Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosianna Halse Rojas, famed EA of author John Green. You will find some of this information in the Toolkit from the last post, but I felt that she had so much helpful information to share that she deserved her own post! We talked about her past, life as a ‘celebrity’ Assistant, her top productivity tools and much more. I have done my best to summarize all of her helpful experience into the increments below. I hope that you gain as much from this as I did!
EM: How many years have you been an EA? Did you seek out the EA career path or did it find you?
RHR: When I graduated from university with my degree in English literature, I applied to nearly 350 jobs. It was during the recession, so I was up against four years of unemployed job seekers. I started working in retail and continued social media on the side – something I started at age 14.
One day, I walked into a bookstore and asked for recommendations. The attendant suggested John Green’s book Looking for Alaska. I loved it, and immediately wanted to know more about the author. I started following his blog, and over time we bonded online.
In 2008, I attended a Harry Potter Convention in Chicago and saw that John was doing a reading nearby. That was the first time we met in person and we have been firm friends since. In 2012, I mentioned that I was job hunting, and he offered me part-time work as a second assistant while I searched. As his career grew, he realized he needed more help.
Ever since, it has been an invaluable experience where the more I put into it, the more I get back.
EM: You have risen in the ranks to become a ‘celebrity’ assistant. Do you have any advice for EAs that are looking to make the jump up the ladder?
RHR: Build it and they will come!! I’d advise them to start by finding a way to put themselves in their desired industry. Then, the most important thing is to start building office skills. Surround yourself with positivity and build connections in that industry and world.
Make the connections but ensure that they are genuine. Don’t approach them like you need something from them. Approach them as a problem solver.
Be aware of what the industry needs and figure out innovative solutions.”
EM: Knowing the long hours and chaotic pressure that often consumes an EA’s life, how do you integrate wellness into your work-life routine?
RHR: I have been finding it crucial to integrate exercise for the Assistant (myself) and the Executive. I recently committed to exercising for 3 weeks straight. This meant (a) getting up earlier (b) disconnecting from social media (c) being more mindful and allowing for moments of pause. Here are some of my wellness insights:
- High stress, panicked people get easily irritated which can set a negative tone for the day; slow things down conscientiously.
- Give yourself time to disconnect between the computer and sleep. I close mine an hour before bedtime. Do you really want the computer screen to be the last image in your mind before you fall asleep??
- When possible, integrate weekly therapy sessions – especially when your job requires discretion and you are carrying around a lot of sensitive information.
- Drink enough water.
- Take a short walk, even if it’s just 2 minutes. Breaking up the stress allows your mind and body to take a break and reset.
- Delegate. I am a control freak at heart and had to learn to trust other people but I am so glad I did!
- Be present with your friends. For busy EAs, it can be hard to make time for our important relationships. When you do find the time – be there fully.
- After a particularly stressful day, I make a mint tea and sit with a book. If I can’t focus on it I might turn West Wing on, take a bath or go out with a friend.
EM: What are your favorite tools for productivity? Which ones miss the mark?
RHR: To-do list software is not my favorite because it rarely works the way my brain works. Some of my most-used productivity tools are:
- Instant messaging for the office – it helps to keep track of everything without adding to the inbox pile.
- Google Drive – we use it constantly. It’s so easy to share information, edit everything in the same place and keep track of itineraries.
EM: What were some of the most game changing tips and insightful advice you received as you climbed the EA ladder?
RHR: Be solution driven – always approach people with a solution to a problem. Look at situations where people have figured out creative solutions and learn from them.
People who are always thinking about solving problems approach life with a healthier attitude. It removes the pressure and it’s a great way to grow in your role.”
EM: What’s your guilty EA pleasure? Where does the propensity to organize and streamline show up in your life?
RHR: I move a lot and I love giving everything away. Also, I am very obsessive about reorganizing things every single week. Everything gets a label with intense detail and context.
EM: What’s your absolute favorite story from your experiences as an EA?
RHR: I get to do some of the glitzy Hollywood stuff like watching the filming of John’s books turned movies. I was hanging out with supermodel Cara Delevingne between takes and one of the producers came to chat. I also got to meet Taylor Swift via Facetime! It was really quick but she is so amazing. She is not afraid to be completely weird in her own way. She is really enthusiastic about being herself and loves what she does.
I also love the weird shared experiences that EAs have. It’s like a secret cult of quirkiness and shared insider experience. You just know that (no matter who the person is) if they’re an EA, you automatically have a lot in common!
Follow Rosianna on Twitter here!
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[…] helping with Green’s growing success as his books were adapted into popular films. In a 2015 interview with Entourage Managers, Rojas said of her position, “it has been an invaluable experience where […]
[…] EM Team certainly does & we interviewed her last Spring. If you ever need inspiration, look to Rosianna Halse Rojas as she epitomizes a true Humble Servant Leadership success story. While you’re at it, check out […]