From Your Man In India (YMII) to GetFriday: A.J. Jacobs’ journey from ‘then’ to ‘now’ of outsourcing

From Your Man In India (YMII) to GetFriday: A.J. Jacobs’ journey from ‘then’ to ‘now’ of outsourcing

When A.J. Jacobs wrote about Your Man In India in his article My Outsourced Life almost twelve years ago, he said, “I REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE to write this article myself,” playfully flaunting his newly-found solace with outsourcing. Starting a valuable relationship with YMII’s (Your Man in India) virtual assistance back then, A.J. Jacobs found peace of mind by outsourcing his personal life.

YMII, before handing over its virtual assistant services to GetFriday, offered remote executive assistants to handle personal tasks as per the requirement of clients. In this case, the client was A.J. Jacobs, a proficient writer for Esquire Magazine, who wanted an extra helping hand to tackle his everyday personal tasks.  

Working or rather living with a virtual assistant for more than a decade helped him  acknowledge his good decision. In fact, this was what he asked for when he first approached YMII.

I would like to hire a talented person or people in India to take care of as many of my life tasks as possible. I would be interested in having someone to answer my calls or emails. Nothing would benefit me unlike a remote executive assistant”.

The virtual assistance providing organization tried to plan out how to fulfill Jacobs’ requirements, as he was literally trying to outsource his personal life to a company in India. The year was 2005, and it was tricky to implement the process as nobody had tried anything like that before.

However, the team decided to go forward with the experiment and soon it proved to be a huge success.

At first, one YMII(Now called as GetFriday)virtual assistant was assigned to help Jacobs over a couple of months and a few slips here and there did happen. The cultural differences sometimes proved a bit difficult to sort out, but as days progressed, both the parties got along well.

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In the first mail regarding work, Jacobs had mentioned that if everything went well, he would do the publicity for the company through his magazine, Esquire. Soon enough, as a couple of months passed by, Jacobs was truly pleased with YMII. His article, featuring YMII, was published in September 2005 on Good Morning America, the American morning television show.

It was on this note that GetFriday surfaced as a new separate brand and started to provide impeccable virtual assistance to anyone who needed it. Moreover, as Jacobs saw the creative and extreme functional capabilities of the virtual assistants at handling tasks from overseas, he bonded more with the company.

Asha and Naveen were his VAs who helped him perform his everyday tasks like answering morning mails, effectively handling unwanted invitations, even ordering birthday gifts for his wife.

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Jacobs felt he was living with his family who understood him really well. They were also like a constant support system, giving him positive feedback on every task he did. He found solace as he outsourced his personal life as he had ample time to reflect upon his career, goals and passion.

For more on A.J. Jacobs’ life and his nine extraordinary experiments on himself, please check out his brilliant book, My Experimental Life

“It’s very strange to have people working for you while you are asleep. But it’s great. It’s not a time waste while I am drooling on my pillow; everything is getting done,” he said.

In fact, in a video shot almost 11 years later, Jacobs congratulates GetFriday for their well deserved success, and playfully points out that if he would have asked one of his assistants at GetFriday to make the video, it would have been done sooner and much better.  

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