grow. And I worked for them for three years, got married, had my first child decided I was going to stay home and be be a stay at home mom. And when she was going to start kindergarten, my husband said hey, I’m not telling you, you have to go to work. But, you know, if you’re looking for something to do during the day, you know, that might be an idea. So I called my old company back and I said if you know anybody looking for somebody part time, you know, I’d be really happy to just take that role. The president at that time called me the next day and he said you know what, I don’t have an assistant right now. Why don’t you come in and we can talk and see what we could do. Before I left the company before she was born, he had left me like a really nice note five $100 bills on my desk telling me, you know how great of an employee I was Call me anytime. So it was, I mean it was it was just it was a match made in heaven. It was meant to be so I just kind of walked into the position. He was the president. He was an executive he needed an assistant. It wasn’t by union You’d think that I, you know, I didn’t take classes or anything special, just, hey, come assist me. And then it just grew from there. His daughter later came in as the corporate attorney, same thing, I was like, hey, I can help you out if you need help with anything. So I just started working with her, she eventually took over the company, I continued to be her assistant, I helped her get her web e helped her fill out all the paperwork. And, you know, it was just, it was a really exciting time there. And, you know, after 20 years, when my kids started to grow, you know, it was a great company, it just didn’t really have a lot of growth opportunities, because it was a smaller, you know, family company. And I felt like, Okay, I dedicated all this time for my children. Now it’s time for me to kind of grow up and do something for me. So I reached out, I saw this ad for the company I’m with now. And I applied, they called me within a couple hours, you know, the recruiter that I had my first you know, it was during COVID. So we did like a FaceTime interview, and then I came in for a face to face. The gentleman I work for now didn’t hire me at first, but it’s a really cute story. He’s just a, he’s got a big heart. And he really felt like the person that he offered the position to first really needed the job. Where I was, I was just looking for a change. So I don’t hold any grudges, because I just kind of told me what a what a great guy he was. But lo and behold, here I am. I knew the job was mine. And it all kind of fell in place.
Jeremy Burrows 11:42
Wow. That’s awesome. So what’s, what was something? Because you were at the last company for a long time. So what was one of the hardest parts about changing companies after so many years?
Shelli Wassall 11:57
Comfort, you, you kind of get an A, you kind of get in your comfort zone? You kind of doubt yourself? Can I really move into another company and other role can I really be as good as they say I am. You know, it just it was it was scary. But I just kind of told myself, if this is a mistake, then I’ll just try again. Because when you’re doing something for so many years, you kind of mature as you’re doing it and you just realize that it’s never the end of the road. So if you do go down a path, and it doesn’t work for you, you just kind of find that detour and go in other directions. So I kind of gave myself a little pep talk. I was nervous. I was excited. And yeah, it was it was not easy. But I just knew in my heart that I wasn’t happy. A lot of band aids were put on situations. But eventually those wounds still come out. And it was just time for me to move on and see what else was out there for me.
Jeremy Burrows 13:00
Nice. So you support to Vice President, senior vice presidents. When you you know when I kind of gather information before having people on my show, I asked them hey, are there any topics you want to discuss? And you mentioned that they’re both different personalities? And I guess they both have never had an assistant before. Is that right? Okay. And then you know, so you said you be happy to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly about supporting to two executives with different personalities who’ve never had an assistant before. So I’m, I’m all ears
Shelli Wassall 13:37
up. So Eric is the one that originally hired me when he first hired me, he ran two divisions, he ran engineering and the PMO group which project management and he really had a heart and a passion for engineering. And he wanted to see both divisions grow, but he didn’t feel that he could do them justice if He stayed over both of them. He’s certainly very capable, but he really had visions, you know, for the engineering side. More so so he, you know, talk to our CEO, he thought Hey, be great to have, you know, a VP come in to run the PMO side of things. So you know, he put some feelers out, he found an amazing person to take on that job. Her name is Andrea. And naturally since I already reported to Eric and helped him with engineering and PMO. The natural progression I guess, would be Hey, Shelly can also help Andrea since she already knows people. She knows the team and whatnot. But Eric was a he was promoted, probably. I think about a year. Well, it was probably just a couple of months before I came in. I believe he He received his promotion. And that’s why he was looking for an EA. So he’s just he’s really open and really likes our puddles we huddle every Monday we go over his schedule, we actually did it today because he just got back from PTO. And we just don’t want to miss these, these huddles because they’re really important. And