There are dozens of blogs and resources for assistants today, but not many have been around as long as Practically Perfect PA, and even fewer publish content on a consistent basis.
In this episode, you get the honor of hearing from Nicky Christmas – the woman behind the Practically Perfect PA movement.
We talk about side hustles, productivity for assistants, the nuances between a PA title in the UK and a PA title in the US, what to do if you’re romantically or sexually attracted to your boss, and why she pretends to be Beyoncé.
Nicky and I have partnered together several times and I’m very excited to have her on the podcast!
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou
CONNECT WITH NICKY
Nicky Christmas launched Practically Perfect PA in October 2011 and it has since grown to become one of the most popular blogs for Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants, Office Managers and Administrative Professionals at all levels of business seeking support, information and guidance in their chosen profession.
Since 2015, Practically Perfect PA has also organized events for the Assistant profession, including the annual Future Assistant Conference, which sold-out the last two years.
In 2017, Practically Perfect PA launched the very first virtual summit for Assistants through an innovative crowdfunding campaign. That summit attracted over 500 PAs and was widely regarded as a game-changing event within the industry.
When not working on Practically Perfect PA, Nicky enjoys everything living in Barcelona has to offer, including good red wine, the beach and attempting to run along it as often as she can.
Nicky has two young sons, Brodie and Beau, who keep her busy (and tired) and a wonderfully supportive partner, William, who is the CEO of Practically Perfect PA.
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Nicky Christmas 0:00
Hi, I’m Nicky Christmas. Today’s leadership quote comes from Maya Angelou. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Podcast Intro 0:14
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become irreplaceable game changing leader assistants. Please review on iTunes. Welcome to Episode 25
Jeremy Burrows 0:29
Hey leader assistants. If you manage business travel at your company check out Lola.com’s corporate travel platform lola.com is the easiest way to book manage and report on corporate travel. Visit lola.com/podcast and schedule a free demo to receive a $50 amazon gift card terms apply. Again that’s lola.com/podcast lola.com/podcast. Nicky Christmas launched Practically Perfect PA in October of 2011. And it has since grown to become one of the go to blogs for personal assistants, executive assistant office managers and Administrative Professionals at all levels when not working on Practically Perfect PA Nicky enjoys everything Barcelona has to offer including good red wine, the beach and attempting to run along the beach as often as she can. She has two young sons Brody, and Beau who keep her busy and tired and a wonderful supportive partner William, who’s also the CEO of Practically Perfect PA. I’m super excited to talk with Nicky today, all the way in Barcelona. I hope you enjoy our conversation, be sure to check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/25. And also, if you haven’t already, join our Facebook community at Facebook.leaderassistant.com to meet other assistants who strive to become better leaders. Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. I’m very excited today to be talking with Nicky Christmas from Practically Perfect PA.com Hi, Nicky, thanks for joining me.
Nicky Christmas 2:15
Thank you absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Jeremy Burrows 2:18
So let’s start off kind of back in the day, what was your very first job, your first real job where you got a paycheck?
Nicky Christmas 2:25
Oh, what I was gonna say where I got a paycheck. That’s a good one because I was put to work very early as a child. Actually, my first job which wasn’t paid, unfortunately, was working for my dad who was a carpenter. And he used to make me go on the building sites with him to help him put the doors on new houses. So you can imagine going from that to an actual paid job was a huge relief. So my first paid job was actually as a waitress, which again, really helped with the PA job a job later in life. So yep, I worked as a waitress when I was 15, which I think might be illegal now. But that was my first paid job.
Jeremy Burrows 3:07
What were the specific skills that you translated from that to your assistant career?
Nicky Christmas 3:12
Yeah, well, I was I worked as a waitress for a wedding company. So I used to go around and be the waiters doing all of the kind of silver service table setups and serving all the food at weddings. So it was quite apt. It was actually quite a high pressure job for a 15 year old because it was this put these these people’s best day of their lives. And you just couldn’t make any mistakes. So it Yeah, in terms of customer service, and dealing with pressure, it definitely helped pave the way for the EA role that was to come later. Because it just you just couldn’t make any mistakes. You can spilling and spill anything you can drop any food. You had to be just on point. And actually thinking about it definitely helped the job later on. Because you’re just able to handle that pressure.
Jeremy Burrows 4:03
Yeah. So when and why did you become a an assistant?
