Best-selling author Tim Ferriss is one of my heroes. His book, The 4-Hour Workweek, was an inspiration to me. In my podcast interview of him, he dispensed some life-changing advice.
So when I saw that Tim had laid out a plan on his blog for outsourcing one’s inbox and never checking email again, I was psyched. I spend waaay too many hours each week on email and I’m desperate to free up some of that time.
I was hopeful that India-based virtual assistant firm Get Friday (one of the firms Tim recommended in the interview and on his blog) would be up to the task. Unfortunately, no such luck.
I was assigned “Nitin” as my VA. His English fluent not so much. 😉
To illustrate, one of Nitin’s emails I nearly deleted by mistake, thinking it was spam:
Subject: Results can be even worthier than you pay!
Methinks Nitin must also serve as virtual assistant to some offshore spammers!
Here’s the rest of the email…
Very Good Evening!
I am really exicted about our newly build relationship.I will be even happier if you will be assign me some tasks to assist you,to save your time and give value for your money.You have not assigned me any task till now,kindly take some time off and please assign me some tasks as still you have 37hrs left in your account for this month of April.
I am sending you a weekly report for the time period of 14th April to 19th April as an attachement,please have a look over it.
Your feedbacks are the keys to give you best possible service so kindly give your feedback on my work and please let me know that how can I assist you in best possible way.
Waiting for your reply!
I shudder to think of this guy acting on my behalf, replying to my business-critical emails in Borat-speak. So I fired him, and his firm.
I realize now I could have avoided this whole debacle. Hindsight’s 20/20, as they say. Rather than blindly trusting in GetFriday and their VA assignment process, I could have instead followed Tim’s procedure for selecting a virtual assistant:
- Make enough inquiries to receive 20-30 proposals.
- Look to hire multiple virtual assistants; never hire a single individual — you don’t want your project to fail because someone got sick, took a vacation, or quit on you.
- Immediately delete any boilerplate form responses.
- Then assign an easy 20-30 minute task to the top 3-5 candidates to test for reliability. This will eliminate around 50% of them.
- Then, if your project takes 20-30 hours, assign the task to all three and ask them to stop after three hours and send you what they have done — and you will know who performs best.
I found another VA, this one based out of Canada. She’s a lot more money, but you get what you pay for. And no, I’m not going to tell you who it is — she’s mine, I tell you, all mine!!