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As an Executive Assistant we know there will always be days when everything is going as planned and you think, “Yay!! I can leave on time to make my appointment.” But just as you are about to make a dash for the door an impromptu dinner meeting has been scheduled and you now need food in the office within the hour!

In the past I’d use services that would need a 2-3 hour advance notice or had a cut off time. But when I was crunched for time I’d just call the restaurant and go pick up food. Unfortunately, that still didn’t mean I’d be back in the office before folks arrive. Oh! Did I mention peak hour traffic on sand hill road and downtown Palo Alto is a nightmare?! 

Then I learned about Fluc (Food Lovers United Corps) which is an amazing food delivery service. Tim, Adam, and Pako are the smart and friendly co-founders always there to help. You can place the order through the website or mobile app and track the driver in real time to check the status of the order. The food is individually packed and delivered in Fluc’s special packaging box. 

They’ve also launched “Google Calendar for Food,” which allows the user to schedule food orders up to 365 days in advance. 

From the website:

How can I use it ?

To use Fluc you can either use the web or mobile phone application (currently iPhone only) and look at the restaurants in your area. Simply set your delivery location, select a restaurant, order your items, pay via credit card and get your food.

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I am frequently pinged by companies looking to hire Executive Assistants, Admin Assistants and Office Managers. If you are actively job hunting in the Bay Area be sure to check this blog frequently and follow the Executive Assistant Facebook page! 

https://www.facebook.com/executiveassistants

Office administration - 

  • Front desk (they don’t expect any visitors).
  • Minor billing.
  • Order office supplies,
  • Coordinating office services.
  • Some office setup.
  • Inventory management.

Scheduling meetings - 

  • Couple of internal and customer meetings.

Recruitment skills - 

  • Interview planning (majority of the work  for the initial 3 months). The candidate will learn recruiting skills here. 
  • Coordinating with candidate and internal interviewers.
  • Calling candidate for scheduling meeting and updating on status.
  • Calling some potential candidates to check on interest.

The company is located in Sunnyvale. Contact me if you are interested and would like to apply for the position.

 

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As Executive Assistants and Admin Assistants we regularly organize private lunches and dinners for our executives. There are many resources to find good private dining options: Open Table, Yelp, Google. asking your colleagues, etc.

Another good resource I recently discovered: San Francisco Private Dining Venues (http://www.sfpdv.com/). I love how the 'view all rooms' tab lists everything one would need to quickly scan thorough all the options and make a decision. You can see the email / phone number of the private dining specialist, types of rooms and capacity, etc. Try it out!

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/executiveassistants

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  • Question: Dear Bhavana: What is the best way to notify board members (via email) that an upcoming board meeting needs to be rescheduled due to one of the board chairs not being able to attend because of an important professional engagement? Is it okay to mention why the meeting is being rescheduled or is it more tactful to say that it is due to an unforeseen circumstance? Thank you so much for any insight into this matter! - deedeem12
  • Answer:

    This happens all the time and more often than not the other board members and their EAs are very understanding. Rescheduling meetings is part and parcel of the role right? :)

    I mostly contact the Executive Assistants (everything happens way faster that way per my experience) and let them know a time sensitive commitment has come up (which is the case 99.99% of the time). And depending on my relationship with them I may give them more information. But do use your judgment here, it is not always necessary to give out all the information of the executive you support. 

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Some time back I wrote a post about apps and tools that help Executive Assistants work more efficiently. I think it’s time to revisit the list, because I have added and discarded some apps / tools since then. Most of these tools are iPhone, iPad and Android compatible and free. But, of course, most also offer premium services that you can upgrade to. But I like stuff when it’s free! :)

