leader assistant podcast michelle motz

Michelle Motz is a highly accomplished and results-driven administrative professional with a knowledge of finance, investor relations, strategy, M&A and Human Resources.

In this episode, Michelle talks about working in a public company, the changing role of an executive assistant in our remote world, and how to elevate the role.


The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
— Theodore Roosevelt


leader assistant podcast


Michelle Motz is a highly accomplished and results-driven administrative professional possessing superior executive level support skills with a demonstrated knowledge of finance, investor relations, strategy, M&A and Human Resources. Michelle made history in 2023 as the first Founder of an EA support company to win the Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence at the 2023 Chicago Admin Awards. Michelle has built a strong reputation as a confident, experienced Administrator who is committed to improving and elevating the EA industry. She is described as truly ‘indispensable’ by her colleagues, and ‘the rock and the pillow’ for her family at home and at work. Michelle’s energy is what distinguishes her from her peers. Her team spirit and uncanny ability to elevate and energize those around her are unmatched. She has a proven track record of consistently exceeding expectations through strategic planning, systems administration and project execution.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Organizational Communication from Eastern Illinois University. She lives in Illinois with her husband and two sons.

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Michelle Motz 0:00
Hi, I’m Michelle Motz. Today’s leadership quote comes from Theodore Roosevelt. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.

Podcast Intro 0:21
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants

Jeremy Burrows 0:36
are you tasked with ordering food for your office? Let me tell you about ezCater with over 100,000 restaurants to choose from nationwide and a 24/7 customer support. EzCater helps assistants like you and me succeed at work and makes our lives easier. Visit ezCater.com/leaderassistant to find out more. Hey friends, welcome to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host Jeremy Burrows. Welcome to Episode 229. You may notice my voice is a little raspy a little lower today. I’ve been under the weather. So thanks for your patience as I pushed through. But I am excited to have you listening to Episode 229. Well, you can check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/229 leaderassistant.com/229 and today’s guest is Michelle Motz. Michelle is a highly accomplished executive assistants. She made history in 2023 as the first founder of an EA support company to win the Colleen Barrett award for administrative excellence. And this was for the 2023 Chicago admin awards. And Michelle, welcome to the show. I’m very excited to have you on.

Michelle Motz 1:59
Super excited to be here. Thanks.

Jeremy Burrows 2:01
What part of the world are you in?

Michelle Motz 2:03
I am in the suburbs of Chicago.

Jeremy Burrows 2:07
Perfect, perfect. And then what is your favorite hobby?

Michelle Motz 2:13
Ooh, favorite hobby would have to be playing volleyball.

Jeremy Burrows 2:17
Nice. Did you play when you were younger, like in high school or college?

Michelle Motz 2:21
Yep. I played in in high school quite a bit. And as I’ve gotten older, and my kids have kind of got their own hobbies. I’ve been able to join some summer beach leagues for the adults and it’s been quite fun. Quite fun.

Jeremy Burrows 2:36
Cool. Have you ever played volleyball?

Michelle Motz 2:39
I have. Yeah, for sure.

Jeremy Burrows 2:41
Nice. I don’t hear that, That sport mentioned much. But I figured you may have a little bit of a yes with it.

Michelle Motz 2:47
Yeah, that was few years ago. But yeah, we used to play that.

Jeremy Burrows 2:51
Knife. And then do you have kids used to do you have kids?

Michelle Motz 2:55
Yeah, I have two kids. I have one. Son. He is 19. He just finished his freshman freshman year at University of Illinois. And then I have a another son who’s 17 and just finished his junior year in high school. So busy, busy.

Jeremy Burrows 3:14
Cool, and why don’t we talk about your career for a little bit. So what got you into maybe tell us about your first assistant role? And how did you end up becoming an assistant?

Michelle Motz 3:26
Yeah, sure. It’s kind of a funny story. So I graduated college with an undergrad in marketing, and communications. And I was gonna go into sales and make tons of money like my big sister. And this was back in, you know, the 90s. And my first job, I was selling photo copiers and fax machines business to business and I hated every minute of it. And I ended up quitting after three months. And I got a job as an HR assistant at a small company and worked my way up to an HR manager, I had my own assistant, we had about 100 employees. And HR was not for me, I just it was a lot, a little bit more corporate politics, toeing the line, and then is my style. And one day, one of my previous bosses from that same company had started a company and he said, I’d like you to come work for me and be my EA but what I really want you to do is helped me organize this new company. And that was my first role as an EA I went into a small company where they had no procedures, you know, no processes setup. And I got to, you know, help them start this company from scratch. And so the EA role I realized was perfect for me because I love the idea of a process and streamlining and organization and all of that. And so that’s how I found out really that the A roll was just what I was supposed to be doing all this time.

