In this episode, I chat with Julie Perrine, an executive assistant turned CEO and Founder of All Things Admin.
Julie and I talk about managing an executive’s email, personality tests, crafting a career plan, putting together systems and procedures, and tips for becoming a virtual assistant. Enjoy our conversation and be sure to check out Julie’s resources for assistants at AllThingsAdmin.com.
SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE
Check out LifeSquire.com – an Assistant Resource Center focused on matching executives with assistants, and creating relationships – where both sides thrive. They would love to help you find the perfect job or work with you to enhance your skillset.
I find I have little tolerance now for pettiness and superficial pursuits. There’s a wealth that has nothing to do with dollars, that comes from the perspective and wisdom of paying attention to your life. It has everything to teach you. And what I know for sure is that the joy of learning well is the greatest reward.
– Oprah Winfrey
CONNECT WITH JULIE
Julie Perrine is an executive assistant turned CEO and the founder of All Things Admin.
In 2005, Julie left her corporate job and launched her own business as a virtual assistant. In 2009, Julie founded All Things Admin to provide accessible, affordable training, resources, and guidance to admins worldwide. Since then, Julie and her company have become integral parts of the administrative training world by inspiring admins to transform their careers, embrace innovation, and realize their potential. She has also authored three books, The Innovative Admin, The Organized Admin, and Become a Procedures Pro…and has her fourth book in progress.
Julie grew up with her three sisters on a farm in Iowa, where she learned to never wear shorts while baling hay and that wildly flailing your arms in a cattle lot is a big mistake. She’s not a big fan of hiking, camping, or scary movies. But she can pack a suitcase or moving boxes like nobody’s business. She loves working and living in Indianapolis. And if she ever retires, she’d like to spend her time traveling with her husband, Todd, taking her nieces and nephews on educational adventures, and learning how to use the manual settings on her DSLR camera.
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Julie Perrine 0:00
Hi. I’m Julie Perrine and the founder and CEO of all things admin, and today’s leadership quote is from Oprah Winfrey. I find I have little tolerance now for pettiness and superficial pursuits. There’s a wealth that has nothing to do with dollars that comes from the perspective and wisdom of paying attention to your life. It has everything to teach you. And what I know for sure is that the joy of learning well, is the greatest reward.
Podcast Intro 0:32
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistant thanks for tuning in to Episode 69
Jeremy Burrows 0:47
Hey leader assistants. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast your host Jeremy Burrows and today I’m going to share a fun interview with Julie Perrine. But first I wanted to share a note from our sponsor life squire. Life squire is an assistant resource center focused on matching executives with assistants and creating relationships where both sides thrive. They would love to help you find the perfect job or work with you to enhance your skill set. Check them out at lifesquire.com/leaderassistant or you can call them at 405-889-4430 Lifesquire.com/leaderassistant. And now let’s jump into our interview. Hey leader assistants. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host Jeremy Burrows. And today I’m with Julie Perrine from all things admin. Hey, Julie, how are you?
Julie Perrine 1:46
Great. How are you?
Jeremy Burrows 1:48
I’m doing good. And you are and what city in the country right now.
Julie Perrine 1:52
I am located on the northern side of Indianapolis here in the great state of Indiana.
Jeremy Burrows 1:58
Awesome, good Midwest, good Midwest. So let’s start off with what was your very first job, and then maybe what skills you learned in that job that you use today that maybe you had no idea you would use today?
Julie Perrine 2:14
Well, technically my very first job because I’m a farm girl was learning to rake a and mow the lawn at the age of six when I grew up on the farm in Iowa, so I would call farming or being a farmer’s daughter, my very first job. And one of the things I will say that definitely was instilled in me at a very young age was the value of work ethic and a very being willing to work hard and work long hours. But my dad’s motto was always work hard, play hard. So when we get done with a season of baling hay or chopping, or even though the harvest in the fall, we usually would take a break and go and do something fun. In the summertime, our our big reward was going to the lake, so we had a boat, and we would go spend a day at the lake. So that was what I always kind of considered my very first job. From there, I did a lot of babysitting. But my first real like off the farm job, once I got out of high school was working for a local campground. And I did a lot of office management things there. So I would kind of consider that my first job where I kind of got that taste of office management and administrative roles and responsibilities with customer support tied in with that with interacting with the patrons who came to the campground but a lot of scheduling and phone skills and working with people and just the overall office management role in that job, which was great for me.