Nicky Christmas 4:08
So when I finished university, I did a summer job working for my local council, kind of local government. And I was the assistant to the CEO’s assistant. So I got first firstly got an amazing interest insight into how an EA worked for the CEO of quite, you know, quite a large organization. And I thought at the time, I really liked this. I think I could do this and she was fantastic. She was pretty old school, but she was willing to teach me and she was really encouraging actually considering I was pretty green having just finished university. So from there I went to London and worked for Deloitte as an administrator, but I always had an Back in my mind, I think I’d be a really good EA. So it’s a combination of that having had some experience and then just falling into it because I went from administration to working as a personal assistant to a team. And then from there an executive assistant to see COO. And it was just it just the path just followed. So kind of a combination of having a good experience, an early stage, and then just following the natural path that leads from working as an administrator.
Jeremy Burrows 5:35
So what are the differences between a PA in the UK and a PA in the US, you mentioned, PA, but you also mentioned you’re an EA?
Nicky Christmas 5:46
Yeah, it’s weird, isn’t it, because for me, just naturally, PA just rolls off the tongue. But I know, when I’m talking more to an American audience have to use either an admin or an EA. But they’re quite different in the UK in the sense that if you’re talking about in an administrator, then you’re talking more about maybe entry level work junior level work, generally, I’m talking generally, and then you would probably move into a PA role, which is pretty interchangeable with an EA role. But what you tend to find is that EAs work more in the C suite, so they’ll tend to be more executive assistant to the director, or you know, the C suite level. But that’s not always the case. As I said, PA, personal assistant executive assistant is pretty interchangeable in the UK. So yeah, but I’m always very much aware in the states that’s PAs is more a personal assistant to somebody and do more personal work. That’s not the case in in the UK get PAs in all level of business.
Jeremy Burrows 6:52
Interesting. Do you have any interesting or wild and crazy stories from your career as an assistant?
Nicky Christmas 7:00
See, I was worried you were going to ask me this because I was racking my brains. And again, I know other guests that you’ve heard of like, well, which stories can I tell? And which can I not? So no, I can’t apart from I would say apart from the kind of stories where you look back with years, many more years of experience and think did that actually happen? Well, people that badly behaved I can’t believe actually that I’ve kind of put up with that behavior in some cases. But no, I don’t have anything where I’ve massively had to fly anybody around the world you know, you know, any famous people or anything like that. But the ones do I think that was a bit old was I was working for a private insurance company. So because it was private and the mostly the directors and the staff to a certain extent owned the business a lot went on in that business that wasn’t necessarily how things would run in more public businesses. So we had a case where a gun which was very odd in the UK because we don’t tend to have you know, deal with guns very often but this antique gun arrived at the office one day. So let me gently set huge alarm bells off you know, what is this and it had arrived as a gift for one of our directors actually the chairman of the business and so I My job was to go and find out who had sent this gun to our organization it was an antique one it looked incredibly expensive. So once I found out who which client had sent it a client as it turned out to be we had to work out whether or not the chairman was even allowed to have it because it as it turned out it was an incredibly expensive gun and which took a lot of research to find out what it was why was he expensive? Why did it why is it why had it been sent as a gift and then I and then I had to work out if he was even allowed it and he wanted it but because of the Bribery Act that had just come in in the time in the UK we had to work out whether or not we should even give him this thing and as it turned out he wasn’t allowed it so because it went over the amount of money that we were allowed to receive from clients so I had to then deliver the bad news that he wasn’t allowed it and we had to send it back it’s not a wild story but it was a pretty odd
Jeremy Burrows 9:29
who ended up with the gun just the person that gave it
Nicky Christmas 9:32
yeah so basically my phone call with first of all the chairman I annoyed the chairman and then second of all the client I annoyed the client because he had to politely decline the present it was bizarre day, it really was. Who sends a gun to an office.
Jeremy Burrows 9:53
So what was the what was the biggest mistake you made as an assistant and what did you learn from the experience?
