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A Tactical Information to Working with EAs: The best way to Make Delegation Your Superpower

Sam Corcos is the co-founder and CEO of Ranges, a biowearable firm that exhibits you the way meals impacts your well being utilizing real-time organic knowledge. He’s a four-time founder.

Delegation is a superpower. It additionally takes apply.

I do know dozens of founders who’ve labored with an Government Assistant (EA) and stopped after a couple of months as a result of they couldn’t work out the right way to make efficient use of the useful resource — typically writing off EAs altogether. One other widespread pitfall I see is early-stage, scrappy founding groups that assume it’s too untimely to carry on board somebody with this talent set. 

When leveraged appropriately, an EA could be probably the most necessary instruments in a startup group’s arsenal — releasing up house to deal with the thorniest challenges going through the enterprise. However there isn’t all that a lot tactical info on the market on the right way to particularly work with EAs — typically, it’s simply one thing leaders are anticipated to know the right way to do. 

As a four-time founder and now CEO at Ranges, I’ve labored with all types of EAs up to now and I’ve realized a number of classes the arduous manner. I’m additionally obsessive about monitoring my time and optimizing how I’m spending every day as an early-stage startup CEO.  

When it got here to including EAs to Ranges, we took a unique method. At the moment, Ranges is a group of 47 individuals, and we’ve 12 outsourced EAs. Notably, our EA pool is on the market to everybody on the group, no matter seniority — and we encourage everybody to utilize them. 

I feel help workers is without doubt one of the most under-utilized assets obtainable to each startup. Essentially, you need your greatest individuals engaged on the best worth initiatives on your firm. Any time your highest-leverage persons are spending time on routine duties that might be carried out by another person, it’s not solely a loss for the corporate, but it surely’s limiting that particular person’s potential to achieve their full potential.

Studying the right way to delegate successfully is probably the only most necessary talent that folk have to develop in an effort to transition right into a management function, and but, many are reluctant to embrace it. 

On this article, I’ll define particular ideas for working with EAs — whether or not it’s your first time bringing one on board, otherwise you’re seeking to higher leverage the EAs you already work with. Alongside the best way, I’ll share tons of particular examples, paperwork and templates that illustrate precisely how we do that at Ranges. I’ll additionally unpack the method for increasing the EA pool throughout your complete group at Ranges, and why I feel it’s a apply extra early-stage startups ought to undertake. 

However earlier than we soar into the ways, let’s do some extra to set the stage.

As a multi-time founder, I’ve helped many leaders develop higher delegation expertise. I’ve seen a couple of major causes that trigger of us to keep away from delegating to an EA:  

Imposter syndrome. I’ve seen leaders which have a mentality of, “Who am I to present this process to another person who’s in all probability smarter than me?” It’s necessary to acknowledge this as a supply of interior battle that forestalls individuals from delegating successfully. 

Timesuck. It may be arduous to justify spending the time at hand a process off to somebody (particularly if that process solely takes a couple of minutes to finish). However what most individuals fail to comprehend is that it’d solely take 5 minutes — however that’s 5 minutes each day (or each week). It additionally provides cognitive load, together with the price of context switching — which is far more than 5 minutes. 

Lack of proof factors. However the largest cause in my expertise that almost all founders draw back from including help workers is just because they’ve by no means accomplished it efficiently earlier than. The vast majority of founders I’ve talked to who’ve employed EAs have had a foul expertise, and nearly all of those errors had been preventable. 

And when of us do recover from these three widespread hurdles and convey onboard an EA, there are two oft-repeated errors to keep away from. 

Creating extra work. The commonest mistake I’ve seen is that folks really feel a compulsion to make sure that their EA is utilizing 100% of their time on a regular basis. That is unsuitable. Do not forget that your EA is on the group to assist you be simpler. Should you’re going out of your technique to discover issues on your EA to do in an effort to hold them occupied, you’re doing it unsuitable. In the event that they don’t have any speedy duties, you’re higher off instructing them to learn a ebook or take a trip than create pointless work for them (or think about increasing EA entry to a bigger group).