Jeremy Burrows 3:47
Awesome. So did you end up kind of latching on to that organization, project management, event planning type role, and then become an EAA after that? Or did you kind of go a different path first?
Julie Perrine 4:00
Well, at college, I did a little bit from a Office perspective, just kind of floating around in different jobs, on work study programs that were available there. But it wasn’t until after college after my husband and I first got married, and we’re living in California, that I got a real taste for EA work in some of the positions that I held there. And one of those positions was working at the reception area of our Main Hall of Administration. So I was greeting all of the visitors who came in and out of the building really kind of got a sense of you know, who was coming to see whom and for what reasons, and also did tours of our corporate headquarters as part of my role there, which was one of the things that kind of helped me get comfortable with speaking in front of groups, even though they were small groups, learning different facts and figures about our properties and some of the historic homes that were on our property that we use this part of our our church’s headquarters when I lived there and work there. So that was kind of where I started to get the taste for it. And from there just kept progressing into other positions and roles that were, as I like to say, rungs on the career ladder for administrative job titles and responsibilities.
Jeremy Burrows 5:21
Awesome. So when did you kind of realize that you just really loved the role of an assistant.
Julie Perrine 5:30
I had a really good executive who supported me from a career development perspective when we were living in California. And he was the first person to introduce me to the concept of pursuing a certification or possibly looking at advancing my skills with additional education of some sort. And prior to that, I had never really considered it. I mean, I liked the role. I liked the responsibilities that came with the role. But I had never really looked at what else I could do with it. And so that was kind of where I got that first taste of it. It wasn’t probably until maybe five or seven years later, that I was working corporately, supporting one of the best executives I had ever supported. It was after we have moved back to Iowa, and found myself in a position where the company I was working for was going through a bankruptcy. And they were actually going through the bankruptcy when I was hired. And I didn’t really have a good sense of what that meant at the time. But I quickly learned that those environments can be pretty toxic when you show up in them in the middle of them. And thankfully, it was blessed with a very awesome executive, but working in one of the most toxic work environments that I had ever experienced. And it was in that role that I realized very quickly, I am not going to be here forever, and neither is he. And so if I don’t want to waste all of the skills that I’ve developed, and all this time that I’ve put into developing as an administrative professional, what am I going to do next? And that’s honestly where I look at things completely shifting for me in a very monumental way. And shifting from very reactive to help things that happened to me, career wise. Up to that point, I basically kind of let people keep tapping me on the shoulder and say, Hey, what about this? What about this? And have you considered this role, to where I took control of things, and put a career plan together for the first time where I could actively see where I had been, where I wanted to go next, and the path I was going to take to get there. And honestly, it’s where I took charge of my career and things and doors started opening and things started happening at a pace that was completely different from how it had been up to that point.
Jeremy Burrows 7:53
Wow, that’s great. So could you kind of share a little bit about what maybe it was in your career plan, or maybe somebody listening is thinking about the hey, I need to put my own career plan together. Any tips for what to kind of where to where to start on that process?
