A Rolling Virtual Assistant

Success gurus like Jack Canfield have long touted the benefits of virtual assistants. And the benefits ARE huge. We’ve long discussed the rewards you’ll reap in our frequent posts about delegating. In a nutshell, they have the potential to take not-so-important, but urgent or simply repetitive tasks off your plate – freeing you up to do more of what you do best.

Road Testing a Virtual Assistant from India

Tim Ferriss, in his wildly successful book, The Four-Hour Workweek goes into great detail about how to employ a virtual assistant based in India. Inspired, I decided to try it. After a few weeks of earnest engagement with a wonderful helper named Anjali, I have to be honest, I was underwhelmed.

First, the back-and-forth required to get someone who is not necessarily a native English speaker to understand your request is significant. Often, for the kinds of tasks I was offloading anyway, I could have done it myself in the time it took to explain it. Second, I am often on the go – and think of things I want to get done, like make a restaurant reservation, or call the kid’s gym to see about a birthday party, while I’m driving. To engage your virtual assistant in India, you need to be online and do it via email. Plus, they can’t pick up dry cleaning or ship packages.

My conclusion: this kind of virtual assistant makes sense for small business owners. They can definitely act as a secretary effectively and a lot less expensively than a full time employee. But for everyday delegating…they aren’t necessarily ideal.

A VA for Busy Moms?

I still stand by our advice that the best helpers for everyday tasks probably live under your own roof. Check out tips for delegating to roommates and family members effectively here, here, and here.

However, in addition to sharing the load with your family members, there is another incredible resource…able to lend you a helping hand…right from the front seat of your own car. It’s called OnStar.

Two weekends ago, I invited by OnStar to a two-day retreat in Sag Harbor, NY. During the weekend, which they paid for, they let us put the system to the test by driving GM cars, like the GMC Acadia (oooh how I want one of those non-minivan minivans!) equipped with OnStar around the Hamptons. If you’re not familiar with the area, is a rather rural part of Long Island, full of windy streets and small towns; it’s a very easy place to get lost.

What struck me was how this little intercom system, which I had previously had only associated with emergency crash assistance (amazing in its own right), could actually be the kind of virtual assistant I was looking for. Push the blue button and you’re connected with a native English-speaking person, based in either the US or Canada, who is ready to help you get directions, make reservations, or even connect you with your husband. They also can help if a little light on the dashboard suddenly lights up and you’re unsure what it means or send assistance if you need help changing a tire or have some other kind of issue with your car. Oh, and they email you a diagnostic report on your car on a regular basis as well, highlighting the kind of maintenance you need…take that little piece of paper into your service center and voila – you’re in control, not the other way around.

And at a cost of only $299 for the entire year, well…that’s significantly cheaper than a $10-per-hour virtual assistant, no matter where they’re located.

It made me wish my current car was a GM Acadia equipped with OnStar.

Just in case it wasn’t clear, OnStar paid for my travel and accommodations in Sag Harbor. That being said, this blog post is entirely my own and was not edited or directed in any way by OnStar.