Canadian Geese, Drivers, Administrative Assistants and Virtual Assistants

I spent last week on vacation camping in Maine. It was wonderful to get away from all the “gadgets” that comprise my day as a virtual assistant. It was good to “detox” and get back to a more a peaceful, quiet existence.

After I returned home, life returned to normal. I was running errands one morning, when a whole flock of Canadian geese started to cross the road. This particular intersection is very busy due to the fact that it borders on two shopping centers, an ice cream shop and it is an intersection of 3 roads.

Naturally all of the cars stopped to let the geese pass, even though the light was green and people were on their way to work. The geese took their time crossing and didn’t even bother to look at the cars or their drivers.

The drivers just waited for the geese to pass. No one tooted their horn or made obscene gestures. The drivers waited for the geese to pass, as if the drivers were afraid of the geese or afraid to offend the geese.

As I was sitting there, waiting, it reminded me of the similarity or division between administrative assistants and virtual assistants.  When I go out and socialize or attend an administrative function, I often get mixed reactions, when I say that I’m a virtual assistant.

Sometimes, someone will say, “I’m one, too, because I work from home”. Just because that person works from home doesn’t make her/him a virtual assistant. They’re working virtually – period. They’re not a virtual assistant.

Some administrative assistants will say that their office or manager could not survive without them in the office. They have to be there at every minute, because the manager absolutely needs an assistant. There’s no way they could work from home.

When I hear this kind of talk, I usually just smile and ask them what happens when they take a sick day or vacation time. There’s usually a moment of silence, then the justification starts. They tell me that the office is a mess and it takes them 2 weeks to straighten everything out.

Again I smile and say, but the office/business did survive, while you were away. If I’m in a devilish mood, I follow up with, “Is your desk right next to your bosses? In the same office?” They get the message.

Why are administrative professionals afraid of virtual assistants? It can’t be fear of the unknown, because both administrative professionals and virtual assistants use the same skills to get the job done. I believe it is geared to the physical world we live in.

Our cellphones have become our alarm clocks, calendars, verbal and visual communications, entertainment, filing system for email addresses and phone numbers and much more. We have become so physical. We brand ourselves according to the kind of car we drive, the designer clothing labels we wear, our hairstyle and our interests.

All of this makes us very physical in our ability to communicate and survive in an ever-changing world. The idea that anyone can work from home using all of this technology remains a mystery to many people including small business owners, who could really benefit from this virtual profession.

Trying to get this idea of working virtually with a person you’ve never met and cannot supervise, is like trying to pass a camel through the eye of a needle. It’s just incomprehensible.

Right now, I’m going through the difficulty of trying to explain this same scenario to potential clients. I’ve tried several different analogies, but this one seems to work best. When potential clients balk at the idea of working with a virtual assistant, I simply ask them how many customers they have online.

I usually get an approximate number as an answer. I then tell them that they trust the internet to be up and running 24-7. They expect the internet to be flexible so they can change their business offers and freebies. They let the internet handle all their financial transactions and yet, the business owners have never met anyone working for their internet company, their online bank, their credit card company and they totally trust them to handle sensitive information and money for their business.

I ask them how they can doubt the effectiveness of a virtual assistant, when they engage the internet and internet banking in their business every day and depend on it for sales. It is an eye-opener!

Virtual assistants do not necessarily displace administrative professionals. They simply perform selected tasks independently saving the businesses money on office equipment, wages and benefits.

Just like the drivers and Canadian geese, administrative professionals should not be afraid to associate or work with virtual assistants. Each of these specialties has their place in the world and working world. They all need to be respected for what they do and what they stand for.



Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

13 responses to “Canadian Geese, Drivers, Administrative Assistants and Virtual Assistants

  1. Lorraine Marie Reguly

    I don’t know much about what VA’s actually do, but I know they’re helpful… Maybe you can enlighten me.

    • Virtual Assistants are like secretaries only they own their own business and work from home. In this technological age, it is easy to perform many office tasks from home and not have to go into the office every day. Also, by working from home, the virtual assistant saves the company money on office equipment, employee taxes and benefits, because the virtual assistant charges a fee and works independently – a real entrepreuner.

