How to Add Executive Assistants to Your Practice and Leverage Their Skillset with Ethan Bull | POP 794

A photo of Ethan Bull is captured. He is a career executive assistant and the founder of ProAssisting. Ethan is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Do you really have to do everything in your private practice? How can you get the most out of hiring an executive or virtual assistant? Are there things you want to do in your private practice but you have too many admin tasks to get through?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to add executive assistants to your practice and leverage their skillset and experience with Ethan Bull.

Podcast Sponsor: Killin’ It Camp

A photo of the podcast spondot, Killin' It Camp, is captured. They sponsor the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

You are not going to want to miss Killin’ it Camp 2022.

We are going to be in Cancun, Mexico at the Club Med. It’s going to be amazing.
We’re going to have breakout sessions that are pool-side and in really cool environments.
You’re not going to be stuck in a hotel room where you never see the sunshine.

We chose the Club Med because of how much we know that therapists right now just are
feeling tired and burned out and need a break so that if you want to be having
conversations around your private practice, you can do that. Or if you want to do activities
that just help your brain bounce back – all of it is part of our conference.

Over at this all-inclusive resort for only $200 to $250 a night, you’re going to get all your
food, all your drink, all your activities included in that. And right now, we have some
amazing deals on Killin’ It Camp.

So, head on over to killinitcamp.com.

Meet Ethan Bull

A photo of Ethan Bull is captured. He is a career executive assistant and the founder of ProAssisting. Ethan is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Ethan Bull is a career executive assistant who has worked in entertainment, advertising and healthcare. When he saw a gap between the support provided by a virtual assistant and a full-time/in-house executive assistant, his wife – also a career EA – and him decided to create ProAssisting which provides remote executive assistant support to business owners, industry leaders and high-level professionals.

Visit ProAssisting and connect on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

FREEBIE: The State of the Assistant in a Remote World

In This Podcast

  • A fresh perspective with experience
  • How to get the most out of hiring an executive assistant
  • Foster a strong relationship
  • Ethan’s advice to private practitioners

A fresh perspective with experience

If you are truly honest with yourself, you know that you – specifically – do not have to do everything in your private practice, you just want to. Or you struggle with handing off tasks, and trusting that another person can do them the same way you do.

The thing is, they won’t do them the same way you do, and that’s good. Even better!

Because they will bring a fresh perspective and new experience to the systems that you are setting up. They may even do it better than you did, especially if they have done it before, and this is your first time.

Your executive assistant, if they have 10 years of experience, probably has seen an issue that you’re facing before in their prior work experience, we like to encourage [you] to mine that experience … and encourage your assistant to be open and honest with you about different tactics or techniques.

Ethan Bull

How to get the most out of hiring an executive assistant

1 – Look at your to-do list: what do you need help with? Where are you in your business?

2 – Support search: once you know what you need help with then you are far better equipped to hire someone that can do the job and do it well.

3 – Level them up: as your business grows, train them to take on more work and to fulfill different roles within the practice.

Foster a strong relationship

If you want to create a strong relationship with your virtual or executive assistant, you need to continuously review their efforts and provide feedback.

Continuously provide feedback [because] that’s how they’re going to get better, and that’s how the relationship is going to get better.

Ethan Bull

To form a strong, open, and honest relationship with straightforward communication, consider how you are going to introduce your assistant to your team, clients, vendors, and the community.

You want to make sure that you have the business associate’s agreement in addition to that HIPPA training around confidentiality to make sure that you’re following those legal and ethical laws [with] regards to counseling.

