Welcome to Episode 38, Leader Assistants! I’m very excited to share my conversation with the wonderful Lucy Brazier, CEO of Marcham Publishing, Publishers of Executive Secretary Magazine.
I had the honor of finally meeting Lucy in person in Atlanta at her Executive Secretary Live event, and she was even more wonderful in person. She’s even invited me to speak at Executive Secretary Live in London, so if you’re in London – I hope to meet you there.
Lucy shares her story about starting Marcham Publishing, burning out, the global differences in titles for assistants, and how she’s working to standardize titling for assistants across the globe.
We also talk about AI and how assistants can future-proof themselves for the ever-changing world of work, and how the best assistants are servant leaders.
I’m thankful for Lucy’s support and that she shares her platform to help other EA speakers and trainers like myself share their message.
Enjoy our conversation!
P.S. – Join the new Leader Assistant Slack Community to connect with hundreds of assistants from around the world!
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Unknown (often accredited to Mark Twain)
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
CONNECT WITH LUCY
Lucy Brazier is founder of the world’s leading global publication & conferences for Administrative Professionals – Executive Secretary Magazine & Executive Secretary LIVE. Motivational Speaker, Trainer and Facilitator of Administrative Professional Conferences.
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Lucy Brazier 0:00
Hello, this is Lucy Brazier. Today’s leadership quote comes from Mark Twain. 20 years from now you’re going to be far more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade wind in your sails, explore, dream and discover.
Podcast Intro 0:21
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants. Thank you for listening to The Leader Assistant Podcast is at Bethel.
Jeremy Burrows 0:38
30 What? A Thank you. Hello, leader assistants. I’m super excited for this week’s episode with Lucy Brazier. She’s founder of the world’s leading global publication and conferences for Administrative Professionals executive secretary magazine and executive secretary live. I got to meet Lucy in person in Atlanta for the executive secretary live event recently, and I’m actually speaking at executive secretary live in London. And so I’m very excited to participate in her wonderful events. But before we jump into my conversation with Lucy, I just want to take a second to thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing with your friends. Thank you for leaving ratings and reviews. I just crossed the 60,000 Listen Mark, for the show. We’re in Episode 38. So I’m not a math person. But it’s very humbling. And I’m very grateful to all of you for listening and taking time out of your day. So thanks again, keep leading well and keep listening if it’s helpful for you. And if it is helpful, and you find it valuable for you, please leave a rating and review on whatever podcast platform you use. If you don’t know which one to use, or which one to leave a rating on. Apple podcasts is kind of the industry leader in reviews. And I would appreciate your time too. Yeah, leave me a review. I also want to let you in on a little bit of news. So I am about to finish writing my manuscript for my first book, it’s called The Leader Assistant subtitle is TBD. But I’m very excited. It’s a very long process. Very rewarding, very challenging. It’s very vulnerable to write and be honest about my experience as an assistant and my story and my struggles and my weaknesses, and the things that I failed at. So I’m very excited, but also nervous to publish this book in 2020. But I really appreciate your support. And I really appreciate the opportunity to even do this. So anyway, I’m writing my book. I hope you will sign up for my email list to keep updated on that you can sign up at leaderassistant.com/signup. And yeah, I’ll keep you posted on the status of the book and when the pre orders become available. And I even asked for feedback from you. And those of you who have given me feedback already. I really appreciate it. It’s been very helpful in the process. All right, check out episode 38 with Lucy brazier show notes can be found at leaderassistant.com/38 Hey, everyone, welcome to the The Leader Assistant Podcast. Today I have a very special guest with me. Lucy Brazier. Lucy, thanks so much for joining me.
Lucy Brazier 3:45
It’s an absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me, Jeremy.
Jeremy Burrows 3:48
And you are in London today Correct?
Lucy Brazier 3:51
I am Yes. rarely at home, actually.
Jeremy Burrows 3:54
Well, it’s so great to be talking to you from St. Louis, Missouri, all all the way on the other side of the world in a different timezone. What let’s start off with what was your very first job?
Lucy Brazier 4:06
Oh my word, I left school and went the next day to go and work in a wine bar in the centre of London. Very, very junior. Just literally, you know, stacking bottles helping out in the kitchen, all that stuff. And I think I was there about a month and the lady that ran it walked out. And I ended up with a real baptism of fire because it was only her and I that were in there. And I have to say it probably taught me some of the biggest business lessons that I have had in you know how to deal with people how to deal with very different difficult and irrational people. How to deal with books, how to get people enthused about what you’re trying to do very basic marketing, and at the time, I had no idea what I was doing at all. But looking back I think it was probably the best baptism into the world of business I could possibly have had.
