Creative Leadership

Want to Change Your Life? Hire a Great Assistant.

Early in my career, I believed there was honor in doing everything myself. Don’t hire an assistant – it’s too expensive, plus, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. Fortunately, I learned years ago that was bunk.  Hiring the right assistant can change your life. It lets you focus on the big picture issues, releases you from the day to day organizational stuff, and allows you the freedom to do what you’re really supposed to do for a living.

Even now, I meet high level people working without a good assistant and it baffles me. If you’re an executive, manager, or anyone in leadership – at almost any level – are you using your time wisely by making travel arrangements, scheduling appointments, following up on issues, filing, or organizing your life? Or would it be better to have someone else do that, while you focus on the things that bring in the money, clients, accounts, or whatever?

Maybe your big argument is the expense. People tell me all the time that an assistant costs too much.  Listen to this and listen well:  You don’t have to hire an experienced, big time office whiz as an assistant.  You can find them right out of college, and probably find a free intern if you try hard enough.  But even when paying a salary, if you’re using an assistant correctly, I really believe you’ll more than make up for their salary simply because of how much they allow you to focus on bringing in more business.  If they can free up at least a third of your time from the daily, mundane tasks, you should easily be able to use that time more productively on bringing business in the door, or raising the bar on your productivity.

So do it. Go interview some people, and my first bit of advice is to not hire someone like you. I’m not detail oriented at all, so I need someone obsessed with the small stuff. Get someone that complements your skill set. Of course there are basics that every good assistant needs – organizational skills, computer literate, phone manners, juggling skills, multi-tasking, etc… but beyond that, you’re not hiring a friend, you’re hiring someone that will help take the load off your shoulders.  Then get ready for your life to change!

Do you have a great story about how an assistant changed your life?


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  1. I thought it would bring value to comment from an assistant’s perspective… I seriously don’t know how anyone can afford not to hire an assistant. The key to a good assistant is not just making travel arrangements, scheduling appointments, following up on issues, filing, or organizing your life? The value of having eyes and ears in your fort, while you’re away on a business trip, is invaluable.

    A good assistant is one who protects you from the flirtatious women at the NRB, or one who disassembles a tape machine to meet a deadline. How can anyone possibly live without an assistant who has the discernment to rescue
    you from a bad meeting? How much time would be saved? A good assistant will, without a doubt, make your life easier by reminding you of birthdays, anniversaries and Valentines Day. A good assistant is one who convinces you that
    a decadent day at Burk Williams spa for Kathleen was a good investment. I would say the most valuable assistant is one who continuously prays for your business and your family.

    After my wonderful experience at Cooke Pictures, I am convinced that having an assistant is not just to meet your own needs but to mentor someone in helping them find their destiny and purpose in life. After-all, there was Moses and Joshua and Elijah and Elisha. You and Kathleen were the best mentors I have ever met. You believed in me and helped me discover my gifting and allowed me to grow into who I am today. You are truly the best “leaders” I have come across in my lifetime. Thank you for not trying to micromanage me and allowing me to grow. It would definitely serve churches and businesses well to use your model of “leadership” to help individuals discover their “One Big Thing”,

    Thank you Kathleen and Phil for your passion to mentor… I am forever grateful.

    1. Great comments Jeanette – and thanks for the kind words. You were a GREAT assistant and always were aware of what needed to be done to move projects (and me) forward. I’ll never forgive that husband of yours for taking you away to Minnesota…. 🙂

  2. Very helpful stuff, as usual. Any suggestions re: resources on what type of skills to look for and where to begin looking for someone? Does he/she need to be local? Or can it be done via web/text/email? – Jeff Kinley

    1. I’ve never used a “virtual” assistant Jeff, but Michael Hyatt has done it ( and writes about it on his blog. You should check that out. As far as skills – I need someone who is detail oriented (because I’m not), persistent, and relentlessly positive. He or she will be the face and voice of you and your company, so they need to project your style, attitude, and brand.

    2. It depends on what your needs are. I work as a social media assistant for someone. We have never met, but communicate through email, Skype, etc.

      She & I think enough alike that I know how she wants things done, but have different strengths & weaknesses that help us pull together as a team. We also talk through any problems we are having before it becomes an issue.

      I have also done research, spreadsheets, etc. for people that can be shared. Of course, if you need someone to answer the phone, read your mail, etc., it is better to have someone local.

  3. I can never get over how timely your articles are for me. I have been looking into using an assistant, and THE book I recently purchased was The Virtual Assistant Solution, by Michael Hyatt.

  4. Good book out there by a partner of mine. Check it out
    “Make The Noise Go Away: The Power Of An Effective Second-In-Command”

  5. I wanted to chime in a couple thoughts from the vantage of an assistant… and therefore, someone who communicates with lots of other assistants. I really cannot stress enough how much of what others will think about you will come from their correspondence with your assistant. A moto that we have come to adopt in our office is to be both “Warm & Professional”. Maybe you’ve dealt with the office that was incredibly warm — friendly, fun, exciting…and dreadfully inefficient. Or, the other office that was on point, but far to directly to the point, blowing past people and neglecting common courtesies. Neither reflect you or your organization at its best. Do yourself a favor and hire an assistant who knows how to be both.

    1. Great combination Meredith, especially since the assistant is often the voice of his or her boss. Projecting BOTH warmth and professionalism is a great priority.

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