Today we’d like to introduce you to Eliza Bladon.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
“Wait… so what does an Executive Assistant actually do?” It’s a question I get asked quite a lot! If you had asked me that exact question last year, I probably wouldn’t have known the answer.
I interviewed for an EA position at Lola.com a little over a year ago after realizing that my skill set was better geared towards organizational roles and not the career path I had chosen right after college. Why organizational? I’m that girl who started color coding her binder in third grade, always arrives fifteen minutes early to just about everything, and finds joy in conditional formatting excel sheets. I promise I’m still fun!
Being an EA in a startup is a whirlwind of a job, as no two days are the same. Since I’m flying solo as the only EA at my office, it’s a lot of outside the box thinking and quick problem-solving. EAs and office managers are the unsung heroes of the office. We’re usually your event planners, your IT support, and are typically the first ones in and the last ones out.
I started the smarter EA slack community a few months ago as a way for EAs to connect and build a community here in the Boston area. It’s a great way to get a quick restaurant recommendation for when you have a party of ten people from out of town or need some advice on which private charter companies have the best wifi. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a great group of savvy and smart women and men who were facing similar issues at work as I was.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Getting to this point in my career has certainly been a windy road. Before working at lola.com and starting up smarterea.com, I had tried roles in museum curation, marketing, buying, and retail planning. As I graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising and studio art several years ago, if you had told me that I would have found the most success in an operational role, I would not have believed you!
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to build a support system of peers who can help you through the good and bad. It’s hard doing things alone, and I’ve always found that I’m at my best when working collaboratively with other smart, successful women. Don’t be afraid to ask a woman that you work with to be your mentor, especially if it’s someone who has qualities that you want to emulate. And the same goes for taking the lead when you see other women in the workplace who could likely use your help and coaching. Have a peer at work who gets nervous giving presentations? Offer to practice with her and give her feedback.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into smarterea.com story. Tell us more about it.
Most of my day is spent at lola.com, where I support our CTO, plan company events, and assist in hiring new talent for our company. I’m proud of working for a company that is totally changing how companies think of business travel! I also started the Smarter EA slack channel (smarterea.com) to find other executive assistants and office managers in the Boston area. I’m proud to say that 50+ members, we’ve been able to build a community where we can freely ask and share advice amongst peers.
It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
I live by my calendar. And yes, it’s color-coded. I use the Gmail and Gcal app for both personal and work, along with the slack app, which allows me to connect with our smarter EA community on the go, and with my coworkers at lola.com. If you travel for work, I highly recommend downloading the lola app and checking it out! We have amazing 24/7 concierge services and competitive pricing for flights and hotels.
For podcasts, I always start my day with “up first” by NPR, followed by “super soul” with Oprah. Because Oprah always knows best.