  • BlueJeans Network - Not every office is equipped with video conferencing tools like LifeSize, Polycom etc. That’s when BlueJeans (a cross platform tool for video conferencing) comes in super handy.
  • Doodle - Schedule meetings that involve input from multiple folks. Personally I use this and Whenisgood to set board dates.
  • Dropbox - Share documents, videos etc. Best thing about Dropbox is that everything syncs on my iPad, iPhone and laptop. Working from home was never easier!
  • Evernote - Perfect place for me to write my notes, tasks, workout routines, clip pages from the web, etc. What makes it great is that it syncs across multiple devices. I don’t know about you but I have way too many devices, and emailing myself tasks 10x a day gets tiring.
  • Expensify - Easy way to deal with expense reports. Snap pictures of receipts, upload or edit if needed, and send the PDF to accounting.
  • Facebook Disconnect - A must have add on if you don’t want people tracking each move you make on the web. I use Chrome, so the above link is for the Chrome add on. If you use Firefox, just go to Tools -> Add Ons, and search for Facebook Disconnect.
  • FlightTrack - As Executive Assistants we book a ton of travel. So, be on top of your game and prevent the fire drill that comes with a missed / late departure flight. This app also helps you know the most accurate status of your executives’ flights. Also consider adding the app to your executives’ phones? :)
  • Gate Guru - Travel much? In that case this app is for you! iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad compatible. 
  • Google Docs - Create light-weight spreadsheets, presentations, etc. and share with multiple users without worrying about their MS Office versions.
  • Google Voice - Use one number for all your current phones, have voice mails transcribed on email and low international call rates amongst many benefits. 
  • Open Table - Make restaurant reservations and earn points.
  • Skype - So cool and so free! Video chatting with family, or making work related domestic or international calls? Easy peasy.
  • Spotify - Amazing music collection! Listen to tons of songs for free! I don’t know about you, but having classical music playing in the background helps me get in the zone.
  • TaskRabbit - Haven’t used this but seems great if your executive or you need help running some errands.
  • Wondershare - Convert PDF to MS Word doc, unlock PDF’s etc. Try it out.
  • Wunderlist - Hmm haven’t used this but I hear it’s good.
  • Xobni - Contacts made easy! I am planning on trying this, so will update later.
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A few gals asked me about the best ways for an Executive Assistant to schedule board meetings. So I thought of writing what I do to set up a meeting. Hopefully some of these tips will help if you are starting out as an Executive Assistant / Admin Assistant.

When there are more than a few attendees involved, it is a good idea to create a checklist. You can do this the good old fashioned way (pen & paper), on a Word doc, or online (I use Evernote to keep all my notes synced). 

Here are some questions to ask yourself days before the meeting:

  • Do you have an accurate headcount?
  • Have you blocked a conference room?
  • Do you know the names of all the people attending, and their admins (if any)?
  • Is anyone planning on showing up earlier, and needs a room for work?
  • Does anyone have dietary restrictions or food allergies if breakfast / lunch are provided? 
  • Have you informed the Front Desk to add the extra attendees to lunch count?
  • Do you know the WiFi login / password and dial in number for the meeting?

Send a meeting invite to all the attendees / admins with information about the meeting. The message should include purpose of meeting, date/time, length of meeting, address (preferably with link to a map), dial in number (in case someone cannot attend in person), name of attendees, on site contact person number, and information about breakfast / lunch (if any).

On the day of the meeting, print out all board materials, display WiFi info, and stock the room with water, notepads etc.  

Hope this helps!

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Some gals pinged me asking for a good Recruiter. They only person I still recommend to all the CEO’s within my network (looking for an Executive Assistant / Admin Assistant) is David Goldman from Ruby Peak Recruiting. This is purely based on the great experience I had when I was job hunting 4 years ago. I met David, we talked and felt he was real good at understanding what the candidate wants and what the company is looking for. He’s a great matchmaker that way! ;) His network within the VC community on Sand Hill Rd is strong (my company has been using him for years now). David only works with quality firms and most openings have great pay. No harm in checking him out.

http://rubypeakrecruiting.com/About_Us.html

I also come to know of great openings within my network. I helped two gals get a job in a great Venture Firm and a Startup this month. They contacted me from the EA Facebook page I started most recently.

https://www.facebook.com/executiveassistants

http://bhavanakumar.com/

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Are you interested in writing a guest post on Executive Assistants / Admin Assistants? Would love to hear your ideas and tips! 

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Ha! This was too funny!

I regularly come to know of job openings within my network. So, please check the Facebook page (I am trying to build for Executive Assistants and Admin Assistants) plus my blog every now and then for an update. :)

https://www.facebook.com/executiveassistants

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/bhavanakumar

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As an Executive Assistant I book private dining rooms on a recurring basis. I am constantly on the lookout for restaurants with not only great food but private rooms where one can have private dinners for confidential meetings. I thought of listing some of my favorite spots (in the peninsula) I like to send the executives I support. 

Do you have have a favorite spot in the mind? Please share!

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“Executive Assistant interview questions”, “How to prep for an Executive Assistant Interview?”, “What are the most commonly asked Executive Assistant interview questions?”, “What are the duties of an Executive Assistant?”, “How to prep for first day as an Executive Assistant / Admin Assistant?”, “Admin Assistant interview questions.” I receive a fair amount of queries from folks (who are kind and crazy (!) enough to read my blog) asking for help in preparing for an Executive Assistant or Admin Assistant interview.  So, I thought about updating my earlier post and writing about this topic again. I hope I am able to help!!

If you are going to interview for an Executive Assistant position at a decently established firm chances are your first round of interview will be by a fellow Executive Assistant. Admins work very closely together on a day to day basis and most firms have a decent sized team. So, look up LinkedIn profiles of possible future colleagues and do as much research before the interview day. It is good to know your audience as every little bit helps.

Organizational skills - I try to understand how the candidate deals with workflow on hectic days and will prioritize tasks. It is good to have some anecdotes in mind. 