Nicky Christmas 10:01
Oh, wow. So I’m not gonna lie because I’ve made a few mistakes over my career as an EA. Nothing, nothing major, but definitely things that I learned from an improved from, which was always really good. I think probably the worst mistake that I made was, I worked again, actually, in the same company I was, at that point, I was working for three different board level directors. And one of my jobs was to look after all of the client entertainment. So being based in the UK, that was things like Wimbledon, football matches up the opera, lots of really grand, exciting things that I’m the CEO and other directors used to take our clients to, and it was where a lot of business got done. So these things were incredibly important actually for, for the business. And one of the things I did, which was a big mistake, but I didn’t really know it was a big mistake was, I was asked to look after all of the tickets that we bought for what was the Rugby World Cup, and it was being hosted in the UK. So it was a huge deal. I’m not a rugby fan. I don’t know anything about rugby. I didn’t know that, you know, the seats sell out months and months in advance. The tickets are like gold dust, I had no idea. So I was in charge of these tickets. And I was handing them out to the various directors that had asked for the tickets. And I had to make the decision who got the tickets and why it was important to take those clients, which was fine, I understood the business to the extent that I could kind of make those decisions. But what I hadn’t done, which was so stupid is I gave one director, all of our tickets, complete mistake, had a spreadsheet with all of the tickets and I hadn’t kept to know of who I’d given the tickets to. And as it turned out, this hate savy was a bit sneaky. He got he asked for two tickets, and then came back a couple of weeks later and asked for another two tickets. And he ended up with all of them. And when I found that out, another director had come over and asked for some and I was like, Sure, yeah, there’s enough tickets left. I’ll give you to come back next week when I have them. And you can have the tickets, they both turned up on the same day one morning for tickets, the other one wanting to and only had four tickets. So the director who had the four tickets would not give the two tickets to the other director. So they basically had a big fight in front of me. And then looked at me and said, Well, what are you going to do? At which point I just it was, it was a stupid thing. But I just lost it. Because I just didn’t tend to make mistakes like this. It was just like, How can I be so stupid, it’s a spreadsheet. It’s really, this is a really simple task. So the first thing that I did was actually I said, I’m gonna have to come back to you. And I made them leave my desk. And then I ran down to a friend who worked in a different business in a different office, I ran out of my office, phoned him and said, You need to come and meet me, I’ve made this huge mistake. I don’t know what I’m going to do. And I met her outside on the street, and she just started laughing. She was like, What are you doing? Like, why? Why have you called me out of the office was such a huge emergency. And I was like, I’ve made a huge mistake. I don’t know what I’m going to do. She was like, we’re going to have to figure it out. So and then ran back up to my office, and I found somebody who I knew liked rugby, and said, Do you think there’s any chance I’ll be able to get like two more tickets, you know, anybody that selling tickets, and it was the Rugby World Cup final, it was like a huge deal. And when I told him, he just burst out laughing. He was like, absolutely no chance this is going to happen, you’re not going to find two more tickets, like, you know, you might as well just quit. So I sort of sat there and thought, well, what am I going to do? Like, you know, the only way that we’re going to resolve this is if I just go and spend money with a ticket out and just get these two more tickets. I don’t know how else I’m going to resolve this. But to do that, I need to go and tell my boss that I’ve made this huge mistake, because it’s going to cost us a lot of money to get two more tickets. So I walked into his office, very embarrassed, very apprehensive of what he was going to say. And I sat down and I think I’d gotten pretty red. I was obviously quite stressed. And I sat down and I told him and I was so lucky because he just burst out laughing. He was like you’ve got yourself into such a state over something that’s just not that important. said look, here’s the company credit card, go and sort the problem out go make the directors happy. Just whatever you need to spend, try not to spend too much but whatever you need to spend on getting tickets just go in sorted out. So off, I went sorted out, came back and gave him his card and I said I can’t believe you’re being so relaxed about this. And he said, you know, you just don’t make these mistakes very often. So you’ve got a laugh when you do because not everybody’s perfect. And I was like okay, that’s a good life lesson. It won’t make any more mistakes but you If I do, then at least I know he can. He’s kind of got my back, which was really nice. So went off, bought two more tickets gave him to the director like nothing had happened. But I, I was so panicked about it, it was a funny, funniest thing. And I remember it to this day, and I still feel like I’m, oh my god, I can’t believe I did that.
Jeremy Burrows 15:19
That’s pretty, it’s pretty intense ticket story. It’s funny, my my brother actually sells tickets for large sporting events. And he’s been in that business for years. And so I’ve kind of helped him here and there. So I know, I know what it’s like to have to try to figure out how to get, you know, a very high demand sporting ticket.
