We didn’t have to travel far this week to find our Anonymous Celebrity…just over to the other corner of the office, where Lilit Marcus, editor-in-chief of TheGloss and -as of Tuesday – published author, resides. Her book about the trials and tribulations of being a corporate slave Save the Assistants, came out of the website she co-founded with the same name. Originally from North Carolina, Lilit loves bourbon, cowgirl boots, and yelling at cab drivers. She also knows a bunch of random religious factoids: Not 10 minutes ago, she enlightened us to where the term “missionary position come from!”
Crushable How did Save the Assistants (the website) come to be?
Lilit: When I first moved to New York, I got a job as an executive assistant. Between moving to a new city where I didn’t have a support system to transitioning from college to work, I was a mess. I kept looking for some kind of web resource for assistants and people just starting out in their jobs, but there wasn’t one. After I left that job and went to another assistant job – where I did the same kind of admin work but had a really great boss who mentored me – I started the website myself.
Crushable:At what point did you think to yourself, “Whoa, I could have something here?”
Lilit: I think it was when I started to get emails from people I didn’t know. At first, the only people who read the site were my friends. Then, I started to get pickup on other blogs and people I didn’t know began emailing me their horror stories or asking me questions about how to handle stuff at the office. The best was when people emailed me to tell me that the site had inspired them to quit their jobs and pursue something more rewarding.
Crushable: How did you pitch your first book deal?
Lilit: Several agents and editors had approached me about doing a Save the Assistants book, but most of them wanted me to do some kind of compendium of the best horror stories. I knew that my agent, Rebecca Gradinger, was the right person for me because she wanted me to write something completely original. She understood that the best thing for Save the Assistants wasn’t to print out the internet and stick it in a book – it was to write something in the spirit of the site that was original and helpful. We put together a book proposal and she sent it out to editors.
Crushable: What advice would you give young women right out of college?
Lilit:You don’t have to be an expert on everything right away. For many of us, we feel pressure to be ‘perfect.’ It’s OK not to know exactly what you want to do with your life and not be a rock star at your job on the very first day. Your career is a learning experience – at each job, you’ll pick up new skills and contacts. It’s a work in progress, and that’s what’s great about it.
Crushable: What about ladies stuck in dead-end jobs who might not know about other opportunities available to them?
Lilit: Sometimes you have to make your own opportunities, especially if the conventional paths are closed to you. When I first moved to New York, an assistant job was all I could get. It was great because it paid the bills, but what I really wanted to do was write. Since there weren’t opportunities to write at my job, I had to pursue writing on my own time. I pitched stories, freelanced for anyone who would let me, and wrote for free a lot. Yes, you’re going to have to bust your ass, but if you really love something it won’t feel like work. Later, when I got a job editing a website, my writing skills and my assistant skills helped me out tremendously.
Crushable: Is your advice as applicable to both men and women?
Lilit: Absolutely. While a higher percentage of my readers are women, I think that has to do with the fact that more women get pushed into administrative roles. That said, everyone has to be someone’s bitch. You may not have the word “assistant” in your job title, but you always have to do someone else’s bidding, and that’s why Save the Assistants exists.
You can buy Lilit’s book on Amazon.