Sticking to the fundamentals. One other widespread mistake is to method working with an EA by beginning with the query: “How do most individuals use an EA?” which nearly all the time ends with individuals utilizing their EAs for scheduling and journey planning. It isn’t strictly unsuitable to make use of an EA for these items, however there are higher instruments obtainable. For instance, I exploit Calendly for scheduling and I ebook my very own flights as a result of I’ve discovered that journey often entails prioritization tradeoffs that an EA doesn’t have the right context to have the ability to make.

Why it is best to think about an EA Pool

Should you’re discovering that you just don’t have sufficient duties to occupy 100% of an EA’s time, moderately than writing off EAs altogether, I encourage you to think about making your EAs obtainable to everybody on the firm in what we name an “EA Pool.” Most of our executives at Ranges nonetheless have a major EA, however once they have downtime, the EAs contribute to different components of the enterprise that want help.

One of many causes many startups don’t rent an EA is as a result of every particular person doesn’t have sufficient duties to occupy somebody full-time. However if you happen to make that EA time fungible, you’ll be able to unfold that point throughout many individuals in your group. 

The important thing right here is to verify communication is crisp between your group and the EAs — in any other case, they’ll find yourself overworked and unfold throughout too many duties. For instance, under I’ve included a breakdown of delegated duties from every Ranges group member for the week of February 7, 2022. As you’ll be able to see, nearly all of the group has fewer than 10 weekly duties, however these delegations make an enormous distinction of their day by day workflow.

For folk which have by no means labored with an EA earlier than, it may take some apply and encouragement to assist individuals begin delegating. To bang the drum and encourage of us throughout the group to leverage the EA pool, we share a “Delegation of the Week” in our group all-hands — which has instantly resulted in additional duties being delegated to our EAs.

To begin constructing out your EA pool, personally, I’ve discovered that it’s greatest to work with an company. They qualify the EAs they usually deal with all of the backend processes — which usually embody cybersecurity coaching, efficiency opinions, and all the opposite sorts of overhead duties you’d in any other case have to do yours. It prices extra to work with an company, however in my expertise, it’s price it. 

My Delegated Duties

To set the context right here and for some added visibility, right here’s a hyperlink to the Notion doc the place we hold observe of all of the delegations I’ve handed off to our EA group. That is a few third of my precise record of delegations — I redacted something that features confidential info. 

This could provide you with a really feel for simply how a lot leverage you may get by working with EAs and studying the right way to delegate successfully. In whole, our EAs deal with about 400 duties per thirty days for me, cut up between 5 EAs. Should you’re searching for concepts on all of the various kinds of duties you’ll be able to delegate to your EA, I like to recommend exploring the Notion doc. As you’ll discover, a few of these are small duties, like updating my Goodreads record or reminding of us on the engineering group to replace their priorities tracker sheet. Others are a lot bigger, extra time-consuming duties — like engaged on our month-to-month investor replace e-mail.

In “The 4-Hour Workweek,” one line from writer Tim Ferriss caught out to me: “By no means automate one thing that may be eradicated, and by no means delegate one thing that may be automated or streamlined. In any other case, you waste another person’s time as a substitute of your personal, which now wastes your hard-earned money.” 


Earlier than you think about delegating or automating a process, it’s all the time price interrogating whether or not that process is price doing within the first place. There’s nothing worse than spending time bettering one thing that ought to by no means have existed to start with.

An fascinating tactic you’ll be able to implement right here is the “anti-pilot.” If you run a pilot program, you check one thing with a gaggle of customers to get suggestions. With an anti-pilot, you take away the characteristic and see if anybody notices. Should you don’t get a number of complaints, it’s a powerful indicator that the characteristic wasn’t including as a lot worth as you will have thought.