Jeremy Burrows 4:58
When and why did you Start executive secretary and tell my listeners a little bit about executive secretary and what you’re up to.
Lucy Brazier 5:07
Okay, so the first thing that I will say is that whenever I say that the magazine is called executive secretary, everybody goes, and is horrified, especially in America. But actually, the term Secretary means keeper of secrets. It is a brand that has been going now my goodness, about 26 years, although I took the brand over in 2003. So you know, it’s a little bit like the telegraph or the times or whatever, yes, it’s a very old fashioned word. But actually, it’s a brand. It’s what it stands for, which is important to me. And we periodically talk about changing the title and modernizing it. But actually, I think, you know, we always come to the conclusion, that Secretary is still the term quite often globally, although in the UK and Australia, and America, obviously, it’s not so and we are a global publication. So just to explain that. But executive secretary was originally a newsletter, and it was a UK publication. And it was purely training. And it went out once a quarter. And it was run by a lady called Joe Denby. And when I discovered it, I was working, doing some PR for somebody that wanted to get a story into this particular newsletter. So I contacted Joe Denby, to ask whether I could get this piece of PR into it. And she said, Well, actually, I’m going to shut it very shortly, because I’ve been running it now for about 16 years, and it’s never made any money. And you know, I’m coming up into my 70s. And it’s been fun. But actually, I don’t think it’s something I want to do anymore. Unless you would be interested in talking to me about taking it over. Well, I had been in publishing since I was 18, I worked at a local newspaper, I worked for the times I worked for the independent. Then I went working for consumer press, and latterly, was a publishing director, which is the equivalent of a managing director for a big publishing house up in London looking after 13 magazines, a whole heap of events, and about a 90 million pound budget. So you know, Chair offering me that. I went and had lunch with her in Devon, which anyone who knows the UK will know that from London to Devon is about five hours. And at the end of that meeting, she said, I think you’re absolutely the right person. If you’d like it, you can have it but you have to promise me, you’ll never have advertising in it. And you’ll continue to run it for the subscribers that are paid so far. So I ran it as a newsletter for several years. And then in 2010, I burned out and found myself overnight going from six figure salary to zero. And between us my husband and I have seven children. I have three he has four and sitting there like a deer in the headlights thinking what am I going to do now? We had long conversations about the fact that actually maybe this was a good plan and something that I could do from home that would give me work life balance, ironically enough, considering the way that it’s gone. But, you know, I at that point, launched it as a proper magazine, which is what I’d wanted to do since I’ve owned it in 2003. And then the rest is history.
Jeremy Burrows 8:15
Wow. So tell me a little bit more about your burnout. And maybe how that kind of happened or what what you’ve done to prevent that from happening again?
Lucy Brazier 8:28
Well, I think I’ve worked pretty much nonstop since I was 18. And I’ve always had a bit of a mad work ethic, you know. And I was relatively young, I guess I was doing a job where I was on a train at seven o’clock in the morning, I was very rarely home before 10 o’clock at night, we had the seven kids ranging in ages from about well, how old would Sam have been then some must have been about 12, my youngest one. And Danny, my eldest one is only eight years younger than me, but they were all living with us. So you know, huge job, no time to think. And we had just done year end. And I walked into the office one morning, looked at the computer and just thought I can’t do this anymore. And I lost about 27 pounds in the K in the space of a couple of weeks and was really very unwell indeed. And the doctor said to me, you just won’t work at that level again. But I actually think it was as much about the politics as anything else. And the publishing industry is a rat race, really. And part of the reason I wanted to start this and to do this for myself is because I always believed that you could do publishing ethically, you could you didn’t have to be a nasty person in order to run a publishing company. And I think very successfully over the last eight years I’ve managed to do that. You know, I’m very careful these days. I know if I’m getting too tired and when I have to put my foot on the brake. I have my apartment in Spain, which I got six years ago, which you know, is my saving grace when I’m absolutely We passed it, we take off there, and I just sleep for a little bit, but I eat properly I do exercise. And there’s a reason why those top executives do go and do exercise and a rigorous about their diets and all that kind of stuff. And it’s because it robs them of distress. So I just think I have a much better work life balance. Now, despite the fact I spend most of my life running around the world, delivering training, it doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like something that I’m absolutely passionate about. And I feel very blessed to be able to do it.
