November 7th, 2023
With Ethan & Stephanie Bull, CEO and Founders of ProAssisting, a professional remote assistants provider to perform logistics handling, planning, communication, and administrative tasks to business owners, board directors, c-suite execs and entrepreneurs. Stephanie is ProAssisting’s co-founder and the former EA for J. Crew’s CEO and the CEOs of two multi-billion-dollar hedge funds. Before developing ProAssisting, Stephanie proved herself an expert in the field and a vital addition to the C-suite by fulfilling a variety of roles, including chief of staff, estate manager, and investment liaison. Stephanie has the ability to see the vision and end result of any project or task and work towards that goal to successful completion.
With a background in hospitality and an expert in the EA space, Ethan, a co-founder of ProAssisting, has held a variety of senior positions, including Director of Administrative Services and senior EA to the president and CEO at Rochester Regional Health. Outside the office, Ethan spends his time with his wife, Stephanie, sons, Wyatt and Henry, and their dog, Rosie. He also enjoys playing music, skiing, hitting the links and toiling away at the next great American novel.
Join us in our conversation as Ethan and Stephanie discuss the vital role of assistants for personal and professional growth, emphasizing the value of personalized assistant services for entrepreneurs. We’ll also explore gender dynamics and leadership within the executive assistant role. Furthermore, we’ll touch on the importance of tone and nonverbal cues in communication, and how their book, “The 29-Hour Workday,” serves as a practical guide for optimizing assistant potential in the business world.
Takeaways & quotes you don’t want to miss from this episode:
- The role of an executive assistant is more than just scheduling and email management…
- How virtual assistant space has evolved.
- The importance of building trust and long-term relationships with clients, rather than treating them like computer programs.
- Having a positive attitude and being open to finding solutions in a diplomatic role is a must have for EAs.
“The emotional intelligence of a great EA is going to be the bridge between a principal and artificial intelligence…”-Ethan Bull
Check out these highlights:
- 04:10 How Ethan & Stephanie met and evolved together in the executive assistant space.
- 14:49 How gender roles currently play in the world of executive assistance.
- 26:00 Ethan & Stephanie share the placement process for their clients.
- 52:40 Stephanie’s final takeaway for the listeners.
How to get in touch with Ethan & Stephanie on Social Media:
Ethan’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ethanbull/
Stephanie’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniebull/
Special gift for the listeners: Get access to the downloadable PDF copy of their book “The 29-Hour Workday”, or the audiobook version here.
Imperfect Show Notes
We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below:
GGGB Intro 00:00
Here’s what you get on today’s episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business®…
Stephanie Bull 00:04
I would tell prospective EAS or people that are currently doing the role. Know your audience, know your client, they need you to help solve problems, make their lives easier. Try to be strategic, organized and maybe take the first step in a problem solving and also try to have a positive attitude and instead of saying that’s not gonna work, I can’t get you on a flight to Copenhagen tonight at midnight be like, that sounds difficult. Let me see what I can do, and be honest, but just don’t shut down difficult ideas right away.
GGGB Intro 00:40
The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:09
Alrighty, welcome. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based here in Seattle, Washington, serving online information entrepreneurs throughout the US and around the world. Welcome to another episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business®. I am super excited to welcome Ethan and Stephanie Bull today. Welcome Ethan and Stephanie.
Stephanie Bull 01:36
Thanks so much for having us are excited to be here.
Ethan Bull 01:38
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:39
Hi, Ethan. So good to have you both. I am excited because this is only my second conversation with two guests, who are a husband and wife team working together. And if you have been a listener of the show, if you’re a new listener, stick around, this is going to be an awesome conversation because we all need this type of support in our business. So you’re gonna want to listen today and hear about Ethan and Stephanie’s work and also their journey into their work. We’re gonna dig out some nuggets, I know it. For those of you that don’t know Ethan and Stephanie, Ethan Bull is a co-founder of ProAssisting, a next generation remote executive assistants firm for business owners and C-suite executives. With a background in hospitality and an expert in the EA space. Ethan has held a variety of senior positions including Director of Administrative Services, and senior EA. And for those of you that don’t know EA, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO at Rochester Regional Health. Stephanie Bull is ProAssisting’s co-founder and the former executive assistant for J. Crew’s CEO and the CEOs of two multibillion dollar hedge funds. Before developing ProAssisting, Stephanie proved herself an expert in the field and a vital addition to the C-suite by fulfilling a variety of roles, including Chief of Staff, estate manager and investment liaison. I am so excited to learn more about your background in this space, you guys both come directly from the space that you are now leading a company in which I love. And so you’ve got real, we’ll call it boots on the ground experience and knowing what you’re up to and a couple of things that are in the works. I’m super excited for the folks that will benefit from your training. But welcome.
