Strategic Partnerships in Action: Paige McPheely, CEO of Base, with Executive Assistant Natalie Turner

In this series, Strategic Partnerships in Action, we highlight some of the Executive and Force Multiplier duos who are doing it right. This week, we chatted with the powerful strategic partnership behind Base.

Paige McPheely and Natalie Turner began their strategic partnership about a year ago, in the early days of Base – a SaaS company designed to improve workflows for EAs and uplift them along the way.

Paige’s passion for bringing people together, meticulous attention to detail, and the ability to organize chaos, led her to co-founding 33Vincent, a remote executive assistant agency, with her long-time friend, Casey Putschoegl. Together, they recruited top talent and attracted high-profile clients, growing the company organically and sustainably to employ over 50 contract executive assistants who serve busy executives across the country. Years of experience with executive assistants outlined common pain points and needs in their workflow; EAs lacked software of their own, a strong community, and a trusted source for training and resources. With a genuine desire to serve the executive assistant community, Paige turned her attention to creating a solution: Base. With its release in 2019, Base aims to improve workflows for EAs and uplift them along the way.

Paige is currently the CEO of Base and remains an advising partner for 33Vincent. She lives in Greenville, SC with her husband Matt and their three sons, Jones, Sam and Bennett.

Natalie Turner is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at Base. With a background in event planning and operations at a tech startup, Natalie found a natural progression into an EA role at a SaaS company. She feels that she completely lucked out in having the opportunity for her first EA position to be supporting the CEO of a company built to champion and empower assistants.

Natalie also has her own business as a certified coach and breathwork facilitator, with a focus in helping female leaders & visionaries build self-trust and emotional mastery, and beating perfectionism so they can lead effectively, and live fully. Natalie lives in Austin, TX with her forever-puppy, Scarlett.

Could you tell us about your position within the company and the primary responsibilities in each of your roles? 

Paige: As Co-Founder and CEO of Base, my role is constantly evolving. In the early days, my job was all recruiting and product development. Next, it shifted to sales and fundraising. These days, I’m primarily focusing on equipping my team for success but also spend a great deal of time on strategy with my leadership team and investors and representing Base out in the world.

Natalie: As the Executive Assistant to the CEO, my role is to keep Paige as resourced as possible so she can stay streamlined and focused on her objectives. This looks like protecting her time through calendar management and proactive task management, conserving her headspace by reducing the amount of decisions she needs to make and drafting her correspondence, and maintaining her public persona by acting as a liaison for our internal team, investors, customers, collaborators, and partners. My goals are a subset of hers, by design.

What have your career paths been and how long have you been working together? 

Paige: Shortly before my first child was born, I started a remote Executive Assistant agency, 33Vincent, with a dear friend who was also a new mom. Our backgrounds were in sales and advertising but we were determined to find a better way to build our careers while being present with our children. Nearly 7 years and 6 children later between the two of us, 33Vincent has continued to be such an important part of my life. About 2 years ago, I formally stepped away from that business as Co-CEO to focus on building Base, which had been brewing as an idea of ours for quite some time.

Natalie joined our team in the early days of Base, just as we were kicking off our Seed round of fundraising (and I was about to lose my mind in the process). 

Natalie: I’ve been working with Paige for nearly a year now. Prior to that, the majority of my career was spent in the wedding and events industry as a certified Wedding Planner, followed by a couple years in operations at an e-learning startup. 

Successful strategic partnerships look different for everyone. What is the one thing that makes the partnership between you work? 

Paige: Trust is at the center of every successful, meaningful relationship I have. The same is absolutely true with Natalie’s and my relationship. We have done our best to clearly communicate how to work well with one another as well as our expectations. From there, everything else flows from mutual trust and respect.

Communication is a common challenge between leaders and their EAs. What communication failures have you had, what lessons have you learned, and what systems have you developed for communicating effectively? 

Paige: Ensuring one another has the appropriate context to be able to efficiently and effectively do their job is hard. We’ve always been a distributed team, so I have had to think carefully from the start about how to disseminate information to the right people in the best ways. While we’re always looking for ways to improve our process, Base launched a feature earlier this year called “Decision Stream” which allows Natalie to aggregate any questions, updates or reminders for me in an easy to share and read format. It has been a game changer for us (and so many other assistant/executive pairings!).

Natalie: I’m really grateful from the beginning, Paige gave me a lot of space to ask questions as I was learning how to best help her. This really helped me avoid having to make assumptions, and reduced the amount of communication issues right off the bat. 

What are the biggest challenges you have working together? 

