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Chris LoCurto

By

July 20, 2011

Interview with Dave Ramsey’s Personal Assistant

Patti Harris is in league of her own. Not only is she an outrageously talented team member, she’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. And make no mistake, she has been keeping Dave Ramsey in line for many years now.

The day Patti came on board is the day life got a little easier at our office. She instantly put things in place that brought a better order to our way of doing things. She put more structure into how leadership interacted with Dave, which in turn affected how we interacted with each other.

So much so, that Patti has also mentored other assistants around the building on how to keep their leaders on track. She has been a blessing to our whole company.

CLo: How would you describe working with Dave?

PH: My leader knows me very well.  He knows when I am having a good day, a bad day, what I like to do, what I don’t like to do, what I’m good at, and what I’m not so good at.  That comes from working together for eight years.  He gives me a lot of praise when I do something good and a lot of mercy when I mess something up.

He has off-the-chart integrity so I never have to wonder where he’s coming from or what he really wants.  There is no hidden agenda.  No dishonesty.  No lack of trust.  I have the best job in the world.

CLo: Whenever you attend an EntreLeadership event, attendees are always tracking you down to get some much-needed advice. What do you get asked the most?

PH: “I think I need an assistant.  Where do I find one?  What do I look for?  What is your DISC profile?” I ask them what they want an assistant to do.  Most of them don’t know.  They think they should get one because Dave has one, and they heard him talk about me.  Their biggest misconception is that they think one size fits all, or that anyone can be an assistant.

There’s a difference between an Administrative Assistant and a Personal Assistant. An Administrative Assistant is someone who acts as a gate-keeper with the phones, emails and team members. They also handle scheduling calendars, getting information to the team, etc.

A Personal Assistant does all of that and then takes care of all the “personal” stuff that keeps that leader from focusing on leading, like running errands, getting lunch, scheduling vacations and even taking care of things at the house. Either way, you need to hire for the needs that you have, so when those needs are taken care of, you can focus more on growing the business. If you hire a Personal Assistant just because it sounds fun, you’re wasting resources.

CLo: What other questions are most asked?

PH: “Dave said that you keep his calendar.  What else do you do?” I ask them if they’ve seen his calendar.  There is an immense amount of energy that goes into keeping the schedule of a CEO. Imagine what that’s like when the CEO is also a celebrity. It’s pretty crazy. There’s the three-hour block for the radio show that can’t be touched unless it’s an absolute emergency.

Then, the schedule is full months in advance so you have to weigh every new potential appointment against the importance of what’s on the schedule. And EVERYTHING on the schedule is important. From time to time you just have to tell people, “No, you need to get with your EVP on this.”

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words the line on my job description that says “Whatever I can do for Dave to make his life easier. :-)”

Question: Have you seen how a high quality assistant can make a difference?

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  • http://fieldofdebt.wordpress.com Field of Debt.com

    Having been an Executive Assistant for the past 10+ years, I can very much relate!
    Great interview!!
    Jen

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks Jen!!

  • http://lgthaxton.wordpress.com Louise Thaxton

    Your question about how a high quality assistant can make the difference is huge for me. When I knew I wanted to grow my business, then I knew I could NOT do it all myself – I had to hire an assistant. Then came the hard part – TRAINING! Believe it or not – she could NOT read my mind! So….I had to do something I am really not good at – DETAIL all I wanted her to do……! But once I did – my life became incredibly better and my production increased ten-fold!

    Patti’s comments were great – she must be incredible!

  • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

    Patti, are you stuck in the office or are you running around? And, if you are running around, do you have an assistant too? And are you so busy that people have to make appointments with you to make appointments with Dave? Just wondering, as I paint or draw alone in my studio every day and can’t begin to imagine all the activity surrounding you!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      From Patti:

      I’m not stuck in the office, but I’m not running around all the time either. When I come to work every morning, I know what I want to accomplish and what is top priority, although that often changes because of what comes up throughout the day. If I have errands out of the office, I usually do them around lunch time so that I can take care of everything all at once.

      I don’t have an assistant, but our Operations Assistant does an amazing job of helping me with the mail. When someone wants to see Dave, they send me an email or IM and we go from there. I’m blessed to work with a terrific team and there are many people at Lampo that I can count on when I need help.

  • Kim Little

    LOVE LOVE LOVE Patti!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      so what are you saying? :-)

  • Em

    Patti is an amazing person and I have the greatest respect for her!
    She mentioned her leader’s integrity, and I think it is also important to bring up the outstanding level of integrity she has. Patti can be implicitly trusted because Dave, and every other person in this place, know Patti has a level of integrity that is second to none.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I couldn’t agree more!

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Very insightful. Always neat to see behind the curtain a bit…

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s what’s great about this place, we’re an open book.

  • Teresa Duke

    Yhea, Patti! Love you!

  • Chris Johnston

    Is she also responsible for his “personal time” schedule too? With a schedule that tight and with work that often spills into what others would call personal time (nights, early mornings and weekends), does she have responsibility for that also? Can or does she over ride planned personal time?

    How closely does she align herself with the person who arranges and mines the potential for television appearances, often on short notice? Or is there a standing order if one of the networks calls fit them in?

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      From Patti:

      I am responsible for making everything work on Dave’s schedule but Dave is the only person who decides what he wants to do. After all, it’s his time, not mine. Dave doesn’t have a manager or handlers who tell him where to go and what to do. It’s pretty common in the business world for executives to work in family time around business commitments but with Dave, his family always comes first. In the eight years that I’ve worked for Dave, I can’t recall a time when he canceled something with his family so that he could work.

      I have a great relationship with Sharon and she always lets me know as soon as possible if she has something personal planned that needs to be on Dave’s calendar. When the kids were in school, Dave’s calendar included things like hockey games and the prom because Dave didn’t want to miss important events in their lives. Being a personal assistant, I assist the family, not just Dave. I actually do very little for them but I am available when they need help.

      Dave’s schedule is very, very tight but it’s one that everyone here is used to working with. If he has back-to-back meetings and live interviews, they know that I will remind them when time is up so that everyone stays on schedule. Because we all have a common goal, I think we work together pretty well. They know that I try to get everything they need on the calendar when it needs to be there.

      • Chris Johnston

        Thank you for sharing that insight.

        • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

          Our pleasure!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric Speir

    Sounds like an interesting lady. I learned something new today. I really didn’t know the difference between a personal assistant and an administrative assistant.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Believe me, it makes a difference. Most don’t need the personal, but when you start losing your life because of work, it’s something to look at. Thanks Eric.

  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    Having worked as an executive admin for 3 vice presidents (simultaneously) my hat is off to Patti. Keep up the good work.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      She’s pretty amazing!!