Ethan Bull 03:38
She made it sound really good.
Stephanie Bull 03:40
Heather Pearce Campbell 03:42
Did not take a lot of effort, folks. So the first place I want to start just because even before we went live, I’m like oh my gosh, hats off to a husband and wife couple that can work together. Talk to me about your background story how you guys either met or evolved together in this executive assistant space, tell us how you got connected and then launch the idea for your own company.
Ethan Bull 04:10
Well, actually, I was living in New York City and Stephanie was visiting. This was about 20 years ago, 20 years ago, and I was at my local pub. Sar enter the pub at the other end of the room. I said to my one of my really best friends who ended up being in our wedding and I said you see that girl who just walk in That’s the girl we never get. And lo and behold, we ended up chatting and she was not living in New York at that time, but our relationship really built over the phone. And then she moved down and you know, started work at an investment banking firm and she you got poached.
Stephanie Bull 04:53
Yeah, I was I was working for Credit Suisse First Boston, and in investment banking. And it definitely wasn’t lighting my soul on fire. But it was a job and I had to make money living in New York. And before I moved, my father was like, you know, how expensive is to live there? You need a job right away. And I was like, Yes, dad. Yes, you’re right. And he was right. But while I was there, I did get some great experience in an EA role. And I had been working on a number of presentations on the side that I happen to be good at. And someone poached me and said, hey, guess what, one of our biggest clients runs a $5 billion hedge fund. And there are only about 12 people working there right now. And he needs a new executive assistant, because his current one is going to be moving into another role. So I interviewed, it was kind of a grueling interview process. But I got the job and stayed there for about eight years and was his right hand. I helped manage a huge home build on the Connecticut coast. He had a equestrian property, he had five homes. So I was that person. Then I did a brief stint in fashion, worked for J. Crew group and realized that I really love fashion as a hobby. But I did not like working with people in fashion, because they were all of the things that you think they would be the stereotypes. And then so after that, I went back into into the financial world.
Heather Pearce Campbell 06:34
Oh, my gosh, when you said that about the fashion world, that movie came to mind. Devil Wears Prada. Yes. Oh my gosh, I was, you know, my sister who’s way into fashion, graduated and like merchandise, textiles, design, all that stuff. She always wanted to be in that world. She’s landed perfectly. I think where she’s designed to be now she’s in sales. She went from medical sales, actually to like skincare and you know, more on the beauty side, but working with dermatologists who are doing like a really wide variety of things in skincare and help. Anyways, it’s fun to see where she’s at. But I remember watching that movie and being like, oh, it would be such a tough world, especially if you’re not loving it.
Stephanie Bull 07:16
Yes, yes, totally. It was a learning experience.
Heather Pearce Campbell 07:20
So you went from Boston, I hear that you were living in Boston and moved to New York, Stephanie.
Stephanie Bull 07:26
Yeah, I had lived in DC after college and kind of made a big life change. And I was staying with my parents for a few months and knew that I wanted to be in New York City. So I was visiting the weekend that we met, preparing to move and then you know,
Heather Pearce Campbell 07:44
Worlds collide. Worlds Collide.
Stephanie Bull 07:47
Heather Pearce Campbell 07:48
I love that.
Stephanie Bull 07:50
And Ethan was working as an EA, but in.
Ethan Bull 07:54
I was in advertising. Yeah. Before that. I was in the entertainment industry.
Heather Pearce Campbell 07:59
And also a fun one.
Ethan Bull 08:02
Yeah, you know, I mean,
Stephanie Bull 08:03
He has better stories than I do.
Heather Pearce Campbell 08:06
Yeah, I bet there’s some intensity there.
Ethan Bull 08:08
Yeah, intensity, boldface, names, all that good stuff. And the thing is, is being, you know, a male in the EAC is, is kind of really rare. But actually in the entertainment industry, they use it as the stepping stone into whether you’re going to be a producer, or even a writer or a director or a development executive or an agent, the executive assistant see is really kind of that that stepping stone, if you will, like you’ve got to learn the ropes. Yeah. And also in the entertainment industry, as well as finance, when the term Secretary moved into assistant or executive assistant, they really view it as a jack of all trades, slash Swiss Army Knife roll, where you are the single point of contact, and you’re filtering everything for your principal to maximize their time. And when you know, Stephanie mentioned the project on the coast of Connecticut that she was in charge of her boss specifically told everyone involved at the kickoff meeting. This is Stephanie, what she says is coming from me. And if you need questions answered, you give them to Stephanie, and she will find the optimal time based on your needs for that information on when to ask me get an answer and then filter it back to you. And that was a side project that was on the personal side of the ledger. And so it goes to show the breadth that the role can inhibit when you’re dealing with the CEO of a billion dollar organization, or a high net worth individual who has many moving parts. And it’s really a useful role if the principal can learn to not micromanage, and hand off and delegate. And it’s that know, like and trust, and then the sky’s the limit, then it’s a true partnership.
