yvette nieves - the leader assistant podcast

Yvette Nieves has been an Executive Assistant for 25+ years in multiple industries.

In this episode of The Leader Assistant Podcast, Yvette talks about working with executives who have a hard time letting go of control, being part of an executive assistant team, supporting multiple executives, and asking for a seat at the table.

Jeremy Burrows and Yvette Nieves screenshot Leader Assistant Podcast


Leadership is a state of mind characterized by the willingness to serve and show humbleness, being kind, having integrity, being trustworthy and honest. A good leader will teach and serve with a humble and pure heart.


Yvette Nieves Leader Assistant Podcast


Yvette Nieves has been an Executive Assistant for 25+ years. The diversity of her position offers her learning opportunities as and she supports and collaborates with C-Suite level executives, upper management and colleagues.

Yvette is detail-oriented, a self-starter and trustworthy with a high regard of integrity and a strong work ethic.

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Yvette Nieves 0:00
Hi everyone. My name is Yvette Nieves and today’s leadership quote is leadership is a state of mind characterized by the willingness to serve and show humbleness, being kind, having integrity, being trustworthy and honest and a good leader will teach and serve with a humble and pure heart.

Podcast Intro 0:25
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants.

Jeremy Burrows 0:40
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Yvette Nieves 1:48
Great. Hi, Jeremy. Thank you for having me here today.

Jeremy Burrows 1:51
Yeah, I’m excited to jump in and learn more about you. And it’s it’s great to meet you. Finally, Are you on the East Coast? Is that right?

Yvette Nieves 2:00
Yes, I am in the New York area. I’m out in Long Island.

Jeremy Burrows 2:06
Awesome. And are you from that area?

Yvette Nieves 2:08
Originally from Queens, but I have been living in Long Island for about 20 or 25 years. After I got married, we moved out to Long Island. It’s great.

Jeremy Burrows 2:23
Great. And what a little bit about you yourself personally. Do you have any hobbies? Do you have any pets kids?

Yvette Nieves 2:31
Yes. So I am married for actually going to be married 32 years at the end of this year. Thank you. Thank you. We have one son, he is going to be 24 And next month. And we have two dogs. We have a morkie. He’s a mix. And he’s about 14. And then we have a puppy that my son got last year who is 11 months old. That’s her barking. She’s Yeah, she’s a little Schnauzer, and she’s a miniature. She’s really cute. Very rambunctious has a lot of energy. And so yeah, so I live here on this island. And I love photography. I’ve always loved photography. So I’ve been doing photography since the late 1980s, if you can believe that. And it is just a passion that I have. And sometimes I have dry spells where I don’t pick up the camera at all. And then there are days where and weeks that I pick up that camera and I just go for walks at the park, I go to the beaches, and I take pictures of everything. I take pictures of landscapes, you know people places, and so that’s me in a nutshell. I love photography. I love going to church I used to sing in a choir, so I love worship music and things like that. Well that’s me.

Jeremy Burrows 4:00
Oh, that’s great. Love it. I used to I used to sing in church as well. So okay, and common. What uh, so you are speaking to photography. So you actually worked at Canon, is that right? That’s correct. Yes. What got you into photography?

Yvette Nieves 4:17
No, actually, no, I was into photography before going to Cannes and I was dying to go work for Canon. And I had a Canon camera, even before I got the job. And when I found out they were looking for administrative assistants, I just, you know, applied and got the job and was thrilled because I just, that’s like something close to my heart photography. So it was it was great. Working for them.

Jeremy Burrows 4:44
Nice. Was that your first assistant job?

Yvette Nieves 4:47
No, actually I been an assistant for a long time. I started as a receptionist slash secretary. Back in the days where you The the assistant set in the front and greeted, you know, people and I’m sure they still do that now. But it was back where we would do a lot of filing a lot of manual processes and back things and send things via a tallix. So I’ve been working as an assistant for gosh, probably since the mid 80s. Up until now, that’s been a long time. Wow.

Jeremy Burrows 5:28
So what pushed you into this career?

Yvette Nieves 5:33
Well, as a child, I want to say I always like paperwork. It’s so funny. I always like paper, I always had notebooks, I was wanting to write things, I always wanted to be in charge of something. So I always had a pocket book with my pad and my my pens and stuff. And I just liked organizing things. So I didn’t know where I was gonna go with that, you know, as a child just growing up, I just knew that I liked to take care of things, write things down, and just like kind of keep order and detail. So I think I just kind of gravitated to that somehow.

Jeremy Burrows 6:13
So were you pretty heartbroken when technology started to come in and you weren’t able to do as much paper?

