EA How To, the Community for Assistants: An Interview with the Founder
Alicia Fairclough is with us and we have the chance to talk to her about her community, her job, and what made her become an EA herself in the first place.
Tiffany studied Language and Economics, and now likes to write about business topics and conduct interviews with interesting people. She spends her free time looking after her plants and with her dog.
Alicia Fairclough is the founder of EA How To, one of the biggest online networks of assistants around the globe. Alicia started the community when she realised that all assistants, no matter where from, were dealing with similar questions and situations. Her idea was to create a platform on which assistants could help each other by providing tips&tricks and sharing their experiences. Today, EA How To has over 20k members from all over the world who learn from and support one another. Alicia is with us today and we have the chance to talk to her about her community, her job, and what made her become an EA herself in the first place.
Alicia, thank you so much for making this interview possible today. We’re curious to find out more about you and your work. As always, let’s start with some short „Fill in the blank“ questions. ? Here they come:
The best business trip I’ve ever gone on was to…?
... Uluru! I’m Australian and I had no idea how amazing The Northern Territory is. It’s a magical place and absolutely everyone should go.
I admit I tend to put off…?
... laundry and expenses.
The worst I’ve ever screwed up an email was…?
... I’m not super proud of the time I emailed my dad instead of my boyfriend. Fortunately, I don’t put anything compromising in emails, ever!
I hope to spend my retirement…?
... travelling and spending a lot of time wine tasting in The Hunter Valley, Australia.
As an Aussie, the best thing about living in London to me is…?
... proximity to so many countries and an endless list of things to explore. It’s impossible to be bored in London.
Thanks for these responses, Alicia! Now let’s dive in. You’re the founder of “EA How To”, an online network of assistants around the globe. How long has EA How To been around and what gave you the idea to start it?
EA How To started in July 2019 as a way for me to build my profile as an executive assistant in London. I then began noticing needs in the assistant community and addressed these needs through the creation of our private Facebook group, hosting webinars, creating simple how-to videos, and sharing knowledge. A community is only as good as its members and our members are amazing!
What is the EA How To community about, exactly? On the website, I read that EA How To is like a “work BFF”. How are these assistants supporting each other?
I have countless anecdotes of EA How To members helping each other. Someone will post asking for advice and within minutes a team of experienced assistants will have provided their advice, knowledge, and support. Whether it’s helping out with tips on how to use a new program or advice on dealing with a challenging executive, the community has your back. I’ve even seen assistants jump on Zoom calls to help each other out in an emergency at 10 PM.
That's amazing! Is it possible for any EA to join EA How To? Or are there special conditions that need to be fulfilled in order to be accepted?
EA How To is open to all assistants and aspiring assistants. There are over twenty thousand of us now from around the globe.
Besides running EAHowTo, you’re working as an EA yourself. Have you always worked as an assistant? What led you to this position?
I’m actually relatively new to the assistant world. I have a double degree in teaching but I discovered early on I didn’t want to teach in schools. I’ve traveled the world working on cruise ships and had my own business so finding the assistant world was incredible for me. I get to combine my extreme organisational skills with a strange love of spreadsheets and I get to get into the weeds of business which I love.
Now that you're actually working as EA: What would you say is the best and most challenging thing about it?
The best thing about being an EA is your unique position in the company and your ability to influence change in very positive ways. You are in constant direct communication with the decision-makers.
The most challenging thing is the diversity of the role. You need to be across all areas of the business while maintaining a combination of speed and accuracy at all times. Add in stakeholder management and project management and it can be hectic. It’s not for everyone.
Is there a celebrity or public person you would love to work with one day?
I’m passionate about YouTube so I would love an opportunity to work with Susan Wojcicki.
That would definitely be interesting! Alicia, we’re proud to say that you’re a Mailbutler user. How does Mailbutler help make your workday easier?
Emails can be incredibly time-consuming and Mailbutler has perfected inbox productivity. I manage multiple inboxes across multiple platforms and also handle a high volume of inquiries. Mailbutler keeps me organised and the templates are a huge time saver.
Which Mailbutler features are, in your opinion, the most practical ones for EAs?
The templates are my favorite feature and biggest time saver. I get a lot of inquiries about joining EA How To, partnerships, and requests for information. I have templates that address all of these frequently asked questions and can send a detailed response with the click of a button. It’s brilliant!
Another handy feature for assistants is the ability to see whether an email has been opened and when. Knowledge is power.
Thank you so much for your time and for telling us so much about EA How To, Alicia. All the best to you and your fellow assistants!
Don’t forget to read our interview “Helping Solopreneurs Step Out Into The Online World” with the full-stack developer and brand strategist Charlene Brown! Check it out now.
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