Jeremy Burrows 10:27
That’s awesome. So great. So speaking of kind of working in the executive training world, and you know, running this magazine, you’ve been very encouraging and supportive of me, what can EAA advocates and trainers do to team up and support each other instead of maybe seeing each other as competition?
Lucy Brazier 10:53
The thing is, Jeremy, you know, I think we’re looking at half a billion assistants worldwide, you know, it’s a fifth of the world’s working population works in admin. So there is enough for everybody. And the point is that, you know, I might suit some people, and other people might think that I’m dreadful. And then, you know, there are so many amazing, amazing trainers out there who have different messages and different styles and different ways of approaching things. And I think there’s room for all of us out there, because quite frankly, what we’re trying to do is to change the world for assistance. And to make sure that they get the recognition that they want, and that they understand that they are business people, they aren’t just a sidekick. So so much of what we do is about encouragement, and underpinning, you know, what they do for their executives. And I think we really all have the same message, there’s no need for a stall start fighting with each other. And in fact, you know, I have people in this industry who joke and call me Switzerland, because I really, really never argue with anybody. People occasionally have arguments with me. But I think, you know, my approach is always well, they can’t have a war if I won’t fight. So let’s just keep doing what I’m doing to the best of my ability. And always, if anybody wants my help with remoting, anything, I had a meeting with somebody this week, who started a new show for assistance. And they were saying, you know, where is the line where you feel like I’m crossing the border, and I’m becoming competition. And I said, but it’s not like that, because there’s a publisher, certainly, you’re always there, making sure that the assistants know of everything that’s going on, because if I don’t suit them, I want to make sure that they can find somebody that they do suit, or if they can’t afford to come to live, there is something else that they can afford to go to. And you know, we do admin chat every week, which is our online training, which is free of charge, which is our commitment to people that can’t afford training. So it’s about making sure there’s training at every single level from every different kind of personality. And as long as the message is strong, and as long as the message isn’t denigrating to the assistant, I will always promote it.
Jeremy Burrows 12:59
That’s great. Well, we appreciate your support that definitely. Thank you. What, you know, you travel all around the world and your teaching assistants in different countries. Have you noticed any differences in maybe United States assistance versus UK or elsewhere?
Lucy Brazier 13:23
Um, I think there’s a very obvious stuff like the fact that there are so many different job titles. And that all gets very confusing, you know, we’ve come across 162 job titles in this market so far. And you know, to give you an example, in the UK, the two major titles are PA and EA. So a PA is a personal assistant and EAS executive assistant, but the PA in the UK is the equivalent to an AE to administrative assistant in the States. And in the UK, a PA is lower than an EA in Australia and EA is lower than a PA in Europe, you’ve got management assistant. So you can see that is all very confusing before we start. And the problem is that then we get into real issues around career progression. Because nobody is quite sure how you get from one stage to another and what that actually means, but maybe we can talk about that in a bit. But really, I think where we do come across situations where maybe countries aren’t or as volunteers as advanced as others, it’s more often than not about the role of women in the country. Because whether you like it or not, and obviously, you know, we would like there to be more men in this profession. But the fact is that right now it is a 98% female industry. So you know, where you have a country where maybe the the way that they treat their women is not the way that it should be or they’re still catching up. There is going to be a different attitude to the assistants because they’ve got to get over that before they start getting over where the roll is headed. But then, you know sometimes I’m absolutely blown away and really pleasantly surprised and my perceptions are really challenged. So as an example, I trained in Uganda two years ago, and when I was going to Uganda, I was thinking, Okay, so my course is really quite high level, there’s quite a lot of MBA type stuff in there. And is it going to be too much? Let’s do the first couple of hours and see how we go. And actually, when I got into the room, we looked at out of 25 people in there, 16 of them had degrees, five of them had MBAs and one had a PhD. So the laugh was on me, you know. But they get the value of education. So I think the states have got some amazing assistants. I think it’s got some rubbish resistance to but I think it’s pretty much like that, everywhere in the world. Issues are certainly the same, Jeremy actually, the issues about trying to forge our way through is absolutely the same. And I think that’s exciting. I think, you know, we, when I first started this journey, eight years ago, and I started traveling, I was making meeting pockets of people all over the world, who were doing their thing and really doing amazing things in their countries. But