Yvette Nieves 6:21
Yes, and now. Yeah, when we first started with the computers, I remember. At one of my jobs, I worked for a paper company called World color press. I think they got they merged or got taken over by callback or printing. But I remember working at that job and typing on an IBM Selectric typewriter, the one with the round ball on it. And I used to love when I had things to type because I used to love the sound of just typing. I’m just like such a nerd. And I would type and type and back in the day when we had to use carbon paper, that was a big thing for me using a carbon paper. And if the boss had changes, then we’d have to type it all over again. But when we transitioned to computers, it was word I guess it was Word Perfect. That was the first it was it was it was fine. I didn’t feel like I was going to lose the paperwork. I had plenty of paper and filing to do. And it was fun learning a new process and getting into technology.

Jeremy Burrows 7:33
Nice. Cool, well, what’s been your favorite part? Well, sidenote, I love that you said you liked photography, you ended up going to work for Canon who always loved paper, and then he worked for a paper company. So I just think that’s awesome. How you just followed your passions, as far as the industry, but what’s what’s been your favorite part of your assistant career?

Yvette Nieves 7:58
Um, I’ll as I’ve grown into it, I think the the best part of it, it’s just getting to work with different people, colleagues, and some bosses, some executives, you just develop a good relationship with them professionally, and it’s rewarding. So I think that that that would have to be it.

Jeremy Burrows 8:21
Awesome. And what about one of the biggest challenges that you’ve had in your journey?

Yvette Nieves 8:30
Um, I think it would have to be, I guess, growing in the position, going up the ladder, if you will, getting a you know, moving to the next level. That’s been a challenge. And I want to say, you know, I know a lot of EAs that have gone through it, and are still going through this where some people don’t look at the EAA as, as an essential business partner. And sometimes we’re looked at as well, you’re just the Secretary, you know, we don’t need this or that. And then it’s been, it’s been hard. It’s been a job where you are constantly proving yourself, you’re proving your skills. And so that that’s been a hard one for me. I went back to college to complete my Bachelor’s degree so that I could move up and forward. So I know that some people have had to do that as well.

Jeremy Burrows 9:36
So was that a requirement that the companies that you’ve worked with, kind of said, Hey, if you get your degree we’ll be able to pay you more and all that?

Yvette Nieves 9:46
Yes, well, specifically to can and I had wanted to move up to be an administrator for contracts and I was told in order to move forward, I should consider a couple pleating my college and then we can talk about it. So that that was a big driver for me to go back to school and finish. And once I started, I just was determined to just finish and do it, no matter how long it took me and I did it while I was working full time and then ended up having my son. So when I graduated, I looked like a huge penguin with my cap and gown. And I graduated just about nine months pregnant. And when I had him the following, I graduated, and then the following weekend, he was born. It was so so like the timing was perfect. But yeah, yeah, that’s amazing.

Jeremy Burrows 10:42
So let’s talk a little bit about executives that you’ve worked with over the years. And, you know, maybe they’ve had a hard time letting go of certain things, whether it was calendar management, email management, certain projects, or tasks, that they just maybe have trust issues. Yeah, how have you, you know, or then versus like the executive that gives you full control? And it’s just like, oh, you take care of it? Like, have you navigated those different types of executives? And what would you say to assistants listening, who are trying to help their executive see the light and give up more control?

Yvette Nieves 11:28
Right? Fortunately, yes, I have gone through both scenarios. And it’s been tough. So the the executive that has trust issues, and they don’t want to let go, they, they feel well, you know, I don’t need an assistant, I’m self sufficient, I can do this. They may be you know, I working with someone new coming into the company, and they’re used to a certain way, or they’re used to their old EAA and the way they did things, and then coming into meet a new assistant, sometimes it’s, you know, you can have a very slow start. And the way I dealt with it was just continued to, you know, give the space, give them the space they need, you’re always there, when they have questions, you’re always there to lend the hand when they when they need you. And give this you know, give them the space that they need, in order to get to know you as an assistant. So I’ve had to do that. And sometimes I feel like I’m still doing it, and it’s fine. It’s totally fine. I’ve grown accustomed to, you know, their way and certain things they like certain things they don’t like. And then on the other hand, I have worked with plenty of executives that they have no idea what they’re doing and where they’re going, if it’s not on their calendar, and most people will come. Like, they’ll come to me and they’ll ask, Oh, you know, what’s next on the agenda? Or what are we doing tomorrow? So and So doesn’t doesn’t really know. And they’ve said, I do whatever the calendar says, whatever, if that puts on their calendar, that’s what I’m doing. And that’s, you know, it’s feels like you have like this, not the same power, but it’s so great that you know, you can navigate their day and know you can’t do that today. Because you you know, you’re going to be at this meeting. So you can’t go to that one. And you know what? I like? I like navigating that. It’s been it’s been fun to do that. Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 13:27
Have you worked with teams? Like do you have a team of an assistant? Like an admin team? Or how has it looked different in different companies where maybe you’ve got a large team, and you all get together and maybe even have a director of administration that everybody could either dotted line reports to? What’s your, what’s been your experience working with assistant teams.

