REBEL Spotlight: Eunice Miller, Piranha Marketing & Genius Network

Front Row: Eunice Miller, Arianna Huffington, Joe Polish (Photo Credit: © Debbie Lefever) When REBEL was just a crazy idea, the first person I sought counsel from was Eunice Miller. So it's only appropriate that she was the first Rebel and the first person I interviewed. [rebel]

Interview:

Quotes

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Transcript

Marissa: Hello, Hello! I am with one of my favorite people in the whole world, Eunice Miller, who works for Joe Polish for the past 19 years; which is absolutely insane. I am so excited to share Eunice with you for a little while.

So Eunice, tell me your story, your "Joe Timeline." Nineteen years working for one of the most visionary entrepreneurs -- how has your life changed and evolved over that time and how has your role changed?

Eunice: My goodness, well, first of all I have known Joe since we were in high school and he was best friends with my husband when they were in junior high, and so that was how I first got to meet Joe, but I remember specifically I worked for an advertising bureau before I started working with Joe and I remember one night I was complaining to my husband that I was not happy at my job and that I was going to have to start looking for another job because I just wasn't happy there and the phone rings and it was Joe.

I remember thinking "Oh, ok, he must be wanting to talk to Marty."

He was like "Well, no, actually I'm calling to talk to you."

I'm like, "Ok, what's up?"

He's like, "I just started this marketing company and I am looking for an assistant and I thought that maybe you might be interested."

I remember thinking, "Oh my gosh that is so weird that you are asking that because I was just telling Marty that I am not happy with my job."

He's like, "Well, why don't you come to my office? We'll talk about it, see if it works out."

So I met with him and we talked for about an hour or 90 minutes and he offered me a job and here I am 19 years later.

Marissa: So crazy!

Eunice: You know, I am like, I owe a lot to Joe because when I first started I didn't know how to use a computer, I didn't know anything about marketing, I knew nothing. Joe, he had to show me how to turn on the Apple computer, how to create a UPS shipping label to ship a package.

I was really shy, and part of the job I started out with Joe was selling his marketing programs to the cleaners, because he started as a carpet cleaner. I think that Joe tells this story. I think after a week, maybe 2 weeks, I had applied to other places and I got a callback into an interview at one place and I was thinking, "You know, maybe I can take that job over there because there is benefits and I don't have to sell and stuff."

And so I remember sitting down and telling Joe one day, "I don't know if this job is for me, I can't sell, and with this place over here, I don't have to sell, it's 9-to-5, I get benefits."

Joe turned it around and said, "You are thinking you can't sell, you are selling me right now. You are selling me on the fact that you can't sell."

And he just turned it around and showed me, and I was like, "You know what? He's right, I'm being stupid."

I talked to my husband too and he was like, "You know, I really think that you are going to have a better opportunity with Joe if you just give it a little time."

And so Joe talked me into staying, and here I am. I have grown a lot as a person and some of the stuff we have done together, I would have never done. Twenty years ago, if someone would have said, "You will be going to Necker Island, you are going to be doing events for 250 people, working with entrepreneurs, millionaires," I would have been like "You're crazy! There is just no way."

Marissa: So talk about your role now, what is your day to day like? What are your big projects?

Eunice: You know we have a group called Genius Network, which is...

Marissa: I got my binder.

Eunice: Yep, there you are! [Genius Network] which is our core business. I am kind of the lead concierge for that, so we do meetings here at our office. We also do an annual event -- we have our annual event coming in August.

I have been Joe's main assistant for the last 19 years, but have also been kind of the Chief Experience Officer for Genius Network. I love event planning. I love talking with people. I love just hearing about people, what they want to do, their goals, and how to help achieve that.

Joe is a big visionary, he is always so wanting to be helpful to people, and be useful. He is an amazing guy that likes to do, he is such a contributor, I guess.

Marissa: Absolutely. So, you interact with a ton of entrepreneurs just as part of your world, but also their teams and of course you have had teams of your own. What are some of the key characteristics that you believe people like us have to have to be successful in working for these crazy entrepreneurs?

Eunice: I think that one thing, especially for the assistants, they need to have an open mind and it is really about communication and knowing what you are capable of and what your strengths and weaknesses are.

For example, I never thought that I could sell, or that I could organize an event for 200 people, but part of that was really having the confidence in myself and also having the confidence and wanting to do work with the entrepreneur and just make that person better.

Whenever I do stuff with Joe or work with Joe, I am always trying to think of how can I make this easier for him, and for myself, and for the team. I think that is really important.

I also think that teams need to be not only about communication, but have the desire to grow. They want to be part of something.

Just like with me, I get frustrated with Joe, and he gets frustrated with me, and I am always thinking, am I trying to be right, or do I need to get it right? That is two important distinctions. I don't need to be right, I just want things to work. No matter how it needs to work -- whether I need to go and find someone to help do it, it doesn't have to be about me.