Julie Perrine 8:09
Well, when it comes to career planning, the one thing you it’s just like strategic planning for a business. And this is one of those things that I think as assistants, we sometimes get to help with the process. And so we’re kind of aware have an ambient awareness of it. But we don’t apply it to ourselves individually. And one of my dear friends, and another awesome administrative trainer, Bonnie Lowe cream and talks about becoming the CEO of you. And I say, all the time, in that role supporting that executive at my last corporate job. That was when I truly became the CEO of my career, when I made that shift from reactive to proactive and how I was looking at things and putting my career plan together. And so one of the first things you do with strategic planning is look at, where are you now? You know, how did you get there? What led up to that? What were some of the, as I refer to them, the hits or misses, and you know, some of the awesome things that happened, some of the things you feel like, you know, stumbled on or didn’t get accomplished the way you would hope to, and what helped you get to where you are today, so that you can then assess, okay, where do I want to go next? And then what is the path required for helping me get there? So for me at that point in that corporate position, I was looking at all of the things I had done up to that point, what I really liked about the executive assistant position, the administrative professional role as a whole, what I didn’t like so much about it. And at that point, I was about every three years or so I was switching positions. And at the time, I was concerned that it was going to look like I was doing a lot of job hopping on my resume. Now things have evolved to the point that if somebody stays in a job for a year, you get excited, but at that point, I was like, Okay, I don’t want to be just be this Job Hopper. So what am I going to find or do now Extra, I can be doing this for a while and be content and happy with it. And that was when I decided to pursue becoming a virtual assistant, I realized as supporting this executive at that company that 90% of our communication was digital or electronic. Even when we were sitting in offices side by side, he had glass panels on his office door, and I could see him all day long. But he would still end and the door was open most of the day, so he could talk to me through his office door. But most of our communication was still going through email, with a lot of task requests and project management and I was helping manage his inbox. So a lot of it was being done digitally, even though we sat side by side. And so when he eventually retired and left that company, I stayed around for a couple more weeks to kind of make sure things were cleaned up and tidied up. And then that was when I left and started my virtual assistant business. And in that nine month period between when I realized he’s not going to be here forever. And if he leaves I’m not staying, I use that nine month period to do a lot of research on what was required and starting my own business, to do a lot of research on what kinds of certifications or additional training I might need to set me apart in that field when I made that leap. And how would I go about getting myself set up as a as a separate entity, and what was required to do that. So my plan was a lot of looking at networking options in the community, and how to get connected with some of the business resources that were there to help me do that. It was a lot about I didn’t actually get the certifications until after I left corporate America because I needed time to like focus and study and do that. But I knew exactly where I needed to start as soon as I left that job and was getting ready to start my virtual assistant business. So the plan was laid out such that as soon as I left the corporate job, I immediately started studying for my certifications, got my certifications, took classes on how to build websites and do some of the digital and social media things that were just starting to become prevalent then. And develop my own company website first as a training ground as well. And then start doing an offering those services to the entrepreneurs that I had been meeting at some of these networking events that I had been starting to go to and was strategically adding to my schedule and calendar after I left my corporate job as well. So that was kind of how the the evolution occurred in that timeframe.
Jeremy Burrows 12:35
Wow, that’s great, so many, so many nuggets of wisdom. I can’t wait to go back and listen to the interview and, and in, you know, re soak those all in, there’s a couple of them, I want to kind of point out and ask you about. You mentioned managing your executives, email, what’s your number one tip for managing an inbox.
Julie Perrine 12:59
That is a struggle. And I’ll be honest, I used to manage inboxes very well for other people. And then I became an executive myself and struggle with managing my own now. So that will be my my starting point. I used to wonder why these highly intelligent and educated and talented people that I supported, could not stay on top of their inboxes. And now all of a sudden, I completely understand exactly how that happens. And I think it’s lightyears worse now than it was 1015 years ago when I was doing this more consistently. But one of the things that has helped me personally, and that I actually teach and train assistants how to do as well is to create systems. But you’ve got to find a system that works. And sometimes there’s a little bit of trial and error involved in that, I could tell you what my tips are for managing an executives inbox. And that might work beautifully for my personality type, and workstyle. And it might work beautifully for my executives personality type and work style. But for the next executive who is a completely different type, it might not work at all just because of how they consume information and how they make decisions. So one of the tools that I have found helpful from a larger scope of it doesn’t work for necessarily every single personality type, but you can tweak it to make it work more specifically. And that’s a system that Laura stack teaches