Heather Pearce Campbell 10:19
So you’ve raised I love. I mean, there’s so many questions that I have for you. But you’ve raised, I feel like a couple of important points in what you’ve just said. One is about the gender roles within the executive assisting world I think, too, what comes to mind for me is how stupidly attached we can be generally within? I’ll call it the working world, I think, particularly in the US to our titles, right? And the perception of what a title either conveys or brings with it. You know, you mentioned like when it switched from Secretary to assistant or executive assistant, you know, kind of the possibilities open up. And I think that has so much to do with perspective, but also association with particular titles. And then on the flip side, you have this whole question of leadership from the principles role of like, how well do they allow this person to inhabit this, this key support space for them managing so many things, so many topics, so many people, right, that come into their schedule, their life, etc. And it’s, you know, when you describe it in that way, you see what, not only a big role that it is, I heard you describe it as like, you have to be a jack of all trades, right? You have to be able to manage a lot. And the mom brain in me is exploding a little bit because my husband and I regularly laugh that like, some of us feel like we barely have enough skills to manage our own life, let alone all these other people’s lives. Right. And it sounds like in the executive assisting role, like you really are managing a massive piece of whether it’s work or personal side of somebody else’s life. It’s a lot.
Stephanie Bull 12:14
Yeah, no, it absolutely is. And it’s interesting that you say that, because about the parenting role, because I find that we, you know, the majority of the assistants that we work with happen to be female. But as a rule, most moms are so amazing at multitasking and organizing and keeping everyone organized. And sometimes there are words that come out of my mouth, like, Yes, this is all been taking care of you just get to show up. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that all the behind the scenes has been taken care of. So And anyway, our assistants, who are also also mothers just aren’t even that much more amazing. I think. So?
Heather Pearce Campbell 13:04
Well, I think there is definitely a natural tendency I read an article recently around, I can’t remember what they call it. The mental labor, quiet labor, something it’s a lot of this emotion organizing, pre planning that happens whether you kind of recognize it, or label it or document it or not, that it takes to just manage a life or manage a family or manage somebody else’s life or schedule, right, it is a lot. And I know personally, as a mom coming through COVID and out of COVID, like I would not have survived on the work side without my assistant not for one week, during COVID. That’s how intense things have been like it like my work my clients, I would not have survived. And so it is a lot and it takes a lot to have the skills to be able to manage that for somebody else. And so I just really love the reframe around that. And I’m excited to hear because it sounds like I mean, and I want to dig in, first of all to because I still want to hear the part about where you guys got together and said, Let’s do this thing, right let’s launch our own company or business having come from the world of executive assisting. What are you finding? And before we get there, what are you finding regarding the gender piece? Is that changing at all? Is that Is it opening up? Is it still largely bound by kind of our traditional ideas of what people should or shouldn’t be doing based on gender? What are you guys seeing?
Ethan Bull 14:49
I’m not seeing any more male assistants. And then you can talk about sexual orientation. So gay men are probably more prominent than straight men in the EA role, I have talked to a number of men as potential partner EAS for us. I think it’s it’s just a gradual process. I mean, I think men can succeed just as well as as women in the role. But I will say personally, in the first third of my career after I moved from entertainment into advertising, and it started to become more of a career, I honestly, I was a little ashamed of being a male assistant in how executives viewed me see, not my principles directly.
Heather Pearce Campbell 15:39
That’s not something that you could control.
Ethan Bull 15:43
Yeah, it was more along the lines of a visiting executive, or someone interviewing or a different executive in a different part of the company. And then you know, what, you just gotta let that roll off your back and become persistent. And then they’ll notice what Wow, they’re providing great service. And there’s a sense of hospitality. And that was kind of my experience, I guess, I would say in terms of us, starting our business, Stephanie actually gained a client through our network after we moved out of New York City. And that kind of happened randomly. And then we did a deep dive on the virtual assistant space, and what that look like, and it didn’t look like us, it didn’t look like career executive assistants working at a really high level compensated appropriately for our support. And we kind of saw that gap between where the typical virtual assistant service kind of dropped off, and a full time assistant would pick up. And we leveraged our knowledge around working in a three to one executive to assistant ratio. And we were leading teams of assistants, built our business model around that and made the conscious choice to pay our assistants commensurate with their experience.
Stephanie Bull 17:09
Maybe we should also explain the three to one ratio, basically, that just is, we feel that we as assistants and assistants that work with us work at an optimal level working with no more than three people. So a lot of the other virtual assistant firms, you know, you might have an assistant who has 12 clients. And it’s constantly juggling, and I don’t even know,
Heather Pearce Campbell 17:33
That feels insane, to me that feels completely undoable. And unless you’re literally doing like a single task across the board, for each of them, you know, that feels really challenging.
