My life as a VA started as a whim because at that time, after years of managing companies for business owners, I wanted to just rest. I have always been in charge and I wanted something that wouldn’t demand managing people, no running operations, creating structures and systems and just being… I wanted freedom from everything. But then I got bored and decided to become a VA because compared to what I have been doing in the past, working for a client online seemed simple enough.
Then I met “HIM”. When he interviewed me, he promised me it wasn’t going to be easy and I believed him. Not that the tasks were not going to be easy. I have had assistants in my past jobs, I knew what I expected from an assistant so I knew exactly what to deliver and how to exceed expectations. What I was positive wasn’t going to be easy was him.
First, from everything he said during the interview, it was apparent he didn’t know what he needed from an EA.
Second, he didn’t really know how to work out having an assistant who wasn’t physically working with him.
Third, he didn’t have a process on how to make things work.
And fourth, what he didn’t know at that time was he had great ideas but no set plans when it comes to working with an EA. He also didn’t have any idea what he was getting himself into the minute he said, “If you want the job, you are it.”
He also didn’t have any idea what he was getting himself into the minute he said, “If you want the job, you are it.”
That started my Virtual Assistant book of adventure and this is what I am going to share with you…
I was hired as an Executive Assistant to a Real Estate Broker, high producer working mostly Real Estate Owned (REO) and had a number of licensed agents doing traditional transactions working with him and it was a rough ride from the day I started. My second week I was forced to have a different role altogether. A transition from EA to VA Manager. Really? Of course, I declined. I said “NO” but he said, he wasn’t taking no for an answer. YES, you read that right. In just two weeks, my responsibilities changed so fast and for a new VA with no knowledge at all in Real Estate, I knew the “difficult” will become “very difficult” as I will be walking in blind. But this is a story for another day…
Let’s go back to “HIM” as he is the man of the hour.
What were his needs from me from day one? Nothing easy is all I can tell you because he didn’t really know what he needed from me.
Just for the fun of it, let me tell you funny stories highlighting my first week working with this man.
On my first day, he had me look for the “City Mayor’s Office” phone number because of a broken street light in his neighborhood. He was frustrated and wanted to talk to a “real person”. I did everything I can to give him what he needed only to find out, there is not talking to the “mayor”. It was just a phone number where you can leave messages or concerns. Not helpful at all.
Next, he had me look for ways to change a logo in their “website” when he really meant to change the logo on a letterhead. Talk about bad instructions. I explained to him I needed an admin login to change anything in the website, he wouldn’t hear of it. What did I do? I left it alone and didn’t do anything about it until he confronted me with an unfinished task. That was when I had the much-needed conversation with him and I found out exactly what it was he needed from me.
And then, he had me looking for a “real person” to talk to in Houston because of sign put on an REO property he was managing declaring the presence of mold. He wanted to handle that person, he said. Of course, there was no “real person” to talk to about this but his management because I looked in their system (a system that was never introduced to me, BTW) to know what is happening and it showed that there really was mold present and it was his team who had to have the sign posted there as part of a requirement from the REO company’s process. It needed to be disclosed.
Those were not enough. This guy started giving me research tasks. Here’s the thing about research, you need to know exactly why you’re doing it. It wasn’t enough that your boss wants you to work with your bestfriend, “google” to gather data and information. We can go pages and pages of useless information and it won’t give you what you need because guess what! You don’t know what you need! At first he wouldn’t hear of it so what did I do? I didn’t even bother researching. Nope! Zero output. When he asked me what I came up with, I said nothing. He looked at me weird and I can see that he wasn’t very happy with me. At least I got his attention, right? It was then that I said, “Well, I don’t like wasting time so I didn’t do any research about Cuba. Are you ready to tell me what your specific interest is about Cuba? I know it has something to do with Real Estate but what is it really that you want to know?” Only when he told me what he was wondering about did I start my research. This went on for the rest of the week.