in her productivity on sessions and I’m one of her certified trainers. And it’s understanding that you use the inbox as your mailbox, not your to do list. So if you think about it, you don’t walk out to your mailbox at the end of your driveway or wherever you get your mail each day and stand there and write checks and process the mail standing at your mailbox. You take it out of the mailbox and you take it back into the house or back to your desk and you put it in the folder for paying bills or you you know allocate it to the spaces where they need to go for what needs to happen. To hit Next. And so if we could go back to when outlook and Gmail and all these tools were rolled out for email, and get trained correctly, from the word go, it would help all of us immensely. But that’s not how it happened, we have been overloaded. And so now we have to figure out what do we do with the overload. And so moving emails from the inbox to a task, or to a project management tool, and assigning a start date, and a due date for when it needs to have something happened to it is one of the best tips I can share. And so for some executives, moving something to a folder that’s labeled, you know, urgent, or that’s labeled today, or that’s labeled, you know, this week or something, so that they know the priority of when it needs to be responded to sometimes that works better for some executives, what I found for me, and I’m right now my inbox is full of email that I need to do a finish the purge for 2019. And start fresh, sometimes you just need to create a folder that says inbox detox, and put the date on it. And if you know, everything in your inbox is in there, you can go back and find it if you need it. But a lot of times stuff gets so outdated that you don’t need to spend time going back through to delete it, put it in a purge folder. And if you need to find it, you can but then start fresh today with your inbox and get in the habit of making a decision about every single email that comes in, where does it go, what needs to happen to it, what’s the start date or due date, get it moved out of the inbox into a task, and then work from your task list or work from your project management tool, instead of working from your inbox. And that if you can get into that habit, and it does take some time to make the habit stick, that can be life changing when it comes to email management, both for you and for your executives.
Jeremy Burrows 16:46
I love the purge. tactic I I’m a firm believer in aggressively archiving. And when I started with my current executive, he had like, I don’t know, 15,000 emails in his inbox and 11,000 11,000 of them were unread. And I just said here, I’ve got a quick solution for this. And I went over and I selected all and I hit archive. And he was just like, looked at it like, Wow, I feel like a new man.
Julie Perrine 17:16
It’s true you do. It’s just like getting clutter out of your system. It’s digital clutter that causes you to slow to slow down productivity wise, because it’s just it’s like eating away at you whether you realize it or not.
Jeremy Burrows 17:28
Yeah. Awesome. So could you share it? You said you mentioned being a virtual assistant, could you share just a quick tip, if somebody came up to you and said, Hey, I’m a in office full time VA and I would love to transition to be virtual assistant Remote Assistant, what would you say to them,
Julie Perrine 17:49
I would say learn as much as you possibly can about running a business before you take the leap. Because one of the things that I see a lot of virtual assistants, or a lot of assistants who want to become virtual assistants thinking or doing is well I can do EA work. So of course I can be a virtual assistant. That is only half the battle. The other half of the battle is being set up correctly from a legal entity perspective so that you are not putting your personal assets at risk. And so getting a lawyer who can help you set up an LLC or an S corp or whatever is appropriate for your needs. Making sure that you get good contracts in place so that when you are engaging with potential clients or actual clients who want to sign on with you, that you are legally spelling out the relationship from day one, so that everything everyone is clear, and you’re not getting taken advantage of and they they aren’t either, it should be an equally equitable agreement. And from a financial perspective, making sure that you’ve got your bank accounts separate from your personal accounts and that you are running it like a business. And that was where I took advantage of local community colleges, local business accelerators or startup groups that were providing resources to help entrepreneurs getting started in business for the first time. And a lot of those courses, some of them are free. Some of them have a low low fee associated with them, but learn as much as you possibly can about the business side of running a business before you take the leap. The other thing I would strongly encourage then is taking some marketing classes because you can do the work but you have to find the work and have means marketing and sales is now part of your job title as well. And so I think that’s the one thing that I don’t see a lot of people saying, hey, become a VA or you know, start your own business. They don’t talk about the business side of running the business and doing the work is easy. Once you can find it, but you’ve got to To find ways of differentiating yourself from a marketing and branding perspective, your visuals have to reflect that in what you put online and how you represent yourself socially. And all of it needs to be that package that looks like yes, this is that professional virtual assistant that I want working with me and representing me. From a business perspective, not just someone, I’m hiring quickly to help me get some admin work done that I can’t get accomplished on my own. So I think looking at it from that broader view is one of the most important things to do before you make that leap.
Jeremy Burrows 20:39
Yes, great advice. You know, I talked to virtual assistants. And the most common struggle they have is getting clients, it’s like, how do I get more clients? How do I get more clients?