Ethan Bull 17:45
Well, you get to that high number when and they they deal with, you know, they’re usually paying their assistance in there, usually the client is usually paying the company $45 an hour, and they’re usually paying the assistant 20 to $25 an hour. And so you can get to that number of 12 assistants, like you have one client at five hours, another client at 15, and other 30, another client at 12. And that’s just kind of how that model works. Whereas we don’t charge by the hour, or it’s a flat retainer rate for 1/3, the resources of one of our assistants, and that provides that feeling of Monday through Friday nine to five full service support. So it’s been interesting. And in terms of seeing all the different options. And there are a number of great options. And we’re not the only one. So I would say to anybody listening out there running their own business, if you need someone to do asynchronous work, and it’s more task based, and you can get it for $5 an hour overseas, that’s fantastic. Or if you want that US based person, but you really only want them for something that again, is more asynchronous and more, you know, handling tasks lists, then that’s great. And if you want someone really who’s a true partner, and you’re not ready to hire a full time assistant, and you want that executive assistant level than we may be a great option. And so that is what that’s kind of how the whole industry has kind of opened up which has been really great to see.
Heather Pearce Campbell 19:24
Well, and I love that because people are going to have different priorities and different values and particularly based on maybe where their own either career path or business is right even in its own journey. And I would say for me I care a lot about relationships, reliability, having somebody you know which can take some time to build you have to like be willing to invest in people and in time to have the kind of like core support that ultimately gets you through those really tough days where it’s like this person sometimes needs to be able to make decisions for you on the fly, and they need to know you so well to be able to make the right decision so that you’re not having to be involved in every single thing.
Stephanie Bull 20:16
Yeah, exactly. I mean, and I think the ProAssisting difference is that we also treasure those human relationships. And we believe in the assistants that partner with us, we do pass on 80% of the monthly retainer to our assistants. So we’re really just acting as an agent. We do take a 20%. But our clients stick with us for an average of at least three years. And we build that trust over time. And they do rely on us to make decisions on their behalf and to represent them at the highest level.
Ethan Bull 20:56
Yeah, you’re both keying into the legacy knowledge that is built up over time where the principal, in terms of their personal world, their business world, the community, and there is a value there that you can’t put $1 figure on it’s something that builds over time, and creates efficiency over time, and creates that true partnership. And so we have to explain that to our prospects, when all they want to know is how many hours does this get me? I always I’m always like, it’s going to be enough hours. I’m not worried about the time aspect. Worried about are we the right fit? Because if you know, we are month to month, and it’s all about forming great long relationships, so.
Heather Pearce Campbell 21:45
Heather Pearce Campbell 21:47
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Heather Pearce Campbell 23:30
I have a couple of questions for you. But first, I want to ask Who are your clients?
Ethan Bull 23:35
Well, I guess we like to say that we’re a great executive assistant as a chameleon. And we’re really industry agnostic and principle agnostic. It’s really about forming that know like and trust relationship with someone, we source or find our great assistants by first acknowledging their hard experience. And then a little bit more importantly, focus in on their interpersonal skills or work ethic, emotional intelligence, and making sure that they have that servant’s heart and want to see themselves as a career minded executive assistant. And if we find that they could go into pharmaceuticals, or they could go into real estate, or they go into finance. We do say, though, that if you’re a solopreneur, or you’re like a coach or consultant, or that we really want to see north of $500,000 a year in revenue to justify our minimum amount from a business perspective, but and we have a lot of clients like that all the way up.
Heather Pearce Campbell 24:39
Totally. Well, and I imagine some of those businesses are where these folks are actually most key right? And it’s like they’ve been in business long enough. They’re ready for that support. They’re either quickly growing or poised to quickly scale they need somebody that will help them turn on and like really optimize use that machine, right, even for a small business. And I work with plenty of folks in that range and hire, you know, in the one to 2 million, 3 million annual revenue. They’ve built a small team or they’re needing to optimize and continue to build out a small team.
Stephanie Bull 25:17
Yes, absolutely. And Ethan does the majority of our sales calls with prospective clients, and often I will overhear him be like, you know, we’re probably not the right fit for you right now. But six months, please check in with me, because he knows he’s really good at reading those. The tea leaves, I guess you could say, I knowing we want to meet expectations, basically.
Heather Pearce Campbell 25:43
Oh, totally. How do you guys achieve kind of placement fit right for your clients? I heard you talk about like, the ways that you get to know your EA is right, and make sure that they’re the right fit, how do you go through kind of that placement process?
