The Tools of the Trade

My Dad always told me that in order to work efficiently, I needed to have the right tools of the trade. My Dad was a carpenter and I used to spend a lot of time with him, while he was building and repairing things around the house. He told me 2 very important things. First, he said that you need to have the right tools for the job. He had all kinds of tools, like hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, saws, an adz, cat’s claw, and auger. The second thing he told me is that you have to keep your tools clean and sharp.

I learned the first lesson, when I tried to bang an upholstery nail with a large ball peen hammer. With my first swing, I hit my thumb and screamed. Dad came running over, examined my thumb and said, “I told you, you have to use the right tools or you won’t get the job done.” After calming me down and telling me that my thumb wasn’t broken, he gave me an upholstery hammer and I tried to hammer again. This time it worked perfectly. I realized what he meant. I learned a lot from my Dad about his work ethic and how he was able to build so many thing for us and other people. Sometimes, he had a plan and sometimes, he had to design his own plans for the job.

When I decided to start my virtual assistant business, I knew I needed the right tools for the job. I bought a new computer and installed Windows 7. It came with Windows 8, but I’d heard bad things about it and I wanted to work with an operating system I could trust. I did my research and I downloaded or purchased the latest software I needed for my clients, so I would be ready to start working with them immediately.

How do I stay sharp? I joined groups on LinkedIn and Google+, so I can read what other Virtual Assistants are going through. These forums contain both Virtual Assistant problems and solutions. I learn so much from reading these posts. I am also a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Being a Virtual Assistant can be lonely, so I enjoy the monthly meetings and the speakers. The topics are always relevant to office work and it’s good to spend an evening with like-minded professionals.

I also read books on training as a Virtual Assistant and office procedures. It’s good to brush up on what you know and learn shortcuts, tips and tricks. What I enjoy doing the most is learning about new software and then going online and trying it to see how it works. There are so many free software programs that you can try to see how they work. It’s fun to go on those websites and play with them to see the pros and cons. By doing that, I get a feel for the program. When I get a client, I can discuss with them, which program would be better to use to accomplish our goals. I don’t have to guess or research these programs at the last minute.

I also write this blog. I’m not an expert in virtual assistant work. I just started my business in January 2013, although I do have 2 decades of administrative experience. The virtual assistant world is still new to me. Some Virtual Assistants act like they’re experts by stealing snippets from other blogs and forum posts. My blog is based on my past experiences and tells the story of how and why I decided to become a Virtual Assistant. I think a Virtual Assistant has to have a sense of humor and I choose to write in an informative, but interesting style.

Dad always told me that you have to have a sense of humor, when dealing with people. He was right. I’ve turned so many negatives into positives by just having a sense of humor and taking it all in stride. My clients seem to enjoy working with an upbeat, can-do person. I enjoy working as a Virtual Assistant in spite of the struggles and challenges, because I’m becoming more knowledgeable and a more successful person.

Success for my Dad meant giving a good day’s work for a good day’s pay and creating impeccable work and meeting all deadlines. I asked my Dad once about success and he said it was not about money, but about doing something you love to do, being great at it and helping other people to have something that they couldn’t make or do for themselves.

My Dad’s in Heaven now. If he’s looking down and sees me doing some carpenter work, he must be smiling and saying to himself, “that’s my girl. I taught her well.” MY Dad didn’t know anything about computers, but I use his work ethic every day and now I understand what he meant about being successful.

 

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