Renee Viens is a mom to two growing boys, and an EA living and working in the Boston area with 20 years of experience–15 of them in the C-suite.

Renee Viens Leader Assistant Podcast

Enjoy my conversation with Renee as we talk about burnout, professional development, building a strong partnership with your executive, and more.

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Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.

– Tom Peters

Renee Viens Bullhorn Leader Assistant

Renee Viens is a mom to two growing boys, as well as an EA living and working in the Boston area with 20 years of experience–15 of them in the C-suite. She enjoys mentoring and coaching assistants to help them map, visualize and accomplish their career goals. One of her purposeful habits is learning something new on a regular basis, and she loves sharing tips and tricks to make our EA lives easier! She’s excited to be a part of global and local EA communities where they network and support learning and growth.


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Renee Viens 0:00
I’m Renee Viens and today’s leadership quote is from Tom Peters. Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.

Podcast Intro 0:11
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistant.

Unknown Speaker 0:22
Think you so much for listening? Oh, I’m old. Welcome to Episode 57.

Jeremy Burrows 0:29
Hey friends. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s Jeremy Burrows here. And before we dive into my interview with Renee Viens, I’m excited to offer 50% off all online courses at during the week of Administrative Professionals week, which is April 19, through April 24, I believe so midnight on Friday, April 24, is when this coupon code expires. So if you go to Use the promo code adminday. Again, You can purchase any of the courses for 50% off all you have to do is use the promo code adminday. That’s a d m i n d a y Check out all of our new courses. We have one on LinkedIn. We have one on crafting a resume. We have one on travel management conflict in the workplace, how to manage interruptions in a couple more so Use the promo code adminday until April 24. At midnight, that would be United States Central time. All right, let’s jump in. Enjoy the show. Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. I’m excited today to have Renee Viens on the show Renee, how’s it going?

Renee Viens 1:55
I’m doing really great, Jeremy, thank you for having me. This is I’ve been looking forward to the be a lot of fun to share some tips and some things that I like to think about when I talk to people about the executive assistant role.

Jeremy Burrows 2:08
Awesome. So you’re EA to the CEO at bullhorn, right?

Renee Viens 2:14
Yes. I’ve been in this job for almost two years. It’ll be two years late falls. And I’ve been having a great time. And it’s hard to believe actually that two years have flown by really

Jeremy Burrows 2:26
quickly. Yeah, what does bullhorn do?

Renee Viens 2:29
bullhorn software is something that enterprise companies very large HR companies, and even small companies can use to track their candidates from start to finish, from when a candidate applies for a job gets placed into a job. And we even have a middle office product now where it’s called Pay anvil. And people are able to pay their people keep track of their timesheets, and help people who are maybe temp workers to find temp and contract positions and go from job to job. So it’s a great tool for candidates and recruiters to both use to track what’s happening with roles and employers. So it’s a great software.

Jeremy Burrows 3:16
So let’s go back a little bit through your very first job, what was your very first job? And what did you learn from that job?

Renee Viens 3:23
So my first job was working at a very large commercial insurance company, where I was a document processing person. And I ended up working with a graphic designer. And it was just great to be able to learn how business ran and being in the corporate world and just kind of getting a taste for being in business and what people expect to view in the corporate world. So it was a good experience.

Jeremy Burrows 3:48
No, so did that kind of give you a taste of EA world and EA life? And is that kind of what propelled you into the EAA world? Or is that that come later.

Renee Viens 3:59
So I, I transferred out of this commercial insurance company to another company where I was really embracing the office manager role. I helped them do a lot of things that were support related. And then I took a job that was kind of a two pronged job twofold. I also did it and supported a marketing department and from there, I transitioned into an assistant role. So it kind of came a little bit later.

Jeremy Burrows 4:31
So what do you love about the role of being an EA?