When this guy gave me the VA Manager position my second week, I told him I can’t properly manage people doing something I had zero knowledge about so I asked if his company had a process flow. He said, “No company flow because everything we do here, including REOs is complicated. If you’re smart, you can create one.” Seriously? I didn’t know Real Estate and he knew that when he hired me. So I tried to handle the situation by requesting that he trains me on the basics of US Real Estate. He agreed and started with, “Real Estate is.. (pause)… Have you ever seen this (showing me a piece of back scratcher)? This is the best invention ever and mine came from Japan.” That was it… I didn’t know what a back scratcher had to do with the Real Estate industry. Funny but that was all I got from him
Yes, he was confusing because he had so many ideas and didn’t really take time to plan for execution. It was indeed a rough ride and I knew what I was getting myself into the day I accepted his EA offer. I pride myself to be exceptional in everything I do if I want it enough because that is how I am wired but let’s face it; No matter how great you are if you don’t get the support you need, you can be great but more often than not, you can’t be exceptional alone. So he may not have taught me what I needed to know to succeed, he gave me the support he knew I needed.
One of the DIRECT team members asked me to give him one word that describes “THE MAN” and I said, “FAIR”. One word and I know he is so much more but yes, when I think of him, that’s the first word that comes to mind. It may sound so simple to most but if we’re referring to him, it’s anything but simple.
He can be very disorganized, confusing, frustrating and a migraine waiting to happen if you let him have his way and don’t know to handle him properly. He can be all that but he is decent, honorable, very dependable, trustworthy, and fair.
SO WHO IS HE?
He is the ideal man. He has these ideas he comes up with that if you’re not careful, you won’t be able to keep up and won’t be able to come up with a structured plan for implementation. His idea, you come up with a plan on how to properly implement it so it will work.
He is complicated. So complicated that sometimes, even the simplest of things get so complicated in his mind, he ends up confused.
He has no filter. Very straightforward and direct. He says what he wants, sometimes forgetting that he can end up offending the people listening to him. That said, he owns his mistakes and apologizes when warranted.
He is funny. There’s always that dry humor and when people don’t get it, they end up misunderstanding him altogether.
He is very impulsive. This is because his brain functions so fast, he just pictures something in his mind and makes decisions without thinking of the consequences. He always needs a person to think more clearly about things and makes him understand if it’s not the smartest of decisions. He then takes it slow and listens.
He is a talker. Yes, he loves to talk that it’s not enough he does sales and has friends to talk to. He has to talk to himself out loud that it’s confusing sometimes as you have to check if he is talking to you or to himself.
He is a social butterfly and wherever he is, is his playground. He observes people, initiating conversations with them as he always has something to say and helps out whenever he sees help is needed without thinking twice.
He is supportive. That’s what helped me get to where I am now. He got my back from day one, supporting my decisions without question and it translated to the team and all the VAs.
He is giving. He knows to appreciate hard work and he gives back. This is the reason why SVS happened. He wanted to give an opportunity to those who are willing to take on the chance to succeed and change their lives by providing them a stable and full-time job as long as they are willing to put in the hard work.
With all his faults as a client, he did provide me the FOUR things I needed that if he, as my client will provide, it’s the only thing that matters as I can do the rest. The BELIEF, TRUST, SUPPORT AND RESPECT. Armed with these, his flaws didn’t matter because with just these four, he became the best example of a PERFECT VIRTUAL ASSISTANT CLIENT. I was able to achieve everything I am proud of today in the Real Estate Virtual Assistant world because he gave me the chance, gave me the “blind” trust I needed and had my back from day one.
He is Summit VA Solutions, Inc and VirtualAsst.com’s President, CEO and Owner.
He is the “Man of the Hour”! The birthday celebrant!
He is Stacy R. Sutter!
I am dedicating my August blog to you as a way to give back, Stacy. It’s not enough because you deserve more but I hope in a way, I am able contribute to making your day very special.
Thank you for the opportunity!
Thank you for believing in me from day one, the blind trust and faith you gave me all these years and the respect and unconditional support you have provided me as a friend and as a business partner.
I appreciate you and everything you do for me and the SVS family.
Here’s to wishing you more success, fun, adventure, great health and to many more happy returns!
Happy Birthday, Stacy!
We love you! CHEERS!!!
About the author: Bernadette Canero holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering. She is one of the founders and owners of Summit VA Solutions. Ms Canero is Summit VA Solutions' Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Virtual Assistant Trainer.