At the start of my career, I worked for a large production company in the Midwest. It didn’t take me long to discover that although the President of the company had a great title, it was his assistant that really made things happen. So I became her friend. She was a very nice professional woman, and I bought her flowers on her birthday, and sent her gifts at Christmas. As a result, she gave me enormous favor. She mentored me in how a big organization works. I learned that if she sent out a memo, it had the same authority as the company president himself. During those early years in my career, she made a huge difference for me. Which is why I’ve been so baffled over the years when some people call and completely disregard my assistant. They ignore her, treat her badly, and demand to “only speak with Phil.” Guess what? Those people rarely get through.
My assistant controls my calendar, my appointments, and my speaking and travel schedules. As a result, you can find out more from her than you can from me. Plus, I trust her. She has the keys to my house, knows my computer passwords, and generally runs my professional life. When I want to go off the radar, she and my wife Kathleen are the only ones who know where I am. She’s a very important cog in the wheel.
And you know what? As soon as a meeting is over and our guest walks out the door, I turn to my assistant and ask: “What did you think of that person?” If you were rude or ignored her, she’ll tell me, and I won’t be happy.
In any organization, assistants, secretaries, and receptionists matter. They’re important to the key people in a company, so don’t think ignoring them will help your case. Become their best friend. Their favor can mean more to your career, your project, or your dream, than you’ll ever know.