Julie Perrine 20:51
I’ll tell you, one of the the first clients that I had, were all past executives that I had worked for. And I say I say that all the time, like the people who know your skills and abilities are the people who have worked with you, in the past, from a networking perspective, tell every single person you possibly can, especially those you really liked working with previously, what you’re doing, because you have in a lot of cases, I had no idea that a lot of these executives who in some cases, were still working for the companies that we had been at together previously, but had these side projects or the side businesses that they were running that they they know that they need the administrative support or help for but they don’t have the the need for that full time person necessarily, or even a permanent part time person, they just know they need that expertise here and there for some of the presentations they’re making, or some of the scheduling or travel or things that they’re doing related to this side venture. And that’s where VAs can really make a huge difference in how those businesses continue. And it’s for me, it was great, because I knew I liked working with a lot of these executives in the past. So I’m like, and they were delighted that they could work with me and help me get going as well. So that was how a lot of it went. And then word of mouth from there it was It wasn’t hard to find clients, once I kind of got myself established in some of those circles.
Jeremy Burrows 22:09
Awesome. So let’s talk a little bit about personality types. What do assistants need to know there’s there’s all different sorts of tests, whether it’s the Enneagram Myers Briggs, you know, there’s tons of them out there these days. But let’s talk about Myers Briggs. I think that’s the one that you’re that you do a lot of work with, what do assistants need to know about Myers Briggs, and then maybe any tips for figuring out your executives personality type, and working with an executive with a different personality type?
Julie Perrine 22:47
Well, first of all, I am certified as an administrator for the Myers Briggs Type Indicator tool. However, I love all of them. I think all of them bring information and tidbits and words and information into the conversation that are helpful on both sides of the desk. So I described Myers Briggs or any of these, these personality or strengths based tools, as the way you productively and successfully decode relationships, both at home and at the office. So for me, people laugh at me when I say this, but it is the honest truth. There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t have conversations either with my team or with my husband, or both related to an exchange or a conversation or something that happened that we tie back to personality type, like, Okay, I’m dealing with a feeling type here, I’m a very clear thinking type, how do I adjust my messaging or my email or my conversation, so that they can hear what I’m trying to say, in the best way possible. And so I think, the more you learn about these things, and you have to know it very intimately about yourself first, so that you can articulate and verbalize that to others. And then you start observing and learning those things about those you work with and support. And, ultimately, ideally, if they would be learning it about themselves and learning it about you as well, then everybody can adapt better to make their styles fit more productively. But at the very least, if you as the assistant are learning it, and observing it about the executives and team members that you’re working with on a consistent basis, you can still apply it even if they stay clueless about it, and making that relationship work better. So I over the course of time, I’ve come to the point of understanding that I think all types can work well with all types. If you have the willingness on both sides to be self aware, have that higher level of emotional intelligence, and you’re willing to adapt your styles, but we all know that’s not always the case. And so For me, what this has really made, the biggest difference in, in working with my executives is it’s not always my preferred style and how I communicate with them, or it’s not always my preferred style and how I put information together to present to them. But I can get a lot further a lot faster by trying to adapt my style to there’s once I learned more about it, than trying to just keep fighting and banging heads with them in those conversations and relationships. So that’s kind of how I come at Myers Briggs and how I apply it in that executive assistant relationship.