A current instance for me is once I considered including a recurring process for an EA to remind individuals to place collectively a weekly recap for his or her useful space (which takes about 2 hours). However as a substitute, I requested the useful results in chorus from posting them for a few weeks to see if anybody observed. It turned out that it was a “good to have” however actually didn’t add that a lot worth, so we killed that mission.


One of the simplest ways to Automate a process is with computer systems. However generally, it’s both not definitely worth the funding of engineering time or the integrations are too cumbersome to unravel the particular drawback you might have. That is the place you’ll be able to delegate a few of your duties to EAs in an effort to automate them. 

For instance, have you ever ever thought to your self one thing like, “Jeez, I want there was an integration with Software program X to put up these updates in Slack,” or “I actually want the data in these pull requests might be routinely synced with our documentation in Notion in some way…” Your EA can do these items.

Right here’s a immediate to remember: When you have a recurring process (day by day, weekly, and many others), it is best to nearly all the time attempt to automate it. Even when it’s simply 5 minutes per week, it’s arduous to elucidate how a lot cognitive load they occupy. My co-founder at CarDash and particular forces operator Todd Opalski would name these sorts of duties “ankle biters.” Or as Austen Allredputs it: “The distinction between one thing being 100% automated and 99% automated is outrageously giant.” 

Understand that the first constraint in nearly all software program corporations is engineering time, so it is best to guard engineering time like treasured gems. EA time is less expensive and extra extensible. 

For some tough comparisons, at our present stage, we worth engineering time internally at $1000/hr. If fixing a easy automation takes an engineer 6 hours (together with context switching and alternative price), it signifies that integration prices $6000. 

Or… you’ll be able to have an EA do it manually as soon as per day for quarter-hour per day. If that EA prices $15/hr, that comes out to a complete price of $3.75 per day for the automation, which implies you’d should run this process constantly for greater than 4 years to interrupt even with the price of spending engineering time for this specific automation.

Going the EA route can also be simpler to arrange because you don’t want to fret about determining the right way to get your automation on the product/engineering roadmap. However relating to delegating to an EA, only a few individuals will resist your request because it’s not blocking anybody else’s progress.

Automation by EAs is extra accessible to everybody on the group as a result of it doesn’t require a deeper understanding of what sorts of duties could be automated by computer systems. Even somebody recent out of school working in operations with no software program expertise can simply automate duties by handing them off to EAs. Extra automation is sweet, so it’s useful to decrease the bar and make automations simpler for individuals to implement.

It’s additionally extra versatile. Should you want a change, you’ll be able to simply regulate the method whereas it’s in flight and also you don’t want to herald extra engineering time to make the change. Engineering automations are nice, however they’re additionally inflexible. 

So when must you use engineering time to implement an automation? You must nearly all the time begin by automating a process with an EA. Sooner or later, it can develop into apparent that the issue is at such an enormous scale that the one technique to remedy it’s with software program. However you’ll in all probability be shocked at how far you’ll be able to go with out utilizing engineering time for automations. 

EAs can fill the gaps between merchandise that don’t have a proper integration or API. The vast majority of the worth I get from EAs comes from duties that they’ve automated for me.  Listed here are three examples of automations that our EA group handles for me that might, in principle, be accomplished by a software program integration:

As soon as per day: Take everybody that I’ve a name with primarily based on my calendar occasions, add them to my CRM with a “triage” flag, add any related info you’ll find about them from the web, add related context from my communication with them by e-mail.

As soon as per week: Undergo all of our pull requests in GitHub and calculate the share of pull requests that met our documentation requirements.

Anytime there’s a press hit for Ranges, put up it on the #press channel.


A helpful manner to consider the distinction between an automation and a delegation is that automations are crucial whereas delegations are declarative. One other manner to consider it’s that EAs can do each automations and delegations, however computer systems usually are not capable of do delegations as a result of they want express directions. Automations are additionally typically recurring duties, whereas delegations are often one-time or short-lived duties.