Nicky Christmas 15:40
Yeah. And it’s, you know, as I said, this is where business was done at that firm, it was at these huge corporate events, which were just really exclusive. And it was, it was a big deal to get these tickets. We used to spend a fortune on them. Yeah. Well,
Jeremy Burrows 15:58
so kind of fast forward a little bit. What What made you decide to start a blog, and, you know, eventually business to help assistants?
Nicky Christmas 16:09
Yeah, it’s, it’s kind of a long, convoluted story. But basically, I was, I was working as a EA. And I just didn’t have the creative outlet that I’d kind of enjoyed in other positions that I’d been in. I was working for CFO, COO and company secretary. And it was, it was, it was a demanding role. But it wasn’t a creative role. And I missed. I’d been for the role previously, I’d run a lot of events, and I’d had kind of a creative outlet that I didn’t have in the role that I was in. So I thought, Well, what do I enjoy, and I quite enjoyed writing. So why don’t I start a blog. And actually, I thought, I could maybe turn this into a EA business at some point, or at the very least, I will start to brush up on some web based skills, which sort of with a slight amount of foresight, I thought, this will probably come in handy. At some point, if I know how to use WordPress or Blogger at the time, that kind of thing. So I just it was just that that much of a decision making process. So I just started writing, thinking that I could offer some advice on what I was doing and some tips. In the UK, there weren’t really many other pa blogs at the time. There were some there were a few in the States, but there weren’t very many in the UK. And the websites that were available. weren’t particularly modern, I would say at the time. So yeah, I thought it was really a case of just start writing, I enjoy it. Let’s see what happens. And I was really lucky. Because pretty instantly, it was more than just my mum reading the blog, which is what I thought it would be. It just started to pick up quite quickly. And from there, people who are a bit more established in the industry in terms of training, we’re getting in touch and saying Do you want to write for us? Is there any way we can help promote the blog, or the kind of recruitment companies were getting in touch and saying, we’ve seen the blog, can we feature it on the website, that sort of thing. So it picked it picked up pretty quickly. And then from there, I took a job working in Barcelona, which is where I’m based now working for somebody that I know who run an events business. And I was able to work much more on the blog, while working as a EA for the events business. And the reason being that they didn’t need a huge amount of help. And working in and living in Barcelona was a cheaper experience than living and working in London. So I was able to kind of lower my salary. So I could then spend more time working on the blog and building up into a business. And that’s what I did, I kind of took that risk to not be working in London anymore so that I could concentrate on what I thought could be a business. I didn’t know what it was going to be at the time. But I thought this I’ve got something here that see what I can do with it.
Jeremy Burrows 19:14
So how long did it take you to become profitable? Or to get to the point where you could, you know, leave your assistant job?
Nicky Christmas 19:20
Yeah, I was lucky because it was pretty it was pretty quick because I’m sure as you know, with a with an online business, the overheads aren’t particularly high. And I didn’t when I was working from my flat at the time, and I still do have an office in my home, didn’t have didn’t have staff didn’t have overheads, everything all of the expenses were online expenses. So once I decided on what the revenue stream was going to be which to start off with was working with suppliers and sponsors and now is also the training. I was able to start generating a profit fairly quickly. But saying probably within a year, I would say, but if you were to sort of say to me, Well, was it the same as the profit or salary you were making in London? No, no, no, no way. And I’ve had to balance that. Because if I was to go back to being an EA in London, definitely would be able to make do a little bit better than I am working in owning Practically Perfect PA. But the lovely balance is that I get to live and work in Barcelona, which is great.
Jeremy Burrows 20:30
So how would you encourage other assistants who are thinking, oh, I want to start a blog or I want to start a training site or, you know, side business? What would you say to encourage them?
Nicky Christmas 20:41
Yeah, so the cool kids call it a side hustle these days. Yeah, so what I’ve talked about this before, and the first thing I would say is do it, that’s always my kind of initial response to any any of these kinds of questions is you’ve got to, you’ve got to put yourself out there and you’ve got to do it. What I would say is, follows follow a similar path to me. So while I was working as an EA, I put in a lot of extra hours outside of the nine to five, so that I could build the website, build a following, you know, get, start to understand what voice I wanted to put out there. And how I wanted to share my opinions and how much of myself I wanted to share all that kind of stuff. So do that while working as an EA, it’s a hassle. Because obviously, you’re starting to not go out and see your friends or not spend as much time watching Netflix or all of that kind of good stuff that you do when you relax after work. It but you have to put those, put those hours in. And then once you have built your following found your voice, decided what you’ve got to what you want to put out there, and potentially also making some kind of money from it, then you can go into doing it full time. But to start with just for kind of self preservation purposes, try and have a side hustle while still working as whatever, an EA or admin or whatever it is that you’re doing.