Yvette Nieves 13:56
Um, I want to say like, right now, we do have an assistant team where, right now we’re meeting monthly, and it’s been a great time for us to collaborate, to talk about things that are working things that are not working, we share different big meetings that all of our executives might be a part of. And that’s worked well. also worked with another company where they had a director of administration and we would meet and, and they would tell us projects that were going going to come down the the you know, the the pike at some time and what they expected of us as as an EA, and that worked well. Also, I didn’t mind that at all I liked having it was kind of just having like, what do you call like, you know, just just like direction of where we were going as a group. And that was good too. And right now, it’s a little different. So we just have the EAS and it’s kind of something that we decided to do together to just meet monthly, and talk about whatever’s going on in the company or whatever is going on with our executives and how we could support each other. And that’s been working very well.

Jeremy Burrows 15:22
Nice. What’s what’s maybe one thing that you would say to assistants listening, in regards to, you know, the topic of joining meetings, or attending meetings that your executive is a part of, and maybe the concept of having a seat at the table? And if whether you’re being invited to that table, or you invite yourself? You know, how have you navigated that? And have you had situations where you’ve been able to kind of insert yourself into those tables or been invited directly, you know, how’s that gone, and over your career.

Yvette Nieves 16:12
So, definitely keep asking, that’s something that I constantly will ask. If I can attend the leadership meeting, I bring it to I bring it to them, as you know, I can only do as much as I’m aware of, and the more I know, the more I understand what’s happening, the better I think I can do my job, I’m finding out things at the last minute, sometimes it’s, it’s just a, it’s like a fire that you have to put out, finding out that your executive has to travel, like let’s say tomorrow, or in two days, and you’ve got to get all this travel secured, and transportation, which has happened, and I’ve been there, and I’ve been able to handle it. But it is so important, if your assistant can be part of those leadership meetings, just to know what is going on within the team, what are the, you know, the top priority objectives, and that can all you know, help you do your job help you prioritize different things for your executive, and you know, I support multiple executives, and I have relationships with all of them. And but one particular executive, he will share different things with me. And all in confidence, of course, you know, nothing that is happening in these leadership meetings are discussed, and with, you know, with other people, but my that one executive shares with me, and then it’s like, the light bulb goes on, and I like wow, okay, so that’s why now I understand now I get it. And it’s important to keep asking if you could, you know, if you if you’re not being invited, I say, keep asking. And one day, you can be there and find out what’s going on behind those closed doors. I just think it just makes a better executive assistant out of us if we’re included in everything, not just bits and pieces.

Jeremy Burrows 18:26
Yeah, 100 100% agree. Well study that. You mentioned, you mentioned supporting multiple executives, any tips for those listening to have 4536 executives that they’re supporting?

Yvette Nieves 18:39
Yes, write a lot of notes in your calendar. I do this all the time. Because we’re busy, we get so busy, we get sidetracked, we have interruptions throughout the day. No matter if you’re working in the office, or you’re working from home, you can get sidetracked very easily. So what I do for me, I support four, sometimes five, it depends on what’s going on. And I have to write notes in my Outlook calendar of things that I need to do so that I don’t forget and drop the ball. So I’ll set it up. And I know what I have to do my to do list for the next day. It’s all on my calendar. And I’ll have reminders. And if I have to come back to somebody, I’ll write that in there to ask, ask questions. And it helps you keep your sanity. If you want to write it in a notebook. That’s great, too. I just love doing it in the calendar because it will pop up. And when I do forget, and I see that I go oh my gosh, yeah, I’ve got to get that done. Or I can push that Oh, I can push that to tomorrow or into the week. That’s not priority, but that’s how I manage my my crazy life at work because I’ve got people, even the team, the executives I’m supporting, they have their own teams, and they’re reaching out to me be asking me to do things. So if I don’t write it down, I’ll I’ll go insane. So that’s that’s my one tidbit, just make notes for yourself and your calendar to remind you and color code them, if you need to color code them color code them.

Jeremy Burrows 20:15
Nice. What about times when you’ve had executives, you know, maybe two or three of those executives that you support that kind of reach out to you at the same time, I need this, I need this. And, you know, how do you prioritize between the requests of those executives, especially if they come in at the same time?