Jeremy Burrows 5:04
Nice. So that was a fun. How many employees were they? When he started 16. Wow. So you get to see it grow. And

Michelle Motz 5:16
I got to see it grow. We ended up moving office spaces. So I got to be involved in that we had a board of directors that worked out of Bermuda. So I got to travel for board meetings to Bermuda. So it was it was so fun. So fun. And many of the employees actually, that joined throughout the years, I worked with them for about four years actually had came from a previous job that we all worked at together. So it was really fun. It was very family feeling when I worked there.

Jeremy Burrows 5:46
Nice. So then, when you left there, were you like, yes, I want to find another executive assistant role, or how was your mindset on on the career ladder, if you will?

Michelle Motz 5:59
Yeah, for sure, definitely was looking for EA roles. At this point, I wanted to number one, it was in the city. So it was, you know, an hour and a half commute each way. And that was getting long when when I had children. So I did want to move back to the suburbs. But I was also looking to sort of get into some more financial companies, as well as some some bigger companies. So I spent some time moving around from some private equity firms and making my way into some big corporations reporting to some C level executives.

Jeremy Burrows 6:32
Nice. And did you work when you worked at the bigger companies? Did you work on an admin team? Or was it like, like, how was the structure as you got into these large, larger organizations? As far as the assistants were concerned?

Michelle Motz 6:47
Yeah, sure. You know, I was strictly an EA for the investor relations department. But what I always find in the bigger companies is you almost have two teams as an EA, you have your department that you become an you know, an intricate member of, but then it’s really great when you work for those companies that the EAS kind of formed their own team as well. You’ll find in like the bigger corporations, it might be just the finance admins that create this little group or in the medium sized companies. It’s all of the admins. But I love seeing when they’re sort of that to team environment for the EAA role, because I think you really learn from both teams, how to elevate so I was able to be in a work environment that had both teams, so it was lovely.

Jeremy Burrows 7:37
And what was your experience? Or How was the experience working in a public company? And you know, how was that different than your, your career experiences? Not in a public company?

Michelle Motz 7:52
Yeah. It’s interesting, because the public environment, especially because I worked in the investor relations department for 10 years. everything revolved around month end close, quarterly, or quarterly calls with analysts. everything revolved around closing the books, where are we at? And what story are we telling to Wall Street? So it was interesting, because it’s a small company, there was just so much more flexibility. And we close the books, but there was never the over analytics side of what the books were telling us. Were in a public company, it was all about what are the numbers saying? are we hitting our numbers? If not, why? What are we doing to preempt that? So it was very different because it all came down to what those monthly reports at the end of the month said.

Jeremy Burrows 8:52
Which did you prefer working in public or private sector.

Michelle Motz 8:58
I loved working in investor relations, but currently, I really like the switch to the smaller company that I’m currently at right now. I feel like the value that you provide your team is a little more noticed at the smaller company level, as well as your ability to kind of pitch the expansion of the job. You know, when you’re at the corporate companies, it’s very here’s your job, you do it, the big corporations are kind of they have a standard in place. Smaller companies give you a little bit more flexibility to kind of step outside the boundaries there. So I kind of like that. But I will say that the public company experience that I had is probably where I learned the most from other EAS. Because there were so many EAS there some we had EAS that had been at these companies for 30 years. And then we also had an E As that were fresh, you know, coming from all different kinds of backgrounds. So when we would meet, you know, there was just so much excitement, so much knowledge to share, that that’s probably where I learned the most about what I like, and what I don’t like, style wise.

Jeremy Burrows 10:18
So, how did COVID in the, you know, remote world and all that stuff that’s happened in the last few years? How did that change your role as an EA? And how have you seen it change the role of an EA? In general?