really, they didn’t ever talk to each other. And although world administrators summit was in place, which is like the g8 for assistance. I’m not sure whether you’ve talked to ethmoid yet, but they had last year in Frankfort, the heads of associations from 24 Different countries there. And for most countries, three different delegates, all of whom were talking about the state of the nation and how we drive forward the profession to professionalize it, and to make sure it’s recognized as a career across the world. And to kind of uniform the way that the career progression goes. And, you know, world summits been going since 1991. But what tended to happen was they’d have a meeting. And then because there weren’t, wasn’t the internet, the notes would be put in a drawer somewhere, and they’d start again, three years later. Whereas now 2015, we had World Summit in Papua New Guinea. And we did a whole piece of work there that resulted in three years of research that was then delivered in Frankfort, this in 2018. And now we’ve decided the next one is going to be 2020, by which stage, hopefully it will all be ratified. And we will be able to go to government and say the role has changed in this house. It is how it is. And this is the structure we’re recommending to look at skill sets and to look at levels so that if you’re an assistant, for example, in New York, and you decide you want to move to London, or to South Africa, or wherever you want to be, everybody understands what a level four assistant looks like, and what the skill sets are that sit underneath that. I think that’s very exciting, because it does several things. The first thing it does is it means that the employers are able to look and think well, who do I want to employ and what do they skill sets do they have? And therefore they’re able to say, oh, okay, I need a level four assistant, and that should be this kind of renumeration, it means the assistants themselves are going to be able to see how they get from one level to the next, it means people coming into the profession will be able to look and because they’re coming in at level one, they’re going to be able to go okay, so if I am level one, obviously, there’s a level 234. So it says that there is career progression, it isn’t just a job, it is now a career. So and for trainers, as well, you know, we’ll be able to go and say this is a training course, it’s aimed at level five assistants, or this is a training course. So everybody understands where they sit. And it kind of makes it a bit like accountancy or engineering, whatever. Not that they’re a job titles at the top, because we could be arguing about that forever. But where there there is this very clear career progression, and everybody understands the skills that are needed in order to do that.
Jeremy Burrows 18:27
So without getting into the nitty gritty details of of each, maybe, maybe level, what would you say is one of the big differences between, you know, maybe an EA at tier one versus an EA at level five?
Lucy Brazier 18:42
Oh, my word. I think it’s mainly about communication and being proactive. I think, you know, when I start, I have recently done several consultancy projects with some really, really huge companies, where we’ve been putting career progression in place for them. And the difference between the kind of EA Well, we would call it a PA over here, I guess. But those those assistants and the EA is a very good example is that you would expect a middle level assistant, maybe to be dealing with emails on behalf of their executives, and to be triaging them. But at the top level, you would be accepted but expecting the EA to be able to answer the majority of those emails on the executives behalf. Yes. Yeah, that’s so. Yeah. So it’s about looking and thinking, How do I make their life easier? I think right at the very top level, what we’re seeing more and more. And it’s interesting with the advent of AI, you know, because obviously, the World Economic Forum is saying that the role of the assistant is going to be dead by 2022, which we all know is nonsense. That they’re also saying that one of the biggest skill sets that they’re going to need is emotional intelligence people moving forward in work one of the biggest skill sets Emotional intelligence. And we proved two years ago, in a piece of research we did by Avery with Avery that assistants have on average 18% more emotional intelligence than anybody else in the office. So, you know, I think moving forwards, certainly with this consultancy we’ve been doing, we’ve been looking at how you take the task space things, and maybe build a team that does the task based stuff. Because if you are able to automate it, if you’re able to do something the same way twice, it’s going to be able to be automated, right? So eventually, that task based stuff will go to AI, it already is starting to. But that’s great, because in some ways, it frees up the assistance to be able to deliver more return on investment for the company. And to me, you know, I’m forever saying when I’m doing my training, you are employed by your executives to make sure that they are absolutely the best they can possibly be. However, you need to understand that you’re employed by the business to do that, not by the executive. So think about that. What does that actually mean? What it means is that the business is paying you a salary to look at every single hour that your executive works, and to make sure that they are working that our to the most efficient and most cost effective way so that the business gets the most out of the salary, they are paying them. Does that make sense? Yes, yeah. Yeah.
