Jeff Bezos' former assistant has a 3 stage-process for securing a promotion. The first step involves finding a way to solve your manager's problems.

Jeff Bezos' former assistant has a 3 stage-process for securing a promotion. The first step involves finding a way to solve your manager's problems.
Ann Hiatt worked as an executive assistant for Jeff Bezos and Marissa Mayer. She was chief of staff to Eric Schmidt.Ann Hiatt
  • To get promoted, find a way to solve your manager's problems, set goals, and stay relevant.
  • That's the advice of Ann Hiatt, who worked for Jeff Bezos and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

If you want to be considered for promotion, you should "look for a way to solve your manager's problems," Ann Hiatt, an executive coach and former assistant to Jeff Bezos told Insider — it's part of her three-step advice for climbing the careers ladder.

Hiatt was hired by Jeff Bezos' executive assistant in 2002. She later spent 12 years at Google, first working alongside Marissa Mayer before being promoted to chief of staff under then CEO Eric Schmidt. Since 2018, she's been an executive coach. In her memoir "Bet on Yourself," she distils some of her lessons from working alongside billionaire CEOs.

Why do you want to get promoted?

When she's asked for her advice about securing a promotion, Hiatt says she refers to the "Win, Win, Win" method, something she picked up from working with other CEOs.

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The first step is to look at your goals and what you want to achieve.

"Always start with 'what do I want to learn next in my career?'," Hiatt told Insider. "'What expertise do I want to be known for?' What teams do I want to be leading?' 'What stages do I want to be standing on?' — whatever that looks like," she said.


Then look for opportunities to help solve your manager's problems in ways that help you fulfil some of your own goals, Hiatt said.

Perhaps your manager has taken on too many appointments and needs to delegate, or is too busy to fulfil a speaking opportunity they've been invited to. Put yourself forward to help, Hiatt said.

"That often involves volunteering for things that are outside of your traditional job description and or team," she added.

Another important consideration at this point, according to Hiatt, is to ask yourself what type of leader do you want to become? Not every manager is worthy of replicating, she said.

How can you stay relevant?

The final stage of the process is about "future-proofing" your career, Hiatt said.


Make sure what you're helping your manager with is solving a core need of the company. Otherwise, you can accidentally veer yourself into a skillset or area that is at risk of getting cut.

"If you're not consistently stretching the boundaries of your expertise, you are primed for disruption — you're the one who's going to be laid off or furloughed in the next crisis," Hiatt said.

The best way to do this is by constantly learning new, and relevant skills, Hiatt said. If you're at a small company or live in a small town where there aren't tons of opportunities, getting involved in community projects, for example, can be a good way of learning new skills.

Promotion is never guaranteed

Engineering a promotion is no simple process. Nor is it always fair.

Women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds have historically faced — and continue to face — a "glass ceiling" as a result of unconscious biases, social factors, and sometimes downright stigmatism, which has held them back compared with their white, male peers.


Some companies have also historically focused on the wrong skills when promoting people, focusing, for example, on how much a salesperson sold, rather than their people skills.

Gallup, the leadership consultancy, has estimated that organizations promote a candidate without adequate management skills in up to 82% of appointments.

However, careers experts say it's important to be intentional and plan to give yourself the best chance of securing one. Part of that involves knowing what not to do.

Acting like a know-it-all, staying quiet, or getting too defensive are among the habits to avoid, experts say.