Joe Sanok

Ethan’s advice to private practitioners

Take all your knowledge and come up with a business model to fill where you see a gap in the world by banking on your “crystalized intelligence”.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[JOE SANOK] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 794. I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am so excited to have you here today. We are covering all those things that we didn’t learn in grad school about how to start, grow, and scale your private practice and sometimes even exit it if you’re looking to sell your private practice. We had an amazing series throughout August and early September that was all about how people leveled up. If you missed that make sure and check those out. We’ve been doing quite a few episodes just on a variety of different topics all around just how to have an awesome private practice. Today I’m really excited because we’re talking about executive assistance, virtual assistance, leveling up and utilizing time outside of your own time. I remember the moment that I handed off more of the podcast. When I was doing the podcast early on, I would record an episode in Skype, I would use the Skype recorder, then I would download it into garage band, I would chop it up and then I’d make really pretty images and then I’d do the show notes. Every episode even though they’re half an hour-episodes would take two and a half hours or so. I remember as I started adding team members, Sam took over the images, and then we looked at systems like Zencaster, which we use now that are all cloud-based, so I don’t have any downloading and having sound engineering teams that can chop it up and make it sound pretty. Now in that two and a half hours that I used to be able to do one episode, I now can do four episodes. That’s why I can do four episodes a week. To really just get to the core of what do I like, what am I good at, what brings me joy and leveraging the power of other people’s passions is what we’re talking about today. I’m so excited that we have Ethan Bull with us. Ethan is a career executive assistant who has worked in entertainment, advertising and healthcare. When he saw a gap between the support provided by a virtual assistant and full-time in-house executive assistant, his wife, also a career EA and him decided to create ProAssisting, which provides remote executive assistant support to business owners. I am so excited to have you on the show today, Ethan. How are you doing? Welcome. [ETHAN BULL] Doing great, Joe. Thanks a lot for having [JOE] As we were just talking about stuff that you can cover, you’ve got a new book out. We’ll dive into all that. But when you started this business back in 2018, you were saying that remote work, people needed a little education. I think starting there with just how different things are now just four years later from then, would love to just hear that story of starting a business that people didn’t really know what remote work was. Let’s just start there. [ETHAN] Sure. As career executive assistants at a really high level, both my wife and I were thrown into remote work very early. When the Blackberry came out, my wife was working in finance and quickly adopted that, when the iPhone came out, I was working in advertising and quickly adopted that and remote work was just expected. There were no policies, there was no understanding, it was just you are working for very demanding C-suite level people and they wanted support when they wanted it and our phones allowed us that access to email and calendar in a way that we hadn’t had before. So when we launched in 2018, I was still having conversations with both prospects and executive assistants about how remote work works. Going through that with them was a continual basis. It happened continually in all those conversations. We all went through Covid and everyone got a huge education and remote work that it actually can work. I do not think it’s a panacea for everything but in certain situations, remote work can be very beneficial and we are leveraging that now. Fortunately, I don’t have to describe remote work anymore. [JOE] Yes, it’s interesting people say, well, how do you manage a team virtually? I mean, my team in South Africa, we have 10 people over there now. I have never met any of them in person and the team of five sound engineers, they live in my same town, but I never see them in person unless I run into them in a coffee shop. Even just for me we’ve been doing remote work since 2014. What have you seen in regards to people maybe that are new to having remote workers? What are some of the challenges either in mindset or implementation that they struggle with? [ETHAN] From a client perspective, we run into a lot of clients who know they need the help but don’t necessarily know how to leverage good help. Corporate America really keeps people in their lane so if you’re an assistant at a large organization, maybe human resources would frown upon your boss asking you to do something personal. We shake that tree a little bit with our clients and ask them to hand their executive assistant really anything that they want to get off their plate. You mentioned it in your intro being able to hand things off of your plate so you can do what you enjoy doing, what really makes you shine and what moves the needle from both a revenue perspective, a strategy perspective, and a work-life balance perspective. So sometimes the challenge is, we always run into this, the I can do this better myself,” whereas yes, you probably can do it better yourself the first time, but if you put in that 15 or 20 minutes to actually train your assistant on how to do it the way you want to do it, you’ll never have to do it again. That time compounds itself month in and month out, and you’re not dreading running payroll. You’re not dreading scheduling a company retreat every four, three or four months, things like that. [JOE] Well, yes, and I would even argue, at least in my experience that yes, maybe I could have done it better that first time, like you said, but I have team members that do things that are so much more innovative, so much more organized, well thought-out than I would’ve ever come up with. They just have skills that they’re good at organizing things and I’m not as good at organizing things. [ETHAN] Yes, we encourage in our book the 29-hour Workday, one