Renee Viens 4:37
I like that really no two days are the same. There’s always a different project to be working on. There are lots of different people across the organization that I can connect with. And it’s fun because we have so many points of touch I feel in an organization from it to sales to marketing, to even and some of the developers, sometimes working with them. So it’s just a great, it’s a great way to kind of get the pulse of the organization and be able to interact with so many different people in your company.

Jeremy Burrows 5:13
Yeah. So what’s maybe one of the struggles you’ve had? Or maybe the number one struggle you’ve had related to being an assistant?

Renee Viens 5:22
I think one of the harder things is really making time for myself, because you always expect that, oh, I’ll get to that later. I’ll, you know, I’ll put that off. I can always do that later. And I feel like, we are so busy taking care of other people that we don’t make time to take care of ourselves. And especially in this job, that’s super important.

Jeremy Burrows 5:46
Yeah. So on that note, have you ever experienced burnout?

Renee Viens 5:51
Yes, and I will say fairly recently, um, I had, I’ve had a lot of things kind of on the home front and personal family, things with my kids and, like family commitments, and my husband traveling, and just all these things where we’re kind of in the, you know, we’re in the period of our life, I feel like for me, anyway, I’m in the sandwich generation, which they say you’ve got people on both ends of the spectrum, you’ve got your children, and you’ve, I still got my grandparents. So I’m in a, I’m in a place where there’s a lot of family dynamic kind of adding to my job of being a support person. So not only to my work, but also to my family. And after a while, it just takes a toll on you. So I think that’s your, you always think it never could happen to you. And then when it does, you’re like, wow.

Jeremy Burrows 6:48
So what did you do, or what maybe what have you done to try to prevent it from happening again,

Renee Viens 6:55
making time to learn to meditate a little bit, taking more breaks, and really, really kind of nipping it in the bud, and not getting spun up about so many things that either are out of your control, or that in the big picture, like you got to pick your battles and kind of picking your battles a little bit more carefully. Especially with, you know, when you have kids that have certain issues or things like that, um, I have a preteen and teen now. So trying to try to balance all that is has been a challenge.

Jeremy Burrows 7:36
So what do you think, makes a good executive EA partnership?

Renee Viens 7:44
So I feel that people been able to be real with each other, being honest, and wanting to have the partnership. I’ve noticed in different jobs that I’ve had, that there are people who say that they want the partnership and really don’t. And it’s always it’s always a challenge, because sometimes when you interview with people, you’ll find that people say that they want something and then it turns out that they really weren’t being honest or being genuine when you when you have that conversation with them. And then they’re, then they’re the people who really do want that. And they apply themselves, they want to make it better. They ask for feedback, and they make the effort. So I feel like you can you can kind of get to the point where you figured out, okay, what am I really looking for with the partnership, and the person who really wants that from and with you. Because that’s where you, you get traction, and you can really get a lot done and be successful.

Jeremy Burrows 8:54
So what would be something once you do find that person, what’s something that you can maybe you’ve done with your executive to strengthen your partnership?

Renee Viens 9:03
So we have, we’ve built a cheat sheet that really works for us, I have like a three page sheet right now that I add, and change things as things come up. I have, I’ve always worked with kind of a template of things that work for me and my executive. And I love data points. Because to me, I’m a context person. And being a context person. I really like to see all the big picture and all the little details that make things the way that they are. So I feel like when you get a data point from someone, use file that away mentally and put it in your list and say okay, now that I know this, it’s going to help me make better decisions down the road.

Jeremy Burrows 9:52
Yeah. Yeah. So we’re just talking about EAS in general. What are a few traits that EAS who exhibit a high level of professionalism? What’s maybe a traitor to that high level professional EAS exhibit?