Ethan Bull 26:00
The thing is, is being an expert, two sided marketplace, I don’t think either of us would sleep well at night, if we had 10 or 15 assistants or 20 assistants waiting in the wings for clients. Yeah. And it goes back again, to us being chameleons in that I’ve worked in a number of different kinds of industries, Stephanie, as as well, we’ve proven this model by working for clients in different industries. It’s more about finding that right assistant and making sure that, you know, we’re partnering them with, frankly, a business owner or a founder or a CEO, level person who one understands the rules of the road, if you will, about our service. And what that looks like and to also is not a jerk, you know, and is not taking the caricature that you see in some movies, or TV shows about what an assistant is. And mind you, most of those assistants are working for billionaires. So they’re being compensated at a level you have no idea about. And so the abuse they take is kind of baked in where we don’t, we’re not there, you know, we don’t?
Stephanie Bull 27:15
No, absolutely not. And we have had to let go of clients that are not, they’re not the right fit, they’re not respectful. Their expectations are not appropriate, so…
Heather Pearce Campbell 27:29
The thing that’s so crazy about that, to me is like it’s so counter intuitive to first of all, building your business or your department or whatever it is right? Creating a team member that you can rely on, and that respects you and cares about you enough to do their best work. I guess just it’s so bizarre to me when you see those characters in movies, but also, you know, what happens in real life? You know, there are people that are that way. And it just it literally feels insane to me that that’s a way that people think like this will work and it’ll work well.
Stephanie Bull 28:05
I agree with you. It’s ruled by fear, and it makes absolutely no sense to me.
Heather Pearce Campbell 28:11
No, it does not. So with that I I’m curious, I’ve got two questions for you. Is there one thing that you wish more of your clients knew right either about the EAA world about your services about how, how to be a better leader? And then on the flip side, I’m gonna The next question is…
Ethan Bull 28:33
I’ll take the first one.
Heather Pearce Campbell 28:34
You got to take the first one? Okay. Is there one thing that you wish the executive assistant world knew or, or potential, like speaking to the other side of the marketplace, people who are in the executive assistant role and maybe should be working for somebody like you? Right? What do you wish those folks knew?
Ethan Bull 28:54
So on the first one, given that we are fractional and remote, and geography doesn’t really matter, until you talk timezone. And if you’re in the same time zone, you can work there, I do find there is some times where a prospect just an an or a new client, if you will, just feels like we’re a computer program. And like, we’re just like, and it’s not a person to person business. And if you go into it, thinking, we’re a computer program, you’re going to shortchange the onboarding experience. Wrong, you’re not going to form that relationship
Heather Pearce Campbell 29:34
and we’re either going to be off on the wrong or maybe should be working as opposed to
Ethan Bull 29:39
my understanding. What do you wish this does take some time. I do like to say though, after you’ve been interacting with working with someone for three weeks, you’re really going to feel the lift. And the reason being, is because we partner with executive assistants who could command six figures in major metropolitan areas. Paris is there Do Yeah, yeah. So they’re going to tell you what you shouldn’t be doing. And they’re going to tell you what they are going to take off your plate.
Heather Pearce Campbell 30:08
You know what this reminds me of? This might be a really bad example. But I’m gonna say it anyways, we watched the TV show recently. We just started it called the diplomat, I think on Netflix or something. Loved it. We watched that. Yeah. Right. But like, and I don’t even remember names at this point, because we watched like the first few episodes, but it’s the it’s the guy who has that role for her. Right. And he, like he has all this background knowledge. Yeah, he doesn’t have Yeah, exactly. It’s like Chief of Staff. That’s the way I think of that role is like, No, you should be like, don’t do that. Do this. And somebody that comes with that breadth of background helps you be a better leader.
Stephanie Bull 30:49
Yes. Yes. Like behind the scenes advising.
Ethan Bull 30:54
Yeah. All right, you get the second one.
Stephanie Bull 30:55
Okay. So I guess I would tell prospective EAS or people that are currently doing the role. Know your audience, know your client, they need you to help solve problems make their lives easier. So it is wise to ask the right questions, but try to be strategic about it and organized and maybe take the first step in a problem solving, and maybe compile three questions at a time and don’t bombard them because they’re gonna become annoyed. That is one piece of advice. And also try to have a positive attitude. And instead of saying, that’s not gonna work, I can’t get you on a flight to Copenhagen tonight at midnight be like, that sounds difficult. Let me see what I can do. And be honest, but just don’t don’t shut down difficult ideas right away.