of the things that we encourage the reader to do, and our book is really geared towards business owners, high performers who want to either make sure they’re leveraging their assistance support to the highest level and or learn how to properly leverage that support. One of the things we focus on is really trying to open up and see that your executive assistant, if they have 10 years of experience, probably has seen an issue that you’re facing before in their prior work experience. We like to encourage them to mine that experience from their assistant and encourage your assistant to be open and honest with you about different tactics or techniques that you may not be aware of in terms of reorganizing that spreadsheet or thinking outside the box when you’re dealing with travel issues or what is a good swag gift for the board of directors and everything in between. Because a Grady is like a Swiss Army knife, and you may only use that magnifying glass in the Swiss Army knife once every six months. But man, when you need it’s really helpful. [JOE] Well, okay, so let’s take the average therapist that owns a private practice. We’ve got folks that have a solo practice that’s probably a third of our audience. A third of our audience is small group practice owners so they would have five clinicians or fewer. They might have a front desk person that helps with insurance billing, maybe some marketing, they’re a catchall person. Then I’d say a good third of our audience are mega group practice owners. They’ve got 10 plus clinicians, they’re a well-oiled machine for the most part, they’re often very busy, so at these different stages. Let’s just start with what makes a good for me to be a client that brings somebody on, what mindsets do I need to have going into that? What can I do to prepare myself to really get the most out of having an executive assistant? What do I need to be thinking through even before I hire a virtual assistant or executive assistant? [ETHAN] Well, the really interesting thing is with the acceptance of remote work and a lot of people stepping out on their own, there is a wide breadth of support that is available to you. Everything from paying, you have your assistance in South Africa, you can get a $5 virtual assistant, $5 per hour virtual assistant from the Philippines all the way up to hiring a full-time assistant. So the first step, say maybe for that solo practitioner who maybe doesn’t need a huge lift, just looking at your to-do list and saying maybe focusing more on a virtual assistant that’s more just general task-based work that you want to get off your plate. Then maybe let’s say you grow your business, you’re doing some speaking events, you are doing a podcast, you’re doing some social media, then maybe you want to transition to a maybe a little bit higher level of service, which is where pro assisting sits with, by providing remote executive assistance. Then maybe a couple years down the road you have 12 other therapists working with you, you need to handle logistics and operations and all that. Then maybe it makes sense to bring on that full-time executive assistant/office manager. So I think the first step would be to really look at where you are in your business lifeline or where you sit and what, what is on that list of tasks, projects that you want someone to help you tackle then catering the search for the assistance support to those needs. Does that make sense? [JOE] Yes, yes. Well, I think a perfect example of this is actually it happened last night, so my daughters were in California visiting their mom and they were supposed to fly in and land right around midnight. There’s a big storm in Detroit so we really, we didn’t get home till 2:00 AM and this morning I was supposed to have a 9:00 AM or 9:30 podcast, and I’m like, there’s no way I want to get up in like seven hours? So I sent the email to the podcasters, the two before you this morning because I’m not going to try to, I don’t think my assistant would even be awake, nor should she be awake to do that at 2:00 AM but so I sent a quick email to the two podcasters and just said my daughter’s flight was in late. I’m going to have to reschedule. I CC’d my assistant. I know that that podcast, all the details, all the information will just pop up in my calendar on a different day at a time that I’ve specified. So sure, I spent the two minutes to send the email to the podcaster, which to me is courteous, but the follow-up logistics is the thing that is such a time suck and that I just know that my director of details, she’s going to, Jess is going to go take care of that. So to just be able to move quickly is such a advantage of having an executive assistant. Let’s talk about once you hire some of the best practices to teach them, to offload things, to do what’s just being a respectful boss. I mean, one posture I have, and you can tell me if you agree or disagree with this that feedback is a part of our culture here that I want, I don’t want there to be an annual meeting where someone hears all the things that me off about what they’re doing. Instead, it’s going to be anytime that there’s a miscommunication or even just anything that it’s like, here’s the feedback I see, maybe I could have communicate it differently, and we have weekly meetings early on when I hire someone just to make sure we’re on the same page. For one, do you agree or do you have a different way of framing how people should meet with their new assistants? Then what other tips do you have in regards to just onboarding them and making sure that they’re up and running? [ETHAN] I agree with you a thousand percent. When you have a strong relationship or want a strong relationship with your assistant, you need to continuously review continuously provide feedback. That’s how they’re going to get better and that’s how the relationship is going to get better. I think that the year review, having a year review from a principal/assistant perspective is not very useful. I think to form that relationship, I think that continuous feedback is needed and necessary. To create that open communication, that relationship at the beginning, we always stress how do you introduce your assistant to your team, to your clients, to your vendors, to the community, to your family. The better you make those introductions and the more that those people around you see the trust that you’re placing