Paige: Especially in a remote setting where so many conversations happen via DM or 1:1 Zoom calls, it can be a challenge to ensure I’m sharing all of the relevant information and context with Natalie. I trust her fully to do her job, but sometimes I drop the ball by not equipping her with everything she needs.

Natalie: On occasion, I’ll face a situation where I’ve received conflicting priorities from Paige, and I’ll either have to make a call even though there isn’t a “right” answer, or delay and ask more about which priority is actually most important. This has gotten easier the more trust we’ve built together. Paige and I actually participated in a webinar in May, “Prioritization for EAs: How to feel like you’re getting enough done“, and a big topic of discussion was around when to know when, as an EA to “make a call”, and how Paige trusts my process for this.

What’s one thing that comes easy to you both when it comes to working together?

Natalie: Our personalities and senses of humor mesh really well, and we genuinely like and care about one another as people. We also get on great brainstorming rolls together, and that’s really fun.

What is one of your proudest moments or achievements while working together? 

Paige: Successfully completing our Seed round of fundraising last Fall was a big win for our entire team. Natalie joined the team shortly after kicking off our raise, so she was thrown into utter chaos. But somehow, she didn’t miss a beat and it helped us to form a strong bond extra quickly. Going through something so intense at the start of our relationship was a lot. But once we closed the round, we sat down together to review what went well and what we’ll do differently next time. One of the best things was and continues to be Natalie drafting and sending emails on my behalf. For whatever reason, writing in my voice came really naturally to her and this saves me SO much time and thinking. Individual proud moments for us both are when she really knocks one of these out of the park. We wrapped systems around all of the on-the-fly learnings from fundraising and really hit our stride from that point forward. Now, I know we can handle anything together.

What’s one thing that others would be surprised to learn about the both of you and/or your partnership?

Paige: We can communicate quite effectively through GIFs. Maybe this is what the future will be like?

Natalie: We lived in the same city for years, even had mutual friends, but only met and started working together a few months after Paige had moved away, so we’ve always been remote.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to leaders/CEOs? 

Paige: Get extra clear on your top 2-3 priorities for your role and focus on them always. If something you’re doing doesn’t clearly fit within the bounds of those priorities, find a way to stop doing it. I’m a huge fan of delegation and assistants (obviously!), but I also believe that most of us can easily get pulled into reactive tasks and projects by the sheer momentum in our roles. Sometimes all it takes is saying a gentle “no” to something to get you one step closer to your priorities.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to Force Multipliers/EAs? 

Natalie: Never discount yourself. I hear people in this role saying they’re “just an assistant”, but this role can be hugely impactful and important. You can release shame about being in a support role, and see how much you move the needle of the whole company by giving your executive leverage. You’re in the position to be one of the most crucial and impactful members of the team. Live into that.

What books have had the biggest impact on your personal or professional life? 

Paige: The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky and The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker are two of my current favorites.

Natalie: Essentialism by Greg McKeown and Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler

What other CEOs, EAs or strategic partners do you admire?

Paige: Because we are a tech company, we’re constantly innovating, which means we’re always learning and looking to our customers and partners in the space. We’ve felt so welcomed here, and are really impressed by the entire community around assistants. One of our partners is BELAY, a virtual agency which provides Virtual Assistants, Bookkeepers, and Web Specialists to help organizations grow. We recently partnered together on a guide for virtual assistants and how they can succeed in their role, and coincidentally the launch was during the beginning of the pandemic—when everyone was learning to work remotely. Working with and supporting a company that believes in the value of technology to deliver executive-level support has allowed us to grow our knowledge-base and build a product that works for the modern-day assistant.

What’s next for you both? 

Paige: We’re just getting started here at Base. Over the past year or so, we were able to build the core foundation of our software and community. Looking ahead, we’re focusing on making Base even more impactful for our current and future users while we also work to change the conversation about what it means to be an assistant and to work with one. We believe our work is not done until we see assistants widely celebrated throughout all types of organizations. Until we see high performers everywhere, in all lines of work, receive at least some access to the support of an assistant. It’s a long road ahead, but this is why we exist. 

Natalie: I’m continuing to support Paige through the different stages of growing a start-up including getting our product into the hands of more users, growing a team, and further fundraising. I’m also growing my own business on the side, and Paige inspires me to be better at that every day.

If you’re an assistant interested in using Base, head to their website: basehq.com. You can also reach Paige directly at paige@basehq.com.

If you work with an assistant and would like to find a way to support her/him the way you support the rest of your team, let Paige know! Shoot her an email at
paige@basehq.com with ‘Audit’ in the subject line, and they will find time to talk.

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