Crucial vs declarative are widespread phrases in programming however they aren’t extensively used elsewhere, so we’ll go over every of the definitions under and clarify how they apply — and why EAs ought to nearly all the time be used for crucial requests moderately than declarative requests. 

If you make a declarative request, you’re making a number of assumptions in regards to the quantity of data the particular person on the receiving finish has relating to your request. 

A couple of examples of declarative requests:

To our Head of Progress: I feel it’s time we replace our progress technique. Are you able to ship me a draft by finish of the month?

To our Head of Design: We have to work out a technique to make meals logging extra partaking. Can you place some thought into how we’d go about fixing that drawback?

To an EA: Are you able to spend an hour looking Twitter for individuals who have talked about “metabolic well being” within the final 12 months?

In these requests, I’m not telling them the right way to full the duty. I’m solely telling them what I need the output to appear like in a obscure manner and I’m leaving it to them to determine the right way to remedy it. Declarative requests solely work when the particular person on the receiving finish has sufficient context to finish the duty efficiently.

I typically speak to individuals who say they want an EA, however what they actually imply is they want a Chief of Employees. Listed here are some clues that you just’re really searching for a Chief of Employees:

You want somebody who can interface with different individuals on the firm to unravel issues.

You’re searching for somebody who can stand in for you at firm conferences.

You want somebody to construct processes for you — not simply routinely ship towards an current course of that you just’ve outlined.

You want somebody whom you’ll be able to belief with decision-making.

You will have summary, non-routine issues that require an skilled particular person that will help you remedy.

Crucial duties are an express, context-free set of directions with no subjective interpretation of what’s wanted. Mainly, a guidelines that anybody can do even when they do not know what the corporate does or why they’re doing the duty. For instance, I’ve a private aim to restrict the period of time I’m dedicating to engineering. One recurring process I’ve our EAs do is to maintain me accountable by following these directions:

Open Sam’s Google Calendar (as I clarify on this article, I observe how I spend my time relentlessly through the use of my calendar as a to-do record)

Open the spreadsheet preserving observe of Sam’s time

Look by the actions or occasions that embody “Engineering” within the title

Fill within the crucial particulars within the timesheet (Date, Time in Minutes, Whole period of time spent on engineering)

Ship a direct Threads message to Sam (Topic: “Engineering Time Spent,” Physique: Hyperlink of the timesheet, Whole Time)

One in all our EAs completes this process as soon as per day till the mission is accomplished to maintain some self-accountability on how time is being spent. 

Sam Corcos, co-founder & CEO, Ranges

By assigning the proper sorts of duties to your EA, you’re properly in your technique to turning into a simpler delegator. However there are many different ideas I’ve picked up alongside the best way that may assist your EA decide up altitude as they tackle new duties. 

1. Use Async Video and Audio

That is going to really feel unnatural for most individuals, however it is best to attempt to lean into recorded, asynchronous video and voice memos for delegation. It’s far more time-efficient for you and your EA, and it permits that video recording for use as an asset sooner or later when new individuals have to be onboarded to the duty. It’s manner simpler for somebody to look at a recording than it’s to have a brand new, synchronous onboarding name with each new particular person for each process. 

As an information level, I’ve been working with our outsourced EAs frequently for greater than a 12 months and we nonetheless haven’t had a single synchronous assembly — we do all the pieces async. 

Content material scales, your time doesn’t. Attempt to do extra issues within the type of content material.

For our asynchronous video, we use Loom and have tons of greatest practices that we share right here. On the subject of utilizing asynchronous movies with EAs, a very powerful tip (and the one which takes some getting used to) is to all the time report in a single take — it’s okay if there are awkward pauses or it is extra of a stream of consciousness. 

Async video can also be an effective way to do standing updates and progress reviews. It’s far more environment friendly than a reside, weekly recurring assembly. Doing it within the type of content material is extra respectful of each your time and theirs — particularly in the event that they’re in a timezone just like the Philippines (the place our EA pool relies) and the time zone overlap is restricted. 