I sent him an agenda ahead of time that he can fill out. And then I have my own agenda topics that we can talk about. And he just loves that. So his, we took personality quizzes, and his top one was analytical. And then he’s a driver. So he the analytical part, he likes the organization, he likes that I come prepared, or I’d have like hair, here’s what we need to talk about, or can you tell me ahead of time, you know, what you want to talk about? Andrea is a driver first. And she’s a super smart woman, and she’s, she’s got such great visions. She doesn’t like my agendas, you know, to start off, she, she’s like, well, I already write stuff down, and then I’ll just call you and we’ll talk about it. So, you know, that was a little bit of a challenge for me, because I’m also analytical, that’s my first personality trait in this particular was that we took, and she even jokes, it says the drivers tend to drive analytical people nuts. So, but she’s just, she’s just an amazing person. She’s got a lot of ideas, she is new in the role, and she just really wants to make the company better. So she’s just go, go, go, go, go, go, go. Whereas Eric is more I can sit back. And I can think about things, I can analyze things and kind of see the big picture. So they’re just, they’re both very, super smart, amazing leaders, they just are really different on how they lead. So for me, it’s just a challenge, or it has been at times where, you know, there’s days where I just joke and say, I’m done, I can’t do this anymore. But I would, I would never do that. Because I just I love both of them. And I love the I love the challenge. And I didn’t get that at my last company, it just seemed like I sat at my desk and was like, I just did the same thing every day. So here, it’s almost like every day is something new. And I just, I just love it. And I’m growing, and I’m learning and I it’s it’s never gonna stop. And I think it’s neat that the three of us are doing it together, because they never had assistants. I am, you know, leaving them and helping them to know how to have an assistant, I’m basically training them to have an assistant. And it’s, it’s going really well. Now, you know, like I said, I’ve had some challenging days, I’ve learned not to take anything personally. And that would probably be my advice to anyone out there that is dealing with this, you know, don’t take it personally. Because you can’t change somebody, you can only change how you react to it. And it’s, that’s what I love about it. It’s just really helping me grow in so many different ways.
Jeremy Burrows 18:17
Yeah, that’s great. I love how you said, you know, you’re leading them, because they don’t really know what they’re doing when it comes to working with an assistant. But you’ve been an assistant for so long. You can take charge and say, Hey, this is how an efficient and strategic partnership works. And so just follow me, you know. So let’s talk about another topic that you brought up in beforehand, the importance of a healthy culture within within an organization, what what’s your kind of, you know, two minute definition of a healthy culture, and then we’ll get into maybe some examples and through your experience.
Shelli Wassall 18:56
Sure. Healthy culture, to me is just creating an environment where your team members want to be there. And I just really feel like I found that here. I enjoy getting in my car every morning and heading to the office. I look forward to it. And I know that sounds crazy to some people because I never thought it was possible. But it’s just the this company just offers such a great balance work life balance, you know, they offer so many great opportunities for employees to really get involved in so many different areas. Everybody’s friendly. You know, it’s just, it’s just a great time. I love working in the office. I love being around this team because I really feel that they have an amazing culture here.
Jeremy Burrows 19:50
And how have you as an assistant, or how can assistants listening really helped to shape whatever it may be what What’s one or two practical, you know, tips, tricks, whatever you want to call them, for how to shape the company culture.
Shelli Wassall 20:11
I mean, always, well, it’s hard to be always positive, but try your best. Try your hardest to be positive, I have an open door policy, anybody knows that anytime they can come in my office, they can close the door, they can vent, they can cry, they can ask for advice. You know, Eric, always, we kind of joke that I’m kind of the office psychologist. It just just really be there for people and express your ideas, you know, even if they don’t go anywhere. Now, you know, just if you’re, if you’re planting these ideas, don’t be afraid, because no idea is a dumb idea. You know, whether or not somebody is going to run with that idea, you know, you put the ball in their court. But if you’ve got an idea of how you can make the company better, or how you can bring team members together, or even spread, like, joy and happiness to the community, you know, come up with ways to do that. When I first came on board, I was super excited about the Salvation Army Angel Tree Project, because I left that up at my last company. And I you know, it’s kind of hesitant, you know, and I asked about it, hey, we do something like this. And you know, I’m getting ready to start year two, I’ve got the tags in my office right now to start buying presents for underprivileged kids here in St. Louis. So that’s, that’s become one of our cultural events that we do is we do the angel tree every year now. And it just came from a question, Hey, is it okay, if I do this here, and everybody was excited and jumped right on board?