It took me a long time to get to that point because I thought I had to be the one to do it. Now, I learned, especially through Joe, he is willing to put forth the effort, or the money, or anything to just get to a better place. I think that a lot of assistants don't get that.

That is one of the best things I learned about Joe. He doesn't tell me how he wants me to do something, he tells me what he wants done and I have the freedom to go make it happen. A lot of times, especially in corporations, you don't have that. It's like, "You do it this way, all the time, don't deviate from it."

In an entrepreneurial company, I think unless you are similarly minded, people will either love it or hate it. If you don't have the mindset to really think it through and think about how you can make things better for yourself, then it is just not going to happen.

Marissa: You and I have talked in person about a support group for entrepreneur's teams. What are some of the crazy interesting scenarios that only we could really talk about as part of work? So I think about Peter and it's like you know, he is going to text at 2 in the morning with some crazy idea for some incentive competition he wants to run, or the crazy emails, or the...

Eunice: Mine would be, which I am sure would be for a lot of people, you know, it's getting the text, getting the audio memos, getting the videos, getting the email and then it is this endless 24/7 loop now. It's not always like that, but you have to be ready to jump on anything that comes your way, but also have a balance because I think entrepreneurs have a tendency, they can burn people out fast. They are always innovating, they are always creating, and some people, they just don't work that way.

I had to learn how to deal with that because I don't. Honestly, I am a very structured person, but I learned how to be adaptable. I guess that would be a trait that someone would need to learn is to be adaptive. Hey, as much as you might like it to be structured, it is not going to be like that. You have to roll with the punches and figure out a way.

Marissa: Sure. So, let's dive into the boundaries part of it. You have a family, and you have worked for Joe for 19 years. How did you sort of craft your boundaries, and how did that process go, and what does it look like now?

Eunice: Well, when I first started it was Joe and I. We had, when I came into it, he started with the carpet cleaners and he had maybe a couple hundred clients. That grew over the years to over 3,000 clients and then when he started Genius Network, we have got close to 150 in the group and there was a lot of just trying to make stuff happen and doing what needed to be done to help build and grow the business.

Nowadays, Joe is very good about having boundaries about himself – he's better at it – nobody is 100% perfect; and the same with me. I always thought that when Joe requested something, and he texted me, that I had to do it right then and there.

I would get frustrated and be like, "I haven't finished the 10 things you asked me to do half an hour ago."

Then we had a discussion about it because I think I replied back not so nicely about it, something like "Give me a break," or whatever, and he actually left me a message saying, "I wasn't expecting you to do it right then and there," and it really opened me up to think that gosh, that was my perception, and maybe he doesn't need me to do it right then.

He has been a lot better now when saying, "Hey, can you do this, by tomorrow is fine." He is really good about that. My work process that I like to live by, my process now is I work Monday through Friday. 6:30 pm is my shut-off time. Sometimes I stick to that, but other times I am working until 10 or 11 o'clock at night, but I am choosing to do that. And absolutely Saturday and Sunday, and especially Sunday, I don't do any work.

I have been really good about saying, "Hey, you know what, I am going to work on this, but I am taking Saturday off, so I won't be on email, I won't be checking my phone. I will address everything else that might come in on Monday morning."

That is really good for Joe or anyone else that comes on the team. We kind of do that for each other so that they know, "Hey, she's not ignoring me" or he's let me know "Hey, I am taking some free time," which I think is really really important for everybody to kind of decompress."

Marissa: How do you de-stress? What does your unwinding routine look like?

Eunice: You know, for me, I love to read so going to a coffee shop and reading. I like to do a lot of massage, like, reflexology is really calming for me, but you know, it's alone time. I start work at 6:30 in the morning by choice. Our office is open from 8-5, but I have always been an early riser. That 90 minutes I get by myself is the most relaxing and rewarding time for me because I know that the rest of the world is sleeping and I can knock these 5 to 6 things out before anybody comes into the office or anyone starts texting or sending emails. That has always been a big one for me to have the alone time.

Marissa: Oh yeah, I love that. I have the benefit of working from home so I totally get the sanctuary. The shutting of doors physically or just setting a boundary almost. Creating your workspace. So how do you balance the competing deadlines in projects? How do you keep them straight in your head?

Eunice: You know what? I am still trying to learn more about that. Because before, I have always kept stuff in my head, which is not the best way to do things -- things get lost in the shuffle, especially with someone like Joe who is always coming up with ideas and innovating and lots of to dos.

Here at the office, everybody has mini recorders. Joe bought these cool little cell phone holders and we all got mini recorders so ...

Marissa: How fun!

Eunice: Yeah, a lot of times I will carry a mini recorder and I will just start recording Joe. Everyone on the team knows if you are going to be with Joe, you have that mini recorder handy.