2. Outline the Output Format

It’s nearly all the time higher to make it clear to your EA what the format of the output ought to appear like. For instance, ought to the deliverable be a spreadsheet? In that case, what are the columns you’re anticipating? Ought to it’s a presentation? A Notion doc?

Should you ask, “Put collectively an inventory of all of the podcasts that Bob Smith has accomplished,” it can save everybody time if you happen to spend one other couple of minutes placing collectively the preliminary spreadsheet that exhibits what columns you need (Url? Title? Podcast title?). 

If it’s going to require you to place a number of effort into the preliminary setup for the duty, then the very best technique is to ask for a partial implementation (extra on that under) and to have them use their judgment on the right way to full the duty, after which give suggestions on their implementation to allow them to transfer ahead.

3. Ask for Playback

This may really feel awkward at first, but it surely’s tremendous necessary that you just do that each time. It typically means delaying the beginning of the duty by a couple of hours, but it surely’s price it. Only a few duties are so time-sensitive that they’ll’t wait a couple of hours for clarification.

You must set the expectation that anytime you give an instruction to your EA, they need to repeat again to you what they heard within the directions and the way they’ll go about fixing the issue. You’ll in all probability be shocked how typically your phrases can simply be misunderstood or the place particular directions had been left ambiguous as a result of the EA was missing context. 

4. Strive Partial Implementation

If a process requires significant time (e.g. greater than a few hours), it’s nearly all the time a good suggestion to ask your EA to do a partial implementation of a process earlier than spending vital time on it.

For instance, in case you have a process that may seemingly take 20 hours of labor to finish, it is best to nearly all the time say one thing like, “Are you able to spend 10 minutes engaged on this and ship me the outcome so I can double-check to verify we’re going the proper course?”

This may prevent loads of ache as a result of it prevents your EA from spending time on one thing that isn’t proper. These misunderstandings are nearly all the time the fault of the instruction-giver, not the EA, so it’s price training giving higher directions.

My co-founder Josh works with an EA to place collectively the primary draft of the abstract slide of our weekly group all-hands, the Ranges Friday Discussion board. This can be a process that used to take 2 hours per week of Josh’s time, however now takes him lower than quarter-hour as a result of the majority of the work is already accomplished by his EA by the point he begins engaged on it.

Worst-case state of affairs, you simply don’t find yourself utilizing something that the EA put collectively and also you’re in the identical place you had been earlier than you tried having the EA take a crack on the process, and that’s superb! Simply remember to give them suggestions on the right way to enhance for subsequent time.

5. Give Suggestions

Don’t anticipate issues to be proper the primary time, particularly for giant duties. That is one other widespread failure mode that folks expertise when working with EAs. They provide an ambiguous set of directions, their EA misunderstands one thing, they usually don’t do it fairly proper… So they offer up and fireplace their EA.

I can let you know from private expertise that the overwhelming majority of the time in case your EA just isn’t capable of full your process appropriately, it’s your fault — not theirs. Be affected person and provides suggestions. I’ve discovered that the simplest manner to do that is to simply flip in your async video instrument and report your reactions going over their work. 

6. Check the Waters with Parallel Tasking

Should you’re not completely assured {that a} process you’re at the moment doing could be handed off successfully, one technique is to have your EA do the duty in parallel in a sandbox (that means, the deliverable just isn’t really despatched).

For instance, I used to be beforehand manually sending our Friday Boards to every of our buyers, which took about quarter-hour per week, and I wished at hand off this process to be automated. However the process was just a little bit tough — it required entry to a number of accounts, some video modifying, picture modifying and some different steps that had been single factors of failure within the course of.

So what I did, on this case, is I recorded myself doing my regular workflow of placing collectively the Friday Discussion board e-mail and requested my EA to duplicate the method, however as a substitute of sending the e-mail to everybody, simply ship it to me.