Jeremy Burrows 22:10
Yeah, I totally agree. I think that, you know, people are like, Well, how do you have so much time to do a podcast and a blog and all this? I was like, Well, I just don’t watch very much Netflix.
Nicky Christmas 22:19
Yeah, exactly. And I actually now I can watch quite a bit of Netflix, which is also awful. But yeah, when I was working building up practically perfectly, I just had no social life.
Jeremy Burrows 22:32
So you were probably the I think you were the first person I found online who was doing some online training that was like strictly online training, for assistants. And so I was really impressed by it, you know, because I’d done all this research on online business and online courses. And it was just like, why weren’t there people doing assistant training online? And I think you were the first one that I found that was doing it well. And so we had a phone call got in touch on LinkedIn, I think, and I ended up teaching at one of your virtual summits. And you were just very supportive, willing to help me out. And I was happy to participate. So what what do you think? Have you experienced any, like hostility or kind of competition in the world of EA training? And what would you say to maybe those who feel threatened or feel like maybe I don’t want to start something Because there’s somebody already doing it?
Nicky Christmas 23:36
Yeah, it’s that’s a really interesting question. Because I know it’s out there. I mean, I’ve heard from friends and colleagues that get a hard time from, I guess, other competitors or competition in the industry. But for me, I’m really lucky because I haven’t had any genuinely everybody that I’ve come into contact with has been really supportive. And I think I’m quite lucky because I have my own little, little bubble because I’m firstly, mostly online, I’m based in Barcelona, so I’m away from any, I guess, the London industry or the States, I know their pockets everywhere. But I just do my own thing. And I work and collaborate with people that I really like and are supportive as well. So genuinely, I’ve been really, really lucky. But I know from speaking to like minded people, there is this hostility out there and I think there’s some bad behavior out there which I’ve seen but not experienced. So yeah, I would definitely say if you go if you want to go into some kind of a training or you want to put your voice out there and you’re worried that there is some hostility again, it’s like I say all the time do it and ignore it. It’s it’s kind of school, grad school. Grand bullying and his best to just not feed that? I think. So yeah, I would just I would just say ignore it and do your thing. That’s, that’s definitely been my philosophy. And it’s served me really well. And I’m really lucky because I’ve just, I’ve just not experienced it. Everybody that I’ve come into contact with has been lovely. So maybe I’m just lucky. I don’t know.
Jeremy Burrows 25:20
Great. That’s great. So how do you you work from your home office? How do you involve your husband and your kids in your business? Or do you
Nicky Christmas 25:28
No I do, they are really involved, really, really involved? They have to be because as I said, the office is next door next door to one of my kids bedrooms. They have to be involved. So I’m, I’m, I’m really lucky, because my he’s not my husband. But my other half is also the he’s just become the CEO of Practically Perfect PA. So William, who, who most of you, if you’ve ever had any contact with Practically Perfect PA, you’ll know his name. He’s just to start he’s is great. He’s just come on board to help me run the business because I was where it’s grown, which is fantastic. I kind of like any business, you kind of move away from doing the things that you really love, and concentrating on the running of the business. So he stepped in to help me with the running of the business so that I can go back to doing the things that I really love, which is brilliant. And the kids, despite the fact that they’re only four and two know what I do, they helped me. At our conference that we run in London, we use floppy disks as our badges. So. So the kids have like, helped me put the stickers on floppy disks, when we put the lanyards on they’ve done all that sort of stuff. So they have an awareness of what I do. Because I make them help.
Jeremy Burrows 26:48
Oh, yeah, I mean, I have my boys helped with my podcast, you probably heard their voices on a couple episodes. But you know, I’ve kind of tried to help expose them to other types of work, because I told him, I was like, listen, there are people that go into the studio and read books or, you know, voice commercials, and, you know, that’s a job. Like there’s, it’s there are all kinds of different things that you can do in this world that, you know, people will pay you for. And so now I paid I paid the boys for some voice acting with Oreos, but still, you know, trying to try to show them and expose them to different types of, of career options in the world. So
Nicky Christmas 27:34
yeah, absolutely. I just wanted my kids to see what a floppy disk was because they’re gonna they’re gonna live in a very different worlds.