Michelle Motz 10:38
Yeah. So I was at a large healthcare company when COVID hit. And the biggest effect we had not only, you know, beyond going remote was that we have to do quarterly calls with investors. And now we are spread out. So what are we going to? How are we going to do though, so we had to figure out technology. We had to figure out, you know, how are we going to do q&a, when we have different people sitting in different rooms, so that they’re not, I mean, in different locations, so they’re not talking over each other? And answering questions from Wall Street. So that was very challenging in the beginning, because I think, you know, we went in and March and we had a call a call to do in April. So that was sort of a rush. But it was exciting. It was fun. It was, you know, times are changing. And we had to get on board. And it was very exciting time, we always we always call a quarterly call with Wall Street, or Super Bowl, you know, we look forward to it. It’s exciting, you’re live on the phone, you know, you you finish these calls, and you’re watching your stock price to see if it goes up because that means you You told a great story from the call. But in regards to COVID and changing, the biggest thing that I saw is now every you couldn’t have impulsive dialogues, you couldn’t walk over to somebody’s office and ask a quick question. So everything had to be calendered. And what I found at my large company is I was spending my entire day calendaring, and re calendaring meetings. And I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. And I talked to other EAS and they weren’t enjoying it. And, you know, I remember talking with them saying like, big corporations have to figure this out, because they’re going to lose really great, great EAS, because they don’t want to calendar all day. And either we you know, we have to come up with solutions as to you know, more visibility or other EAS to see calendar. So there’s not 17 emails going around, trying to schedule a meeting. For me, I found that at this stage in my career, I did not want to do that anymore. And that’s when I decided that I was going to go start my own EA firm. And I wanted to get back to small companies with CEOs who don’t need full time, admin help. But they clearly need some assistance, because they’re the ones that are going to let me help them be successful. And that’s what I did. So I would say COVID Change the role to something that I wasn’t liking as much anymore. So I created my own role.

Jeremy Burrows 13:40
Right, so what was the what was that jump? Like, like, going from corporate Exec.

Michelle Motz 13:46
So scary, so scary. You know, I took three months off to you know, from when I resigned from my position to get my company started. And I had to learn everything I had to learn how to do my own social media and and you know, get an LLC set up and how am I going to handle my books and invoicing? But in addition to that, I was how am I going to get clients? What is my target niche? So it was very scary. I took three months and I launched and I you know, it’s so funny because the moment you put it out there on like Facebook like hey, this is my official launch day. I think I had 27 heart attacks sitting there that day, you know, because I was just like it’s out there. It’s out in public now that I’m doing this. So So yeah, so it was very scary. I you know, I’m constantly learning I still struggle with you know, my elevator pitch. It’s just one of the things that I’m working on. I’m not great at it and I know it so I’m working on getting better and I’m watching YouTube videos and listening to other podcasts and stuff, but it was scary, but I’m doing good. And you know, I’m just lucky that I have the opportunity that I can ramp up at the rate that I need to. So yeah, it’s been, it’s been fun. It’s been real fun.

Jeremy Burrows 15:14
Nice. How did you find your first clients?

Michelle Motz 15:19
The one of my old bosses texted me one day and said, my husband’s look, and I hadn’t talked to her in seven years. My husband is looking for a new EA part time. Do you know anybody? Awesome. And I text back. I’m awesome. I’m available. And he was he is my first client now. So it’s been a year with him. So it’s been, it’s been cool.

Jeremy Burrows 15:51
It’s amazing the power of the of your network, you know, and,

Michelle Motz 15:55
you know, really about how like, the role and the relationship you develop with your boss as an EA is at such a different level than just other, you know, jobs and bosses. And it’s definitely one that carries with you. You know, through life? I mean, my want my one boss, I had her for 10 years. Yeah. Because that because the relationship was so amazing, you know? Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 16:25
That’s great. Well, so let’s talk a little bit about how to elevate the role and how you worked to elevate your role when you’re working as an assistant, and in corporate America, if you will? And what’s kind of what was or what even is your goal, position or your goal title? Or, you know, what do you encourage those assistants listening? who feel like, I want to do more, I want to level up, I want to elevate my role. But I don’t know, you know, maybe what the next step is? Is it just, you know, adding a Roman numeral at the end of my title? Is it a chief of staff? Is it a different, you know, project management type of role? You know, what, tell us a little bit about your journey, and trying to, you know, elevate and level up throughout your career.