The primary time she did the duty there have been some points, which we adjusted — however since she solely despatched the e-mail to me, so there have been no penalties. After two extra weeks of excellent supply, I had the boldness at hand off the duty and let her take the wheel, sending it to all of our buyers, which she’s accomplished each week since.

You may also ask your EA to suggest what they assume is the proper reply with out delivering something. For instance, I used to spend a couple of hours a month checking my LinkedIn messages, which I didn’t need to should do anymore. So I recorded myself processing my LinkedIn messages and despatched them over to my EA. Then, for the following a number of months, my EA would ship me a screenshot of the inbound message together with what she thought was the right response.

Over time, you may give them suggestions to allow them to discover ways to pattern-match and construct your confidence of their judgment, and in some unspecified time in the future, you may have the ability to totally automate the duty together with your EA. On this case, it took a few months to construct that confidence, and now I don’t have to consider LinkedIn messages anymore.

It’s additionally price contemplating that you just could be underestimating your EAs skills and expertise. Strive merely turning on a display recorder and going about your workday doing all the pieces the identical manner you’ll usually do it, after which share that recording together with your EA to see if there’s something your EA can pull from it that might leverage your time. Take into consideration this as “job shadowing” for the trendy workforce.

I’ve recorded multi-hour work classes, then despatched them over to our EAs and requested them if there’s something in my workflow that they’ll take off my plate. Worst-case state of affairs, nothing comes of it and I didn’t should spend any incremental time giving directions. Greatest-case state of affairs, they’re capable of take a couple of duties off my workload in a manner that I didn’t notice was potential. 

7. Shut the Loop

If you begin automating and delegating issues, it’s extraordinarily necessary to trust that issues are being accomplished. One scenario you don’t need to end up in is one during which you’ve automated a process to an EA, however they’ve run out of bandwidth they usually’ve forgotten about it… In order that factor that you just assumed was taking place within the background is not taking place.

It’s the canary within the coal mine that makes you second guess all the pieces you’re handing off and undermines any belief that has been constructed up between you and your EA. It’s a extremely dangerous feeling.

It’s extraordinarily necessary to determine a course of for accountability and transparency on what your EAs are spending their time on to make sure issues are being accomplished persistently and appropriately. The best way we solved this at Ranges is to have a Notion database that retains observe of each process accomplished by an EA. Every entry additionally features a recording of their display (extra on this under) whereas they accomplished the duty.

Including this diploma of accountability and transparency makes it straightforward to verify and see if automations are taking place in the best way that you just assume they’re, and it goes a extremely good distance in direction of constructing belief and confidence between you and your EA. 

8. Use Job Recording

You want confidence that the duties are being accomplished persistently, on time, and appropriately. However generally, errors occur, and it’s not all the time clear why. For instance, possibly a message was despatched to the unsuitable particular person or the unsuitable info was included in an e-mail.

That is the place display recordings assist. As you’ll be able to see within the Duties Database screenshot above, there’s a column for “Recording,” which is a hyperlink to the Loom recording of the EA doing the duty in real-time. We hardly ever take a look at these movies, however when we have to debug one thing, having the precise recording makes it so a lot simpler to determine what went unsuitable. 

What I’ve discovered from expertise is that more often than not, the explanation for the error is due to an edge case that the EA couldn’t probably have identified about, and so I’ll often give them suggestions on the right way to deal with these edge circumstances in future situations.

A very powerful factor to remember is that that is going to take time. It took me years to get to the purpose the place I’m capable of confidently delegate all of those recurring duties to our EA pool. Like something in startups, whether or not it’s speaking to prospects or operating an government assembly, you’re not going to nail it the primary time. That doesn’t imply you throw within the towel. 

Begin by simply attempting to cross off a couple of recurring duties to your EA, leveraging these ways above for a smoother handoff. As you proceed to see your EA knocking these out and releasing up useful house in your inbox and in your calendar, you’ll be clamoring to search out extra duties at hand over.



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