Jeremy Burrows 27:44
So what’s the number one struggle for assistants that you’ve kind of seen in your years of blogging and being an assistant and training assistants?
Nicky Christmas 27:55
Yeah, I think there were a few if I’m being completely honest, I think there were a few struggles that are still out there. But the one that I would definitely say is, and it sucks to be quite frank is just recognition of the role and understanding of the role. And what, what the role is. Because when you go, you know, when you go into an, into a business, as an assistant, there are so many things that you can do, and so many things, so many places that you can help and assist and really push the business forward. But that always seems to be a struggle, because not everybody in the business understands what an assistant does. You’re all it seems like you are incredibly lucky. If you can walk into a business and everyone gets it, because it seems to be that there will always be somebody that doesn’t understand the role doesn’t give you the right level of respects. Or the other way gives you too much and oversteps your boundaries. So it always seems to be the case that whatever you do, and wherever you are, in your career as an assistant, there will always be those constant challenges of having to educate people on what on what you do. And that’s not necessarily the case for other other professions. I don’t see accountants having to explain what they do. Lawyers, for example, but for assistants, there’s just that constant. This is what I do. This is what I can bring to the table. This is these are my skills, and it just seems to be that constant having to explain how great you are. Which is so frustrating for me.
Jeremy Burrows 29:30
So let’s, let’s kind of talk briefly about it. Interesting, challenging question, what would you say to an assistant who becomes romantically or sexually attracted to their executive?
Nicky Christmas 29:42
Oh, wow. What a question. Well, it’s funny you should say that because William, who is the now CEO of Practically Perfectly PA we did work together a long time ago when we were both living in London. So I’ve kind of got a vibe that he wasn’t my boss. Which Thank goodness he wasn’t. But we did. We did work together. So I’ve got a vague understanding of how these office relationships evolve. But what I would say is that it’s pretty common. And it’s also not something we talk about. So it’s quite brave that you asked this question in the first place, because I don’t see many EA trainers discuss this. But the the practicalities of it are that the relationship is really personal between an assistant and their executive, and you do become quite close, you do live in each other’s lives. And then there’s this whole thing around being a work wife or a work husband, which is an awful saying, I hate that saying it’s its work wife is so derogatory, but yeah, so I kind of get, I think it depends really on the power structure that’s in place. So what I would say in the past is it tended to be the executive assistant tends to be a younger female to the more powerful, older male. And that, to me, it’s using an English expression is a dodgy setup for any relationship. But nowadays is actually quite different, because bosses can be younger than the EAs. bosses can be female with a male assistant. Or they can be you know, a younger male to an older female assistant. So the power plays are quite different to how they may be were a few years ago when I was working as an EA in London. And we’re definitely moving away from that kind of old stuffy way that maybe like the Mad Men days. So I would say, if you are going to go into a relationship with up in the executive assistant and you’re with your boss, then you will need to work out where that power lies and where that is going to play within your working relationship. So I guess my advice would probably be, maybe leave and get a new job, and then keep your personal relationship going on not having to deal with a working relationship. Because for somebody, I work with my partner, every day, and it’s not easy. It’s really, really not easy. So if you are in a to the boss, mate, and you’re in a personal relationship, as well as a working relationship, maybe get a new boss.
Jeremy Burrows 32:29
Hey, that’s, that’s fair. That’s a good way to answer.
Nicky Christmas 32:32
Yeah, yeah. I don’t know if it’s the same in the States. I don’t know if you have to inform HR or anything, anything like that. But
Jeremy Burrows 32:41
yeah, it’s it’s I think it probably it’s just seen as a little interesting, I think, and depending on what organization or what company and obviously, if one party is married, that makes things different. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, it’s an interesting topics. So thanks for, you know, talking about it for a little bit.
Nicky Christmas 33:05
Yeah, I think we need to talk about it more. Because as I was saying it, that relationship is so unique, and how close you work with somebody, these things are bound to happen. So maybe we should talk about it more.
Jeremy Burrows 33:16
Yeah. What’s one productivity hack that you can’t live without?