Jeremy Burrows 25:36
Yeah, I love what you said about, you know, you can, one personality type can connect with and work well with any other personality type. We found in our startup, that there’s kind of a an interesting, startup startups are not really for everyone. And in fact, startups we found are either for you or against you. And so, you know, we’re trying to distill, okay, what are the values that people who startup life is for? What are the values that kind of stand out? And so we’ve kind of made our own tests and use some other tests and trying to figure out okay, what did it what is it that makes someone a startup person, you know, it helps to, to kind of know that, as you’re interviewing people, it helps to know that as people are having issues. And so anyway, at one of the things that stood out to me was, you know, my executive and I, and this, this is the same with my former executive as well, we have pretty much the exact opposite Myers Briggs. And we work really, really well together. And the reason we work well together, when we started looking at these values assessments is we had pretty much every top value that he scored high in matched up with mine. And so even though our personalities were the opposite, our values aligned and so that, that is what helped us work well together. So anyway, so
Julie Perrine 27:09
that’s a great example, Jeremy, of why I do not endorse using personality tools for the hiring process. They should be used after the person is hired to help everyone learn who this person is from a personality perspective. But what you’re talking about on the values side of things that you can figure out in interviews, like what are your values, values are important to the culture fit. But personality tools should not from an ethical perspective, be used to make a decision for hiring and firing? Because here’s the thing, we all know that there’s, there’s immense value in diversity, diversity of thought diversity of, you know, how people so for example, with the thinking type, versus the feeling types on the Myers Briggs scale, thinking types come at it problem first, people second, feeling types come at it, people first problem second. So it’s not that one or the other is ignoring the people and the problems. It’s just the order in which they evaluate how to make a decision on it. So I worked for a team, I was the only female on this leadership team that was a very dominant thinking group. And I’m a very clear thinking type as well. But because of my Myers Briggs, understanding and background, and because I could see that we were missing, we had a major gap in feeling types on our team. I kept coming back to them and saying, Yes, I know that this would be great for the company for these reasons you’ve outlined. But how is this going to impact the employees? How is this going to impact the people here? And so I was trying to bring them back to that because they were so heavily focused on just dealing with the problem first, and not thinking so much about the people. So with personality type on my team, I’ve got a very diverse team, I’ve got a couple of people on my team who are exact opposites type opposites. To me, I have one person who is almost an exact type match to me, and we’ve got the different temperaments all represented. And it really does help us from a problem solving and brainstorming and uh, you know, creating, what we’re creating perspective to see how the different personalities bring elements into that conversation. That if it were just me and my assistant, Ruth who’s probably most closely aligned with me, personality type wise, we get like going down a rabbit hole together and we’re happy as clams. But we’re not always seeing the the broader picture around us. So that is one of the things that I love about personality type, but I always encourage companies to use it after the person is hired to help. What’s the To orient, orient the team, to this new person and orient the person to the team and kind of keep doing ongoing activities to keep personality type and awareness alive within the team culture, so that you have that awareness as you’re working in teams, because here’s another great you were talking leadership. So when Myers Briggs preferences are looked at from a leadership lens, another way to look at this is with extroverts and introverts. So extroverts, like me, are very assertive and direct. We start with the actions. And we’re all about developing plans in discussion with others, whereas the introverts on the team, are more work behind the scenes and lead by example, they start with ideas. And they are more about developing plans through private reflection. So if you’ve got an introvert and an extrovert working together, in your company, your extrovert may outwardly look more like this leader that you’re looking for, because they’re taking action, and they’re developing plans, and they’re very verbal about it, and letting others know. But your introvert is just as much as a leader, it’s just their style is very different about how they’re going to bring that to the world. So gaining this awareness helps you not pigeonhole somebody someplace just because of how vocal or not that they are, and gives you a little more strategy on how to bring those ideas out of them so that you’re getting the best of them in those larger group settings as well.
Jeremy Burrows 31:37
Love it. Yeah, I could talk about this kind of stuff all day. Me too. I can tell. So could you share a bit of kind of how you came to start training other assistants and developing resources and writing books and doing all that what what kind of, you know, propelled you into that world?