Jeremy Burrows 21:21
Yeah, it helps you, you know, for, to use myself. As an example, I’m in a artificial intelligence software company. And part of the thing that I’ve been trying to do, as you know, it’s a start up, I was hired number one, and we’ve kind of worn many hats since day one. And part of what I’m trying to do is think, okay, not only how can I help, be, you know, be proactive with my executives calendar, and really make sure that he’s spinning every hour, at the highest, you know, effectiveness and productivity for what the company needs to do. But what can I do to drive our sales? What can I do to bring on more investors? What can I do to help the overall team be more efficient, because the ultimate goal is to build a great company and succeed as a company. And so if I’m helping directly impact that, while supporting my executive, then that’s, you know, there’s no AI that’s going to be able to replace me.
Lucy Brazier 22:27
I totally agree. And what I’m seeing this more and more, you know, the assistants are stepping up. And the two most important questions, I think, are where can I take on more responsibility? And I don’t mean more work? What I mean is, there are things that your executive will be doing that you know, that if you were to do them, it would you know, another great example, is the whole email piece, where I know that the latest stat says that the average executive spends 58% of their time doing email. Yes. So that’s absolute nonsense. If your executive is saying, No, I want to do my emails, and I’m not going to let you into them. If an assistant triage is those emails, you can take it down to maybe 12, to 20%. And if you’re timesing, that by their salary, that’s dropping directly to the bottom line. And that’s before your executives uses that time you freed up to go and do phenomenal deals, or come up with new revenue streams, or whatever it happens to be. And, you know, I think if the assistants are looking at where they can take on more responsibility and take those administrative tasks away from their executive, it frees the executive up to do more amazing work. And it’s been proven that if an assistant is taking more high skilled roles on that always drops to the bottom line, and to the productivity of the business. The other thing I would say is that they should be looking at where they can add more value. And that’s just around conversations, you know, how do they deep dive more into things? Because I think at the very top level, the EAS there understand the business strategy, they understand the brand, they understand their executives, key performance indicators and goals. I never understand why assistants come to me and say, Well, you see, I’ve got my meeting, my end of year meeting, and we’ve got to discuss what my goals are for next year. And I can’t think of any, I’m like, Well, what are your executive skills? Because surely, if you’re a strategic business partnership, even if you’re not doing the same things that they are, you’re still meant to be underpinning their goals. So how did they get to them?
Jeremy Burrows 24:25
Yeah, that’s great. That question gets brought up a lot. So that’s a great. Speaking of things that are brought up a lot, what’s the number one struggle that you’ve heard from assistants all over the world that they deal with?
Lucy Brazier 24:44
Oh, gosh, there are so many. There are so many. I think it’s we’re getting better. But I think recognition is the first thing and disrespect and people not understanding what it is that they do. I honestly believe that if the executives were to use their assistance properly, you could change the economy. And whenever I go and teach them, they come out going, Wow, that was so amazing. Please come back and talk to our executives. And actually, that’s becoming more and more prevalent. I think that’s where we need to be as trainers as much as talking to the assistants. Now, I think the assistants are really starting to get it. And there is a very, I wrote a piece a little while back that said is, are we in an evolution or a revolution. And I think we’re kind of in the middle of both. But it’s very gentle, because assistants on the whole are pretty gentle people. And we’re the ones who fix things and make things better and make things smooth things out. So we don’t want to make too much of a fuss. But actually, it needs doing. And I think that’s the number one thing for me, it’s about the skill stuff, you know, you’re either going to be want to be one of those EAS that is 24/7 Full on driving the business or the stuff we just talked about. Or you’re going to want to be a middle management assistant, because that’s the other thing when Lehman’s went bang, 10 years ago, and the assistants, they got rid of all middle management and then went to the assistants and said, Can you help us out just for a little period of time, you know, they took it something like 89% of assistants are now doing events. 52% are doing HR, there’s loads of them doing finance or marketing or PR, and they come to me and they say all you do, I don’t think I’m an Assistant anymore, really, because I’m doing this other middle management staff. Well, that’s the job for a whole heap of assistants, right the way across the world, that’s the job. And then you’ve got those that are looking after other people. So it’s over 50%. Now looking after two or more other people. And then you have the kind of typing pool lot who are doing the lots of businesses are going back to putting people in a pool and getting them purely to do the admin stuff. As opposed to the more strategic stuff. But you know, I think the assistants are getting it, they’re getting where they fit, and they can see the opportunities on the whole and where it’s headed. I think it’s the businesses now that we really have to because they’re not very good at speaking up and explaining how to use them. They’ve got to get to grips with the fact that they almost have a duty to train their managers and Barney low crime and has a great stat that says that the average age a manager gets management training is 42 years old. Well, if that’s the case, that’s a whole heap of management walking around without a clue what they’re doing. And actually, if actually, you know, the assistants need to train them how to use them properly, because that’s what the business has hired them for.