Nicky Christmas 33:20
Oh, this is my favorite topic at the moment, because productivity is just what I need more of it. So for me, my my kind of favorite hack at the moment is batching. So I set my week up where I on I do the same thing every day. So on a Monday, it could well on a Monday, it could be I look after all of the events, stuff that I do Tuesdays writing content, Wednesdays, looking after sponsors, that kind of thing. So I try to make sure that I batch all of my tasks together on the same day so that I can work through them and then not hop from one subject to another. So that’s that’s definitely a good productivity hack for me. But I know for assistants that’s really tricky because of just the the amount of interruptions that assistants get. And I definitely couldn’t have done it when I was working as an assistant to kind of the extent I do now. But what I would say is that works really well for executives, and if you can schedule their days, like that, so that they’re kind of sticking to the same topic every day or the same theme around the work, then it really does help because your mind is just not jumping from one thing to another.
Jeremy Burrows 34:33
Yeah, I agree. I love time blocking and batching and ideal week calendar setup. It’s kind of like my bread and butter. So
Nicky Christmas 34:44
yeah. Do you find that helped With the interruptions you get as an EA, do find that you can still do it?
Jeremy Burrows 34:50
Yeah, I do it more. I definitely do it for my executive but then for myself, I do it kind of a light version of it. Oh, if you will, to where you know, I’ll say, Alright, listen, I’m just going to not look at my notifications or turn off my notifications for the next two hours. Because I know my executive is busy doing something and is probably not going to need me. And so I can just take this opportunity to focus or if my executive is out of town, and he’s doing a bunch of, you know, conference stuff, and he’s likely not going to need to call me and interrupt me, then I will, you know, maybe work from home that day and get a bunch of stuff done and kind of get away from the rest of the interruptions from other team members.
Nicky Christmas 35:38
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And that’s a great way to do it, you can block the time off when you know, your executive is not going to be around and then you can say no to everybody else that interrupts you.
Jeremy Burrows 35:48
Yeah. So if you could snap your fingers and instantly give assistants, more of something, what would it be?
Nicky Christmas 35:57
Yeah, so for me, without a shadow of a doubt, it would be confidence, I just find particularly in the training that I do. Confidence seems to be such an issue for so many assistants, it gets in the way of so so many amazing things that you can do as an assistant. So for me, it would be and I tried to include this on pretty much every training that I do is some kind of session around improving your confidence and your self esteem. If every assistant was really confident in themselves in their skills in the role, then we would run the world. I really think that we would, it’s just building that confidence.
Jeremy Burrows 36:40
What’s a quick tip for gaining confidence you might have?
Nicky Christmas 36:45
Yeah, so for me, and this works really, really well for me. So for me, it’s visualization. And it’s, so there’s two things. So visualization. So for me, I really, I still really struggle with public speaking, I still get really nervous. I chair a conference where there’s 200 250 people looking at me, and I get really scared. But I visualize what is going to happen at the end of the conference at the end of the conference where everybody’s clapping with happy faces, because we’ve delivered a great event for them. So I woke up on the stage, visualizing the sound of the clapping, the happy faces, and that helps me get up onto the stage. And then the other thing I do is I pretend that I’m Beyonce, which, which helps again, it’s kind of like fake it till you make it. And I again, I think that works really well. When I was working as an EA, I had confidence and self esteem issues. And I used to pretend that I was the EA to the CEO of the business that I worked for, because she was awesome. So when I went into meetings, I just pretended that I was her. And it worked really, really well actually. So when I Yeah, so at conferences. I pretend I’m Beyonce.
Jeremy Burrows 38:04
Hey, whatever works, right.
Nicky Christmas 38:06
And it does but yeah, it’s that kind of fake it till you make it. stuff.
Jeremy Burrows 38:12
So where can my listeners find you or Beyonce online
Nicky Christmas 38:20
Well Beyonce’s all over Instagram at the moment. So, so you can find me on www.practicallyperfectpa.com that’s where everything is. I’m on Facebook again, just typing Practically Perfect PA same way or on Instagram on LinkedIn, and Twitter. And just just started on YouTube as well. So there’s lots of videos that you can find on YouTube again, just under Practically Perfect PA.
Jeremy Burrows 38:50
Great. Well, I’ll share all those links in the show notes so people can get those easily. Nicky, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to chat with me and I’m very excited to share this episode with my listeners. So thanks for joining me
Nicky Christmas 39:05
No thank you so much for having me. It’s an absolute pleasure.
Jeremy Burrows 39:08
Alright, well we’ll talk soon. Take care bye. Thanks again for listening. Check out the show notes at leaderassisstant.com/25 and we will catch you later
Podcast Outro 39:28
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