Renee Viens 10:16
I think one of the most important things is really being empathetic. And I will just tell you a little bit I’ve, I’ve been working with someone who does soar coaching, which is strength training. And it’s great because you when you find out what your strengths are, and how to use them as your superpowers. And I’ve discovered that empathy is one of my greatest ones, discipline, empathy, and relatability. Because, though I can use those to really step into the other person’s shoes and think about how would I handle this situation if I were this person? And when you when you do that, you think about really from the other person’s point of view and perspective, what decisions would I make to have a better day or to have a smoother day or you want to be that person in the moment trying to understand how is this person going to think and feel and act based on what I’ve, the day that I’ve created for them. Because I’ve taken all these things into consideration when I’ve created they’re created their day and made the schedule around what’s important to them, and how’s that going to make them feel, if they feel rushed? That’s not good. If they, they feel like they could be late, that’s uncomfortable and makes people anxious. So you always want to put your best foot forward. And I feel like empathy is one of your greatest strengths as an executive assistant. Tell me

Jeremy Burrows 11:51
a little bit about what you’ve done for your own professional development, and maybe tools or resources that you’ve used to develop yourself.

Renee Viens 12:01
So there’s been several different things over the last probably 10 years that I’ve been able to do. And some of them have been a couple of the larger conferences. I have attended smaller conferences like Bonnie Lowe Crimmins be the ultimate systems, which are, which I think was an amazing time to really dig in and meet some assistants who are from across the nation and across the board from different industries, and in different levels. And that was a great training. And then I think there’s also so many available things now that are online. I know, practically perfect, PA. And you were part of that in one of her virtual summits. And then also in Boston, we have a great local resource of Boston executive assistant that’s now been rebranded to the assistant hub. And there’s also some other online groups that are really great at pulling people together. And so I feel like there’s so many opportunities now that executive assistants have that we didn’t used to have. And people have really made an effort to share materials. And I feel like you’re one of the proponents of that, which I think is amazing. Because doing the podcast and and your emails that are the weekly emails to everyone and talking about different topics. I think there’s so many things out there that we can share and learn from each other. And just really networking and networking with other like minded EAS. I think there’s just a lot out there for us to learn from each other.

Jeremy Burrows 13:44
Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the shout out to. So do you have a hobby?

Renee Viens 13:54
I do. I really like scrapbooking and memory keeping. And taking pictures. I’m, I’m a kind of a amateur photographer. I like to do things like that. And I’ve been doing it for a long time. But I feel like I haven’t made enough time to do it for myself. And one of my goals this year is to get organized so that I can get back to being creative and doing something that’s an output of my creativity.

Jeremy Burrows 14:25
Nice. What’s one thing you’re most proud of?

Renee Viens 14:30
I would have to say, having my kids and being able to do my job and still have my family. raising my kids has been an amazing thing that I just never, I never really initially pictured myself doing. But being able to keep my job and still have my family because there are so many people that I know who are single and do this job and then when I tell than that I have a family and all the staff, they’re like, Wow, how do you do that? And I just say, well, nobody told me that I couldn’t do it. So I just figured out how to make it homework.

Jeremy Burrows 15:11
Yeah, that’s definitely two or three full time jobs.

Renee Viens 15:15
Yes. Yes.

Jeremy Burrows 15:17
So what’s one thing you wish you knew more about?

Renee Viens 15:22
I really wish that I knew more about wines, because I have worked for several people who are big wine aficionados. And I just, I just don’t know, I know what I like. But I don’t really know that much about the breadth and depth of wines. And so I would love to learn more about that.

Jeremy Burrows 15:42
Yeah, I always just say, Well, this one tastes good. And this one doesn’t taste good. What’s what’s a tip you have for managing your inbox.