Work ethic - As an Executive Assistant I am privy to very confidential emails, private discussions and documents. I’d like to understand if the candidate understands the importance of this role. Is she/he careless or discreet about access to such information and can prevent anything from leaking out?

Commitment - The entire process of finding the right person is time consuming. So, I’d like to understand if the job is a short term commitment or a long term commitment? How long is the commute? What kind of flexibility they have in terms of work hours? etc.

Technical Skills - Although most Executive Assistants / Admin Assistants spend most of their time using MS Office products times have been changing. I work on both the MAC operating system and the Windows operating system. So, it is probably good to be efficient on both platforms (if you have access). If not, then I’d like to know the candidate is at least willing to learn new tools that will help be more productive at work.

Passion - For me, it is OK if your most recent job wasn’t as an Executive Assistant. I want to know what brings you in to interview today and why you’d be a good fit for the position?

Personality - I’d like to understand how your friend’s describe you? What are your hobbies? Do you work better in a team or solo? What types of personalities you work best with? etc.

Hope this helps! Are you interested in becoming an Executive Assistant and currently in the market for job? Send me a message or reply on my Facebook page. I always know of openings from my internal network.

I am currently trying to build a Facebook group for Executive Assistants and Admin Assistants. Feel free to “Like” or leave a comment. 

https://www.facebook.com/executiveassistants

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Chances are you schedule a ton of meetings if you’re an Executive Assistant / Admin Assistant. I am certain my fellow Executive Assistants have exchanged countless emails (banged their head against the desk) trying to nail down a time for a meeting that works for all 9 people but that “one” person. Result, start from scratch or get on a conference call. The funniest part is when us Executive Assistants can’t seem to find a mutual time that works to get on a call for a meeting that can’t be scheduled unless we get on that call! :) I can’t thank the stars enough when I can schedule a board meeting in no time with zero conflicts! Especially when the board members are in different time zones. So, I thought of listing some of the online tools available for this purpose. These tools come in handy for scheduling board meetings, conference calls, setting up interviews, internal meetings, etc. They are all real simple to operate, so I won’t go in detail about the description. Try out and see if something works for you. In my case, I use “When is Good” and “Doodle” when I have to schedule board meetings or even internal meetings to avoid the back and forth on email and help save time. 

Doodle, Tungle, When is Good, Meeting Wizard, Setster, Congregar and Presdo. 

Including screen shots from 2 tools that can help schedule meetings. 

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I am constantly trying to find helpful shortcuts that can make me a more productive Executive Assistant. One thing I use is the Quick Access Toolbar which allows me to add the commands I use more frequently to the toolbar highlighted below. This in turn helps me eliminate a few extra clicks and save time. There are two possible locations to display this: above or below the Ribbon. I currently have it set at below. 

The Quick Access Toolbar is independent of all the commands you have in the Ribbon. If you look at the image you will see small icons of commands I use more than others. The More Commands option let’s you add additional commands and customize the toolbar further. The Quick Access Toolbar is available in all the MS Office products (MS Outlook, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Word and MS Access). 

I work on MS Office a ton as an Executive Assistant. But I am think this will help Admin Assistants or anyone who uses MS office. Play around with this a little and see if it helps! :)

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I use Google Docs and Google Calendar to do most of my personal work. But if you are an Executive Assistant or Admin Assistant chances are that you use MS Office for office work. Since I am on Outlook all the time at work, I thought it would be easier to view my Google Calendar in Outlook as well. If you’d like to add your Google Calendar try what I did. I am currently using Outlook 2010.

Click Settings>Calendar after you log in to your Google Calendar. At this point you should see all the calendars you have on your Gmail account. 

Click on the calendar you would like to add to MS Outlook. I have highlighted it below.

 

Scroll down to the Private Address section and click on the iCAL button. 

Copy the calendar address you see on your page. 

Now that I am done with the Google Calendar, I open MS Outlook 2010. I click on File>Home tab>Open Calendar and scroll to From Internet.  

 

Paste the link/address you copied from your Google Calendar and click OK

Click Yes

You should see another dialog box open up asking you to add a name to the calendar. But that is pretty much it. Voila! You can now see your Google Calendar in your MS Outlook Calendar. :)

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As an Executive Assistant I work on MS Excel a lot. I am constantly doing something on it. Here I mention how to sort data in Excel 2007. I have listed some methods I personally use to sort, filter or format data in Excel.

  • Ascending order (A-Z) or descending order (Z-A).
  • Multiple Columns. 
  • Auto filter.
  • Custom sort using cell color.

To sort data click on the DATA tab in the ribbon. Now you can choose what method you’d like to use. 

I have to create and edit large spreadsheets, so I prefer using the below method. Here I can rank the sort order of the columns. For example, if I am working on a contact list I can sort by “First Name”, “Last Name”, “Company”, “Country of Residence”, “Email”, etc. Try and see what works for you.