Over the past 10 years, Julia M. has been creating start-ups as well as supporting other CEOs on and off. “I experienced firsthand what it’s like to be a CEO," Julia said. "It helps me better understand the needs of the CEOs I support on many levels.”
Empathy, communication, and partnership are hallmarks of Julia’s approach to her work. She shared her advice for establishing a connection between assistant and executive and the best practices she employs daily to be an effective double.
Name: Julia M.
Location: Paris, France
Experience working as an assistant: 10 years
Hobbies: Learning about new technology and tools, organizing her life, and planning trips with friends
Julia’s work experience 📋
Do you have any go-to software or tools that support your work as an executive assistant?
Notability. I use this app for taking notes on my iPad and organizing my thoughts in a visually appealing way. It’s my go-to way to present information or projects I like to the executives I support. It allows me to annotate, make changes, and move things around live.
FrontApp. I use this for managing and organizing emails.
Onoff. This is my go-to for having virtual, dedicated phone numbers that I can turn off when needed.
Notion. Although I’m slowly learning all the intricacies and features, I really like Notion for organizing work.
What motivates you?
I love supporting someone brilliant who needs help with organization. I like to untangle their life and free up time to move their ideas and projects forward. It’s very satisfying to see a person who is overwhelmed and stressed out become someone who is confidently achieving their professional goals.
Julia’s experience with Double 👪
Why do you like being a double?
I love the Double community and how we all help each other when we’re stuck on a task. Freelancing can feel very lonely, and being a full-time employee can sometimes make me feel stuck. Double is the right compromise between freelance and full-time employment.
What are the most important skills to be a successful double?
Good communication! It’s very important to communicate about issues—but also to report on successes. Being able to communicate at the right time, and in the right way, that corresponds to my executive’s preferences, is key.
In terms of preferences, I take note of if they want more communication, if they are open to suggestions, or if they simply need to unload about their day. I’ve found that some executives I support prefer that I just listen, take notes, and deliver my feedback later by email. In other words, I adapt my style to the executive’s needs. Empathy and kindness are key but it’s also important to set boundaries.
In addition, I try to find what my exec uses the most as a form of daily communication (Whatsapp, Slack, sms, etc.) and I offer to make myself available there. I also like to keep myself up to date on the latest tools available that can make my work easier and improve my executive’s work life.
Part of being a successful double is building trust with the person you’re supporting. How do you establish trust?
I try to be extra careful at the beginning and communicate clearly on what I have done to show that I’m capable at my job. I’ve found this really helps them trust me and realize that delegating work to me does not mean that they are losing control.
If I don’t know how to do something, I just let my executive know and tell them the steps I will take to acquire that knowledge. It’s best to set their expectations from the start, rather than end up in a situation where I mess up because I didn’t have the experience to accomplish a task.
Advice for others 💭
Do you have any advice for executives who are working with an assistant?
Be kind and patient—your assistant is there for you, trying their best. Kindness will always be met by kindness.