Heather Pearce Campbell 31:48
I love that. I feel like it’s not just a can do attitude. But an optimistic attitude goes a long way. In life, generally, let’s be honest, because if you are open to looking for solutions, you’re way more likely to find them, than if you’re really not open to looking in the first place. And I feel like it’s just the way the universe works. And so it’s funny, because when I think back, I lost my longtime assistant in the middle of COVID, who’s a mom of three little boys and knew my business knew everything about how things ran over your archetype to businesses, right? And I’ve got a couple of other assistants that do very specific things. And then I’ve got somebody that helps me on the legal side. So I have other team members, but they don’t do her role, right. And so I lost her right before the holidays. And I ended up having to kick off a whole hiring season, you know, going through Christmas and New Years. Anyways, I got a replacement. And she’s been awesome. And the factor that I hired her for, and by the way, there were at this time, in the middle of COVID. I think there were like, I don’t know, over 100 applicants, right. And so I had to filter through a bunch set up a bunch of interviews, I talked to some folks who were super experienced. And I talked to this gal who just had an awesome attitude. She was the one that was like, I can do it hire me like and but she had follow up, she was the only one like consistently every day, like where are you in the process? How can I help, you know, I’m ready to go. And I just loved her attitude above and beyond everything else, and it has served her so well. She’s had to learn a lot because she wasn’t as experienced as some of the other folks. But I feel like her attitude has taken her so much farther, you know, and anyway, so I love I really love that point about attitude, because I feel like it’s a huge part of whether we succeed and work regardless of what we do. Yeah. I feel like and the reason I wanted to ask that question is I often think, because like in the entrepreneur space and the folks that I serve, I think there are some people who end up deciding, like, this just isn’t for me, you know, and I really belong inside of someone else’s business, but really helping them run it because I know so much right. And I feel like there’s a lot of those folks who actually would make the perfect executive assistant at a very high level because of their experience, their personality. They’re willing to tackle a lot but they’re really not designed to be the outfront person.
Ethan Bull 34:36
We’ve actually had some success working. It feels like we’ve had a former attorney as an assistant who after two months was bought out of her agreement with us to go work full time with the person who partner with we had another we had an accountant who worked a long length project at at an elevated rate for we’re a different client. We see opportunities sometimes when someone fills out our join our team page on our on our website, and and I’ll take that conversation, but 95% it is the hard experience. But Danny Meyer, the restaurant tour in New York said, you know, there are 5149 company, meaning and we stole this from him, but or borrowed, maybe it’s better word.
Heather Pearce Campbell 35:32
I’m giving him credit, right? Good job. Good job.
Ethan Bull 35:35
Yes, it’s that 49% in the heart, experience and the 51%, as I said, in those soft skills in those in that emotional intelligence and in the attitude, and knowing you’re in a service business, and we stress that you have to be able to provide a service, but can you raise that level of service to hospitality? And then, you know, not to go off on a tangent, but with artificial intelligence, really playing a big role in a lot of the things we’re doing. And in the administrative assistant or assistant space. Our thesis is that the soft skills, the emotional intelligence of a great EA, is going to be the bridge between a principal and artificial intelligence. And if you know, many of our clients, they want to know about AI from investing perspectives and that kind of thing, but they would rather have someone leveraging AI on their behalf. Yeah, and making their assistant more efficient, and knowing that they’re covering their bases with artificial intelligence, without having to keep up with it know how to leverage ChatGPT or what have you. And so that’s that’s kind of how we look at it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 36:56
You raise such an important point with artificial intelligence, right? We’re in a phase right now where it’s moving faster than it ever has before. I think a lot of spaces are in a period of like, wondering, are we going to be extraordinarily disrupted? Right, some maybe will be some, I think less. My personal perspective and opinion is that most of us don’t love interacting exclusively with robots or programs or machines, I don’t think that’s likely to change because human behavior changes much more slowly than technology does. There’s no part of me that wants to go to an expert, virtual therapist, that is a robot, right? If I need therapy, that’s not what I want. And I think one of the things that robots, I’m just calling them robots, because it’s fun, don’t do well, that humans do and there’s there’s a lot of research around this and that they may not ever catch up is that humans are able to extrapolate right? We our brains are extraordinary at because we’re primed for what survival, right? Optimizing, like, what is the lesson from this experience that I can apply over here, which allows me to extrapolate really key data from this new situation happening? Robots don’t do that. They can’t really be trained to do that. Right now. They’re not doing that. And so I still think what you just said is right, is that we can use AI to support some of the components of our various roles, regardless of what industry we’re in, right? EA is one of them. But I don’t think AI is going to come in and replace most human centric roles where people much prefer working with a human because we’re relationship based, primarily. And most of us want to be that way. Yes. Right. Yes. That’s my that’s my little tirade on that. So I want some people to calm down, and I think we’re alive.
Stephanie Bull 39:08
Yeah, we are. We are totally aligned. I was I was also just going to add, because I agree 100% with what you said, and you know, as humans, we take away what is said in the conversation, but also what is not said facial expressions and a pause. And there’s so much more to communication that…
Heather Pearce Campbell 39:31
How many of us, right have like really massively screwed up text conversation. Right? Exactly. Especially with our spouses talking about the whole like working relationship with our spouses. Yes. And we’re like, Oops, we should have done that conversation face to face. Absolutely. Like a prime example. I feel like of the difference that we’re talking about here at.