in your assistant and where and how you want them to sit in your organization, the better off you’re going to be. You really want your assistant to be that single point of contact for all those groups of people to filter through to you what you need to know. As time goes on, that filter is going to catch more and more things before it gets to you. As you said, the perfect example, you can send a quick note and you know based on previous conversations with Jess, who is great by the way, in my interactions with her, she was very fast, very great, very straightforward you know it’s just going to get done and happen. So how you present your assistant to your groups of people that you interact with including your assistant on emails as a CC for even things that they have no action items on, just being able to absorb that information know that that is part of what’s going on and they still don’t have to do anything it may still help them down the road, whether it’s in terms of scheduling or such. We have great success with some of our clients who include their assistant’s name, an email in the signature of their email signature. That can also help in terms of guiding people to your assistant and also showing the level of respect that you’re placing and trust that you’re placing with your assistant. So those are a couple of things. [JOE] That’s so great. I think that just thinking about how do you onboard people well, how do you make sure that others, especially that are important to know who they are and to even just make sure that that assistant is okay doing say, like you said, the personal things. So there have been times when I’ve said to Jess, like, are you okay with rescheduling a haircut for me? She’s like, yes, whatever. I know your schedule and that just saves you time. So to be able to have somebody that can do those extra things it just is priceless. Now, where do you see maybe people as they have an assistant come in, maybe opportunities that they wouldn’t even think of using an executive assistant for because I think having people check your email, having people do scheduling, like that’s the stuff that it’s like, yes, we all would love that or if we don’t have that, but what are areas that are maybe for people to say, oh, I didn’t even know that an assistant could help me in that area? [ETHAN] I think you hit the nail on the head and a big one is on the personal side of life, personal side of things whether you want to, whether a tree fell down in your backyard and took out your fence and you need to set up calls to get quotes for a general contractor or a fence person to come in and assess the damage and put a new fence up and gather some quotes all the way to researching a family trip during spring break to Walt Disney World and knowing all those ins and outs. A great assistant, a great executive assistant views both business and personal or community work as one and the same. The goal is to provide the principle with more time and create that relationship. Another area that we mentioned in our book is being a business partner. What we mean by that is as you create a relationship with your assistant and you trust your assistant and they know your business inside and out, you may ask your assistant, what do you think of this new ad campaign? What do you think of that candidate when they leave your office or how the interaction was on email or phone when they’re trying to set up a meeting with someone. Your assistant can be a great sounding board once they are fully enmeshed in your business and know you and what you like and what you don’t like. I think that can be sometimes overlooked. It depends on what business leader you are. Is it more of I know what I want, I want to go that direction, or is it you wanting to put the best people in the best seats? Really again, going back to mining their experience and seeing what other ideas and or thoughts that they can percolate up in you that maybe you hadn’t thought of. [JOE] Yes. One side note I do want to say is that in the therapy world, we want to make sure that you get any assistant to sign a business associates’ agreement and make sure that they’re trained in HIPAA compliance and all of that just for confidentiality. And to also check with your local attorney in regards to any confidentiality or licensing laws in the state. So that’s one thing that’s probably outside of what Ethan would say, but I also want to make sure in this episode that we say that you want to make sure you have that business associate’s agreement in addition to that HIPAA training around confidentiality just to make sure that you’re following all those legal and ethical laws in regards to counseling. [ETHAN] I would just jump in and I would just say that we have had a couple of, we currently do have a couple of therapists who are, and doctors who are clients and we have gone through those steps and made sure that as someone who worked in healthcare as EA to a CEO of a 2 billion healthcare network, HIPAA is at the top of the list. [JOE] It sure is. [ETHAN] So I’m glad you mentioned that. [JOE] Yes, that’s good to hear. That’s good to hear. [JOE SANOK] You are not going to want to miss Killin’It Camp 2022. We are going to be in Cancun, Mexico at the Club Med. It’s going to be amazing. We’re going to have breakout sessions that are poolside and in really cool environments. You’re not going to be stuck in a hotel room where you never see the sunshine. We chose the Club Med because of how much we know that therapists right now just are feeling tired and burned out and they need a break so that if you want to be having conversations around your private practice, you can do that. Or if you want to go do activities that just help your brain bounce back, all of it’s part of our conference and over at this all-inclusive resort for only $200 to $250 a night. You’re going to get all your food, all your drink, all your activities included in that. Right now, we have some amazing deals on Killin’It Camp. Head on over to killinitcamp.com, that’s spelled without the g, so K I L L I N I Tcamp.com and learn more over there. [JOE SANOK] I’m wondering what are maybe one or two case studies of people in the medical or counseling world that you’ve seen them hire executive assistants and what they’ve been able to do differently because they had an executive assistant? [ETHAN] I think it’s about handling