Michelle Motz 17:21
Sure, sure. You know, I’ve always tried to elevate the role, the position, the reputation of the job title. I think that when, when you get new bosses that traditionally hadn’t had an EA, they think calendar, they think booking travel, ways that I’ve gone above and beyond to elevate is to always look, in addition to what in addition to what they asked me to do, can I do for them? You know, creating OneNote notebooks like I’m a huge fan of OneNote, I create one notes for my boss that takes all these emails that he gets from people for a monthly update. And I keep them in this one note, so that he doesn’t have to search his email when he goes to work on this project. And I just downloaded it all into a OneNote. He opens the OneNote. And every email that he got for that project is in there, he didn’t ask me to do that. So like, looking for ways that you can make your bosses do better, make it easier for them, help them be successful. I always looked for ways to learn the business in the department that I’m in when I became an investor relations specialists. By the end of my 10 year career, I was writing press releases for our investors updates. I was doing PowerPoints and could talk all of the numbers, headwinds, tailwinds all of that, that our finance people were doing, but I could do it because I learned, I read the PowerPoints I went over the material, the more you learn about what your department or company is doing, the more value that you can provide. I always when I was invited to meetings as an EA, you know, they always the impression was that I was there to take notes. But I listened and I learned and there was time when I never wouldn’t necessarily speak up in the meeting. But I could discuss with my boss opinions, thoughts, you know, reminders about things, because I knew the business. You know, I didn’t necessarily do it in the meeting, but I could have those conversations outside the meeting. And my boss would be like, That’s a great point. I didn’t think of that. So I definitely think it’s like thinking outside the box, like how can I do better? How can I help them be better? I think there’s a lot of room for growth for the EAA role. I hope companies, big companies, you know, out figure out calendar and travel from top tier EAS can do so much more and the growth projection for them. There’s a couple routes, you know, there’s always the chief of staff. There’s always, you know, project management that EAS can go into. I’m really interested in I’ve heard podcasts. And I love the idea about this. So I didn’t come up with this myself. But the idea of a manager of Business Administration, when you think about you can get a Masters of Business Administration, you can get an undergrad in Business Administration, and there’s yet there’s not really jobs dedicated to that. And I think that’s a great avenue for EAS to roll up into if companies were would be open to developing the role. I think the avenues there are there are a lot of ways that businesses process information, the way they streamline data perhaps or the way they’re looking at how to kind of do things, I think there is a area that EAS the way we think about things that could really add value to those discussions that businesses are having if they could have somebody who’s responsible for that. When you think about, you know, the way a let’s just say a call comes in to a medium sized company, how that call gets filtered down to people to handle, you know, maybe the receptionist takes it. That’s process like how do we what kinds of questions do we ask how do we get that into the hands of the right person at the business? That’s there’s a process there that could be developed by EAS? You know, how do we look at office supply ordering and automate it? That’s a process that an EA could look at? How do we streamline expense reporting, so that sales people are spending less time that’s a process I think EAS, you know, the high level EAS are process oriented in the way they’re thinking and I think businesses can tap that, especially with all the automation that’s going on in the world right now. And really, really look to them. And so I would like to see medium size, small companies look at a manager of Business Administration position. And that’s, that’s what I’m gunning for. That’s what I’m working for.

Jeremy Burrows 22:32
I love how you said that with the processes and how assistants have such a unique value to bring in that they know those processes like the back of their hand. And who better to manage automating those than the EA? Yeah. Do you love? I do love that title Manager of Business Administration.

Michelle Motz 22:52
That’s yeah. That’s what I’m working on.

Jeremy Burrows 22:55
Good vision and a good mission to strive for.

Michelle Motz 22:59
Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Jeremy Burrows 23:01
Awesome. Michelle. Well, thank you so much for taking time out of your day. What’s kind of maybe the the last hurrah that you want to share with assistants listening? Maybe it’s advice to your younger assistant self? Maybe it’s just some words of encouragement to assistants of the world with what would you like to leave people with?

Michelle Motz 23:22
You know, I think it is be excited about this job, I don’t think there’s a better time in history to be an EA. And when you’re excited about your work, people want to work with you. They want to bring you in on projects. They want your energy because if your energy is high, it brings up everybody else. And when there’s projects to do and people got to dig deep, why not have a little fun while you do it. So that’s what I end with.

Jeremy Burrows 23:57
That’s perfect. Well said. Thank you, Michelle, and thanks again for being on the show. And is there a good place for people to reach you if they want to say hi and connect?

Speaker 1 24:06
Yeah, I’m on LinkedIn, you could check out my website at m2ess.com. Learn a little bit about what what I do and if you need any of the services that I provide, I’m available.

Jeremy Burrows 24:20
Perfect, and I’ll put those links in the show notes at leaderassistant.com/229 leaderassistant.com/229 thanks again Michelle.

Michelle Motz 24:30
Thank you

Unknown Speaker 24:42
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