Julie Perrine 32:03
Well, when I started my virtual assistant business, one of the things I was being pulled into kicking and screaming was social media. All of my clients at the time, were realizing it was the next big thing that they needed to figure out. And none of them wanted to do it. And they wanted me to do it for them. And I was like, like, I don’t need another time waster on my day. So my goal became, how can I figure this out? And how can I do it as efficiently and productively as possible? And I started taking some training and came across some courses that helped me do that. And I learned about blogging. And so I decided, well, the best way to figure this out is going to be to do it for myself. So I launched my first blog. This is probably, honestly, maybe in the 2007 2008 range, and just went to blogger.com. It was Google’s blog site that was the most popular at the time, and within five minutes, had a blog up and running. And I thought, well, what am I going to blog about? And the workshop I had just been to said, you know, blog about what you know, and I thought, well, procedures, I procedures are the thing I do the best I know the best. So I’m like, let me just do a few, a little blog post series on how to create a Procedures Manual. And those were the first three blog posts on my blog. And I kept adding other things, you know, as I came across them, tips and tidbits and just was playing with it to figure out how to do it, and then started doing it for my clients. Well, over time, my clients would get to the point where they needed to actually hire somebody more permanently or wanted somebody on site, I was still working virtually from my home office and did not want to be physically in someone else’s office. Or in some cases, it wasn’t even possible because they were too far distance wise from where I lived. So I would start helping find from a recruiting perspective and a training perspective, getting new admins up and running when they would hire permanent staff members to take that role. And I figured out at that point that I loved to training admins as much as I enjoyed being one. In fact, in some cases, I enjoyed the training side even more. So the back to the blogging thing. In the meantime, I figured out that those first three blog posts, and I think if you dig deep enough on our blog, you can find them there somewhere still today. But those first three blog posts, which were the most basic and if I look back at and out, not that helpful posts, were drawing more traffic to my website than any other posts or articles that I had on my blog. And I was like, wow, I Who knew that so many people would be interested in procedures development. Now like Well, I’m doing all this stuff for my authors and trainers and clients that I’m working for and helping them get knowledge out of their heads onto paper or into courses or into ebooks or into print books. I thought well there’s no reason I can’t do the same So I started taking that procedures, knowledge and created some templates and created some things and started selling those on my website. And the other thing I’d realized as a virtual assistant was, if you’re not working, you’re not billable. And so I was looking to create some things that would sell 24/7 on my website, even if I wasn’t clocking billable hours during work hours. And so it was kind of that combination and evolution of utilizing blogging, figuring out people really needed some help with something I had some expertise in, doing what I had been doing for my clients, then for myself, and taking that knowledge and turning it into products and resources that I could share with others and creating a an online training tool, that, from my perspective, at that point, I wanted something that was a very cost effective and affordable option for Administrative Professionals, because I knew a lot of them were still trying to fit their own bill, with training and development that they needed.
Jeremy Burrows 35:55
Awesome. Yeah, I love it. It’s similar to my story where I just basically started a blog and taught myself how to build a website and just posted it and you know, it’s still up there. It’s probably not my best blog. But But yeah, it’s amazing how if you just put yourself out there, what can happen?
Julie Perrine 36:19
Well, and I often say it all started with a tweet. And that’s not entirely true. But that was how I actually got connected with Lucy brasier. And writing for executive secretary magazine then not fall prey. Couple years after that, she had seen a couple of tweets I posted and came across some articles that I’ve been sharing on Twitter, and our connection began there. And that I look at that single connection as being one of the things that also helped launch me, outside of the US from a speaking perspective as well. So you just never know how these things are going to come together. And what’s going to lead to the next thing, but having a bigger picture view of how your social channels connect with other people in a global sense in this day, and age is an opportunity for all of us.
Jeremy Burrows 37:07
Yeah, definitely. So you mentioned systems and procedures, can you share a quick snapshot of what you mean by procedures, and maybe a couple tips.