Yvette Nieves 20:36
Right? Well, I know that if it’s if it’s the president of your department, they know. And they and they tell me Oh, I know, so and so already asked you to do it, do theirs first. And then if you can take care of mine, no problem. Sometimes I can kill, you know, two birds with one stone. And I’ll do that if I’m already on the phone booking travel or getting transportation. I can do both requests at the same time. And if not, I can just quickly you know, as soon as I’m done taking care of the one ask, I’ll move on to the next one. That doesn’t happen often. And I’m thankful because if it did, I think I would lose my mind. There’s nothing like having your executive at an airport stuck, or he’s traveling with someone else. And they’re both stuck. And you have to take care of this right now. And you know, you’ve got to just handle it. So, you know, they understand. They understand, hey, I know you’re working on it. As soon as you can. Do you know anything? For me? I appreciate it. Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 21:51
Oh, that reminds me that this probably the worst travel experience for my executive 111 of the worst was, I think he was in New York, and he had to go to Minnesota for meeting the next morning. And there was all this weather. And then I think there was construction at the New York airport. And I was looking at, I was looking at the three different New York airports that kept getting delayed, delayed, delayed, I was booking all these backup flights. And I mean, it was just one of the most stressful afternoons I’m on the phone with a travel agent and trying to help me out. I’m looking at all the websites trying to figure this out. And then there was, I guess, some snow or something in Minnesota too. So that was that side was kind of messing things up. And of course, all while this is happening the exact same time. My wife and two young boys were trying to fly home from I think North Carolina. And there was a big storm that basically they were about to land and it couldn’t land. So they had to divert to like Indianapolis or something. And this was all going on at the same time that I’m dealing with travel stuff with my executive. And in that moment, I was like, Alright, I’m so thankful that I don’t have five or six executives right now, because this is, this is a rough day. This is a rough day.

Yvette Nieves 23:17
Ya know, it is I’ve been through that somewhat. I think it was last year. And there was whether or just the airline just decided to cancel a bunch of flights. And I have, I had two executives that were stuck. And I asked one of them, did you already check out of your hotel? And they were like, No. And I said, Good. I’m glad you didn’t check out of that hotel. You know, I’ll call them you know, just to get you an extended night or whatever it was. And I said, Do you still have your car? Yes, I have the car rental. You might have to drive home, it was just something that happened. And they were both out there. And but I mean, we were able to book them on a different carrier and get them out. But it was a mess. And it’s so stressful when you are going through something like that. It’s horrendous. It just, you know, reminds me of a movie where the assistant had to get her executive home and couldn’t and then it was like she failed at everything. She couldn’t get that person home. No, you know what movie I’m referring to, but

Jeremy Burrows 24:22
that the Devil Wears Prada or? Yeah,

Yvette Nieves 24:25
nice. Yeah. Well, that movie first came out. I said, That’s my life. Oh my gosh, there they have me on screen. This is me. Sometimes that always.

Jeremy Burrows 24:35
Well, what would you like to say what’s you know, it’s, let’s say you’re on stage with 1000s of assistants, staring at you wanting some inspiration. What’s one thing that you would say to assistants of the world?

Yvette Nieves 24:52
I would say Hang on, it gets better. As time goes on. Sometimes it will get better. Oh I’m continue learning, ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I always say that no question is silly. There’s a reason behind each question and it’s a learning opportunity. Always smile. And just continue learning learn with your peers, with your colleagues, learn with your executive, and a good leader will foster that. It will foster your learning and your grow.

Jeremy Burrows 25:32
Well said, Thank you so much for sharing you that the crowd is giving you a standing ovation right now. I can see it. Appreciate appreciate the insight and inspiration. What uh, yeah, what’s, what’s the best place or best way for people to reach out if they want to say hi?

Yvette Nieves 25:49
Sure, they can reach me through LinkedIn. I am also on Instagram. It would be yvenieves on Instagram. So yvenieves on Instagram, or the best, the best place is probably LinkedIn. And I’d love to connect with as many assistants as possible and looking forward to the next time you have a gathering to be able to go I missed the one in Orlando and I wish I would have been able to go, but I’m looking forward to the next one.

Jeremy Burrows 26:22
Yeah. Awesome. Well, I’ll put your link in the show notes. Leaderassistant.com/220. And yeah, we’ll definitely try to connect to the next event. Thank you so much for that and best of luck to you and have a good one.

Yvette Nieves 26:36
Thank you. Thank you so much, Jeremy for having me. You are great. I love what you’re doing. I love your book. I’m still reading through it. I have it right here. Nobody can see it. Nice. But thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed the time today.

Jeremy Burrows 26:51
You’re welcome.

Unknown Speaker 27:02
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Unknown Speaker 27:11


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