Jeremy Burrows 21:47
Awesome. Well, Shelley, thank you so much for chatting on the show. I want to kind of wrap up with one topic, mentoring. So what what’s your experience with mentoring? And, you know, being a mentor or mentoring others? Have those opportunities presented themselves to you? And how can you know those listening, really jump into that world?
Shelli Wassall 22:15
Absolutely. So I believe we are all mentors who may not know it, but I believe that we’re all mentors. You know, anytime somebody comes to you, you know, for advice that question, you know, whatever it may be, you are mentoring, and vice versa. I actually started mentoring, partly because of you, Jeremy, I joined your Wednesday calls. And I also do calls with as ASAP. And they do coffee breaks, and which is also as kind of a zoom, you know, peer group meeting. And Justin, you know, people will ask questions, and I’ll, I talk a lot. I don’t like silence. So if I hear a question, and I’m like, Oh, I really know what to say, you know, I try to hold back a little bit wait to see if anybody’s gonna talk. And if they don’t, I do. And I’ve had people reach out to me, like on LinkedIn, like, Oh, I saw you on the the coffee break? Can we sit down and talk? Or can we schedule meetings or whatever. So I have to kind of three that I met through you and through ASAP that I have regular hour long calls, you know, once a month with, and yes, they’ve asked me to mentor them, but I learned a lot as well. And then I have a couple girls in the office there. There’s one that’s like a brand new EA, she asked me if we could start a mentorship. Private doing it. I’d say about eight months. And she comes into my office once a month. And we just chat. I have her come with questions. I have her tell me how things are going, you know, and it’s just it’s very casual. I don’t really I the very first time I did have an agenda. But I learned that really, if you’re the mentor, they need the mentee needs to come to you with an agenda with their questions. They need to lead it you don’t really you know, you shouldn’t be the one leading it. Now if there’s like dead you know, you’re staring at each other then obviously, you know, you can you know, yeah, yeah, you can get them engaged, but I just I just love it and it’s just one of those things that just really excites me. I don’t ever want to see that go away. And I just I just want to keep it going. You know, I just I really enjoy helping people. I don’t know everything but I’m happy to share my experience and what I do know what works, what doesn’t work. I read a lot of books yours Of course, being one of them that I have recommended to several of the people that I mentor and if anybody ever thought calls me on LinkedIn. I like to do book little book reports. And so yours is on there somewhere. It’s been a while, but it’s on there somewhere.
Jeremy Burrows 25:09
Awesome. Well, that’s, that’s great. And thank you so much for pouring back into the assistant community. And speaking of LinkedIn, I’ll put your LinkedIn URL in the show notes at leaderassistant.com/200. Leaderassistant.com/200. And if maybe I think you shared your Facebook link as well, if you’re cool with that, I’ll share that on there so people can reach out and network and say hi. And then just to wrap up, I see you know, I know people listening can’t see this because it’s audio only, obviously. But I see on the back of your behind your desk and I see stay humble. I can’t see the first part. There it is. Dream big. Work hard. Stay humble. And is that a heel? Is that uh, hi.
Shelli Wassall 25:55
I told you I’m the shoe queen. Yes. Right. It was a high heel. And I did that with my Cricut.
Jeremy Burrows 26:01
Nice. Love it. Well, that’s a great way to wrap it up. Thank you again, Shelli. And good luck to you. And yeah, well, we’ll talk soon. Thanks for being on the show.
Speaker 3 26:11
Thank you, Jeremy. And thanks for having me. I think I told you on a LinkedIn post one time that it was a bucket list goal of mine to be on one of your podcasts. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
Jeremy Burrows 26:23
Awesome. Well, you can check that off your list move on to the next one. Yes.
Unknown Speaker 26:37
Please review on Apple podcasts.
Unknown Speaker 26:47