There are a couple of technological things we just started using. We just started using Asana, so I have been diving into that a little bit and that is... still getting the hang of it, but most of the time, especially with deadlines I am a very structured person. So when someone gives me a task, I will go and see and I will start listing what are all the to do's that need to be done and by when.

I am very good at knowing how long something is going to take. So once Joe starts saying "I want to do this, this and this," then I am immediately thinking, "If he wants to do that, then we have to move this one over here because this is going to take 5 to 6 hours," and I am automatically thinking in terms of how long something is going to take and how I can get it done in the least possible time, I guess.

Marissa: Absolutely. So what is one piece of advice that you would have given yourself 19 years ago based on what you know now?

Eunice: I think I would have told myself always be thinking like a partner.

With Joe, one of the things I love most about Joe is that he has never treated me like an employee, he has always treated me like a partner. He is always constantly asking me for my feedback. And that to me is more important than money, because to me that shows he actually cares, he actually believes in what I think and it is very valuable to him what I think and I need to give him that feedback.

For someone who is starting out, you have to go with what you feel is right, and you need to offer that constant feedback. Your entrepreneur is going to appreciate that more than anything. Make sure you are keeping them on track.

Most entrepreneurs, I don't know, a lot of entrepreneurs have "yes" people around them and that is okay, but then there has to be the time where you say "Why are you doing that? This is not a part of who you are, or where you need to be. Let's scale back a little bit and talk about this and see if it is a 'not right now,'" because I think a lot of entrepreneurs think "I can do this, and I can do this, and I can do that," and everything is a good idea.

That is one of the things about Joe. He can sell you on anything and everything sounds so good and you think, "Oh yeah we should do that," but at the end of the day it is like, should we really be doing that? That is how I think assistants can help their entrepreneur the most is being that feedback mechanism for them and showing them how to get things done more efficiently: what things they should be working on and what they need to just get rid of, how to automate and simplify their life that much more.

Marissa: Totally, and what I love about what you said is the right answer is not always "yes." What is funny is one of our meetings a couple months ago, Peter had us all in the room and he said, "Hey look, I didn't hire you to agree and say yes. I hired you for your brains, and your minds, and your opinions. Let's share them." He thinks of us like consiglieres -- the trusted advisors in the mob. Thinking of it that way, and especially when you are wired to help, you want to enable, you want to say yes all the time. It is an important distinction, which I am so glad you brought up. Sometimes the right answer is no, or not right now, or maybe this isn't the best fit for the direction you are heading in.

Eunice: And sometimes I am going to say, "No, we shouldn't do this," and he is going to come back and say "No, I want to do it," and that's okay. But to just go along with everything, I learned, that is just going to frustrate everybody, because you can't do everything.

Not everything can be done, but as long as you are coming from a place where you are really wanting to help simplify, automate, and you are in tune with the entrepreneur and what their goals and their visions are, everybody wins.

Marissa: Yeah, absolutely. Out of curiosity, do you have any quirks or habits or routines, things you… it's just a thing, it's just a thing that Eunice does and it works for her and, you know?

Eunice: I don't know that they are quirky, but one thing that has taught me how to have peace of mind is I don't do work when I am out to dinner with my family, or I am having family time I cherish that and it is sacred time with my family so I don't do any work. I will turn my phone off but I let people know.

For the most part, Sunday is my day with my family so if you want to get ahold of me, just know that I am not going to respond because I am taking a free day.

I don't have the notifications on my phone or my computer. I don't know how people deal with the popup that you have a new email. That would drive me crazy. I think I am more productive because I turned that stuff off years ago. An IT guy showed me how he could do that and it was the best thing I ever learned from an IT person. He was like, you can turn those notifications off. So I don't have notifications on anything, on my phone or on my computer.

Marissa: I don't either and it is immensely calming.

Eunice: So calming. It is so interruptive. I don't know why anyone would want to be disrupted by those popups. You have stuff going on up here, you don't need to be looking at your computer and getting that input too.

Marissa: Exactly. Well darling, any final pieces of advice for people who work for visionary entrepreneurs like we do, any of the downside, just free flow any tips and advice?

Eunice: First I want to say thank you, this has been an honor.

Marissa: Thank you!

Eunice: No one has actually interviewed me before so this is new and interesting for me. I guess famous last words would be working for someone like Joe, or Peter, or any visionary, is what an incredible opportunity it is.

To know that you are working for someone and with someone who is out there making things happen and changing the world is an incredible opportunity.

I feel so fortunate, and so lucky to even have the opportunity to work in an environment like this because I am really creating my own life as I am helping the entrepreneur. It is just coming about and helping everyone and creating value, and that is the best feeling in the world.

Marissa: Gratitude is a great place to end on. Thank you so much for your time, Eunice. Love and appreciation.

Eunice: Thank you.

Marissa: Talk to you soon. [/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.