Stephanie Bull 39:55
Yeah, absolutely. And tone I mean, it’s so hard tone in an email. send a text message at any of that is just it’s near impossible to nail every time.
Heather Pearce Campbell 40:05
Yeah, yeah, totally. So I know you guys have a couple of exciting things not only coming up, I think you’d published the audio version of your book, you want to share with us a little bit about your book that came out last year, and then the audio version that was just released.
Ethan Bull 40:24
You know, what we were finding, as we were building our business was, we were coming across a lot of people who had never used an assistant before. And we wanted to come up with a way that we could take our gulp 45 plus years of combined assisting experience, and kind of create an instruction manual. And it can be great for that person who’s never used an assistant to kind of brainstorm of how would an assistant fit into my world? And how would that help me in my business, but it’s also a great way for someone who has an assistant to make sure they’re getting the most out of the partnership. And we focus on five performance multipliers. So it’s called the 29 hour workday. And our five performance multipliers should add five more hours in your day. In that the assistant should be thought of, as your business partner, as your chief of staff, as your project manager, as your assistant slash scheduler, and personal assistant. And don’t shy away from that one. A lot of people feel guilty about asking their assistant to do personal work. That is part of the, a lot of fun things come out of that side of the world. And when you’re assisting someone on a personal level, and you save the day, and their their eight year old daughter has an amazing birthday party with the best magician that the whole party has ever seen. I mean, that’s huge, that’s fun. And then the client is sending you a video of of the Act going on, it’s like, that creates a real partnership. And it is a relationship, unlike any other that transcends both of those, you know.
Heather Pearce Campbell 42:19
That’s a really that’s an important point. And I can relate to that, because you’re right, like, on the personal side, I mean, there have been days where I’m like, Oh my gosh, I just have to hire like a house manager, I don’t even know what to call it like somebody to come in and help me manage the personal side of life, right, all the logistics and the to dues and kids things and the traveling and the scheduling and blah, blah, blah. So I get it, and I have been kind of resistant to like, transfer some of that on to my assistant who knows everything else about both sides of my businesses, you know, so that is interesting that that is kind of a hesitation for some people.
Ethan Bull 42:57
Yeah. And we encourage it.
Stephanie Bull 42:58
Yeah, no, I was gonna say it definitely is. People do hesitate. And I think as long as you’re respectful of you communicate what you’re looking for, and you respect the boundaries, and and they know that you’re not going to be asking them to do something that 11pm On a Saturday night. At least, you know, on the regular as long as you’re communicating I yeah, I enjoy the personal projects as well.
Heather Pearce Campbell 43:27
Oh, that’s super fun. Well, I love the title of your book, the 29 hour workday, it’s like it goes so against the trends, right, the four hour workweek, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, you know? Wouldn’t that be nice? Right? Without it being like, you’re 29 hour work day? We don’t want that either. But no, it is a great, it’s a great play on that theme. So the audio version just came out. And that book is for folks who are new to the world. And also who can do it better could do a better job of utilizing the assistant or the executive assistants that they’re already working with. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. So we’ll share the links to those in the show notes. You also have it sounds like this interesting educational side or component of your business that you’re getting ready to launch. You want to share a little bit about that?
Stephanie Bull 44:25
Yeah, it’s going to be basically business school for a graduate program for career executive assistants. So we’re going to be doing coaching and consulting but also community of fellow assistants, where you can learn but also commiserate and share.
Ethan Bull 44:48
Yeah, it’s we just don’t see it out there. In terms of today’s day and age, what training is out there. We really think this could be a kind of the go-to Certification Program. It’s more about having this two sided marketplace in our business. And we have been focused on the clients for the last five years. While we’ve partnered with great assistants. We’ve also taught these ad plus assistants who we’ve partnered with how to go out on their own, how to look at their assistant careers a trade that is industry agnostic and principle agnostic and geographically agnostic, and how to kind of start their own mini business, whether they’re under the pro assisting umbrella or not, and not be at the whims of a company going under or the company, axing three divisions out of six and, or your boss losing your job, their job, and you’re getting partnered with the worst executive that’s in the company, really being able to forge your own path, and in present yourself in a way that can command or even exceed your current compensation, if you are working for clients instead of bosses. So it’s all of them.
Heather Pearce Campbell 46:15
I love that. I love the entrepreneurial perspective to your own career, you know, managing your own career as its business.
