Association of Virtual Assistants Best Blogs of 2020! Part 1
The Association of Virtual Assistants is sharing the best blogs of 2020 in our December series!
Every month the AVA writes on a new series and each week there is a new blog posted to educate, inform, inspire, and encourage virtual assistants everywhere. This month we’re bringing back the best of the entire year.
Coming in at #1 is: Celebrating Administrative Professionals: The first-ever software purpose-built for assistants
This blog was originally posted this past April during Administrative Professionals Week. The AVA interviewed CEO of Base, Paige McPheely. Enjoy!
Through a passion for bringing people together, meticulous attention to detail, and the ability to organize chaos, Paige co-founded 33Vincent, a remote executive assistant agency, with her long-time friend, Casey Putschoegl. Together, they recruited top talent and attracted high-profile clients, growing the company organically and sustainably to employ over 50 contract executive assistants who serve busy executives across the country.
Years of experience with executive assistants outlined common pain points and needs in their workflow; EAs lacked software of their own, a strong community, and a trusted source for training and resources. With a genuine desire to serve the executive assistant community, Paige turned her attention to creating a solution: Base. With its release in 2019, Base aims to improve workflows for EAs and uplift them along the way.
Paige is CEO of Base and remains an advising partner for 33Vincent. She lives in Greenville, SC with her husband Matt and their three sons, Jones, Sam and Bennett.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I never imagined I’d wind up here! After co-founding a remote Executive Assistant agency called 33Vincent a number of years ago, my business partner and I became increasingly frustrated by the lack of support and technology available to assistants – and as a result, the lack of resources available to the executives they support. After waiting a bit for someone to build the software we knew should exist, we decided we would have to be the ones to do it. I stepped away from 33Vincent in 2018 to build Base, the first-ever software purpose-built for assistants.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
In 2013, when I was almost exactly 20 weeks pregnant with my first son, I was unexpectedly laid off…days after I’d received confirmation that I could work remotely from Austin, where my husband and I were moving in a matter of weeks. It was stressful.
I wondered who would hire me with such a big belly and if I even wanted to continue working in an office, working for someone else. I decided I didn’t. Even though we had no idea how we’d pay our rent, pay for our medical bills, or do things like buy food, I decided to go for it. Thanks to the generosity of a dear friend, I was introduced to my first client. That first client quickly overwhelmed my personal capacity. That’s when Casey and I realized we had something special, something we could grow into a loving safe space for our assistants who could focus on changing the world by supporting world changers.
Getting laid off really stinks, and I realize I carry a whole bunch of privileges that others don’t. So take my story with a grain of salt. But being forced to take a step back, reprioritize, and figure out what I actually liked to do changed the trajectory of my life, and helped me to realize just how much I enjoy being an entrepreneur.
Looking back, what do you think made you stand out as an administrative professional? Was your employer or boss aware of this unique quality before you were?
Something that has served me well in most areas of life is my ability to think through scenarios from other people’s perspectives. I find many people plan from their vantage point and no one else’s, which can lead to a whole mess of logistical challenges and issues. I bet everyone can think of at least one wedding where this type of inward-focused planning was quite apparent.
I used to think I was a good multi-tasker but have since stopped believing that multi-tasking is even possible or that it is an effective way to work. Now I do my best to have extra clear priorities so that I’m spending my time where it counts, not where it feels needed.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My husband, Matt, would make just about the world’s worst assistant. But his fresh perspective and entirely non-assistant way of thinking has often enabled our businesses* to grow in ways they otherwise would not. In fact, I can trace nearly every highly-impactful shift 33Vincent made during my time there to an idea or conversation held with Matt and Casey. He’s a dreamer to his core, which often forces my tactical, logical mind to think in new ways.
*Matt is co-owner of 33Vincent and was among the original founders of Base (before it was Base).
Okay, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. How will you be celebrating Administrative Professionals’ Week?
While we’ve always been focused on celebrating assistants, we are doubling our efforts to serve them as best as we can through a whole bunch of changing dynamics. As many assistants work remotely for the first time ever, we want to provide help as meaningfully as possible.
We’ve extended our free trials, launched a new Twitter Feed (@ResourcesForEAs) and a place on our website full of all the resources we’ve found and created to aid one another during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s more important than ever before for administrative professionals to wow their executives through courageous help, and we want to do our part to make that as achievable as possible.
We’re adjusting our plans slightly for Admin Professionals Day in light of recent developments and will have more to share on our plans soon. But know that we are hard at work to figure out the best way to serve admins everywhere during that week.
When you think of a stellar admin, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I have been so fortunate to work with an amazing amount of truly outstanding admins throughout the years. But I only managed to convince one of them to leave their loving clients and safe, secure non-startup job to join Base. Our Chief of Staff, Crystal Esquivel, is one of the most thoughtful, caring, and talented assistants I know. In the early days of her role at 33Vincent, we quickly realized we should find a way to clone her because as soon as a client met her, they only wanted to work with her.
We still haven’t figured out a way to clone her, but we did put her in charge of all Client Success so that the clients still got the pleasure of working with her. I’ve thrown a lot of curve balls at Crystal over the years, and continue to do so at least weekly, yet she remains steadfast and always willing to help. If you don’t know Crystal, you should get to know her, because she’s the best.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I continue to get a fair amount of raised eyebrows when people hear of my current life setup – 2 startups in the last 5 years, 2 cross-country moves, 3 kids in the 3 years, and a serial entrepreneur for a husband. There are any number of reasons I should not have started Base, the biggest of them being risks to my family life and personal health. Another one being the fact that venture-backed tech is typically a white man’s game. But more than anything else, I really felt software for assistants needs to exist. So just like with 33Vincent, I went for it.
It’s been harder than I ever thought, but certainly not impossible. Ask me again in 5 years 🙂
What would you say to someone just starting out on their assistant career?
I’ve found it can often take time for assistants to realize the true value of their role. I hear things like “I’m just an assistant” that entirely minimize the important work they do. Assistants are servant leaders, their craft can wield tremendous results for the executives and organizations they support. They can and should take command of their role, but that first must come with the realization that the role is crucial.
You are a person of great influence. Do you have any words of encouragement to share with our readers?
Make time to learn and study other great leaders. This one took me far too long to prioritize but some of the best growth and insights I’ve had comes from this type of work. It can feel unimportant or not very rewarding, but it’s the exact opposite.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
The Association of Virtual Assistants is your like-minded community.
We see you. We hear you. We value you.
Join the AVA now before open enrollment ends on December 31, 2020!