How to Give Birth to Your First Virtual Assistant

The 4-Hour Workweek is the dream, but giving birth to our first virtual assistant is how real digital nomad travelers live that dream.

How to Give Birth to Your First Virtual Assistant

We at the Hobo travel community have been building a team of virtual assistants now for over 10 years as an Internet-based company.

Yet in reality, the idea of virtual assistants started over 25 years ago in the USA with an overworked and frustrated Andy Lee Graham.

virtual assistant tim ferris

What motivated me to use virtual assistants?

I did not want to put on clothes and go to the office. I wanted to make phone calls from home while watching CNN on TV. Driving to work added 1-2 hours more work to my day. Why work more? I wanted to work less!

Twenty years ago, I was buying, selling, owning and managing real estate in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was too much work and not too much fun. I was on the same treadmill as all my friends in the USA. We all shared the same complaint with each other, “We work too much.”

Andy is now an American workaholic in remission.

In 1998, I left the USA, and for over 15 years, my workaholic tendencies have been in remission, and 90 countries later, life is good. But we do not need to leave the USA to use virtual assistants. We can remain married, have children, buy a house, and live the American Dream.

Or if we want, we can live anywhere we want. We can do this in the USA, or we can work remotely, being location-independent in London or Hong Kong. We can work less and play more with the help of virtual assistants.

We can use American workers if we prefer! We do not need to hire people from outside the USA to have a personal assistant.

But what the heck is a virtual assistant?

We need to wrap our brains around this term. We need to get specific, make this virtual thing a clear concept. Then we can hire a virtual assistant with ease. But anyone who reads self-help books knows they are fun, exciting and motivating, yet often, five years later, nothing has changed; we just have another self-help book on the shelf.

How many of you are working four hours per week and sleeping in a hammock?

It was 2007 when the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris, came out, a great book explaining virtual assistants. I had been doing this for over five years from the other side of the planet. Using virtual assistants was part of my life, as I had no choice if I wanted to travel.

We can have real jobs; we are not all going to get rich writing how-to books.

We need simple insights on how to use virtual assistants. Let me explain a story about how I learned to use virtual assistants.

My first virtual assistant was Steve and a fax machine.

Steve was a real-life business assistant, and I turned him into my first virtual assistant. And again this term, virtual assistant, is fuzzy; it means nothing. What is a virtual assistant? Go read about it on and be even more confused: wiki/Virtual_assistant.

Virtual assistant defined: This is a person who you do not meet in person. You are here, they are there....

He or she can live in New York, and you can live in Indiana. You will communicate by means of telephone, Skype, fax, email … any way possible, except person to person. The personal assistant has the skills you need but is in a different location than you.

The bottom line is that all information it transmitted digitally, so you can be a digital nomad and roam around the planet or the city … or just stay at home in your pajamas working. Do not make this so romantic! We all can sit a home in our pajamas working; we do not need to get dressed in a suit and report to work.

I am here, and you are there. We can be worlds apart. This is all a virtual assistant really means.

My to-do list went spastic and gave birth to a virtual assistant.

This is the story of the birth of my first virtual assistant. I purchased an Apple Newton, more or less a very expensive smartphone. I needed a way to stay organized. My to-do list was out of control. It was 10 times longer than a one-page on a yellow legal pad.

On this electronic device, I made a to-do list:

1. Put for-sale sign on East Berry property.
2. Deliver keys to Remax office.
3. Talk with Mr. And Mrs. Jones at Halls Restaurant at 2:00 p.m.

I asked myself, which jobs could Steve, my real assistant, do?

STEVE - 1. Put for-sale sign on East Berry property.
STEVE - 2. Deliver keys to Remax office.
ANDY - 3. Talk with Mr. And Mrs. Jones at Halls Restaurant at 2:00 p.m.

At the time, I took my Newton, a palm computer, and faxed the list to Steve. It connected and faxed it to him at the office.

Steve’s To-do List:

1. Put for-sale sign on East Berry property.
2. Deliver keys to Remax office.

I faxed this to the office from my home phone. He pulled it from the fax machine at the office and went to work. We did not need to meet in person. This was how I found my first virtual assistant.

In today’s world, we could do this 50-times easier and 100-times cheaper. We can make a list of 10 simple things to do and email it to someone on the other side of the planet, or better yet, to the workers in the home office. You can work at home, and they can work wherever they want.

The secret to making this work is simplicity. The list of things to do has to be something your virtual assistant is capable of doing. Herein is reality of business: We just do not get to delegate out the really tough decisions. We have a personal virtual assistant to assist. And, if your virtual assistant grumbles and avoids work, well that is a management problem. It’s time to look for a person who wants to work, who doesn’t ask questions to avoid work.

What gave birth to my first virtual assistant?

The bottom line was that I did not want to take off my house robe and drive to the office. That was the birth of my first virtual assistant by using a fax machine to transfer digital to-do lists to Steve at the office.

I am here, and you are there: That is a virtual assistant.

Log in to discover where Andy was when he wrote this, which was not in the USA!

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