Renee Viens 15:52
So I love priority inbox. And I had never used Priority Inbox until I noticed my boss used it. And we have Gmail. And we’ve been I’ve been on Gmail for the last several jobs that I’ve had, because everybody’s kind of moving that direction. And Priority Inbox is a great way of keeping the things that are brand new, on top, and then secondarily, keeping the things that you have flagged as important in the next group. And then everything else is below. And I have a really awesome system of how I know where I am in the process of an email. I don’t I personally don’t like everything being wrapped under one email chain. But I do use G mails, flag system of question mark, exclamation point. And there’s like a little blue eye and a couple of colored stars. And if I’ve asked a question of someone, I flag it with a question mark, if it’s a to do and I’ve already read it, it’s got an exclamation. And then if it’s from my boss, it’s got a certain color of star. And if it’s just informational for me, I use the little blue eye with the dotted blue dotted eye, because this helps me to know what I’m looking for and what I’m looking at. So it keeps me really super organized. And I, I love this format, and it’s really helped me be efficient.

Jeremy Burrows 17:21
Yeah, I use the Gmail stars a lot as well. So I love it too. If you could snap your fingers and instantly give all assistance more of something, what would it be?

Renee Viens 17:36
I think it would be more quiet time for self reflection. Just to kind of take stock of how much we do and, and how much we really accomplish because we do so many different things. And I think it just kind of goes by in a blur. And we don’t think about the magnitude of what we’ve done. So I think kind of reflecting on our accomplishments is one thing, and also confidence because I think so many of us are in a hurry to please people I know I’m a people pleaser. And I want people to be happy and comfortable. And I I wrapped myself around that to make things work. But I think sometimes I’ve had a good idea too. And I shouldn’t I didn’t bring it up and I should have brought it up. And then someone else says it. And then I’m like, Ah, I missed an opportunity to say something that was important that someone else liked when someone else said it. And having a missed opportunity because you were not being confident. Is is not great?

Jeremy Burrows 18:48
Yeah, that’s good. So last question, what makes someone a leader.

Renee Viens 18:53
So one thing that leaders have, that’s really helpful, and I think important is self awareness, to realize that they are also growing in their, in their role no matter what it is, I don’t think anyone is ever exactly perfect and knows everything about everything that they’re doing every day. So having the self awareness to realize that and ask for feedback, and be willing to, you know, admit when they’re wrong, but who also have a really good passion and encourage people to excel at their roles. And one of the things that I really appreciate about, frankly, my boss, who I feel is a really great leader is he gives people latitude to run with things and just says okay, here’s the frame, here’s the box, go go do it. And giving somebody latitude to like be creative and run with a project and kind of learn a little bit on their own and ask for help when they want to and be and be supported when they need help. But still saying, Okay, this is yours, we’ve laid out a path for you to be successful. Now just do it. And, and watching somebody grow that way is amazing. So I think good leaders, let people not only aspire to what they can be, but also encourage them and help them along the way to be the best that they can.

Jeremy Burrows 20:25
Yeah. Great. Well, Renee, thank you so much for taking time out of your day and chatting with us and really appreciate your insight. And I know you’ve got a lot on your plate with a family and executive that you’re supporting. And, you know, grandparents, like you mentioned, you know, everything you’ve just got a lot going on. So I appreciate you taking a few minutes to share your thoughts with us.

Renee Viens 20:50
Thanks, Jeremy. This is a great opportunity. And I really appreciate it as well. And thank you for being a leader to us in our executive assistant community.

Jeremy Burrows 21:01
Yeah, you’re welcome. And if there’s anything we can do to support, you just let us know we’ll I’ll put your LinkedIn no on your on the show notes so that people can find you and connect with you and say hi, and reach out. And if anybody else is in Boston, it was kind of join the Austin Boston community are part of, I’m sure you’d be happy to share that with them as well.

Renee Viens 21:24
Definitely. It’s always a pleasure to meet new people and I love grabbing a coffee or lunch to meet other executive assistants in the area.

Jeremy Burrows 21:32
Awesome. Thanks so much, and we’ll talk soon. Okay, thanks, Jeremy. Thank you, Renee for being on the show. You can check out the show notes at Hope you have a good one. Stay safe and talk to you soon.

Unknown Speaker 22:01
Please live you on Apple podcast.


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