      • Lorraine Marie Reguly

        I thought that VAs are there to help website owners, or bloggers, like a techie assistant of sorts. Do they do that, too? Do you?

        • Virtual Assistants can perform many tasks such as writing blogs, researching blogs, maintaining blogs as well as creating web graphics, websites, social media sites and many other things. The great part about being a virtual assistant is that you can specialize in the things that you like to do and not things that your boss wants you to learn. If you’re good at writing, you can write the company’s newsletter, product descriptions, company blog and training manuals and that’s only if you like to write. The more you like to do, the better your chances for success. Thanks for your comment.

          • Lorraine Marie Reguly

            Hmm. If I could afford it, I’d hire you! Maybe when I get rich and famous? Um… we both might be dead then… LOL

          • Some virtual assistants are reasonably prices and besides, they only do the work that you want them to do. You only pay for the time they work for you. If your job takes 4 hours, that’s all you pay them for. It’s a very simple way to get work done without all the hassles.

          • Lorraine Marie Reguly

            Cool. Good to know for the future! 🙂

          • Yes, please keep me in mind. Virtual assistants do a number of tasks that can free you up, so you can do other things. For example, if you’re hands hurt or you don’t feel like typing, get a microphone, connect it to your computer and just talk into the microphone. Make a recording and then you can email the file to a virtual assistant. She will type it up for you according to your formatting instructions. The charge is between $3 – $5 per audio minute. So a 20 minute recording would be 20 minutes x $3 = $60.00. I would only charge you the $3 rate, because you don’t have an accent (you’re from Canada) and you don’t use technical terms, so the basic rate would apply. There is usually a 24 hour turn around time, so if you worked on a file and sent it to me on Monday, you would have it back all formatted on Wednesday. I use PayPal to collect all fees, so you would not have to worry about exchange rates, etc. I am a certified freelance writer, so I understand a lot about the writing/literary world. As I said, keep me in mind, if you ever need a virtual assistant.

          • Lorraine Marie Reguly

            I doubt that I’d need you to write for me! LOL But I appreciate the offer!

            I will keep you in mind, though, for sure!

            Do you manage social media accounts? What are some other examples a virtual assistant can do? I think you should write a whole post on what exactly you can do, what your fees are, and guest post it on my blog. Email me! Anytime is fine!

          • That sounds like a great idea for a post. On my blog, I discuss different aspects of being a virtual assistant every week, but I will definitely think about your offer. I don’t think you need me to write for you, but if you had any administrative work that needed doing, I would be interested in helping you. You are a very interesting person. I really enjoy reading your blog.

          • Lorraine Marie Reguly

            Jo Ann, many of my readers are other bloggers. Some are business owners. I think that if you were to write a post that lists the different types of work that VAs can do, the work that you can do (with some sample prices), it might get you some more work! At the very least, we will all learn about VAs! This is something that I find interesting, because I don’t know about it. If you want, I can publish the post as an interview with you. You’d be educating us and getting some free promotion with this guest post. If you don’t have the time to do this right now, think about it for the future. This is an open-ended offer. 🙂

          • This is a very generous offer and I definitely will take you up on this. I know that many small and medium-sized businesses could definitely use the services of a VA and it saves them money. VA’s work globally, so as long as the VA speaks and understands the language, they can take on the job. I am working on a project right now. I have 2 clients and I’ve been asked to speak about Virtual Assistants at the October meeting of the International Association of Administrative Professionals in Attleboro, Massachusetts. I am working on that presentation now, so I don’t have a lot of time to do other things, but once I finish with that, I will either send you a copy of my presentation or write something up and you can decide if you want to do the interview or just publish my post.
            Thanks again for your generous offer.

          • Lorraine Marie Reguly

            Wonderful! I think that’s great, Jo Ann! Just contact me whenever you’re ready; I’ll be here. Just email me! Thanks, and good luck with your presentation!

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