Julie Perrine 37:18
So when I talk about systems and procedures, sometimes people think they’re the same thing. And they’re related, but they’re not identical. So think of it like this. A system would be how you go about planning, an event or planning travel for your executive, there’s a system involved in getting all of the details and all of the things arranged and coordinated the procedures, the forms, and the templates that you use, to make that happen, are the components that come together to create that system. So we’ll use planning an event as an example. One of the first things I do is I have a template or a form for getting as much information about the event from whoever I’m working with as possible, you know, tentative dates that we’re working with locations, what type of an event, is it? Is it a board meeting? Or is it a annual employee picnic? You know, who are some of the what are some of the key features that need to occur in that. So that’s one of my processes are templates that I use to get the process started. If I’m doing a board meeting, then one of the other things I have associated with each of my templates is a little bit of instruction, which is in the procedure for when we’re trying to coordinate the dates, we’re looking at these timeframes, because it falls after the month end. And the reporting process is completed in the accounting area, or these three people have to be at the board meetings for this company. And then for this company. So these are the the admins and the dates that we check with first, and then we follow up with these others later. So your procedures are like the written instructions that guide somebody through how to do it step by step. And you’ve got forms and templates and checklists that go with that. And all of that comes together to create your systems. So you’ve got systems for travel planning for how you organize events, you got systems for filing, both digital and paper, you’ve got systems for task management or project management. And it’s then breaking those down into the individual components of how you do those things that you put into the actual procedures and the how to of making that happen. And from a Getting Started perspective, one of the things that has made the biggest difference for me throughout my career and for a lot of our audience members who have used our tools is just using a template for the procedure. So as admins, we like things to look perfect and to be polished and professional when we present them. So one of the things that I’ve had to help assistants get over the hump on is realizing that a hand written procedure is still a documented procedure. But if you don’t like your handwriting or you think it looks too scribbled up or not as neat as you want it to, then use our template, it’s a free one you can download in our online training center at all things admin.com. It’s one of the first freebies people usually come to find on our site. And just printing that off and having 30 copies of it in a file folder within arm’s reach of where you sit. So as you’re doing things, you can quickly pull that sheet out and just start jotting notes as you do, it can make all the difference in helping you move from this is a project I should do to a project that’s in progress. And you’re actually starting to get some things documented. So being okay with your handwritten notes, as the starting point for your procedures, is one of the biggest humps. I like to help admins get over so that they can get the process started.
Jeremy Burrows 40:54
Yeah, and you can always take a nice scan of your handwritten notes and get them digitized, you know, as a starting point, as well. So
Julie Perrine 41:03
absolutely. And I say that all the time, I still have a couple of procedures that my team and I use that are PDFs of a handwritten sheet of paper, it works as long as you as long as somebody can read and figure out how to get from start to finish through it. That’s all that matters.
Jeremy Burrows 41:18
Yeah, definitely. Awesome. Well, Julie, I really appreciate you taking the time, I want to kind of wrap this interview up with the question that I like to ask most of my guests, what makes an assistant, a leader.
Julie Perrine 41:35
My single word answer to that is choice. I think every single assistant can place themselves in a leadership role or position or be seen as a leader by choosing to see themselves as a leader. And then engaging in the activities that help you feel confident in being that leader continuing to advance your skills continuing to read, staying aware of the trends that are changing in both the business world as a whole. But in our profession, specifically, and just saying I choose to be a leader is going to help you start recognizing the opportunities to step into other opportunities when they show up when there’s an opportunity for you to lead a team meeting when there’s an opportunity for you to step into a meeting on behalf of your boss or your executive. Or there’s an opportunity for you to take a leadership role in a professional association. These are all of the little individual choices that continue to then fuel that. And by choosing to see yourself as a leader, you will start making better choices about how to bring information and knowledge into your world that helps you be a better leader as well.
Jeremy Burrows 42:58
Great, great tips. So where can we find you online? And how can we support what you’re up to
Julie Perrine 43:04
allthingsadmin.com is the hub for everything that we’re doing and working with all of our training, resources and tools for assistance can be found there. And if you haven’t connected with us on the social media sites, we do a pretty good job of sharing tips and resources on a common theme each month that drill down into some specific aspects of how to get better at that particular theme. So if you’re on Facebook, connect with us there. If you’re on LinkedIn, we have a nice group going there. If you’re feel like Pinterest, and you’re more into that we’ve got a Pinterest page up and running now as well. So we’d love to connect with you on whichever platforms or applications you’re most likely to be using on a regular basis.
Jeremy Burrows 43:51
Awesome, and I’ll share those links in the show notes so people can find it. Julie, thanks so much. Again, really appreciate your tips and your tricks and your story. Yeah, just thanks for what you’re doing for the assistant community. And thanks for representing the Midwest.
Julie Perrine 44:08
Thank you for having me. I appreciate being here.
Jeremy Burrows 44:10
Thank you so much, Julie for a great interview. Everyone can check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/69 And also don’t forget to check out my new book four leader assistants called the leader assistant four pillars of a confident game changing assistant. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers or you can check out the first three chapters for free at leaderassistantbook.com.
Podcast Intro 44:46
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