A few years ago, I did some side work as a Virtual Assistant. I had a few clients that I worked with, and while I ultimately decided that this type of work wasn’t for me (actually, the truth was that the type of clients I was working with weren’t for me), I learned SO much – about myself, and what I’m willing to put up with.
One of my clients wanted to pay me for four hours of work per week, yet wanted me to answer phone calls and set up appointments for him 8:00am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday. That seems slightly more than four hours, don’t you think? I asked if he wanted to increase my hours – no. I asked if there was a way we could work something out so that I would have clients leave quick messages and call them back throughout the time that I was scheduled to work? Nope. As well, that four hours had to include a once a week, mandatory (in his eyes), video call meeting with me, the content of which was usually him berating me because I wasn’t as available as he wanted me to be. At first, I was trying to give his business more than the agreed upon four hours, but…then I realized I was devaluing myself and working for free, so…enough of that. After about four months, we moved on – he contacted the placement company and said that working with me had shown him that he needed full-time, in-office assistance, so…I was out. On to the next client.
I really liked the next client I worked for, and let me tell you, I did WAY more than our agreed upon tasks/hours. WAY more. I really respected the service that she was trying to provide – she was a life coach for women, and her work came from a good place. I found that she was very particular and fussy about things, but her business was about her, so I got it. She was very focused on developing her brand and empowering the women that she worked with – and I could really get on board with that. After a time, however, I found that she was focusing more on promotion of herself instead of actively helping the women she was working with – which I struggled with. However, it wasn’t my place, so I kept quiet, and waded through the reams of hippie/spirit/juju language that came from her (whenever she wrote even the simplest Facebook status update, it would take you 10+ minutes to read as it was SO long, and was all about every emotion she’d ever felt, all of the sacred things that were happening and whether or not they were in alignment, the conscious parenting and intentional grief people felt, holding space for feelings, reflecting on her thoughts and feelings CONSTANTLY – apparently I’m too damn pragmatic to worry about holding in anything apart from farts, and I don’t feel the need to share every thought I’ve ever had with everyone I know on Facebook!). Anyway, things were trucking along until after four months in (I’m seeing a pattern here, are you?), she informed me that due to lack of clients and finance issues, she could no longer afford me. I felt badly about that because I liked helping her clients – so badly, in fact, that I offered to keep working for her for a couple of months FOR FREE to finish the projects I had on the go with a couple of her clients. She said no. So, there’s that. I’m not sure why – perhaps I was getting too good at helping the clients?
The third client worked in real estate, and wanted to develop a lucrative online training business for other people desiring to be real estate agents – she wanted to be Marie Forleo if real estate. For realz, every day, she wanted EVERYTHING to be Marie Forleo – her website had to have a font once used by Marie, it had to feel like Marie’s site…everything. Obsessed with Forleo. The thing was that the content she was peddling in her online class was a whole metric shit ton of words that said very little. It was shocking to me – there was no content there. She made the mistake of asking me for my opinion, which I gave her – I let her know that the content was lacking, and shared with her loads of ideas on how we could beef that up and make the product better….no dice. She decided she didn’t want to work with me after 2 months. Fun fact – I’ve since looked at her online course, and guess what? She’s incorporated 99.9% of the ideas that I sent her way – huh.
My final client worked in the athletics industry, and he needed a lot of assistance. I edited a book for him (which has since been published, no editing credit to me) – actually, I rewrote the book for him as he struggled with literacy A LOT. I rewrote a large number of policy documents for him, and mass-produced contracts for his various speaking engagements. Our problem was that he was terrible (TERRIBLE) at communicating, and expected me to read his wants using my psychic powers. In the end, we decided to part ways as my crystal ball wasn’t working, and that was that.
The Virtual Assistant experience taught me quite a few things – first and foremost, placement agencies will often offer clients a 3 month reduced rate to reel them in, charging them the full amount in the 4th month…which, coincidentally, was when my clients decided they didn’t want to work with me. I didn’t know this at first, so I took the rejection BLOODY hard, but…now that I understand the way it works, I’ve no hard feelings. Business is business.
Second – I love VA work! I would love to do this type of thing all the time! Working from home/remotely is wonderful, and I loved learning new skills (I’m looking at you, InfusionSoft!). My already good multitasking skills have reached Olympic quality, thanks to taking this challenge on – and I made some moolah to supplement my meager Education income. Bonus!
I also learned that there are a lot of snake oil salesmen in this world, and I don’t have it in me to hock (hawk?) products to vulnerable populations and charge them A LOT of money for it. Salesmen blood does NOT run through my veins! Instead, I would like to create some great online products, and sell them at a very reasonable price, making the process affordable – and helpful – to the masses, not the elite few. I also will never use language like making space, and giving myself permission…if I want to do shit, I do it. Perhaps I give myself permission, but it’s internal, and I certainly don’t feel the need to share it. The oversharing and never-ending language drives me nuts. The world does not need to know every single feeling you’ve ever felt since the dawn of time – it’s okay to leave some stuff out. Be mysterious! Live a little!
Prior to working with my hippie client, I was toying with the idea of becoming a certified Life Coach – not because I believe I have life all figured out (hahahahahahahahahaha), but instead because I thought that I could apply the techniques and strategies that I would learn to help me figure it out and improve the quality of my life. I still think this is a great idea, and something I should look in to. The thing is that I don’t want to be her kind of Life Coach – that approach is way too much. I’m not that kind of person. I think I would be a different breed of Life Coach, one that tells it like it is and cuts straight through the bullshit with a very sharp knife – and actually helps people. I haven’t made a decision on this one yet, but I think I should pull a Nike and Just Do It. 😉
The media had a story this week that the peak age for the dreaded midlife crisis is 47.2 years of age. Huh. I’m not THAT far off from that figure, and I’m wondering if so much of what is going on with me these days is part of it? Am I in the early stages of the midlife crisis? Where’s the Harley Davidson? Where’s the sports car?? Why is my midlife crisis manifesting itself in deep self-analysis, career changes, and a sudden interest in being a wellness practitioner (when I’m nowhere near the picture of health??!)???? Argh!!!!
Life has some ‘splaining to do. 😉