Jeremy Burrows 27:32
So if an assistant called you tomorrow, and said, they’re not respected in their current role, what would you say to them?
Lucy Brazier 27:42
Oh, I have some great systems and things I would talk to them about why they felt that was and I would talk about the kind of relationship they had with their executive, and what conversations they had had thus far. But I have, at the end of my training course, I have a very strong way of allowing them to go back and have those conversations, which is I say, Okay, you need to go back tomorrow. And you need to say to your executive, the woman that trained me yesterday, in other words, me reminded me that my role is to make you absolutely the best that you can be. And that that is what the business pays me for. And I have some ideas around that. And I would like to sit down and have a meeting with you to talk about it. And then put into place three ideas of ways that you can either add value, or you can take more responsibility. They don’t have to be huge ideas, but go and deliver those impeccably, when you go and you you have to plan that meeting because otherwise it’s going to all be a bit woolly. But when you go into the meeting, you need to talk to them in business terms about if they give you this extra responsibility, or they allow you to get to add value, what is it going to do for them and for the business. It’s not about what it’s going to do for you. It’s about what it’s going to do for them and the business. And once you’ve managed to persuade them on that, then deliver it impeccably, then you’ll be able to talk to them about doing more things, but do only three to start with. So they have a really tangible way of going and talking and actually I would encourage for anybody’s listening out there. You could say the same thing. I listened to a really great podcast and that woman that I listened to reminded me that my role is to make you the very best you can be. And I have some ideas around that.
Jeremy Burrows 29:26
That’s great. And I think one thing that’s going around in the marketing world is this idea. I think Donald Miller at story brand has talks about this, but it’s this idea that we as as businesses are not the hero, but our clients or our customers are the hero and we’re simply the guide that’s helping the hero, you know, save the day. And so I’ve I’ve kind of just now tied that, but you know, listening to you talk I just tied that to To the role of an assistant and I’ve always thought, okay, the assistants should not be high ego. You know, I’m kind of the hero in this in the story, it’s more, I’m the guide that supporting my my executive. And if you see yourself in the more of a servant leadership role, you’re not going to try to use your executive to get the spotlight or to get your you know, your career gains, but you’re going to actually be elevated to a higher level of an assistant by serving in helping them and guiding them along the way. And so, every, every superhero movie, every every good story has a hero. But then there’s a point in that story where the hero needs a guide to come alongside them. And that’s, I see that with assistance, too.
Lucy Brazier 30:54
I think so too. And I think that if you’re intending to be the one who’s the hero, this isn’t the job for you. Having said that, what I would say to you is that all our research says that it isn’t about being some subservient sidekick, either. When you ask the executives, what the characteristics are that they want from assistants, it’s all things like leadership, communication, collaboration, respect, you know, understanding what they need to deliver. And in fact, to me, I really, really believe that when you get it right, with an executive, one of you breathes in and the other one breathes out. And it should be like two sides of the coin. So that, you know, I know, for example, that I have a very, very low Completer finisher, I get bored very easily. I’m great at getting up there and waving my arms around and getting everybody moving forward and driving change and all that stuff. But actually, Matthew is the one, my assistant who picks everything up and make sure that it happens and puts the processes in place. And I know that Matthew has me, absolutely, totally, I could phone him at any time of the day or night and say, I have a problem. I’m stuck here. And I can’t get to this next appointment where I meant to be presenting tomorrow. And he wouldn’t know what the flight was, he’d know who you needed to contact, you know, where I was coming from, you know, he would have every detail there. So I can just get on with doing what I’m phenomenal at and not worry about whether the detail is taking place properly. Because he’s doing that. So he’s truly my strategic business partner. I couldn’t run my business without him.
Jeremy Burrows 32:27
Yeah, and I think if I think about the story, idea, you know, you think about Star Wars with Luke Skywalker is the hero, but Yoda is his one of his guides along the way. And, you know, Yoda is one of the most popular Star Wars characters.