volume of work. Again, using your little example of how you were doing your podcast before you had the support to after the same thing applies if you are moving from being a solo practitioner to then having one or two other therapists that you’re working with that you’re the face, but then they’re also taking clients as well around scheduling and making sure that everybody’s on the same page from that perspective. Great assistance support is going to be able to help in terms of making sure payments are coming in, following up on anything late, interacting with healthcare provider and insurance to make sure that’s happening. A lot of it is around scheduling, payments, interacting with prospects, being able to not clog up your time by having calls with people who really aren’t the right fit for your practice and what you are going for. Having that first step of screening. A great executive assistant once you ou trust them and they know your business can fill that role. [JOE] Such good points. Ethan, the last question I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know? [ETHAN] I think that where we are now is offering so many opportunities to people who run a private practice. If a therapist is running a solo practice and enjoys doing a podcast or likes writing content and articles or wants to get more into maybe consulting on a corporate side and or keynote speaking, all those opportunities are there for people who are in private practice. I think that is a great opportunity. I recently read the book called From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks, and he talks about two different parts of your career. The first part talks about fluid intelligence and being able to shift and handle a lot of stuff and change topics quickly. That fluid intelligence goes up into your mid-forties, into your fifties and then your intelligence shifts to being crystallized intelligence where you can really rise to that expert level of providing consultation or coaching. I think from a therapist perspective, there could be great opportunities to thinking like that about your career. It’s not where my expertise lies, but I can tell you that it’s what we’ve done from moving from being career executive assistants assisting CEOs of billion-dollar organizations to taking all that knowledge and coming up with a business model where we saw a gap. That’s where ProAssisting fits and taking that crystallized intelligence of knowing being an assistant inside and out and leveraging that in a new way. [JOE] So great. Ethan, if people want to work with you, if they want to read your book, what’s the best way for them to connect? [ETHAN] I’m on LinkedIn. It is a great place, Ethan Bull. Also proassisting.com is our website. There’s a page for our book. We also have a bunch of content and also you can learn more about our remote executive assistant service and if that’s right for you, you can also schedule a free call on that site. I am, it’s never a hard sell. I want to get people who come to us the support that they need at that time, and I’m happy to tell someone that we’re not the right support, but I have a wealth of knowledge to actually point people in the right direction for them if ProAssisting isn’t the right fit. So I’m happy to have those calls as well. [JOE] So, awesome. Well thank you so much Ethan for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast [ETHAN] Joe, I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me. [JOE] I don’t care what action you take from today’s podcast, but I hope you take some action. For me, when I started adding in team members, that’s when I really look at Practice of the Practice growing and expanding. When you first get going, it feels like such a big expense. Like, am I going to pay an extra 10 or $20 an hour for a person to be doing these things? But then when you start to see the multiplier effect, that compound effect that Ethan talks about it’s really amazing to now have such a large team that is doing things behind the scenes and doing offerings that I could never have offered. For us to do the Done For You podcast launches where we genuinely help launch an entire podcast. The first 26 episodes, I couldn’t do that without the team. For all of our social media management and copywriting and support of therapists behind the scenes. We couldn’t do that without having slowly added in assistance in a variety of different ways. So it may just be that email is something that you just are so sick of that you find someone that just will check your email on a regular basis. Or maybe it’s someone taking over the phones or maybe it’s bigger, like what Ethan’s talking about, someone that’s going to help you organize your life, take action in some way today so that you can go out there and you can just absolutely kill it when you’re working on your practice. Speaking of killing it, we have Killin’It Camp October 20th through 23rd, 2022 in Cancun, Mexico at the Club Med. If you have not grabbed your ticket head on over to killinitcamp.com. You’re going to want to be there. We have taken a different approach to conferences. Often, we go to conferences and in beautiful places like Cancun, and you sit inside all day in all these breakout sessions and then the best conversations you have is on the beach or poolside or doing some activity with somebody. That’s where the real value was in the conference. So instead, we’re having a small part of the conference be a kickoff in the morning and a kickoff in the, or slow down in the afternoon but then the majority of it is going to be planned, scheduled outdoor meetups around specific topics, having people talk poolside so that you can have a deep connecting experience with other therapists that own the practices. If that sounds good to you, head on over to killinitcamp.com. The regular price tickets right now are $297 and we’ve negotiated an all-inclusive rate of $200 a night for double occupancy and $250 a night if it’s single occupancy. That includes all your food, all your drinks, all of your lodging. It’s a pretty amazing deal that they’ve been able to get for us. Again, killinitamp.com. Thanks so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon. Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the producers, the publishers, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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