Ethan Bull 46:23
Well, it’s becoming a very well worn path for new business owners to take the experience that they’ve learned through their W two roles, and on the second half transition, and either into consulting either into fractional and forging their own path. It’s not for everyone, and nor should it be, but the internet and the breaking down of geographical lines. And what COVID has done through the idea of hybrid and remote work, has made such things much more acceptable. And created so many opportunities out there for the businesses in that one to $3 million range, where it makes no sense to bring on a CFO, but get a fractional CFO, someone to put your out there eyes on your business, you know, 10 hours a month, and yet see around those corners, or from a strategy standpoint, or a sales standpoint or an assistant or it or bookkeeping, you can really piece together a business without hiring the full time employees. And, and that’s what those independent contractors want. You know, they don’t, they’re okay, they’re okay out there, you know. So yeah, that’s kind of how we see it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 47:50
Well, it’s such an important phase for those businesses who are scaling through that zone, because it’s kind of the no man’s land, when it comes to access to certain types of services, or people in the team building process. The same reason I launched basically a fractional version of like, you know, full time in house legal support for clients in that range. It’s like, they need my eyeballs. They don’t need me full time. They need me to do very specific things for them as they scale. And I built that into a program and it helps, you know, companies that are in the size that I serve it through that growth phase. So yeah, I’m a big fan and fully support those businesses getting the type of support that they need, rather than opting out from it or trying to piecemeal their own solutions that don’t really work when they really need some legitimate support.
Ethan Bull 48:45
Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah, it’s exciting time.
Heather Pearce Campbell 48:48
Totally, totally. So out of respect for your time, it’s been so fun to have you both here talking about this area, I find it endlessly fascinating because, like you said, you know, there’s so much that gets done in the executive assisting space. And I think really, from the perspective of leading your own business, being an entrepreneur, you know, leading your own department, if you’re within a larger company, whatever it is, really expanding your idea of how you can utilize that support and see that role so that you maximize your growth. I just think it’s so essential for any of us who are leading businesses leading our lives and really see it that way. What in our final few minutes couple of questions for you. Where are you online for folks that are listening and thinking I need to go check out Ethan and Stephanie’s work. I really like the concept of ProAssisting, whether from you know the leadership prior to being a pro and supple role needing to hire support or the role of somebody saying like, I need to check this out because it sounds like a fit for me. Where do you like for folks to find you or connect with you?
Stephanie Bull 49:47
Well, we’re both active on LinkedIn. So Stephanie Bull, and Ethan Bull, B-U-L-L On LinkedIn. And also, honestly, we have, I think we have a great website, it’s www.proassisting.com. And from there, we really detail what services are available, how to reach us set up a call to talk about what your needs are. And we’d love to have the opportunity.
Heather Pearce Campbell 50:39
Awesome. Yeah, you do have a great website, it’s very clear, I think it’s really gives people good direction about how they can take the next steps. So if you’re listening, hop over to the show notes page, we’re going to share links to both of your LinkedIn profiles to your website, and anything else that you want us to share at www.legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast, find Ethan and Stephanie’s episode, and you’ll find all the links there. Do you have a gift or something that you want to share with our listeners today?
Ethan Bull 51:13
Sure, we will give you a link where they can input their name, email and position. And you can then get access to either a downloadable PDF copy of our book, or the audio version, which is either a button that you can play and listen to from end to end, or listen to by chapter. So all of that for free just to throw us your email and let us pass through your inbox.
Heather Pearce Campbell 51:47
I love it. I love it, build a little relationship with you. So I will share that, you know, whenever you guys get the link, send it over. If you’re listening, be sure to pop over and grab the audiobook. I for one, I’m such a huge fan of audiobooks like I’m an avid reader, but as a mom, and business owner, there are so many days where I do not get like the sit down reading time that I want. And so I’m listening in the car, I’m listening when I walk the dog, right, I’m squeezing it in. I’ve listened to some awesome audiobooks in the last few months, and we’ve had some driving time as well. So I’m a super fan. I hope you’re gonna pop over and check it out. If you’re listening to today’s episode, Ethan and Stephanie, what final takeaway or thought would you like to leave folks with today?
Stephanie Bull 52:40
Don’t be afraid to take the first step, if you are looking for an assistant because we will hold your hand and make it as as painless as possible. And I think after taking that initial step, you’ll never look back.
Heather Pearce Campbell 52:53
Hmm. Well, I love it, it ties back to something that you said earlier, which also I think is super important for people to hear, which is that if they’re not quite ready or not the right fit, you’re going to also tell them and say hey, come back to us at this stage or when you’ve got you know this in place or whatever. And I think somebody who’s in the building process needs consultants like that who can help them navigate also the right time for this stuff. So yeah, I love that got your process. All right, even Stephanie, so great to connect with you. I’m super excited to share this episode. Really appreciate you guys look forward to being in touch.
Ethan Bull 53:35
Thank you so much for having us.
Stephanie Bull 53:36
GGGB Outro 53:37
Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at www.legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.