Lucy Brazier 32:46
I can’t tell you how much Matthew is going to love that analogy.
Jeremy Burrows 32:52
Well, you’re welcome, Matthew. Speaking, speaking of Matthew, so you know, you have you have a male assistant in Matthew, I’m a male assistant. But as you mentioned earlier, women dominate the role. What do you think we can do to encourage more men to take on the exciting and rewarding career of an assistant?
Lucy Brazier 33:10
I think it’s very interesting that since the job title has started to change, there are a lot more men getting into it. You know, Google last year, challenged its chief of staff to make sure that the recruitment was half and half. And they managed to do it. But I think that was purely because they changed the title to administrative business partner. It’s interesting, because I think when you start talking about a PA, or an A, or an administrative assistant, or whatever part of the problem was with the word assistant, because it suggests that you’re assisting and not doing, you know, and I don’t think many men are very good at that. I think they want to feel like they’re doing and they’re achieving. And that might sound very sexist. I don’t think so. I think, you know, most of business is about empowerment, isn’t it, you’ve got to be doing something that makes your heart sing. And those men are not happy to be a sidekick, which is the way it’s been portrayed for a very long time. I think change the terminology, make it very clear what the career progression is, so that it is a career and not just a job, and then you’ll probably find we’ll pick up and that’s good for everybody because I think it will mean the renumeration goes up to actually once we’ve got more men in the profession, and Matthew is phenomenal. I know some absolutely superb assistants who are men, you know, but it’s, it’s a before I run ran this magazine, at one point I was running a stable of magazines and exhibitions for the engineering industry. And at that point, we were running campaigns, which were manufacturing matters and trying to get more women into the profession. So you know, I’ve done this from the other side as well. And it’s it’s slow and it’s steady, but we’ll get there.
Jeremy Burrows 34:47
Yeah, my wife was a project engineer at a construction company and they wanted her to be a superintendent. So she decided that she didn’t want to be a superintendent without kind of working in the field for a while. So she devoted herself to Carpenter’s apprentice, and you know, so she ended up definitely being on the they were very excited to have a woman on the on the jobsite.
Lucy Brazier 35:10
Yes. Yes. I think we’re, I think that can that one can only move forward, really. And I think it’s great when there are role models like you and Matthew, and you know, there are so many of you out there now that are really, and Victoria Dara over here, her excellent campaign, not just a girl’s job, has really been shouting about why men should be more in the profession. And I, you know, they’ve had quite a lot of national press over here on it. And I think it’s great. It’s all moving in the right direction.
Jeremy Burrows 35:39
Yeah, I think your point about the titles and the fact that it’s a career or it’s always been a career, but it’s, it’s being more respected as a career and and seen as a career more broadly. That’s the part that kind of drew me to it originally, I didn’t really think of it. And then somebody asked me like, do you see this job as a career or a stepping stone? And I was like, oh, career? Wow, I didn’t know that. You know, I could, this could be a career. So yeah, anyway, yeah, I totally agree. So what’s if you could snap your fingers and instantly give all assistants more of something? What would it be?
Lucy Brazier 36:18
Respect? Respect. And I don’t mean, well, I don’t mean self respect, although there are some of them that could do with some of that, because some of them don’t believe in themselves at all, but respect and not from the bosses either, actually. Because when you start looking at executives and talking to them about how much they value their assistance, they really do. I think it’s about the world of business full stop, not really understanding what they do, and not understanding how the role has changed, and that it isn’t just tea and typing anymore. It’s something that is a proper business role.
Jeremy Burrows 36:52
What makes someone a leader, Assistant.
Lucy Brazier 37:00
Okay, so you mentioned earlier, the term servant leader, and I, I don’t know whether you saw the thread on social media a while back, but somebody was going bonkers about the fact that they had been called a servant leader and saying they thought it was really demeaning. I don’t think so at all, I think at heart, you have to be a servant leader to be successful in this role. And having said that, I would I would count myself as a servant leader. You know, I think they’re misunderstanding what that means. For me, a servant leader is somebody, you know, yes, I’m a leader. Yes, I’m out there, and I’m campaigning on their behalf. And I’m talking to them, and now I’m doing all that stuff. But at the heart of what I do is always what is right for them. You know, every decision that I make every business decision that I make, the first question that I always ask is, myself is Is this what is right for the assistants, not what’s right for me, or for the business or for the people we’re trying to do business with. But he’s this what’s right for the assistants, that is a true servant leader, if they are looking at their executive and they are thinking is this what’s right for the business and what’s right for my leader, then, that is how I think you get to be exceptional, and to really lead. Because if you get to a point where you can do that properly, the trust is there. And that’s when you get that two sides of the coin, breathe in breathe out relationship. And that’s where you then get to have autonomy. And you get to have that structured communication, which leads to being able to have your place within the business and at the table. And Veronica Cochran, who is the current CEO of AI WAP, did that brilliant speech at Summit last year. But one of the things that really stuck out what stuck out to me was when she said, we don’t just want to seat at the table, we want to be part of the conversation.
