The Greenlight Highlight: Keith’s Executive Assistant Shares the Value of Building Relationships with Gatekeepers

MyGreenlight’s monthly community member spotlight interview.

Shannon Stewart
Executive Assistant to Keith Ferrazzi
Los Angeles, CA
Ferrazzi Greenlight Team Member Since:  August/2009

Elevator Pitch:These days, my entire elevator pitch is about my son. He’s such a cool kid and I love spending time with him. He’s really into art right now and I’m really into art so we are all about anything that has to do with art exploration.

What incident from your past do you recall being the moment it clicked for you that relationships make the difference to your success in business?

10 years ago I recognized that business is about who you know. My partner works in the entertainment industry and the dinner parties and events that must be attended to manage staying employed brings it all home for you. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, connections make things move a lot smoother.

Favorite Relationship Mastery Mindset and why:

For me, intimacy and generosity go hand in hand. Those two qualities in a relationship allow you to be most accountable towards each other. I always strive to develop a rapport for delivering generosity. It’s allowed me to develop partnerships with other executive assistants in various organizations. Our collaborations become an easier process because we have taken the time to get to know each other.

What still presents a challenge for you in building relationships that you continue to work on?

When I really know and care about someone, candor still presents a challenge for me. The closer I am to you, the more difficult it is for me to tell you what you need to know vs. what you want to know. My innate pleaser personality, squelches the willpower to be truly accountable to someone I care for and tell them the really harsh truths. I’m working on it.

What’s the coolest things you’re working on at home or at work right now?

At home, I’ve been creating an art space for my son because he’s really shown an interest in it lately. It’s a great space for him to get messy with minimal boundaries.  At work, I’ve been very engaged in the development of the new GM project.  It has allowed me to connect with some new individuals within and external to the organization.

How has putting a thoughtful process around your relationship development benefitted your business?

What I do for Keith has greatly facilitated and accelerated by my ability to put relationship development into practice. With so much distance and time between interactions with some of my colleagues, staying on their radar can be challenging.  I like to fill time gaps with gifts. I make sure that I pay attention to our conversations and pick up on hobbies, favorites, children and grandchildren’s names, but at the minimum most of us executive assistants can bond over one must-have of the job, Starbucks gifts cards. We can’t get through our day without a coffee run, so these are always appreciated. These small tokens add up to a ready-to-assist collaborative partner when it’s time to coordinate our next project together.

What advice would you give to new members of the community that you have found to be best practices for relationship mastery?

My normal state is to stick to myself.  If you’re like me, first decide, what is it that you want to do? Vague doesn’t work. Know who you want to build a relationship with and WHY. If you’re not clear in your mind, you’ll never do it. It will make the difference in how you feel about the networking and focus you towards some clear objectives.

Give us your best opening line for starting a new relationship.

If I find that I can use humor with someone, I will always go that route.  If I can get them to laugh, I can get them to talk and if I can get them to talk, I can get the call. Nine out of 10 times for sure.

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