Enjoy today’s interview with Shelley Trask, EA at Slack which is full of Executive Assistant Tips and Tricks.
What are the main aspects of your role?
I support our CTO & Co-founder, Cal Henderson and VP of Engineering, Michael Lopp, both of whom manage one of the largest teams at Slack. My job is to act as a firm yet kind gatekeeper, and streamline their work lives, which includes fielding PR and Sales inquiries, booking complicated travel, owning their calendars down to every minute, and working cross-functionally to get busy execs in the same meetings. There’s always something unexpected each day which keeps life interesting.
What is your morning routine before you get into the office?
I wake up with a tiny dog hovering over me asking for breakfast, and I pet her for a few very important minutes when I wake up. She’s super cuddly at that time of day. I’d love to make time for stretching, but I’ve been saying that for ten years. Sleep > stretching.
What time do you get into the office and what time do you leave?
This is a WIP, as I’m not naturally a morning person. I quickly discovered that I’d never catch up with my team if I got into work at the normal startup hour, so I wake up at 6:10 am (that 10-minutes is important y’all), jump in the shower and I’m out the door by 7:10 am. I work from the back of a car while also talking with my carpool of EAs at other companies about their jobs (I carpool in, but bus home) and am totally caught up and way ahead of the game by the time my feet land in the office at 8 am. I run out the door by 4 pm to catch the 4:15 pm bus home, but I’m online until I hit “Slack zero.”
What does an average day look like?
There’s nothing average about working at a company of 1200+ people and supporting a busy team. The one predictable part of my day is 8-10am where I spend time preparing for the day, printing decks and resumes, sending lunch carts for the following day, combing through calendars to make sure that everyone accepted invites and there’s a room for every meeting. I also use that time for thoughtful work such as travel booking since I’m less likely to be interrupted.
What do you do for lunch?
I cater working lunches for my teams nearly every day, so I add something healthyish for myself and keep working. Lunch is a busy time, and I’d rather have personal time later at home.
What is the hardest part of your day?
When another EA asks for more of my execs’ time. We usually LOL together, then get to work figuring out what unmovable meetings can suddenly be moved. We’re a great team, and our highly-refined processes make it easier to make these changes quickly.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love working alongside smart, driven and collaborative people and I love being part of the team that makes it all happen. Being both an impatient and highly organised person, I was definitely born to streamline and maximise efficiency. Slack being recognised as the fastest growing SaaS company is exciting and humbling. I wake up every day wondering if I am ridiculously lucky or if hard work really does pay off.
What has been your career highlight?
Slack is definitely the company I’m most proud to work for, though I’ve had wonderful experiences along my career. Because I’m still new (8 months), I’m looking forward to my “best hits” here. I’ve also had exciting opportunities elsewhere, such as getting to meet Stella McCartney, Rupert Murdoch, riding in an Indy race car around a track, helping to build-out and design gorgeous office spaces and building an admin team from scratch.
What do you do in the evening with your spare time?
As a perfectionist, one thing I personally struggle with is work/life balance, and to that effect, I’m looking forward to starting up a yoga practice again very soon. I also love watching obscure movies with my girlfriend, Jenn, and obsessively searching antique jewellery websites. I’m also an avid small space gardener and am keen on home improvement. I laugh a lot because life is pretty silly.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other assistants?
The devil is in the details.
What would you do if you were not an assistant?
I’d probably run a home organization company or do volunteer work teaching kids about saving money and financial health if I didn’t work. When I retire, I’d like to study more advanced metalsmithing and make jewellery full time.
What is the one piece of technology, app or website you could not do your job without?
Slack! Seriously. Aside from that, I am a G Suite wizard and take great pride in my Google skills. I use Doodle for polls and World Time Buddy for working in multiple time zones. I couldn’t live without Boomerang for Gmail before I joined Slack. The LinkedIn Sales Navigator takes over where Rapportive used to and allows me to see who I’m emailing.
Can you recommend any events, books, publications, websites, training programmes for other assistants?
I’ll be on a panel at Camp Org:Org in San Francisco speaking about Managing up, taking control of your Executive with technology and tools: https://camporgorg.splashthat.com/ and I highly recommend joining Org:Org. It’s a free global network of Business and People Operations, professionals. I also run a Slack Workspace to train people on best practices in Slack and tips & tricks for EAs. You can join my workspace here.
Shelley will be sharing even more of her knowledge during the Practically Perfect PA Virtual Summit. To join over 500 Assistants from around the globe for the only online conference for Assistants head over to the Virtual Summit website.