Jeremy Burrows 38:51
Yeah, and I think that the servant leadership thing is still kind of countercultural counter and intuitive to many. But if you think about the, you know, some of the greatest leaders in history they they were great leaders because they served their, their people.
Lucy Brazier 39:11
I couldn’t agree more. I mean, just just start looking at the people who you want consider servant leaders, you know, with Ghandi, or with Mother Teresa or or with the Queen, or, you know, some of these really, really phenomenal leaders across the world that really serve their people and have that in the heart. It doesn’t make the weak people.
Jeremy Burrows 39:33
Yes, exactly. Well, Lucy, thank you so much for for joining the episode today and really, really encouraged by our conversation. I think it was great. Is there any any question and kind of put you on the spot any question you would ask me as a as an assistant?
Lucy Brazier 39:53
And the question I’d ask you as an assistant, I am really interested as to what you are going to do next because I think you are Building a really necessary place for yourself within this industry. So obviously, you’re doing the podcast, and that’s wonderful. But what are you hoping to do? Where do you see yourself going?
Jeremy Burrows 40:10
Oh, that’s a good question. You know, I am kind of giving up some of my Netflix watching to, to do this podcast. So I’m doing it on the side, and I’m really looking forward to Sunday, putting my thoughts into a book. So that would be something that I would love to do someday. And then, yeah, I love traveling in meeting assistants all over the world. So if I get more opportunities to do that, I’d love to do that. But yeah, I really, you know, honestly, I just, I’m loving my my day job. I’ve got a very unique opportunity at the software company with a great executive. And but then I also love doing the podcast and my blog, and I love helping as many assistants as I can. I love hearing. I heard from an assistant yesterday, in fact, that said that one of the episodes of my podcast helped her land a job that she was trying to get into just helped her in the interview process. And so she she literally said that this episode, got me this job. I was just like, wow, that’s, that’s very humbling. So I’m just excited to help however I can. That’s phenomenal.
Lucy Brazier 41:23
That’s really phenomenal. And we’ll have to see what we can do about getting you traveling some more.
Jeremy Burrows 41:27
Yes, yes. Sounds great. Sounds great. I still haven’t been to London, so I got to get afraid. But I still haven’t gotten to London. So I’m sure you have an extra bed, right? You’ve got a full house or your house? Are they all out of the house now?
Lucy Brazier 41:40
They all if they weren’t all out of the house, they’d be like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Jeremy Burrows 41:47
Well, thanks again, Lucy. Where can we find you online? And how can we support what you’re doing?
Speaker 1 41:53
Okay, so the website is www.executivesecretary.com. If you were interested in looking at the conference, it says the conferences that we do, which we currently do in London, Johannesburg, Wellington, Sydney, and Atlanta every year, you can find those at executive secretarylive.com. And other than that, we’ve got the executive secretary magazine, Facebook group and LinkedIn group. And you can follow me at Lucy Brazier on Twitter if you’d like to do that.
Jeremy Burrows 42:25
Great. I’ll put all those links in the show notes and we will talk to you soon.
Lucy Brazier 42:29
Perfect thank you so much.
Jeremy Burrows 42:32
Thanks again, Lucy for a great conversation. Check out the show notes at leaderassiatant.com/38 And you can get all the links to connect with Lucy and her team. And this episode, I’m gonna close it off a little differently with another quote from Lucy so we’ll talk to you next time.
Lucy Brazier 42:51
Hello, this is Lucy brazier. Today’s leadership quote comes from Hamlet. This above all, to thine own self be true. And it will follow as night Thursday, thou canst not then be false to any man.
Speaker 2 43:16
Please review on Apple podcasts. Goburrows.com